Yesterday morning while watching the news, I saw Mitt Romney’s new attack ad about President Obama signing legislation to allow states to opt out of “welfare for work” and requiring welfare recipients to enroll in college or trade schools. Naturally, Romney posed this as a negative attack on hard working Americans while ignoring some pretty obvious realities.
Well, what Romney and his advisers seemed to miss is the extreme difficulty for “unskilled” workers to compete with “skilled” workers in a recovering economy. The rest of his campaign ads highlight the unemployment rate, yet that same (decreasing) unemployment rate wouldn’t affect welfare recipients.
Secondly, while we need more skilled people in the workforce, graduation rates are lowest at institutions that offer skilled training like community colleges and for-profit colleges. If people are ill-prepared by the high schools they attend and have financial stresses (because state and federal programs don’t cover everything for everyone), it will be extremely difficult for anyone to successfully complete their education or training.
I’ve attending a community college for a few classes and may in the future for a certificate, but the institution didn’t have the resources to help students that the private non-profit colleges I attended possessed. Even the public college my sister is attending offers more assistance to students to increase their chances at graduating. According to National Center for Education Statistics:
- At 2-year institutions, about 27 percent of first-time, full-time students who enrolled in fall 2005 completed a certificate or associate’s degree within 150 percent of the normal time required to complete such a degree.
- At 2-year institutions, the retention rates for those who entered school in 2008 were the following: 59 percent of full-time and 40 percent of part-time students at public institutions, 59 percent of full-time and 60 percent of part-time students at private not-for-profit institutions, and 69 percent of full-time and 47 percent of students at private for-profit institutions.
Bottom line, Mitt Romney might want to pay attention to the facts including that many states wanted the President to pass this legislation so they would have more flexibility in how they helped welfare recipients.
The following articles might also be informative:
“Mitt Romney Ad Criticizes Obama For Welfare Policy Romney Supported As Governor” for Huffington Post by Arthur Delaney (8/7/12)
“The Poor Better Off 15 Years After Welfare Reform?” for NPR’s Tell Me More by NPR Staff (8/22/11)