Time is running out for my teen-aged son.
He’s over halfway through his junior year in high school; we’re on a bullet train speeding toward graduation day — and the brakes aren’t working. He’s an Asperger’s kid, so the rigors of traditional schooling have been challenging. Every day he gets through school is a small win.
A bigger win for my son and countless other students would’ve been the school system preparing him for a post-high school life that doesn’t include a traditional four-year college. He’s plenty smart and a bright future awaits him in whatever field his amazing, complicated mind decides is the right one. The only problem is, his public school hasn’t helped him unlock his future.
And he’s not alone. This generation, as a whole, has been failed by our country’s school system and the “one size fits all” mindset. College is seen as inevitable.
What our kids need is post-secondary school options — innovative, outside-the-box and plentiful options.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recently challenged the “one size fits all” mentality head-on in an address to the Committee for Economic Development of the Conference Board’s (CED) Fall Policy Conference, stating, “It is imperative that schools begin to think differently about how they are preparing for students in high school to be prepared for a variety of options.”
She continued, “There should be many education pathways because there are many types of students with many different interests, many types of opportunities with varying requirements.”
She’s exactly right, and it’s gratifying to know someone in Washington, D.C. gets it. She’s made plenty of enemies, however, with her forward-thinking approach. Congressional Democrats resent her efforts to roll back Obama-era regulations that unfairly target private, for-profit and non-profit colleges and universities – schools that are training students to meet the ever-increasing need for a skilled workforce.
Take, for instance, Keiser University, a private university in Florida. It is way ahead of the curve by offering its students a robust online education environment in which to gain the important skills and hands-on experience necessary to thrive in today’s workforce. Keiser gets high marks for its learning environment and is one of the top graduates of nursing students in the entire state of Florida.
And, with an ever-growing and aging population, we need all the qualified nurses we can get. Unfortunately, demand is outpacing supply, so we’re facing a nursing shortage that’s estimated to grow to the hundreds of thousands in 2020.
We have a new breed of university that prepares students to succeed in their chosen field and challenges the status quo, so liberal politicians, of course, are actively working to shut them down. Why support innovation in education and a skilled workforce when you can churn out four-year degrees in fields for which there is no demand?
A few examples of how Congressional Democrats hope to stifle the reach of private colleges and universities:
• The “Gainful Employment” rule, which arbitrarily defines how much debt a student can incur based on a chosen degree. If that degree doesn’t offer a high starting salary – a figure determined by government bureaucrats - the government can pursue legal action against the college.
• The “State Authorization” regulation forces colleges offering online courses to obtain an operating license in every state where its students reside. While this regulation clearly was designed to drive private online universities out of business, the real victims are the single parents, veterans and career changers for whom an online degree is their only option.
• The “Borrower Defense to Repayment” rule, which allows college students to demand a tuition refund or walk away from their student loans if they believe they have been misled by their institution’s advertising. The end result? Students who are more than happy to hand their student debt over to taxpayers.
Outrageous, right? Par for the course when it comes to the education agenda of the left.
Betsy DeVos is doing a superb job of standing strong against the regulation-loving, innovation-killing Democrats. She is also bringing to light the deficiencies in our outdated education system and she deserves the support of parents who want more opportunities for their children. Time isn’t just running out for my son, it’s running out for a generation of students.
Parents, we must insist the education system do better because our kids deserve better.
Teri Christoph is co-founder of Smart Girl Politics, an online community for conservative women. She is a wife, mother, podcaster and aspiring entrepreneur.