A graduating Virginia high school senior enjoys a host of college choices. Four years later, with a degree from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in either art or anthropology, she may enter the workforce and eighteen months after that, according to a new database from the state of Virginia, she will be earning roughly $28,000 a year.
Her best friend at Danville Community College, with a diploma in electrical or communications technology, would likely be earning more than $34,000 within 18 months of graduation.
Virginia has been online for nearly a year now with its job performance data, Colorado went up this week and other states will follow soon.
In Virginia, graduates of community college occupational and technical programs earn almost $2,500 more per year, on average, than those who earn four-year baccalaureates — at least 18 months out.
Among four year degrees, the gulf is wide from one major to the next and, within majors, from one school to the next. A painting major at the Virginia Commonwealth University scrapes bottom with $23,000, while a human resources management major from the University of Richmond pulls in $69,000 after 18 months.
"On the first day of school, you can tell that there is a huge academic gap," teacher Amanda Jones said of her kindergarten class in Preston, Idaho. "We've got kids that can actually read, and some that know maybe two letters of the alphabet. We're expected to get every one of those kids on the same level."
Despite contention over various pre-school proposals, areas of possible bipartisan agreement exist. The area of greatest controversy is the role of the federal government in early education. The sticking point, as usual, is money.
Four decades of empirical evidence shows it is possible to improve a wide range of outcomes for vulnerable children well into adult years, and generate benefits to society far in excess of program costs, according to Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child. However, the Harvard researchers note that success is dependent on the quality of the program used.
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