Connect with us

Education

Viewpoint: We Are Losing Sight of the Purpose of Higher Education

Potential Labor and Education Department merger poses harmful effects for the future of higher education.

Elena Neale

Published

on

The Trump administration announced plans to merge the Departments of Education and Labor on June 21.

One of the main goals of the proposed Department of Education and the Workforce would be to create an “education-to-career-pipeline.” This proposal falls in line with the current administration’s emphasis on career technical education.

“The workforce development program consolidation would centralize and better coordinate Federal efforts to train the American workforce, reduce administrative costs, and make it easier for States and localities to run programs to meet the comprehensive needs of their workforce,” the Executive Office of the President stated in a report.

It may seem practical to consolidate the Departments of Education and Labor if the main goal of education is to “meet the comprehensive needs of the workforce.”

Isn’t there more to education though?

Institutions of higher education exist to prepare students for life after graduation. But this does not only mean life in a vocation. Especially for students interested in pursuing an education in the arts, humanities or social sciences, merging the two departments would likely be detrimental to their education.

The skills students acquire in literature, sociology or political science courses typically are much less tangible than those obtained in computer science or business management courses. Few would argue that it is less financially practical to pursue one of the latter careers.

That said, humanities and social sciences students are often those most likely to question greater political, economic, and social systems and propose alternatives. The ability to grapple with these issues is crucial, especially in the current climate.

Funding for Humanities and Social Sciences departments at universities across the country has been steadily decreasing since the mid-1990s.

With the current administration’s focus on career technical training, the merger would likely perpetuate this trend even more significantly.

Merging the two departments would make it easier for the Trump administration and future conservative governments to allocate less funding each to education and labor while maintaining the appearance of a stable department.

Federal student loans, funding for K-12 education, funding for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the enforcement of minimum wage laws in the workplace and federal civil rights laws in schools could all be at risk for budget cuts if the two departments were to merge.

If the public higher education system in the U.S. continues to support vocational training, STEM and finance programs while hanging humanities, arts and social sciences programs out to dry, we will see the academic offerings of higher education become more homogeneous.

We will also see opportunities for social change dwindle.

 

 

Are you looking for digital journalism training and experience? Are you a journalism major who wants to take your career to the next level? CMN’s Digital Journalism course gives you real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to journalism influencers and mentors, and a great place to display your work. You can get academic credit too. Check out the Digital Journalism Course here.

Elena Neale is a Politics and Latin American/Latino Studies Major at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She was previously a reporter for the student-run newspaper City on a Hill Press. In her free time, Elena enjoys playing on the UCSC women's club ultimate frisbee team.

Sign up for the Morning Scoop

and wake up with us each day.

CMN Reports

Government3 days ago

Former Astronaut Mark Kelly Will Run for Senate in 2020

If elected in 2020, Kelly will become fourth-ever American astronaut elected to Congress.

by , The Catholic American University
Government3 weeks ago

Gen Z Alongside Millennials Prefer Socialism Than Capitalism

The kids are all left-wing.

by , The Catholic American University
Government1 month ago

New Year, New Laws for 2019

New year means new laws.

by , The Catholic American University
Equality1 month ago

Nancy Pelosi Elected Speaker of the House

Democrats continued to control the House on Thursday by electing Nancy Pelosi who returned to be the first woman to...

by , Mercy College
Government1 month ago

The House to Approve Legislation of Reopening of the Government

Late Thursday night, the new Democratic House passed bills that would reopen the government without paying for Trump’s border wall....

by , Mercy College
Government1 month ago

Elizabeth Warren Announces She is Running for President in 2020

On New Years Eve, Senator Elizabeth Warren, (D) Massachusetts, announced that she will become a candidate to enter the 2020...

by , Mercy College
Government2 months ago

Senator Elizabeth Warren Wants to Create a Public Option for Generic Drugs

The Massachusetts senator wants to take on big pharma.

by , The Catholic American University
Art2 months ago

Movie Review: Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Roma’

The Mexican director's latest reflects the modern state of the human experience.

by , The Catholic American University

Top Reads