Almost a third of our current high school grads sitting for college entry exams, failed them, according to the company that gives the national tests. In Florida, the failures reached 81%. As this was reported, President Obama spoke in Buffalo on his new initiative toward providing all who wish it a college education through government action, a speech for which he received much applause from his New York audience. That resembles promising a bunch of sky divers who’ve been afflicted by defective parachutes, more and lower cost airplane rides.
If large numbers of our kids aren’t prepared for college upon high school graduation, why is our Prez focusing on getting more of them into college at our expense? Shouldn’t he be more concerned with fixing the public schools that are failing to qualify them? Or, if the schools aren’t the problem, then shouldn’t he be looking for ways to equip those unable to qualify for college with alternative career choices?
The public schools of yesteryear didn’t expect everyone to head for college; their idea was, those who could do college work were a subset of the population. In the Los Angeles Unified School District of those days, such folk chose an ‘Academic’ major. Others leaned toward auto shop, wood shop, electric shop etc. and provided the mechanics, carpenters, electricians etc. our society needed. A lot of academic students were hopeless with tools. Now, as the linked Presidential speech makes clear, we seem to think everyone not only wants but has some sort of right to higher education at public expense if necessary.
That seems to ignore the uncomfortable fact that only a bit over half of college students manage to graduate in six years. College dropout rates are high. And many of those dropouts are burdened with student debt.
Another issue is the moribund economy that is treating recent college grad job seekers the worst of a ll the major demographics… a replay of the Great Depression, when a PhD. pumping gas was the image du jour while we prefer flipping burgers to make the same point today. Yet our President seems dead set on dumping more public effort and public (i.e. your) resources into producing more of these hapless underemployed.
This seems an excellent illustration of what’s wrong with Progressive politics. A businessman of any political stripe would look to see what the market for college grads is likely to be before he, she or it would risk his, her or it’s money. A politician has a different market: votes. He offers something free (really, at others’ expense) to voters; once he has them cheering, he doesn’t care about economic reality. And so our President is now selling a public program to use public resources that don’t exist (Our government is in deep deficit spending, right?) in a non-existent economic market for college grads.
Some might think words such as ‘pandering,’ ‘snake oil,’ or even, ‘fraud.’ All may be apt; it seems to me just another case of political promises at others’ expense, like the recent Obamaphones. However, one assumes that those last, worked and could be used to talk to people; this new promise appears to be a poisoned gift. First because it does nothing for the masses of public school students who are leaving that system unqualified for college and then for the fact that those who do enter the illusion and even graduate with a degree, are very likely to be unable to employ said degree usefully in today’s economy, yet another problem that seems past our President’s ability to address.
So, Mister President, before continuing on this latest giveaway of other people’s hard-earned resources in a Quixotic quest that lacks a market in the real world, why not take on the teachers’ unions you have so assiduously cared for and try to provide a higher percentage of our high school grads adequate preparation for college work? Once the students have been decently prepared for college seems time enough to start worrying about subsidizing or reducing their costs once there. There seems little point to easing the path for students who can’t do the work when they follow it. Our Prez seems to want his dessert without eating his dinner first. Maybe though, that’s only a low-order detail for a politician… the money he’s giving out isn’t his.