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What Happened to Jobs and Education, Mr. Obama?

22 March 2010 Written by: Orietta Ramirez 3 Comments
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.


Orietta Ramirez is a native New Yorker, born in Brooklyn, raised in The Bronx, and presently calls home in Dutchess County, New York. Pedagogically, her claim to fame, as she puts it, is that she shares Cardinal Spellman H.S. as her alma mater with the distinguished Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Fordham University with Vince Lombardi and Steve Bellán, first Latin American to play Major League Baseball, and with Geraldo Rivera, another Brooklyn Law School alum. A first generation Chilean-American, she is a dynamic bilingual lawyer, employee relations advocate and project manager, with experience in human capital administration, audit and risk management. While leveraging her legal and compliance background as an HR partner, she incorporates her expertise on projects and in business relationships with a focus on diversity and inclusion as well as talent management. She is an avid reader and includes salsa dancing among her extracurricular activities, and is always open to all that is intriguing and challenging, which offers new opportunities for thought.

You can learn so much about this author by clicking here.

3 Comments »

  • Janet Hohenstein said:

    It is hard for me to comment on this when I don’t know (as many people do) what is in the healthcare bill and how much it will cost each individual and how it will affect the majority of companies. As far as education is concerned, I do not understand why you can’t have both continue the standards for reading and math and educate students re the current job market situation and how it will affect them going into the job market for the first time. I have spoken to young people who are entering college and/or just finished high school and believe me they get it. They are looking for recession proof careers. As far as the job market is concerned nothing is going to happen until the President wants it to happen. Simple! In order for the economy to be fixed it needs to be in the best interest of the politicians not the American people and certainly not people who are unemployed and have been for several years.

  • Orietta (author) said:

    How ironic, that our students and job-seekers get it … but the government does not???

    Not sure if this link will help, but this is a New York Times article on the healthcare bill and what the President’s agenda, I mean, goals are: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/business/24leonhardt.html?th&emc=th

    Thanks for your observations, Janet!

  • uberVU - social comments said:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by CareerJockey: With Healthcare covered, what about jobs and education, Mr. Obama? http://ow.ly/1pDos

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