It was destination: college or bust when the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, launched her national Reach Higher Initiative at the University of Texas in San Antonio on May 2.
Mrs. Obama spoke to approximately 2,100 San Antonio high school students at College Signing Day, the culmination of Destination College week. She said that the U.S. once had the highest percentage of college graduates in the world but it dropped to 12th globally, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The First Lady also told students that high school was not enough in a global economy. She said they must go to college or get some type of professional training, according to the Associated Press.
Mrs. Obama also admonished students over these statistics, saying “That’s not acceptable.” She added, “That’s not who we are,” as she told the high school students that they had a role to play.
Then, according to the article, she had the students stand, raise their right hands and led them in reciting a pledge where they committed to enroll, persevere and graduate.
“So seniors, now comes the hard part,” she said as the college-bound students cheered, according to the Dallas Morning News. Mrs. Obama said, “You have got to make that pledge a reality.”
Reach Higher is part of the President’s North Star campaign, of which the goal is that by 2020, America will have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world and be the leader in world-class education. The initiative will help students understand what they need to go to college by exposing them to college and career opportunities; understanding financial aid eligibility that can make college affordability a reality; encouraging academic planning, summer learning opportunities, and supporting high school counselors who can help more kids get into college.
Everyone was encouraged to tweet #ReachHigher to show their college pride and wear their college-of-choice T-shirt. Mrs. Obama sported one from Princeton University.
Destination College is part of SA2020, another progressive program from San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. It is described as “a community vision” for San Antonio’s future and based on a “collective vision” for the city in the year 2020. SA 2020 has evolved into a nonprofit partnership with goals that include improvements to San Antonio’s education, environment, arts and culture, transportation and family life.
Castro, who gave the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention where President Barack Obama was nominated for a second term, hosted the event. On the same day, Arne Duncan, U.S. Education Secretary, blogged his joy about when he “joined college signing day at YES Prep in Houston, Texas.” Early this year, the Fed Led Ed chief praised SA 2020 college signing day online, calling it “an event that costs practically nothing, benefits the future of many, and brings joy to all,” KENS-5, the San Antonio CBS affiliate reported.
Fed Led Ed reached deep into higher education when the Obama administration seized the student loan business in 2010. Previously, the Department of Education widened its grip on K-12 through Race to the Top (RTTT), the $4.35 billion K-12 public school contest for grant dollars that packaged into it the controversial Common Core State Standards Initiative and College and Career Readiness Standards. RTTT was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama laid out the Fed Led Ed Jr. plan for nationwide universal pre-kindergarten.
Despite the college push, WCBS-TV New York found in February that recent college graduates are facing a very rough job market, noting that “U.S. Labor Department statistics show that out of 3 million recent college grads, 36 percent are unemployed or have a job that didn’t require a degree. One hundred fifty thousand are in retail sales, 100,000 are waiters or bartenders, 80,000 are customer service clerks and 60,000 are performing manual labor.”
The Chronicle of Higher Learning also reported last year that millions of college graduates were working in jobs that did not even require a degree. Their findings were based on the study “Why are Recent College Graduates underemployed?” that took employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Among the future ready jobs they found–bartender. The article said, “In 1970 less than 5 percent of firefighters held a college degree, but by 2010 the share had jumped to 18 percent. Similarly, only 1 percent of taxi drivers in 1970 were college graduates, but by 2010 more than 15 percent were.”
Previously, in 2012, the Economic Collapse Blog reported 53 percent of all young college graduates “as either unemployed or underemployed. The article emphasized that across the United States middle class jobs were being replaced by low income jobs and college graduates were being hurt by this transition more than anyone else.
They broke down CNBC stats that showed college grads were more likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined (100,000 versus 90,000). There were also more grads working as receptionists and payroll clerks than in all computer professional jobs (163,000 versus 100,000). Cashiers, retail clerks and customer representatives out-ranked engineers (125,000 versus 80,000) in the marketplace.
Breitbart News recently reported on the other reality of Fed Led Ed for all — $1 trillion-plus in student loan debt.
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