In the latest episode of wasteful spending, the federal government will spend more than $100 million to achieve goals they could meet for free with a few simple reforms.
President Barack Obama recently visited a Maryland high school to announce a new “Youth CareerConnect” federal grant program “designed to better align the education system to meet the demands of the labor market.” The description begs the question - “Isn’t the government already doing this?”
Indeed yes; it’s enormous, expensive, and it’s not going to work – it’s called Common Core.
President Obama could easily facilitate an education system that prepares students for the labor force by rolling back Common Core to allow state flexibility, and by encouraging the expansion of school choice.
US President Barack Obama visits a class at Bladensburg High School April 7, 2014 in Bladensburg, Maryland. Obama visited the school to announce 24 recipients of $107 million in Youth CareerConnect grants intended to help better prepare students for higher education. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI
As stated on its own website, Common Core’s goals include “ensur[ing] students are prepared for today’s entry-level careers, freshman-level college courses, and workforce training programs.”
Not coincidentally, these aims almost exactly mirror those of Youth CareerConnect. If Common Core worked, there would be no need for another duplicate federal government program. But its one-size-fits-all, top-down approach to education strangles states’ and localities’ ability to prepare students for the economy they will soon be entering.
By scrapping Common Core, states and school departments could tailor education to fit the demands of the labor market in their area. Common Core will cost almost $16 billion the first seven years alone, all for convoluted reforms to the education system in a manner that has a track record of failure. As programs like Hawkins-Stafford, No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top have shown, federal standards are not an effective means of improving American education. Federal bureaucrats in Washington are simply not the answer to inherently local education issues. Rolling back Common Core could most likely eliminate the need for Obama’s Youth CareerConnect program.
But as President Ronald Reagan famously declared, “The more the plans fail, the more the planners plan.”
In this Feb. 20, 2013, file photo fifth-grader Daniel Slotten reads for comprehension during an exam that reflects new literacy standards for the Common Core initiative at a Westview Elementary School class in Apple Valley, Minn. Some states are pushing back against the new set of uniform benchmarks for reading, writing and math that replace a hodgepodge of of goals that had varied wildly from state to state and are being widely implemented this school year in most states. (AP Photo/The St. Paul Pioneer Press, John Doman, File)
Another avenue through which the education system could prepare students for the workforce without fleecing taxpayers is school choice. Allowing parents and students more freedom to choose the school they deem the best fit adds competition and improvement incentive, harnesses student skills and interests, and saves taxpayer dollars. Private, technical, vocational, and home-schooling all exist to solve the very problem that President Obama seeks to address with Youth CareerConnect.
However, many families (especially low-income ones) have too many barriers to educational freedom, and President Obama is the one standing in the schoolhouse door. If the president is serious about creating opportunity and a competent workforce, he will stop succumbing to teachers’ unions and allow the creation of an education system that meets the desires of families and the interests of students.
Youth CareerConnect is an unnecessary $107 million handout from a government already buried $17 trillion in debt, and the problem Obama purports to solve is directly worsened by the policies of his own administration.
If he were willing to foster educational freedom for states and families, President Obama could save taxpayers billions of dollars, improve the education system and help create a prepared workforce, and most importantly empower and improve the lives of millions of students.
Akash Chougule is a policy analyst at Americans for Prosperity, the nation’s premier free-market grassroots organization. Akash brings a unique perspective to AFP, and specializes in education, health care, tax, and transportation issues.
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