Peter Marber—Columba University teacher, author, and head of emerging markets investments at Loomis, Sayles, and Co.—knows a thing or two about education. The co-editor of Higher Education in the Global Age: Policy, Practice and Promise in Emerging Societies and author of three other books, Marber wrote an article for Quartz earlier this week that highlighted some pertinent issues in the American education system—and offered solutions as to how they could be fixed.

Marber begins the article by pointing out some stunning facts, like the fact that college completion rates in the U.S. have been stagnant for the past three decades. Whereas the U.S. once had some of the highest college completion rates, today it is lagging behind. While the U.S.’s graduation rate has stayed around 40%, South Korea’s has risen to nearly 60%–the highest in the world. And today, Chine has more students enrolled in higher education than the U.S. does.

Why is this happening, and how can we fix it? Marber suggests the following four actions to improve the American education system:

  1. More schooling, reoriented calendar—The American education system is still based around a time when most Americans lived on farms. Those long summers off were initially needed so that children could help their families during planting and harvest seasons. Considering that’s no longer the case and that long breaks often lead to learning loss and re-teaching, we need to retool our yearly calendar to include more time at school and shorter, more frequent breaks. He also suggests starting school earlier and cutting out 12th grade (the most expensive and least effective grade).
  2. Wider range of higher education—Not all jobs need a four-year degree. We should diversify by focusing on five learning pathways: employer-based training, industry-based certifications, apprenticeships, postsecondary certificates by colleges, and associate’s degrees.
  3. Cheaper four-year degrees—Marber suggests tapping into online education, which when done well can be just as effective at a much lower cost.
  4. Eliminate property tax-based public education—Because wealthier areas can afford to pay more taxes, this practice only worsens the education gap. Instead, public education needs to be paid for through federal and state funding.

This is just a brief glimpse of Marber’s article, which is chock full of solid facts and sources. Be sure to check out his full article here.

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