The Leaflet: College Prep Alternatives Gain Steam

Published August 18, 2017

A recent Heartland Research & Commentary by Policy Analyst Tim Benson explains how the U.S. education system has long been advocating that attending a four-year college is the only way for students to attain career success. Benson argues such a push is misguided and inappropriate for many students.

“This mindset has led to surging tuition costs, skyrocketing student loan debt, a large number of dropouts with nothing to show for their efforts but that student loan debt, and a glut of graduates flooding job markets that are already saturated with other young workers,” Benson wrote.

Benson noted that lately, many federal and state lawmakers have started to recognize the importance of career technical education (CTE), also called vocational education, for preparing “students in trades and crafts, of which apprenticeship programs can be a key part.”

“The Trump administration issued an executive order on June 15, declaring, ‘It shall be the policy of the Federal Government to provide more affordable pathways to secure, high paying jobs by promoting apprenticeships and effective workforce development programs, while easing the regulatory burden on such programs and reducing or eliminating taxpayer support for ineffective workforce development programs,'” Benson wrote.

Advance CTE and the Education Strategy Group released a report in July 2017 that shows 11 of the first 16 states and the District of Columbia to submit Every Student Succeeds Act plans included CTE programs. “Illinois and Vermont, for example, will include a ‘College and Career Readiness’ indicator in its accountability system, while Delaware and Louisiana will give high school students course credit for earning an industry credential,” Benson wrote.

Kentucky, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are a part of a small group of states that have career-ready designation paths distinct from their college-ready plans. For example, Michigan created the Michigan Career Pathways Alliance, which will “assist students in finding and understanding technical career pathways through several initiatives including curriculum changes, adding resources within school districts and increasing collaboration between educators and employers.”

Benson concludes, “Policymakers should give students more choices when it comes to their educational options by allowing students to have access to career and technical training opportunities. Doing so would not only help students find good-paying jobs, it would help to improve the United States’ economy for decades to come.”

What We’re Working On

Health Care
Research & Commentary: New Study Demonstrates Effectiveness of Dental Therapists
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines a new paper that examines the effect allowing dental therapists to provide services has had on dental utilization rates. “Allowing dental therapists in more states would help to close gaps in dental care access and ensure patients receive preventive and restorative treatments when and where they need it,” wrote Glans. Read more

Energy & Environment
Research & Commentary: Oil and Natural Gas Industries Responsible for 10.3 Million Jobs in 2015
In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson writes about a new report, which was prepared by professional-services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for the American Petroleum Institute, showing the oil and natural gas industry was responsible for 10.3 million jobs across the country in 2015, amounting to 5.6 percent of total U.S. employment for that year and an increase of 500,000 jobs since 2011. According to PwC, the industry’s total impact on labor income was $714 billion, or 6.7 percent of national labor income, in 2015, while the industry’s total impact on U.S. gross domestic product was $1.3 trillion, accounting for 7.6 percent of the national total in 2015. Read more

Research & Commentary: Tax-Credit Scholarship Would Be a Great First Step Toward Private School Choice in Illinois
In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson writes about a draft proposal floating around school budget negotiations in the Illinois General Assembly that would establish a tax-credit scholarship (TCS) program in the Land of Lincoln. Under the proposed program, nonprofit organizations, after receiving approval from the state, would be eligible to grant scholarships to Illinois students. Individuals and businesses would then donate to these nonprofits and receive an Invest in Kids Tax Credit amounting to up to $1 million in a calendar year. The total cap on donations to the program would be $100 million. However, if 90 percent of the maximum permitted credits are reached in any calendar year, the program would automatically receive a 25 percent budget increase for the following year. Read more

Budget & Tax
Research & Commentary: Seattle Income Tax Seeks to Bypass the Will of Washington State Voters
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines a proposed millionaire tax in Seattle and how similar taxes have failed to shore up budgets and increase revenue. “Instead of increasing taxes on higher earners, Seattle’s elected officials should focus on making the city a more attractive place for businesses and workers, a goal that would best be accomplished by restraining spending, lowering tax rates, and reducing unnecessary regulations,” wrote Glans. Read more

From Our Free-Market Friends
Report Finds Louisiana Tax Proposal Will Hinder Growth
The Pelican Institute recently released a new report about the budget shortfall in Louisiana and the strategies necessary to balance the state’s budget. The report was released soon after Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) took tax increases off the table during a special session. Key findings of the report include the benefits of eliminating the corporate income tax and replacing it with a sales tax and withdrawing the commercial activity tax. Abhay Patel, acting executive director for the Pelican Institute, wrote, “It is now clear, that to resolve its perennial budget crisis, we must adopt a more permanent tax and spending structure that fosters real and sustained economic growth.” Read more