South Dakota, Starbucks Define “Opportunity” Differently

In South Dakota, when our political leaders talk about giving young workers an opportunity, they mean, “Cut their pay a dollar, and let them be glad they have any job in the first place!”

At Starbucks, when the boss talks about giving young workers an opportunity, he means, “Go to college; I’ll pay for it.” Starbucks today announced that it will invest up to $250 million through 2025 to pay for up to 25,000 employees at company-owned stores getting full bachelor’s degrees through Arizona State University’s online degree program.

Starbucks still makes me suspicious... but not as much as my legislators.
Starbucks still makes me suspicious… but not as much as my legislators.

Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO of Starbucks, said tuition reimbursement is one way the company can continue to invest in its workforce in a way that aligns with their mission.

“Everyone deserves a chance at the American dream,” Mr. Schultz said in a press release. “The unfortunate reality is that too many Americans can no longer afford a college degree, particularly disadvantaged young people, and others are saddled with burdensome education debt. By giving our partners access to four years of full tuition coverage, we will provide them a critical tool for lifelong opportunity. We’re stronger as a nation when everyone is afforded a pathway to success” [Samantha Laine, “Barista to College Grad? Starbucks Now Covers 4 Years of College Tuition,” Christian Science Monitor, 2015.04.07].

The same South Dakota Governor and legislators who think “opportunity” means “lower wages for kids” couldn’t work up the guts to support a simple tuition freeze for those kids once they enter college.

But hey! Sioux Falls Has Jobs™, right, Mayor Huether? And we’ll spend tax dollars to advertise that fact, because we don’t want workers to miss out on opportunities!

4 Responses to South Dakota, Starbucks Define “Opportunity” Differently

  1. Here, in part, is what much of the world thinks of South Dakota’s “dumb state” approach and [lack of] opportunity.

    We can’t fill the cemeteries fast enough.

  2. mike from iowa

    Good article,John. Wingnuts could use some serious innovations to get brought in contact with at least the 20th century.

    I think I finally understand why every Potus election year is called “leap” year. That is when wingnut pretenders leap from faux reality to La-La Land in order to out-stoopid their nutjob competition.

  3. Douglas Wiken

    Nothing in the law says that responsible, fair employers can’t pay 17 year olds the same thing they pay adults for a minimum wage.

  4. I’m a big fan of tuition reimbursement programs, and I admire Starbucks’ for giving their employees a way to better themselves, but I have to say I’m a little disappointed that they are limiting the education to the online degrees offered by ASU.

    As many hiring managers will attest to, an online bachelor’s degree isn’t worth nearly as much as a traditional program. I’ve heard HR personnel admit that an online degree is essentially worthless, and if a position requires a four year BA or BS degree, they automatically filter out anyone with a degree from University of Phoenix, Kaplan, Everest, Capella, Colorado Tech, etc.

    I’m sure Starbucks worked out an arrangement for reduced tuition so it allows them to offer education to more of their employees for the same cost. Perhaps this is the best balance, but those employees/students should be aware that when they enter the job search they will find it more difficult to compete against applicants who have a traditional campus-based degree from a respected University.