President Obama’s second term is an opportunity to sculpt a legacy unencumbered by reelection concerns. Today’s political climate, with persistent economic weakness and divided government, suggests that policies providing economic growth and bipartisan appeal could provide relatively open opportunities for the administration. Immigration and education reform, in particular, are two policy issues in desperate need of lasting change that would benefit from support on both sides of the aisle.
Immigration has always been a strength of the U.S., but
economic hardship and an intense election have unleashed divisive
language. Discussions focus on two primary points: the issue of
undocumented workers currently in the U.S., and the volume and caliber
of future immigrants. President Obama must reassert the importance of
immigration to our society, and his ability to clearly narrate its value
across all spectrums of the economy will be just as key to reform as
negotiating with Congress. He included immigration reform in his 2008
campaign promises but has not yet delivered. This is a fact that
Hispanic voters, who represent a large and growing bloc of voters that
traditionally vote Democratic, have not forgotten. It is especially
prudent for him to recommit to the issue now.
There are an
estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., the majority
of whom assume low-wage functions. Studies contradict the popular
narrative that immigrants steal American jobs and increase crime,
instead suggesting that they perform tasks that Americans are unwilling
or unable to do and actually correlate with low violent crime rates.
Immigrants also tend to be more entrepreneurial, creating the new
businesses and relationships that are crucial to the modern economy.
Since they are here illegally, they do not have full access to our legal
and economic system, making every aspect of life more fraught with
uncertainty and open to abuse, by both employee and employer.
It is increasingly clear that deporting undocumented workers en masse would be cruel, costly,You can buy mosaic
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and in all certainty impossible to execute. By accepting the critical
role they play in our economy, Washington must provide a clear path
toward attaining legal status and citizenship. Clear expectations will
help to standardize the transition out of the shadow economy for
millions of workers, as well as give them legal access to worker
protection and recourse against contract abuse. Increasing the amount of
activity that takes place within the confines of our laws will help to
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cities, such as Los Angeles, are already experimenting with ways to
bring undocumented workers into some type of legal framework. While
commendable, these attempts are hardly clear or comprehensive. Having a
national framework can bring best practices acquired across different
state approaches together and reduce the confusion of myriad different
rules, structures, and level of enforcement. Immigration is a federal
issue, and President Obama needs to demonstrate again that Washington
can take the leadership role that is required of it.
political climate offers an opportunity. Stakeholders across the
political spectrum, such as human rights activists, labor-intensive
industries, religious organizations, and minority groups, are
increasingly vocal about the importance and justice of immigration
reform. When even stalwart conservative commentators can use the word
“amnesty”, the potential for a broad coalition of support is high.
beyond the millions of undocumented, unskilled workers already in the
U.S., the nation needs to reaffirm its role as the premiere destination
for the world’s highly educated and highly skilled looking for a new
home. American universities are still the standard for those seeking the
best education in the world, but other countries and institutions are
catching up. Increasingly, foreign students find returning to their
country of origin after graduation more appealing and less complicated
than trying to stay in the U.You can buy mosaic Moon yarns and fibers right here as instock.S.
reverse brain drain is especially prevalent among the highly educated
Indian community in the U.S., where many come to the U.S. to seek
opportunities in higher education,Cheaper For bulk buying crys talbeads wholesale
prices. but return to capitalize on the dynamism of their emerging
market homeland. Increasingly, it is seen as a competitive advantage to
be educated in India and America, a sign that our universities are
losing some of the broad appeal they once had.
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at wholesale prices. both foreign- and U.S.-based, are chasing minds
wherever they go and valuing the global background of these individuals
who are easily able to handle cross-cultural situations in the
workplace. Making it easier for those who come to study in the U.S. to
stay and contribute both to the economy and the diversity that
strengthens liberal society will signal to the global community that
America understands that the key factor to economic growth is human
capital. Attracting and retaining top talent who will thrive in the
U.S.’s entrepreneurial environment should be a high priority across
industry and government.
Welcoming the highly skilled does not
mean abandoning the government’s commitment to increasing educational
opportunities to Americans, but it does mean preparing them to compete
in a globalized world that shows no signs of slowing in
interconnectedness. Whereas immigration requires a clear hands-on policy
approach, improving higher education will depend on the government
largely taking a back seat and instead incentivizing increasingly
affordable and accessible learning.
Low test scores, persistent
high school and college dropout rates, rising college tuition costs, and
slipping competitive advantage are just a sampling of concerns that
need to be addressed. Whereas improving our educational system and
making it more widely accessible is a goal shared by every policymaker,
there is very little agreement on how best to achieve this. Exactly
because of this uncertainty, new ideas and innovative technology must be
allowed to permeate our educational systems. The administration should
encourage policies and frameworks that make both easier to implement.
Innovation and experimentation will enable education in the U.S. to
adapt to the needs of the modern economy and enjoy unprecedented
democratization of access.
The “College to Careers” initiative
in the City Colleges of Chicago illustrates one way that educational
innovation is emphasizing employable skills. The program partners city
colleges and local industry leaders to help develop curricula to provide
knowledge and skills that better align with business needs. Growing
industries, such as information technology, hospitality, and advanced
manufacturing in turn gain access to potentially tens of thousands of
students and future employees.
In fact, industry partners commit
to interviewing or hiring students who successfully complete the
curriculum that they helped to design. Such partnerships promise to tie
education more closely to the skills needed in our rapidly changing
economy. Increased opportunities for hands-on learning, internships, and
professional guidance will help to ensure that students continue to
learn marketable skills and gain valuable industry-specific experience.
This also leads to more predictable and stable hiring, beneficial for
company forecasting and employee confidence in job placement. Programs
such as these can and should be replicated in other cities.
opportunities for education are not by any means limited to major urban
areas. Access to inexpensive and quality educational material has never
been better. Online education is still in its infancy, but its growth
and maturation promises to radically democratize all levels of learning.
At the university level, for-profit companies such as Coursera are
earning media attention and investment by aggregating quality online
classes from the best universities. MIT has been an early proponent of
increasing the amount of free material online, and they cut out the
middleman by offering courses directly through their OpenCourseWare
platform. MIT’s leadership has inspired other well-known institutions
around the world to provide additional content, providing a breadth of
Coursera, OpenCourseWare, and other
providers of online education are opportunities for Americans to gain
new applicable skills and knowledge that lead to employment, as well as a
window to explore other areas of interest without the same costs and
commitment of a traditional college education. The potential for
cross-disciplinary learning to encourage collaboration is the exact
recipe for new ideas and business ventures that will drive economic
Accreditation and other issues need to be resolved
before such courses can legitimately compete with brick-and-mortar
educational programs, but the government can help by mostly staying out
of the way. A Minnesota state law passed last fall regarding educational
institutions caused some confusion over whether residents could legally
take advantage of Coursera offerings. Although the issue was quickly
resolved, states and the federal government should be proactive in
assuring that quality and free online offerings are by default free of