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Educating our Future Entrepreneurs


Remember when you were a kid and you thought you could do anything – absolutely anything? When does that stop? When do all of our limitless imaginations and creative capacities disappear and why does that happen? The United States Education System is failing us. It is not only failing us in the present, but it is failing us in preparation for the future. Through a standardized and uniform primary and secondary education agenda, our children are severely limited.

Needing entrepreneurship is nothing new to this country. Our forefathers founded the United States of America and our democratic capitalist system with entrepreneurial values. It is in our history. It is inherent to all of us. Our economy is in need of a revival, and entrepreneurship and innovation have never been as important than at this very moment.The question that remains is who will be our next entrepreneurs? The answer is our children – America’s youth, America’s youngest generation. There is no disputing this answer. Our youth are next in line to join the workforce, to start their own companies, to lead our country, and to change our world. That being said, it would seem that the obvious answer to the need for more entrepreneurs would be to create an environment in our schools that makes the entrepreneurial characteristics that all kids have come to life. However, our public school system does just the opposite of that. Our schools suppress entrepreneurial qualities in students. This is fundamentally contradictory to America’s values and to America’s vision for the future.

It is time to usher in an era of revived entrepreneurship and innovation. The manifesto of Peter Thiel’s venture-capital fund is, “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” He is underwhelmed with what technology has given us for the past decade. He is an extreme libertarian who believes the power of the government to create positive change for innovation and entrepreneurship is hopeless. Let’s prove him wrong. Through initiatives driven by the U.S. Department of Education, let’s make preparing students to be entrepreneurs a central part of primary and secondary education. Peter Thiel wants flying cars. Our children will give them to him.

Turning Student Debt Into Opportunity


A college education is expensive.  And necessary for many careers.

Many students, facing faster-than-inflation cost increases and sluggish growth in government loans, take on more and more private debt to finance their education.  The average debt per borrower is now over $25,000 across all types of institutions, up from $19,000 ten years ago.  65% of students who entered Bachelor’s level-granting schools in 2008 graduated with debt.

Those indebted students forgo many of the choices and benefits of a broad education due to an obsession with “will it pay off” thinking.

Meanwhile, too many graduating students focus only on jobs with the highest salary for them to pay off their debts rather than careers that they are passionate about or that we need more of.  For example, there are dire shortages of nurses and teachers.  Many young entrepreneurs are unable to start a business due to debt obligations.

Three problems: 1) excessive debt; 2) obsession with “jobs” while choosing college courses; 3) misallocation of human capital into society’s labor needs.

One solution: student debt repayment should be based on ability to pay instead of absolute amount.

Pay what you can, not what you owe.

How would it work?  All qualified college loans would be repaid using a sliding scale formula.  If you make less than a threshold, depending on your family size, you pay nothing.  Once you are above the threshold (maybe 150% of poverty level), then you pay 10-15% of your income to your debts with a hard cap of around 20%.  Currently, the Obama administration started this for federal grants.  However, the private, for-profit sector still dominates.  Pay what you can plans should cover ALL loans.   Whatever losses it incurs can be absorbed by the federal government.  The upside will be more people finishing college, better educational choices while in college, better job fit after graduation, and all the economic and social benefits of these improvements.

Stuff Week: Blog Prompt for Session 5, Blog 4


For your blog post, please take an item or object, with a clear brand identity, and explore what you can learn about the maker’s stance as a company on relevant BGS questions. As a bonus, you can watch the “Story of Stuff” at the Campus Theatre next Tuesday at 7 p.m.   Your post can go many directions:

  • Are they known as living their values? (For example, here is one outside group that recognizes “green” companies.)
  • Do they have critics?  How does the company respond?
  • Do they publicize a code of ethics?
  • Do they try to affect laws or public policy?  (Open Secrets is a fantastic resource to track down information; search the site, or use on of their reports or search tools).

Please, if you discover that your favorite branded company has a questionable or even awful track record, save the guilt.  Do you know how hard it is to buy clothes NOT made in questionable conditions?!?  Feel free to imagine a different world, but guilt is not the price of admission to that conversation.

For example, I think I will do Automagic, the company that makes wordpress.  Part of the reason is I thought of a company whose product I whole-heartedly endorse with word of mouth.  “Worpdress is great, better than blogger,” is a phrase I have said many times.  A little like AIG, I am giving away my good name to this product.  I suspect as a tech start up they are venture capital-funded and therefore probably have much less public info than bigger firms.  Do what you can!

 

ARE YOU GOING TO THE MOVIE?  Add your name to comments below.

BLOG INSTRUCTIONS

Blog 5 before session 6 What (interest) or Who (person) Inspires You? For this week’s prompt, the Blog Council wants you to examine how this class relates to your own interests. So, please write about how this class relates to some of your own intellectual or other learning interests. We are NOT interested in how it relates to a specific career goal. Plan B: same idea, but based on a person. See whole post for details.

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