Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The U.S. higher education system must be reformed to better prepare students for jobs in a 21st century market economy.

Unfortunately, the price of admission to many of the country’s traditional, four-year universities is too high; today U.S. students are collectively more than $1 trillion in debt. So the question is: how can we make higher education more affordable and more available to students today -- and future generations tomorrow -- eager to pursue a post-secondary education?

On Monday, in a speech entitled “Making Higher Education Affordable Again” at Miami Dade College, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) addressed some of these issues. He argued that because it’s harder and harder to make it -- and live in -- the American middle class, “the right education is no longer just an option; it has become a necessity for nearly everyone.”

“One of the central problems of our outdated higher education system is that it has become increasingly unaffordable for those who stand to benefit the most,” he said, according to prepared remarks. “Tuition rates have skyrocketed at a rate far exceeding the rise in inflation. Even when the Great Recession took hold 5 years ago and Americans had less to spend, the rise in tuition only continued to accelerate. Between 2006 and 2012, the cost of college increased by 16.5%.”

This is unacceptable and unsustainable. The goal, then, is making college more affordable for everyone by bringing down college costs while at the same time expanding opportunity. But before that can ever happen, Rubio argued, students must be given the relevant information they need to make wiser and better informed decisions about where they pursue their studies.

“Students and their families need to be equipped with the information necessary to make well-informed decisions about which majors at which institutions are likely to yield the best return on investment,” he said. “This is why I, along with Sen. Ron Wyden, proposed the “Student Right to Know Before You Go Act,” which aims to give students reliable data on how much they can expect to make versus how much they can expect to owe.”

This is a good start. But even if students are given the data they need to make smarter decisions about their education options, how do we begin addressing students’ rising costs concerns? As it happens, Rubio argued giving prospective employers and companies the option to subsidize students’ tuition rates would be one possible way. He called these quid pro quo agreements “Student Investment Plans.”

“Let’s say you are a student who needs $10,000 to pay for your last year of school,” he explained.

“Instead of taking this money out in the form of a loan, you could apply for a “Student Investment Plan” from an approved and certified private investment group. In short, these investors would pay your $10,000 tuition in return for a percentage of your income for a set period of time after graduation -- let’s say, for example, 4% a year for 10 years.”

“Unlike with loans,” he added, “you would be under no legal obligation to pay that entire $10,000. Your only obligation would be to pay that 4% of your income per year for 10 years, regardless of whether that ends up amounting to more or less than $10,000.”

Another way to make college more affordable and accessible, he argued, is pursuing accreditation reform. Currently, many innovative online programs could offer students a different and more flexible path to a four-year degree. However, since traditional schools often control the accreditation process, it’s harder for online schools to compete.

“Free online learning is already a reality, we just need the established system to catch up,” he said.

“Here’s how it could work. After completing a free online course, a student could pay a relatively small fee to take a standardized test that, if passed, would allow them to count the class toward a degree or job certification.”

“To make this a reality,” he continued, “Congress could establish a new independent accrediting board to ensure the quality of these free courses and make the credits transferable into the traditional system.”

But even online courses can be expensive, too. And not everyone wants and/or needs a four-year degree to find gainful employment in their preferred fields. This is why Rubio proposed creating more apprenticeship programs for those who don’t want to spend their time or money acquiring degrees they won’t necessarily use.

“We should make career and vocational education more widespread and more accessible. For instance, here in Miami, the local school district has partnered with a car dealership to create an innovative approach to career education. The students in this program attend traditional high school classes each morning, then go to auto dealerships where they are trained to be certified technicians.

When they finish high school, they graduate not just with a high school diploma but with a job-ready industry certification from an automobile manufacturer.”

He continued:

“Another example of this is apprenticeship programs, which provide valuable on-the-job training for employees,” he said. “So instead of having to pay for schooling, an employee can often get paid to learn and work toward a degree while on the job. We need policies that encourage industries to expand apprenticeship programs and work more closely with their local work-force training boards to make these viable options for gaining certification or degree credit.”

These are only some of the reforms Sen. Rubio proposed at Miami Dade College today. You can watch the entire speech here to learn more.
Random thoughts on the passing scene:

It is amazing how many people still fall for the argument that, if life is unfair, the answer is to turn more money and power over to politicians. Since life has always been unfair, for thousands of years and in countries around the world, where does that lead us?

I am so old that I can remember when sex was private. "Don't ask, don't tell" applied to everybody.

However fascinated the U.S. Supreme Court may be with the concept of "diversity," every one of the 9 justices has a degree from one of the 8 Ivy League institutions, out of the thousands of institutions of higher learning in this country. How diverse is that?

Despite the rhetoric, the goals or the intentions of the political left, the world they seek to create is a world where decisions are taken out of the hands of ordinary citizens and transferred to third parties. ObamaCare is the latest example of this trend, and can now join the long list of the "compassionate" catastrophes of the left.

It is fascinating to see academics full of indignation over the "exploitation" of low-wage workers by multinational corporations in Third World countries, when it is common on their own academic campuses to have young men get paid nothing at all for risking their health, and sometimes their lives, playing football that brings in millions of dollars to the college and often gets coaches paid higher salaries than the president of the college or university.

I don't happen to like the idea of "stop and frisk." However, I like even less the idea of armed hoodlums going around shooting people. Those who refuse to see that everything has a cost should be confronted with the question: "How many more young blacks are you willing to see shot dead, because you don't like 'stop and frisk'?"

If you think human beings are always rational, it becomes impossible to explain at least half of history.

The ancient Greeks understood that carrying any principle to extremes was dangerous. Yet, thousands of years later, some Western nations take tolerance to the extreme of tolerating intolerance among immigrants to their own societies. Some even make it illegal -- a "hate crime" -- to warn against intolerant foreigners who would like nothing better than to slit the throats of their hosts, but who will settle for planting a few bombs here and there.

How do the clever Beltway Republicans and their consultants explain how Ronald Reagan won two consecutive landslide election victories, doing the opposite of what they say is the only way for Republicans to win elections?

I don't know why it bothers me when I see a good-looking woman who could be truly beautiful if she only took the trouble. But I can recall a woman like that who was educated at Berkeley, and who apparently thought attention to her appearance was not hip. Unfortunately, her husband met another woman, who had not gone to Berkeley, and who did not have this inhibition -- or many other inhibitions.

With his decision declaring ObamaCare constitutional, Chief Justice John Roberts turned what F.A. Hayek called "The Road to Serfdom" into a super highway. The government all but owns us now, and can order us to do pretty much whatever it wants us to do.

Anyone who wants to read one book that will help explain the international crises of our time should read "The Gathering Storm" by Winston Churchill. It is not about the Middle East or even about today. It is about the fatuous and irresponsible foreign policies of the 1930s that led to the most catastrophic war in human history. But you can recognize the same fecklessness today.

In a time of widespread disillusionment with both political parties, someone has noted that the only thing these parties say that is believed by the public are their accusations against each other.

Once, when I was teaching at an institution that bent over backward for foreign students, I was asked in class one day: "What is your policy toward foreign students?" My reply was: "To me, all students are the same. I treat them all the same and hold them all to the same standards." The next semester there was an organized boycott of my classes by foreign students. When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.
Please, please, please watch this ad as the media will NOT run it.
Click on the link below...

Allen West: Obama Asylum Plan is 'Threat to National Security'

By Lisa Barron / Newsmax

Former Florida Congressman Allen West is joining the chorus of those slamming President Barack Obama's move to ease the rules for asylum seekers and refugees who gave "limited" material support to terrorists or terrorist groups.

"When you understand the situation with national security, this is not the type of decision you should be making. And think about this: We're not even a year away from the Boston Marathon bombing, where you have the Tsarnaev brothers, and they were going back into Chechnya, and they were meeting with these individuals, and now we're going to relax the standards," West said in an exclusive interview with John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV.

"But this is the wrong path to take because this is a threat to the sovereignty, this is a threat to our national security, and no one wants to think that we're allowing more terrorists to come into our country right now," he cautioned.

Click below for video...

West, a former soldier and defense contractor, took office in January 2011 as the first black Republican congressman from Florida since 1876, when Josiah T. Walls left office near the end of Reconstruction. West served on the Armed Services and Small Business Committees.

Redistricting after the 2010 census resulted in West switching to Florida's 18th congressional district from the 22nd congressional district for the 2012 election, when he lost to Democratic candidate Patrick Murphy.

West said he believes the GOP has a better chance of getting what it wants on immigration policy after the midterm election.

"If you can win the Senate and you can maintain the majority in the House, you can do immigration reform the right way and not have a repeat of what happened in 1986. Our economy is not over the hump yet. We are not at 6.6 unemployment rate. We have to get Americans back to work. We have to take care of Americans and so there are many people out there concerned about what happens with wages being depressed even further, what happens with unemployment getting even worse," he told Newsmax.

"So now why do we want to open up the flood gates with more people? But the president has given John Boehner an incredible piece of high ground because the president's not trustworthy, as he stated. And so what does the president do? He goes out and unilaterally decides we're going to allow people with terrorist connections and affiliations to come into the United States of America as a part of immigration reform."

But the Republican Party needs to have a clearer policy blueprint of his own, argued West, saying he is not impressed with the one House Speaker John Boehner has laid out.

"I'm not impressed with the framework whatsoever because it would be just the same as if  I ask, 'OK, guys, we're going to go into a battle. Well, commander, where's the plan?'

And the response would be, "'Oh, we're just going to go into the battle, and we'll kind of make it up as we go along,'" he stated.

"You need to have some type of strategy that people can rally to and that they can understand it's based upon firm policy that really gets into everyone's living room and kitchen cabinet so that they can understand how you're going to help to improve their state in life right now."

West does not, however, support the Obama administration's push to raise the federal minimum wage.

"The unions want the minimum wage raised because, guess what, they can start to get more dues because they're suffering right now. This is what has to happen. The employer needs to have the right type of policies, tax, and regulatory policies that enable them to pay their workers good wages. They need to be the ones that are raising the minimum wage, not a government top down-driven thing," he argued.

"And you can look in and see what's happened in California. California's always the petri dish, as well as Vermont, for testing the progressive socialist policies. And it's going to fail because . . .  business might not be ready to subsume that type of cost. And, on top of that, Obamacare costs. So someone's going to lose out. Either you're going to pass it to your customers, or you're going to cut back on your employment force. And that's just how it happens," West added.
He's still NOT home...

Checkmated by Iran courtesy of Obama 
By: Diane Sori

"Iran's military fleet is approaching the United States' maritime borders, and this move has a message." 
Iranian Senior Naval Commander Afshin Rezayee

Yes this move does have a message but maybe NOT the message we all first thought. Yesterday I presented some scenarios...serious and dangerous scenarios with major ramifications as to why Iranian warships are heading to our maritime borders. All highly possible scenarios for sure, but after realizing that right now we are actually in a chess game with Iran it hit me that maybe we are all overlooking the obvious...a scenario that just might be the most plausible of all...simple in its scope but one that actually might make the most sense...and that is that all this flexing of Iranian naval muscle might all be a ruse...a time buying ruse and NOTHING more.

Iran is smart...remember, we are NOT dealing with a backwards country like Afghanistan...and Iran knows full well that by even threatening musings of war it causes a minor diplomatic crisis, and that coupled with a weak president like Barack HUSSEIN Obama equates to threats becoming quite easy to pull off...so easy that Iran can go about their always intended business while keeping the U.S. sleeping with one eye open.

And their intended business...getting the remaining time needed to finish building that very nuclear weapon they have wanted all along.

Knowing that Obama will NOT do a damn thing NO matter how much they threaten our county, Iran has NOTHING to lose by keeping their bloviating bravado coming. In fact, one Iranian navy commander has openly threatened to sink America's Fifth Fleet if provoked. Now come on...this man can in NO way seriously think Iran's flotilla can do any harm to our Fifth Fleet, yet words to this affect are appearing daily in the Iranian media.

And claiming that the Iranian deployment of a destroyer and a logistic helicopter carrier was a direct response to the presence of American naval forces in the Persian Gulf makes NO sense either as we have been a presence in that area for decades with Iran barely saying a word. That is until fairly recently when the Navy Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Ali Fadavi, said to the Fars News Agency that, "The Americans can sense by all means how their warships will be sunk with 5,000 crews and forces in combat against Iran and how they should find its hulk in the depths of the sea."

Yeah right...the Iranians know the scope of America's naval power, so again these threats with its visual warship accompaniment are again being used just to buy time as all this 'show' keeps our focus off the fact that Iran has now deemed themselves untouchable...untouchable after they made a mockery of the U.S. courtesy of Barack HUSSEIN Obama and John 'Swiftboat' Kerry allowing them to keep enriching uranium while also getting the sanctions against them lifted.

So the bottom line is that this show of Iranian naval bravado is NOTHING but a diversionary tactic to keep us on edge and our eyes focused on the sea while their centrifuges keep turning bringing them ever closer to their long sought after prize...a nuclear weapon.

And when you add in Obama's oh so obvious lack of concern about the Iranian warship positioning itself off our shores...with his NOT saying a word...Iran sadly has indeed checkmated the U.S. (and hopefully Israel won't be the big loser) for Obama NEVER intended the agreement reached in Geneva to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions. And it has now become clear for all to see that Obama had the agreement crafted so that continuous negotiations can run on and on ad-nauseum giving Iran the time they need to get that prize. And we all know Obama sides with Iran against America...he always has as the islamic blood in his veins runs deeper than any loyalty to America.

So Iran will continue to flex whatever little muscle they have on the high seas while Obama looks away...with the media going along of course...as they use this scare tactic to deflect and buy the time they need to get that bomb built.

And it's all courtesy of Barack HUSSEIN Obama.