Workforce Development

August 18, 1998
With a stroke of a pen, President Clinton linked education and labor together in a bill designed to promote and implement workforce development. Unfortunately, Congress passed and the President signed the "Workforce Investment Partnership Act." Many pro-family groups said that it was the final piece of the puzzle (along with Goals 2000 and School-to-Work legislation) that changed schools from places of education to little more than job training centers.

So you may say, what's wrong with that? After all, some of these bills guarantee parents that "we'll train your child for a job." Some even guarantee that "a job will exist for your student." And that is the problem: more governmental control in the form of a centralized data base for job skills and workforce boards that direct these programs.

Frankly, I think this issue of workforce development is fraught with problems. First, it is elitist. Government planners and educrats assume they know what is best for the child and are given the power to "pick" an occupational path for a child. Second, it is social engineering. Children will be herded into social classes of occupations and not allowed to pursue their dreams. There's no place for Horatio Alger stories in this program!

Third, it is reductionistic. It reduces the children to what they can do, rather than appreciate them for who they are. Schools need to educate the whole child, not just prepare them for a job. Finally, it is impractical. Who can accurately predict what kind of jobs will exist in the 21st Century? Workforce development is a bad idea and I'm saddened that the President signed the bill.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International