What Happened to Jobs and Education, Mr. Obama?
Interestingly, with all the publicity about the Healthcare bill, the President has (quietly) retreated on Education Reform. A recent Wall Street Journal OpEd (03/18/10,p A17), stated that Mr. Obama would judge schools not by whether they were meeting reading and math standards, but primarily by a more amorphous standard: whether they are producing “college-ready and career-ready students”.
The irony of this retreat is instead of the “No Child Left Behind” goal of students reaching grade level performance, the intent is to make them able to enter the job market. That begs the question, “where is this so called job market” they are allegedly being prepared for? If we are sending inexperienced individuals into an already over-saturated unemployed environment, how does that add to the quality of their education? For that matter, how does it create profitable and long-term careers?
For the millions already unemployed, does this decision benefit us? Although we will be competing for jobs with those who graduate with less than stellar education, will we then be the competitive better choice? Alternatively, does this create a future work environment with prospective employees who are less qualified, not only by way of experience, but also due to their lack of academic background?
Add insult to an already educational injury, the Senate recently inserted a provision in the omnibus spending bill that will end the Opportunity Scholarship program, which provided up to $7500 in scholarship funds to qualified students so that they could navigate out of the worst public school systems. Even when such advocates as the Education Secretary Arne Duncan repeatedly called education the “civil rights issue of our generation”. [WSJ, Opinion, “A Setback for Educational Civil Rights”, 03/18/10, A19], it is obvious who is “paying the price”.
Creating such unrealistic programs like this healthcare bill, it would seem that our present government holds the misguided notion that we not only need to cut and/or limit funding for those already in dire financial straights, but that we ought to possibly “dummify” those who will eventually be tapping into the same job market in the next few years.
One such WSJ commentary surmises, “the president’s health plan won’t solve a problem. It will be the start of bitter fights over funding and policy that will consume the nation for decades to come.” [WSJ, The Health-Care Wars Are Only Beginning, 03/18/10, A19]. I guess this makes sense!?
I am cognizant that there are needs that even if addressed today will not reap a favorable solution for years to come. However, the immediate concerns, particularly in the area of unemployment, seem to have fallen by the wayside in lieu of such agendas as a healthcare bill. How are those who have been unemployed for more than a year, and who are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits, and for that matter, COBRA subsidies, going to afford this program? How is this bill going to be implemented, when there are fewer employees in the job market and even less jobs to be had? How can we be convinced that by cutting or simplifying our educational services but create an onerous medical program will enhance our ability to find gainful employment?
This quagmire seems to be a comedic farce (who’s on first, what’s on second and I don’t know is on third ….). It’d be ironic if the plan was to increase health care expenditures and create jobs through entry level positions like medical coding and billing!
We are taking away educational funding from students likely to succeed. We are setting an agenda of rather focusing on a child’s performance while in school with preparing them to be “career-ready”. The country still maintains the highest level of unemployment at all levels. Yet, the government continues to get into debt, by unimaginable numbers. It is unable to create jobs for those presently displaced. It is focusing on a medical program that still remains unclear how we can afford it. And, ironically, a Senate who is still navigating the means by which to regulate the banks and related companies who brought us to the present state of affairs (or is it arrears?).
So I ask, how is it our government can justify reducing the level of educational standards, while not providing jobs, offering programs that many cannot and will not be able to afford, yet still vilify those who are reaping the financial rewards at the expense of this country’s financial viability and the integrity of those who worked decades to see it all crumble? Help me understand where the hope is in all of that.