America’s economic strength and its future position in the world market are connected to the quality of education. Until recently, it was believed that being successful was merely a matter of getting a college degree. This is no longer the case. We are not simply competing against other Americans, but against young men and women all across the globe who are not only seeking more advanced degrees in pertinent curricula, but are being held to higher educational standards.
Our classrooms are overcrowded with undocumented immigrant children. A new report from the Federation of American Immigration Reform states that of the estimated $113 billion annual cost of illegal immigration, about $52 billion goes toward educating the children of immigrants. While state and local governments spend $49.4 billion on this expense, the federal government contributes only $2.1 billion.
- Our plan will generate revenue that will benefit existing government programs and promote the creation of new ones. Not only will our schools be turning out a higher level of graduate, but also our nation’s economy will be strengthened by their achievements.
School Enrichment Programs—Arts and Sciences
Enrichment programs have been the first to be cut from school budgets. It is an unfortunate decision since many children thrive on the rich education they receive ‘after hours.’
Many of these programs offer myriad opportunities for enriching children’s experiences. Platforms for kid’s theatre, visual arts, music of all kinds (some student orchestras have been moved to this venue) are offered. Leadership programs, Scouts, science and labs, foreign language classes, technology classes and structured physical education are all found in enrichment programs.
- Our plan is to help fund these enriching curricula that are provided in safe afterschool environments. They help build self-confidence, teach critical thinking skills, and offer a setting to learn sportsmanship under the tutelage of trained professionals.
Alternative Education for Teens
Most schools, especially those with overcrowded classrooms, have neither sufficient time nor staff to deal with the personal problems of their young students. There is an urgent need for funding to allow for smaller classrooms. Schools dedicated to ‘alternative studies’ for troubled teens who are not succeeding in the normal environment of a high school classroom or through any of the established alternatives, are practical options. Such programs tend to lower the high school dropout rate by offering smaller classes, a more flexible curriculum, and better accommodations for behavioral problems.
Immigrant families may also be facing additional difficulties by being separated from their extended family support system. Offering these teens healthy educational options and a safe place to go, helps avoid future drug addictions, gang problems, and thoughts of suicide.
- Our plan provides tax revenue not only to alleviate the burden on the American taxpayer, but also to create programs that are fully dedicated to addressing the complex needs of emotionally troubled teens.
Regional Trade and Vocational Schools—All Ages
Some reasons for dropping out of school are legitimate and may lead to a suitable and solid career path in the future. However, most high school dropouts do so for less-than-practical reasons. A surprising number of dropout teens view four-year college as a waste of time. Trade schools place an emphasis on practical, rather than academic, education. They are a fast track to a solid career. There are more than 300 trade/vocational schools in the U.S. In addition to offering a two-year associate’s degree, many schools are now providing degree-transfer programs for students who want to continue their education and move toward attaining a bachelor’s degree. In some cases trade schools are the obvious institutions of choice. Here the student may be able to find a vocation suitable for a lifetime career that would not be available for them at a traditional college. Certain trade skills can never be outsourced, nor do they necessarily lose their value during an economic downturn — and many pay well.
- Our plan will earmark revenue to support many young people and adults with an opportunity to learn any of a variety of skills geared toward preparing them for a lucrative career. We are dedicated to supplementing the financial burden the government bears and to encouraging students to remain in school through graduation and then attending college or learning a trade.
The need for retraining and healing returning vets is great. There are programs already in place to provide resources and expertise to assist and prepare vets to obtain meaningful careers, maximize their employment opportunities, and protect their employment rights.
- Our plan is to alleviate the fiscal burden on the government with supplemental dollars from the tax revenue and to create new programs for the expanding and increasingly complex needs of returning Veterans.
Job and Career Counseling
Job and career counseling centers are available for those students and adults of all ages who are not inspired by or focused on a particular field of endeavor or who simply need more information about the opportunities available to them. For the specific demographic of recent immigrants—undocumented and otherwise—as well as their children, this resource is more limited.
- Our plan will provide revenue for a program geared specifically to meet the needs of this group, some of whom are not fluent in English.
In order to ensure a healthy pattern of development, three-year-olds and four-year-olds require specific constructive activities and the right measure of discipline, love, and understanding. It’s now known that children in the U.S. with access to preschool almost always out-perform their peers—even decades after the classes adjourn. According to a recent study, children in a preschool group were less likely to be arrested and more likely to have a job. Among the ones with jobs, those who went to preschool made more money than those who did not. Preschoolers enter kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and stronger basic math skills than those not attending a preschool. Preschool in the federal budget will be a small investment that will reap big returns. A study reported that for every dollar spent, the government would save almost $1.06.
- Our plan is to provide sufficient funding so that all states are able to offer a quality preschool education.
Students born to immigrant parents in the U.S. face a unique set of challenges. Their parents often sacrifice in many areas to make sure their children get a good education even though they themselves may be uneducated and non-English speakers forced into low-paying jobs. Most students these days struggle with the challenge of finding and paying off student loans. It’s an even greater challenge for immigrant children. Recently there has been pressure to pass a bill allowing illegal immigrants to be eligible for privately funded scholarships. There are well over 1,000 organizations dedicated to providing full or partial scholarships or grants to qualified American students who can effectively demonstrate the need for assistance coupled with a dedication of purpose, but there are not nearly enough to meet the growing demand.
- Our plan not only will provide funding for the undocumented immigrant but also qualified American citizens. Helping the currently unauthorized immigrants become ‘legal’ will help them be eligible for funding from organizations already set in place. The better educated the immigrants become, the better their chances are of elevating their socio-economic status, which will strengthen our economy and make for responsible citizens.