Home > Uncategorized > Bloomberg’s Post-Secondary Blueprint is Outstanding… If Only his K-12 Thinking Changes

Bloomberg’s Post-Secondary Blueprint is Outstanding… If Only his K-12 Thinking Changes

February 21, 2020

I view myself as a progressive independent when it comes to politics. As such, I believe that the government should ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to succeed in schools, which, in turn, envisions a world where all public schools are funded as robustly as those in the most affluent communities in our country. If that were the case, by the time a student has completed his or her K-12 studies, they would be capable of making an informed choice about what they want to do next with their lives. At that point, the government should ensure that every child leaving high school has an opportunity to pursue whatever additional studies are needed to take that next step.

As readers of this blog know, I do not support school choice for K-12 students as a means of creating equity. Any choice plans require full engagement of parents many of whom are working multiple jobs to make ends meet and do not have the wherewithal to engage in the complicated processes that invariably accompany choice plans. Children who are born into such families are effectively penalized because of their parents economic challenges, many of which are the result of under-education. Choice, then, reinforces the vicious circle that creates inequality. When Mike Bloomberg was mayor of NYC, he went all in on school choice the same way he went all in on stop-and-frisk.

When I read that Mike Bloomberg had a plan to address the inequities in post secondary education, I expected more of the same: maybe some kind of choice or voucher plan that would paper over the inequities that exist in college the same way his “choice” plan papered over the inequities in K-12 education. But I was wrong. Bloomberg’s framework for reforming post-secondary education is very fair and forward thinking. Here’s the Executive Summary:

Ensure that no one is denied a chance to get ahead because of the cost of college

Mike believes that college should be available to all Americans, regardless of income. Mike’s plan will enact this idea by doubling the size of Pell grants and removing current barriers of access to Pell Grants for DREAMers and formerly incarcerated students. He’ll combat the crippling student debt crisis that has handicapped a generation, cutting the cap on student-loan payments by 50% and forgiving loans tax-free after 20 years. Mike will make public college debt-free for the lowest-income students by funding the cost of attendance including real costs of college beyond tuition — including expenses for books, meals, transportation, and child care that often present barriers to degree completion.

Level the playing field so every student can achieve a high-quality higher education

Mike will end admissions legacy preferences and strengthen fairness in the college-admissions process. He’ll increase college graduation rates for low- and middle-income students by making the real costs of college more affordable, investing in evidence-based strategies to improve completion and success rates, and help more students attend and graduate from selective colleges with high graduation rates. His plan also expands direct investments into Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUS) and institutions serving students from low-income backgrounds and underrepresented groups.

Help students complete degrees and equip them to succeed

Mike will ensure graduates are equipped with skills needed for good-paying jobs while closing gaps for low-income students and underrepresented minorities. At the same time, he’ll combat food insecurity on campuses by facilitating SNAP benefits and covering all meals for low-income students through expanded Pell grants and federal and state funding. He’ll also encourage programs to re-enroll and graduate adults who have some college but no degree, then help connect those students to good-paying job opportunities. Mike will build and strengthen career-training programs and facilities at community colleges working with employers. He will also help one million students annually enroll in work-based college degree programs where students participate in paid apprenticeships and internships along with relevant courses equipping students with the skills required for good-paying jobs.

The detailed ideas he has for encouraging states to restore funding for STATE post-secondary programs is especially promising. Mike Bloomberg seems to “get” what is needed to create a level playing field for students who want to get more training and education AFTER they graduate from high school. MAYBE he will “get” the message that his plans for choice at the K-12 level are not getting it done in terms of providing equity and re-think his approach to funding at that level so that every child entering Kindergarten has the chance to avail themselves of the plans he aspires to when they graduate. My sense is that Bloomberg is stubborn when it comes to holding onto ideas (see his unwillingness to change his thinking on stop-and-frisk) but at his core he will change his thinking if he is presented with data that undercuts his position. Here’s hoping someone is preparing reams of data that show that the “choice” plan he put in place is not providing an equal opportunity for all.

%d bloggers like this: