MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Maryland, November 4, 2016 – One of the parameters analysts have used in this election cycle is the level of education of the American electorate. The assumption is that more educated people may be inclined to vote for Hillary Clinton.
For example, analysts reason that since one of the higher concentrations of Ph.D.s in the country resides in State Triangle Park, North Carolina, this factor may tilt the state in favor of Hillary. On the other hand, it is assumed likely that the large concentration of blue collar workers that don’t have college degrees in Ohio may tilt the state in favor or Trump.
There are no corroborating factors that this is the case in either situation. But analysts have made much of this dichotomy to try to predict the outcome of the upcoming election. Common sense tells us that no one knows how much weight these factors have in the ultimate decision of voting for one candidate or the other. However, some would say that the level of education could be one of the determining factors in the decisions of some uncommitted voters.
For the past couple of decades as the influence of labor unions has waned, obtaining a college education has been the best way to gain employment and progress economically. For that reason, it appears that regardless of the outcome of this election, the economic advantage possessed by college educated workers will continue. The remaining question is whether one candidate will offer an easier path to higher education.
While both candidates have different plans for making higher education more affordable, the specific issue has barely been discussed in the debates or in most forums in which they have participated.
As expected, Trump wants to institute a free market solution, abolish the Department of Education and allow states to fund and manage plans to make education more affordable/reachable. He also wants to provide a partial loan forgiveness and a voucher-like program. There is no information on how the states would fund these programs, and some have speculated that raising property taxes would be one way to do it.
In short, Trump wants to spend $20 billion in his first year of office to help states expand school choice programs. Additionally, he is suggesting that states invest $110 billion to help parents send their children to other schools. Some fear that this would devastate the public-school system in the country.
As part of getting rid of the Department of Education, Trump wants to privatize college loans and force colleges to trim administrative bloat. The Center for American Progress Action Fund believes that these actions would lay-off 500,000 teachers and cause 8 million low-income students to lose college grants.
Hillary’s plan relies mostly on government to expand chances for education. She wants a program to make preschool universal, funded by a Federal-state partnership. She has also taken Bernie Sanders’ plan to make public college and university tuition free for all whose families earn less that $125,000. Implementation would not come until 2021. Chances that this would pass in a divided Congress are small.
As for those that are already in debt, Hillary’s plan is to refinance all student loans so that they could be repaid with no more than 10 percent of the debtor’s income, with loan balance forgiveness after 20 years. This has a slightly higher chance of passing in Congress. But don’t hold your breath if Congress remains divided and polarized.
In addition, there is some concern that to implement part or all of Hillary’s plan, wealthy families would lose their current tax breaks.
If you believe that making education more available to all—especially those that can’t afford it today—is the way to making future economic gains available for all, you you can see the clear delineation between these two candidates on this issue.
Trump’s slash and burn policies that would give the choices and responsibility mostly to states and the free market, and Hillary’s plan to gradually provide for a primarily government solution, contrast greatly.
No doubt that Trump’s proposals are the more radical. But are they practical?
On the other hand, will Hillary’s plan have any chance of being implemented by a polarized and party-divided Congress?
It’s your choice on November 8. (Unless you’ve already voted).
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, believes that we should join progressive countries in a 21st Century solution to education. He is in Twitter (@chibcharus), Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook (Mario Salazar).