Sunday, February 8, 2009

Education and Job Retraining Funds Not on Republican Radar. Free Market Collapse Your Problem, Not Theirs.

In the Wisconsin State Journal’s article, “State's technical colleges humming as economy goes flat,” we get a much deserved glimpse into the “retraining” rhetoric from the wrecking crew Republicans and gut wrenching realization that the emotional toll this economy is having on people is at its breaking point.

And officials say this may just be the beginning of a huge wave of people seeking a new livelihood at community colleges in the face of a slumping economy. As demand increases, the question is whether the technical colleges will have the resources to meet the need, especially as the state grapples with an estimated deficit of $5.7 billion. That's why the technical college system — like many other state agencies — is pegging some of its hopes on money from a federal stimulus package.

One community college’s increases are due in large part to the closure of the Janesville General Motors plant and surrounding suppliers. Complicating matters, many of the laid-off workers arriving at its door have not seen the inside of a classroom in years. "We're almost part of a triage team," said Linda Brown, community relations specialist at Blackhawk College. "The dislocated workers come in and they're in crisis. They're making forced decisions, 'I'm out of job, what do I do?' "

Some of the students struggle psychologically, dealing with the trauma of losing a job and arriving in the unfamiliar landscape of higher education. Linda Brown, community relations specialist at Blackhawk. Still, the prospects of training for a whole new career — especially for someone who may not have planned on switching jobs — can be overwhelming. "People are really lost," Pody said. "People get overwhelmed with choices. It seems like a great idea to go back to school, and it is. But there appears to be so many choices. Too many choices create confusion."

Dan Clancy, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System … not sure the technical colleges will get the extra $26 million they requested in the next two-year state budget for initiatives to train thousands of new skilled workers. “Whether there are the dollars to support us remains to be seen."

So is help on the way? Is education front and center for long term economic solutions? Are you kidding. Remember, the short term Republican Party "economy killers" are taking up about 40% of the Obama stimulus plan. Keep in mind that long term, conservatives want to do away with funding education completely, and leave that to the private sector. According to this list from CNN, these are some programs that have been cut:
$100 million for distance learning, $1 billion for Head Start/Early Start, $600 million for Title I (No Child Left Behind), $16 billion for school construction and $3.5 billion for higher education construction.

Now that’s planning ahead.

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