A new survey just released this week reveals that over the last ten years, the number of colleges and universities with foundations exceeding one billion dollars has jumped from 17 to 47. According to the Department of Education and college guides, the most successful is Harvard University which now sits on a $22 billion dollar nest egg. The top twenty schools average over $6 billion dollars a piece.
These funds could provide $3,000.00 toward a higher education for every single person between the ages of 18 and 25. I am certainly not advocating that these schools divest themselves of their capital, but to what uses might they put the enormous interest generated by such investments?
Given the state of education in this country, with our primary and high school students falling far behind students in other developed nations, might these esteemed halls of higher learning help support the farm teams to better prepare future collegians for their institutions? What if these foundations helped to fund improvements in the teachers colleges across the country? Maybe they could step all the way back to early development programs to encourage both health and a love of learning for parents and children alike.
We can all agree that the more education a person has, the more income potential he or she obtains. Of course, this should lead to a higher tax base and more benefit to all Americans. The rate of obesity, criminal behavior, even smoking, drops as our level of education increases. These economic benefits are irrefutable.
Businesses and corporations are increasingly outsourcing jobs to cheaper environments overseas, but importantly, they have to import the intellectual talent needed to compete in a global world. Home grown scientists and engineers are bordering on extinction while school board after school board now presses for the teaching of ‘intelligent design’ in the public classroom. The South Koreans are moving ahead with the promise of stem cell research wile our president threatens a veto over the use of pre-embryonic cast-offs sure to be destroyed during in vitro fertilization.
The very future of this nation as a global economic powerhouse rests on our willingness to vigorously pursue not only higher education for our young people, but a better overall education as well. Wouldn’t it be nice if our leading colleges and universities unlocked a bit of their treasure trove to help us achieve these goals?