Education

Horace Cooper: Educational Opportunity is Key to Economic Mobility for Minority Students

Over the next several weeks, the Department of Education will consider implementing new regulations and requirements that will single out proprietary or “for-profit” colleges. These sweeping new regulatory changes will drastically alter the ability of the students admitted to these schools to access federal funds, and consequently will unfairly affect hundreds of thousands of students.

These students – black, white, and brown – will be adversely impacted only because they rely on career colleges and proprietary schools as their primary education choice and blacks most of all.

This targeted attack takes direct aim at the for-profit schools that many minorities rely on for specialized training and school flexibility. Access to this type of workforce training – training they’ve chosen after considering alternatives – is essential to communities of color and their future work opportunities. Shutting these schools down has long been a priority for the far left, but closing these schools via regulatory fiat rather than with a vote by Congress makes little sense economically, both for the country at large, and for the prospects of meaningful job growth in minority neighborhoods around the country and is moreover undemocratic.

The data tells the story. The Federal Reserve Board (FRB) has reported that Black and Hispanic students are three times more likely than white students to choose proprietary or career colleges.  People of color are more than half the students at career and proprietary schools nationwide, even though they make up 43% of the total US population in 2020.  In fact, at 245 for profit schools, minorities make up more than 90% of students.  Closing any of these schools would be devastating for their future educational choices.

Much to the chagrin of those looking to protect the education monopoly in America, minority students continue to choose proprietary schools because of the proven path to quality employment they provide. In fact, these schools often provide training for the greatest job growth opportunities for blacks. One of the greatest job growth areas for African-Americans comes in the health care field, according to a recent McKinsey and Company report. As the country ages, it is becoming nearly impossible to train enough people to sustain the need for highly qualified train health professionals.  In other words, we should be expanding training and skill development opportunities in health, not restricting them.

Today, there are approximately more than 30,000 students seeking degrees or certification -- from doctors, nurses to medical technicians -- in the medical profession at proprietary schools and career colleges. Coupled with the pressures of sustaining health care workers during the once in a generation Covid-19 pandemic, it defies common sense to eliminate or hinder one of the key engines for training a competent future health care workforce.

These regulations could not come at a worse time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that African American unemployment rates remain over 7% and Hispanics are over 5% -- both above the national average.  One of the greatest tools to improve these numbers is providing more – and better – training and education opportunities for them. Instead, these bureaucrats are more interesting in rewarding leftists even at the expense of academically dislocating thousands of students black, white and brown.

Proving just how useless the Department of Education is, instead of working to provide all Americans with the opportunity to empower themselves through education they’re pushing a radical vision that assumes that there is no place for profit in education.

Here’s the truth:  the best education option is the one students are able to choose from a wide variety of options.  Choice paves the way for a better training and a great economic future.

Instead of acting as an agent of the radical left, the Department of Education should work toward creating regulations that honor a student’s decision in selecting their institutions, interests, and opportunity. Limiting education choice and opportunities for minorities is poor public policy – it hurts blacks and America as well.

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Horace Cooper

Horace Cooper is a senior fellow with the Market Institute.

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