Marco Rubio Pushes Higher Education Reform on Bill Bennett's Radio Show

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: February 13, 2014 3:55 AM
Marco Rubio and Bill Bennett

Marco Rubio and Bill Bennett

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., continued his calls for higher education reform on Wednesday as he appeared on former U.S. Education Secretary Bill Bennett’s national radio talk-show.

Rubio has been making the rounds with the national media after unveiling his proposals for higher education reform at a speech at Miami-Dade College on Monday.

“You need more skill than ever before,” Rubio told Bennett about the current job market. “And our system of delivering skills, our education system, is not 21st century. It’s built on 20th century concepts that no longer are truly meeting the needs of our students. So, the single mom with two kids who has to work full-time and raise her family, she has no way to go back to school because there are no programs designed for someone like her, that are flexible enough. The individual who has lost their job, because it was automated or outsourced, needs to be retrained, can’t access the system. And then we have a bunch of young people graduating high school and going into college and getting degrees that don’t lead to jobs. And that’s a big problem because universities are feeding that and they’re giving students no information about their future prospects.

“So one of the proposals I have is that students have a right to know before they go,” Rubio added. “Before you take out a student loan, the school you’re at should tell you, ‘This is how much graduates from our school, with your degree, make.’ So you can make an informed decision about whether it’s worth taking out, you know, a Greek philosophy degree for a $20,000 loan.”

“This whole venture, tell me about it,” Bennett said. “Because people entering into the debate about higher education are often surprised by what they find. If you walk into the temple, the keepers of the temple do not particularly like it. They don’t take criticism well is what I’ve found.”

“Well they’re very insulated, clearly, because tenure insulates them,” Rubio responded. “They believe they’re above politics in many ways, but ultimately why do we invest in public education in this country? Because it is preparing a workforce. It is human infrastructure preparation that allows us to grow and expand our economy. The 21st century economy looks different than the 20th century economy. It demands a certain type of learning, a certain type of skill acquisition, and we need people to learn this stuff faster than ever before. We have an opportunity gap in America. And I said it in the speech, between haves and have-nots — those that have higher education, or some advanced education, and those that do not have it. The Pew study yesterday found that the gap between college graduates and noncollege graduates on an income basis is as wide as it’s ever been. We can close that gap, but we have got to make higher education more affordable, more flexible, and more available.”

Bennett has been a supporter of Rubio ever since the Florida Republican burst on the national scene in 2010 by driving then-Gov. Charlie Crist out of the Republican Party in that year’s U.S. Senate primary. Rubio easily defeated Crist, who continued his Senate bid with no party affiliation, and Democratic candidate then-U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla., in the general election.

In his 2011 book, “The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood,” Bennett included a profile of Rubio as a man that boys could admire.

Earlier in the week, Rubio appeared on Fox News and CNBC to promote his higher education reforms. 

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com

Comments (1)

10:49AM FEB 13TH 2014
Mr. Rubio continues to be a user of anyone who will give him a couple minutes of free airtime, including Billy Bennett! "Know before you go" is not nearly a new idea, as it has been discussed many times, and some schools do offer their opinions when asked, such as the degree the student wants to go for and another degree they are better suited for. The problem? MOST students have only an idea of what, exactly, they want. Usually, normally, almost always, many students remain undecided until they are almost Juniors which, by then, they have a much better idea of the direction they wish to take. Then is when counselors truly help the student based on their academic accomplishments, so far, select their path to that glorious outside world, of which they will conquer! Mr. Rubio needs to actually do some of his own "research" instead of using what his staff provides which is most often erroneous. No matter as he should be replaced in his next reelection bid.

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