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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Education Can’t Take a Back Seat Under Trump

During her confirmation hearing for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVoS struggled mightily to answer a question posed by Senator Al Franken about her views on growth vs. proficiency. She later on was still confirmed for the position, but her ignorance of the subject was not ignored and garnered media attention on most public news outlets.
Yet a few months after the confirmation, the growth vs. proficiency debate has all but disappeared from mainstream media. This type of short attention span when it comes to educational matters is alarming, but not surprising. At a time when the costs of higher education are higher than ever, the government’s role in education cannot be diminished. The Trump administration should be expanding on the goals of previous administrations, and help students compete in a globalized job market. 
The last big administration decision that made headlines came from the Obama administration when they pushed the importance of STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The Obama administration touted this focus as one that would help students compete with those around the world, and shift curricula to focus on skills that typically land higher earning positions. This change in focus was an excellent move because it was future-focused and proactive. The Obama administration saw the current demand in the job market, and was able to implement a plan for the future.    
The Trump administration should build on this positive momentum, and one way they can do this is by focusing on getting students more guidance when choosing their paths after high school. Our school systems currently push students to continue education after high school, but this effort to get students into college seems like a misguided one. A 2015 study conducted by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that over one third of students who entered college in 2008 transferred schools at least once within a six year time span.
While there are a multitude of factors why a student might transfer schools, the volume of transfers shows that the norms around attending college have changed, and the way students approach college should change as well. The Trump administration should recognize this, and attempt to address it by expanding the role of school guidance counselors, while providing the funding for schools to employ them. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that guidance counselor’s position will grow at the average rate of all jobs, but as states see less funding and increased student enrollment, the position will likely be spread too thin.
With the addition of electronic transcripts and data documentation, the clerical work for the average guidance counselor has decreased, but that doesn’t their overall job has become easier. In the past, counselors encouraged students to go on campus visits, and take aptitude tests to help them pick a direction for their careers. This can be a fun process for the student, but isn’t helpful for their long-term success, and is an antiquated process.  
Instead of taking aptitude tests and going on college tours, students should be encouraged to see what the actual job market in their field of interest looks like, and if the colleges they are looking at offer majors that will help them in that field. This kind of guidance demands more from school guidance counselors, as they need to have an up to date knowledge on the vast array of colleges and universities, and their available programs.
Counselors also spend time talking to students about the cost of higher education, and how to fund their higher education. Though counselors teach students about the loan process now, they do not give realistic breakdowns about which kind of schools and majors are able to pay off their loans. I am sure school counselors would love to be able to do this, but either lack the staffing or funding to do this research and have these conversations. If counselors were able to have these in-depth conversations with students, they could have an impact on student debt in the future.
 When the Obama administration broadened access to STEM education and made it a top priority, their goal was to help give students the skills they need to compete in the job market. America citizens should push the current administration to keep expanding access educational resources like guidance counselors; so future students can actually use the skills they have honed to get into the job market quicker and avoid unnecessary college debt.