Do kids only need ‘college’ because high schools are failing?

by Grace

Amy Otto believes the Obama administration’s overall push for more school before and after K-12 is a way to avoid solving the real problem”.

The “real problem” that needs urgent attention is K-12 education, but President Obama proposes “to spend money on preschool or community college instead of substantive reform of K-12”.

Do Kids Need ‘College’ Because High Schools Aren’t Doing Their Job?

Mandating “free” thirteenth and fourteenth grades via community college should make one wonder what is going wrong in tenth through twelfth grade that makes two more years of de facto public school now necessary. Only increasing opportunity can reduce poverty. More “free” preschool or thirteenth grade only serves as palliative care for those in poverty. These programs don’t spark real change, as demonstrated from studies from Obama’s own administration. It’s a tacit admission from Democrats that their goal is not to eliminate poverty but to paper over it with politically charged policy. In fact, what would animate the Democratic Party if poverty were significantly reduced? They much prefer the self-satisfaction of saying they care without ever having to produce results. If no one were poor, whom would they have to feel superior to?

That’s the problem Democrats won’t be addressing any time soon and it’s the one that deserves this nation’s attention. Institutionalizing children earlier and longer won’t lead to more creativity and innovation, which are the real stimulus of economic growth. Real-world experiences—whether it play when young or entry-level jobs when they’re teens—are being taken off the table while politicians mandate more isolation and testing within the confines of public school. Don’t fall for the bait and switch. It’s time to tackle the real challenge that we are already paying too much for universal education and getting diminishing returns.

Even though Head Start produces no long-term benefits, Obama pushes for more of the same.  His recent idea of “free” community college only emphasises the failure of our existing K-12 system to produce competent graduates.

… More “free” preschool or thirteenth grade only serves as palliative care for those in poverty. These programs don’t spark real change, as demonstrated from studies from Obama’s own administration….

Otto offers only vague ideas for alternative solutions: more real world experiences in the form of less structured child care and entry-level jobs for teens.  Those may be helpful, in theory at least.  Actually implementing them successfully is a whole other challenge.  Poor single parents are not easily trained to properly nurture their children and jobs are not instantly created by government dictum.  But if Otto’s ideas are not the best solutions, then “free” preschool and college certainly also fail the test for the best use of taxpayer money.


Amy Otto, “President Obama Pushes Pre-K And ‘Free’ College Because He’s Got Jack For K-12”, The Federalist, January 23, 2015.

7 Comments to “Do kids only need ‘college’ because high schools are failing?”

  1. Well, I think Common Core is the first serious attempt in years to fix what ails K12, so you certainly can’t accuse Obama of not trying…


  2. Yes, he’s trying with CC. But implementation does seem to be a problem. Maybe the next president can give it another go. And the next, and the next, etc.


  3. agreed that implementation is a problem, as well as wailing parents who think CC is too hard for their darlings. But you can’t say that Obama is focusing on preschool and community college INSTEAD of substantive reform of K12. In reality, he is focusing on all three.


  4. I guess that argument hinges on a person’s definition of “substantive” reform. But Otto would probably argue that all three are areas where Obama has failed in substantive reform.


  5. Well, since most of the critics of CC, from both sides of the aisle, complain it is too substantive, I just don’t think you can make that assertion. You might not LIKE his effort, but he is trying.


  6. The first definition that popped up when I Googled “substantive”:

    “having a firm basis in reality and therefore important, meaningful, or considerable.”

    lol I think some would argue the point.


  7. Macmillian says
    1. important or serious, or referring to the most serious issues
    2. large in amount, degree or strength

    I think CC qualifies as substantive in both ways. In the definition you posted, the “firm basis in reality” refers to not being vaporware or empty promises, not “being grounded in research”. CC is certainly not vaporware. Again, the criticism I hear most about CC is that it is “too much”. Conservatives say it is overreach by the government and liberals say it is too much change and testing. The fact that CC is substantive according to #2 in my definition is what people don’t like. So, it is possible to criticize Obama’s efforts in K12 education reform, but you can’t say that the effort doesn’t exist or is too small.


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