I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone my age or older talk about “ungrateful kids.” But you want to know something? It’s not the kids who are the problem. I want to talk about some ADULTS who may have forgotten how much they have to be grateful for.
Kids around us today are our future -- and they’ve got it a lot tougher than most of us ever did. We live in a complex world with complex problems, and there isn’t one simple solution to any of them. But if we work together -- stop blaming each other and start helping each other - we can fix them.
I’ve heard so many people my age talk about how they put themselves through college and question why kids today can’t do the same thing. You know why? It’s a different world for them than it was for us. When I went to college, I paid $500 a quarter -- that’s it! And I was able to cover my expenses with a small part-time job that allowed me to focus on my classwork.
But today? College costs more, living expenses cost more, and jobs pay less. If you went to a public college 40 years ago, taxpayers covered 80% of your tuition and you never saw it, never had to worry about that expense. Like me, you got a deal and only had to pay 20% of the real cost. The middle class taxpayers who paid for your education probably had one parent working, one bathroom, one car in the driveway and maybe one TV set. Higher education was achievable because it was something we all chipped in for.
But today, that’s all flipped. Today, our state’s top companies hire skilled and educated workers from out of state and out of country because we pay only 20% of the cost to educate our kids who live here. Burdened with paying 80% on their own, many students are forced to drop out because of the cost. Key skilled jobs, like healthcare workers, aren’t filled because today’s students can’t afford the training. These are the people we will need to take care of us -- and we aren’t taking care of them.
We can do better. Here in Washington state, we have to focus on continuous improvement. We can use technology and internet classrooms where they make sense. We can help purchase online textbooks that save students money. And we can meet the state’s responsibility to fund the educational programs our kids need to succeed.