A Modest Proposition

…to be euphemistic.  Both ideas are outrages, but one has a chance of success at achieving the stated objective.

President Obama proposes that we give two years of college to all students free of charge to them.  The taxpayer, of course, will take it in the shorts.

The proposal to give away free college years is an admission that our national primary and secondary schools are failures at properly educating our people.

The first two years of college for most students these days are often filled with remedial courses to prepare the student for ACTUAL college level work.  The first 8 grades of school used to be enough years of learning to prepare people for successful adulthood. Then we instituted public schools as a nation to train farmers’ children to be barely-literate factory workers in 12 years.  The sights were set low, and we have now seen what it is to achieve the stated objective: our people are largely uneducated by the time they are old enough to work, but they could push buttons or pull levers all day.  Now that we are no longer a nation of manual and factory laborers, we find ourselves replete with people only educated well enough to do Industrial Revolution-era style manufacturing work.  This is not a healthy model.  Also, for some reason, parents these days seem to want their children well-enough educated to succeed at life doing something better than flipping burgers.  So, to placate the parents and get the students ready to do something that involves a modicum of brainpower, the proposal is to send them to college for two years.*

This is nothing more than an extension of high school.  In addition to a HUGE power and money transfer, there is very little additional benefit to this idea. The people who REALLY want a college education somehow figure out how to get it done. Those who can’t afford it now are given money in Pell and other grants as well as relatively low-rate FAFSA loans. To say the cost is the problem is to admit you don’t understand why people don’t go to college.

Now here’s a question for those who will consider it:

Would you rather give every student $6,000 for two years of community college tuition, or would you rather give $6,000 cash to every student who graduates high school with a B or better average?

I would much rather the second.

The students who have no family or cultural reason to even want to BE in school, will surely understand the meaning of cold, hard cash in their hands.  It’s been tried and proved: Bribing children to do well in school results in them doing significantly better in school.  The upshot of this method is not only motivating children who might otherwise be dropouts to succeed in high school.  There is an additional benefit: they would have money to start on their college careers if they chose to continue their education.  Otherwise, they would have money to get a deposit on an apartment and buy a beater car, and be in good shape to start their own lives on their own two feet.

********

*He actually said he wants to give them college years free, “…if they are willing to work for it”.  Now there’s a cryptic sentence for you.

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