Most Americans, not just those in the #LibertyMovement, agree that our kids, students, and young people would benefit from hands-on experience in the workforce. Unfortunately, our federally overmanaged education system does a poor job of creating opportunities for real-life experience outside of classroom curricula. The upshot here is that a few easy reforms could go a long way towards maximizing the opportunity for our future workforce. And it starts, as so many things do, with individual ownership. 

As the 2020 presidential candidate for the Libertarian party, Dr. Jo Jorgensen shared, “I want an education marketplace that provides parents of all backgrounds the opportunity to choose from among cyber schools, parochial schools, private schools, homeschooling, or any other option, to decide which is best for their children’s futures.” 

By acknowledging the responsibility of educating children ultimately lies with their parents, Dr. Jo called for the chance to put them in the driver’s seat. The trouble is, we’ve outsourced that responsibility to the federal government, handing over the power to steer our children’s education the way they – the legislators, not the parents – see fit and creating an entitlement.

Unsurprisingly, as with any entitlement system, reversing it is like trying to put the proverbial toothpaste back in the tube…really messy and nearly impossible. 

Many libertarians believe dismantling the increasingly unpopular and highly politicized Department of Education (see the report from the Pew Research Center, here) and re-centering education with States and local communities is one of the best ways to create opportunities tailored to the various regional and demographic needs of our diverse citizenry. Developing a tiered plan with actionable steps towards implementation will have to take the various voices of all stakeholders into account – which means it will take time. Fortunately, more immediate improvements can still be made within the current system via local initiatives and outreach.

What could that look like? 

Well, in two words: building relationships.

Specifically, at the community level we could all work locally to connect schools with owners and managers of local businesses and industries. Establishing these relationships is the fertile soil from which multiple opportunities can grow. Anything from more frequent, more in-depth career days to field trips, to apprenticeships, to internships, and scholarships for further study could result as these relationships develop over time. 

“Education, even early schooling, should keep pace with the realities of an ever-evolving job market and ever-changing industrial landscape.” 

A decentralized education system would allow for more nimble, more effective alignment between job skills and curricula (check out a past LA Times op-ed, here). But in the meantime, individual parents will need to step up and close the gap by making inroads, and bringing people together. That, after all, is what putting #PeopleB4Politics is all about – people finding innovative solutions to common problems without relying on the government.

What are some steps you are taking in your community to broaden opportunities for young people to participate in internships, on-the-job training, or other hands-on learning experiences with local businesses? We want to hear your ideas and solutions!

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