With Hillary Clinton now officially the nominee for the Democratic Party, I think it’s time reflect on her biggest competitor, Bernie Sanders and one of the biggest trademarks of his platform, education reform. Education has been a big factor in the 2016 election cycle; however there is a vast difference from what the Libertarian Party (as well as the Republican Party) would like to do in regards to education and what the Democrats would like to do. Bernie Sanders, the independent, (until recently a Democrat) socialist Senator of Vermont made it a giant part of his platform that free education, more specifically, free college should be a “right for all”.
Bernie was right in one regard: we need drastic reform in regards to the education system. However, it has nothing to do with cost and everything to do with personal experience. Here is how we should reform the education system and it has nothing to do with cost but a whole lot with personal experience. I fullheartedly believe that a piece of paper should not determine skill level and be the determining factor in whether someone gets a job or not. Allow me to share a very brief story:
I have that piece of paper, I paid out of my pocket for it, did what I had to do to get that piece of paper and I did what the system wanted me to do by the books. I have a communications degree from The Connecticut School of Broadcasting, and I have the piece of paper hanging nicely in my room. I graduated in 2011 and for those who aren’t aware; a communications degree is a pretty respected degree in a respected field.
You know where that piece of paper and all of that time spent got me?
Nothing. Not one newspaper, not one sports outlet, not any local or major media outlets would even give me one interview. Now, that was despite that “prestigious” degree and my many years of experience in the PR and broadcasting/journalism field. I can’t even get a retail job because I’m viewed as a liability due to the fact that I’m an epileptic, as well to myself “not having enough experience”. Let’s face facts and confront the truth for what it is. Complete nonsense. I think that it’s safe to say that the whole process is an entire scam. Not because of cost, but because the piece of paper itself is worthless and I’ve seen the system first hand.
Right now I am working my ass off with two different start ups, including Being Libertarian, trying to reach profitability. You know what I get out of that from so many people? “Get a real job”. In my view, free enterprise isn’t valued in America anymore and that is what’s really pathetic. You can bust your ass, try to make something out of yourself when you have all of the hurdles in the world against you and build something from nothing and that is seen as “not legitimate”. Now, of course anecdotal examples could hardly be cited as actual evidence, yet I believe there is something to be said for life experience and how it plays out in the real world.
Being an entrepreneur is “frowned upon” and this shouldn’t be so. Once again, a piece of paper shouldn’t dictate your worth in the workplace. In my opinion, it is absolutely foolish to think otherwise. Now, while I mostly believe a piece of paper shouldn’t dictate your workplace value, I think it’s important to note that I’m strongly in favor of trade schools and other hands-on areas to hone your craft. There are certain professions, where all the research and self-taught knowledge just simply can’t prepare you (i.e. doctors) and I would be in favor of continuing the doctorate program as that goes a step beyond most degrees.
However, besides heavy reform in the college system, I would like to end public, government-ran schooling altogether and convert them all into charter schools. The way we go about approaching the education system is completely backwards. If you clearly have the skill level and qualifications to do what that job commands, that job applicant should be taken, at the very least be considered. You don’t need a piece of paper to validate that. Not to mention according to Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes those in charter schools tend to do substantially better and especially in reading and math. Even those who are home schooled have an advantage over those in public schools.
At the bare minimum, we need to eliminate Common Core and reduce the number of standardized tests. But the above is the ideal solution. The education system needs reform all around.
Also, for the massive expense that college is, what exactly do you get for that cost? Well, let’s look at a growing trend within the modern collegiate student body. In all actuality, this appeals to millennials on a whole but I’m going to focus strictly on college kids, currently enrolled in university to make a point. No one is encouraged to learn anything of value anymore, much less have an opinion of their own and speak for themselves. In the modern era colleges now resemble indoctrination camps rather than institutes of higher learning. For example, in late December of 2015 students of Yale University were seen supporting a fake petition to ban the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Likewise, we have seen students harassed for “cultural appropriation” based on the way they look, and earlier this year, students at UConn (the University of Connecticut) announced plans to build a segregated dorm for male black students, which thankfully got denied. None of this comes as a surprise as most high-level universities are seen as progressively liberal. Universities have seemingly become less and less about learning and more about pushing a radical agenda.
So what are you really being “taught” at these universities? I believe this is the million dollar question. Sure, Bernie Sanders and several prominent figures in the Democratic Party want to make public education “free”, but one of the true costs of this would be that there would be zero incentive for real world jobs. The problem with this policy that the Senator made a signature within his 2016 presidential bid is that instead of spending $100,000 plus on degrees that offer no private sector job security such as Gender Studies, Social Science, Psychology and “Dance Therapy” – which is a real major, you would be able to make get these seemingly worthless degrees at no cost. The generic libertarian answer would be to let these students make their own life choices as long as they are aware of the consequences. However, in this case you are prone to less and less people entering the work force with degrees that don’t offer high paying jobs and job security, unlike STEM occupations. In turn, you run the risk of entering a potential economic scare.
Within the 2016 election cycle, there was one mainstream candidate in particular that seemingly got it right on education, for the most part. That was Marco Rubio, and although Rubio has a troubling stance for championing for-profit colleges, his alternative crediting policy which would expand non-traditional educational opportunities which would have been a welcomed change from the current education system and without tacking on an obscene amount of debt. What’s more, a Tax Policy Center study found Sanders’ platform would have raised only about $50 billion, much less than is needed to fund college for everyone.
Bernie Sanders, without question, has a clear appeal and it would be foolish to deny him that. Bernie is seemingly right on problems, especially millennial problems but what young people don’t seem to realize is that he’s wrong 100% on solutions and dedicated to making things worse. In other words, he sees the problems facing society but is extremely misguided on the solutions.
This article was edited for grammar, style, and spelling, but not for content. The views expressed are that of the author, Mike Mazzarone, exclusively, and do not reflect that of BeingLibertarian.com or Being Libertarian LLC
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