By Akash Chougule
In the latest episode of wasteful spending, the federal government will spend over $100 million to achieve goals they could meet for free with a few simple reforms. Monday, President Obama 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, 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.
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 a duplicate 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.
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 improve the education system, help create a prepared workforce, and save taxpayers billions of dollars.