Student loans

How unnecessary regulations are driving people into debt and losing their jobs

Immigrant Ilumi Sanchez appreciates the value of education. Before coming to the United States in 1995, she earned a law degree in her native Dominican Republic and worked as a lawyer.

Her two children have also graduated from college, and Sanchez has helped support them with income from a home daycare center she operates in Washington, DC. Her husband, a doorman, also contributed, and collectively the family made education an ongoing priority. Yet Sanchez understands that formal education is not the only route to knowledge.

Universities, colleges, and vocational schools have a purpose, but some professions can be learned in other ways. So Sanchez fought back when Washington passed rules in 2016 requiring child care providers to earn an associate’s degree in early childhood development or a closely related field.

The new regulations, which have yet to come into effect, would force people like Sanchez back to school or risk having their businesses shut down. Rather than accept the violation of her right to earn an honest living, Sanchez filed a lawsuit to stop the deployment, and our public interest law firm, the Institute for Justice, is representing her.

If Sanchez fails, a degree requirement would inevitably mean fewer child care providers, and fewer providers would mean higher prices. Washington already has the highest child care costs in the country. Among other unintended consequences, the mandate would force child care providers to take out student loans they can’t always afford — trapping them in debt against their will — to learn skills they don’t always need. .

Sanchez proves it. She has worked with children for over 25 years and already has references from a private accreditation agency. More importantly, his customers love him. If she lacked competence, the problems would have arisen long ago.

Regulators in Washington and beyond don’t care. Nationally, compulsory education requirements have increased in recent decades. About one in 20 American workers needed a professional license to earn an income in 1950. Today, the rate is about one in fourand many licenses include educational components.

Pennsylvania and Vermont, for example, require a college for child care staff. Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, and Washington, DC require college for interior designers. And Georgia tried to impose a collegiate requirement on lactation consultants until the Institute for Justice fought the legislation in court last month.

States also mandate professional training, especially in the beauty industry. Wyoming, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Montana even require African-style hair braiders to earn cosmetology degrees — though beauty schools rarely teach this skill. Idaho weavers faced the same hurdle until March 28, when lawmakers passed emergency reforms in response to a lawsuit by the Institute for Justice.

Regulators claim good intentions when imposing these requirements, but the mandates reflect a form of elitism. Many legislators and government officials have college degrees. Higher education is part of their identity – a rite of passage – so they assume that others need the same experience.

What regulators overlook is the value of diversity. Educational decisions are deeply personal and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. People should be free to choose the level of education they want.

Aspiring chefs, mechanics, artists, musicians, journalists, entrepreneurs and business owners already have a choice. Programs are available for all of these activities, but registration is voluntary. Ironically, even university professors do not face the education requirements imposed by the government. If Sanchez wanted to teach early childhood development and found a college willing to hire him, regulators would have no say.

Coercion should never be part of the equation unless regulators can show that the obstacle is necessary and the least restrictive option available to protect public health and safety. Unfortunately, policy makers often act instead to protect special interests. An institute for justice reportpublished on February 24, finds that at least 83% of requests for new regulations come from trade and professional associations, that is, from lobbyists and not from consumers.

That’s what happened in Georgia with the decision to force lactation consultants to go to college. The lobby group behind the law was the US Lactation Consultant Association, which would have benefited from the law’s coming into force, as many of its members’ competitors would have been banned from their fields.

Compulsory degrees and diplomas rarely have an objective meaning. In states that take the time to conduct independent reviews, auditors refuse to recommend a professional license about 80 percent of the time. Forced schooling crumbles under scrutiny.

States widen opportunity gaps when they ignore the evidence. Regulatory regimes often target higher-income fields like medicine and law, but doctors and lawyers have the resources to absorb the costs. Workers in low-income occupations do not. Women, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and other marginalized workers suffer disproportionately.

Going back to school is just not an option for Sanchez. She would be nearly 60 by the time she graduates, giving her a small window to repay her loans. And passing classes in his non-native English would present challenges.

She believes in education. But formal schooling is not the right answer for everyone.