Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) knows that student loan debt is a top issue facing young Americans. His solution is to encourage a change in mindset.
“We’ve shoveled so many people on the line that unless you go to college you can’t be successful, which has led a lot of students to go heavily into debt and get degrees where they are still working jobs that they could have had out of high school,” DeSantis told Red Alert Politics in an editorial board meeting with the Washington Examiner.
DeSantis says it is time to call on high schools to focus on post-graduate opportunities that are alternatives to “brick and ivy” four-year degrees. By placing more emphasis on vocational training, it would promote skilled labor in trades like computer programming, manufacturing, or automotive services. The idea is that if you introduce and promote trade schools, then students will feel like they have more options after high school rather than the pressure to attain a bachelor’s degree. DeSantis says through promoting these programs, it will save many from a lifetime of debt.
“I’ve got businesses in my district, I mean we manufacture boats and manufacture rides for Disney and Universal Studios, and they can’t hire out of the local high schools because the students don’t have any of that type of ability to do it. If they just had some courses to put them through, they’d be able to get hired right out of high school,” he said.
91 percent of high school students intend to get a college degree with only 16 percent aspiring to pursue a vocational, technical, or two-year degree or certificate.
“I just think that the message has to be that there is more than one way to do this,” he continued.
DeSantis referred back to his Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act. In 2015, he and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced a bill designed to break the one size fits all stereotype. Through this reform, colleges and states would be allowed to create their own accreditation systems giving students the opportunity to do apprenticeships as well as work with businesses and nonprofits for credit. The implementation of this plan would allow students to customize their education and get the experience and skills in a field they choose.