So this popped up on Twitter.
Every student should have access to an education that aligns with industry demands and evolves to meet the demands of tomorrow’s global workforce.— Secretary Miguel Cardona (@SecCardona) December 16, 2022
It was swarmed, "This is not education," said many posters. "This is a bad tweet, and you should feel bad for writing it." And "Our children do not exist to serve." And "This sounds like the Chamber of Commerce, not the Department of Education."
Some were dipped in a bit more acid. "At this point, why not just send kids back to the mines" and "my parents always told me when i was growing up that i could be anything that tomorrow's global industrial workforce demands."
All of which are on point.
Look, it is important that children be able to support themselves when they grow up, and that they have a set of skills that can be marketed. We would do a huge disservice to students to send them into the world unemployable.
But to imagine that education is simply a means of providing employers with a full supply of useful meat widgets is such a sad, narrow, meager vision of education. It is certainly not what wealthy parents send their children off to school to learn.
Education should align with student needs, not industry demands (and why is it that industry gets to make demands). Education is about providing choices for students, not employers. It is about helping young humans figure out how to be their own best selves, about learning how to be fully human in the world. That certainly includes figuring out what work they are here to do, but if all you are is your work, then you have a problem.
And that should all be true for all children. It is not okay to say, "Well, those poor kids don't need a real education--they just need something that will get them a good job." This is the old idea, popular in certain Democratic administrations, that education is the only thing we need to fix poverty (and so we don't have to do other things). This is the old idea that poor people don't need rich lives or choices or the kind of deep, enriching education that not-poor kids get. And that is just all kinds of wrong.
So, yes, this was a terrible tweet, and I hope that whatever social media intern wrote it feels bad. Because this is a lousy thing for the United States Secretary of Education to put out there.