THE FEDERALIST: ‘Free’ Community College Will Just Make High School Six Years Long

Career College Central Summary:

  • President Obama’s plan to offer universal free community college “to those who are willing to work for it” is essentially a scheme to have taxpayers foot the bill for two extra years of high school.
  • This is not to say that all community colleges are glorified high schools. Many are comparable in rigor to four-year universities, including the one I attended. It is to say, however, that community college, particularly for the liberal arts graduates, does exactly what junior and senior year of high school should have done.
  • But due to a steady decline in academic standards and a “race toward the middle” approach to public-school education, where struggling or failing students drag back the rest of their class, college in general is often perceived as essential education for one to become a productive and successful economic participant.
  • Like so many other pundits, Tamara Draut on “Fox and Friends” recited a popular line of thinking that has helped drive the college frenzy, saying, “We know that the jobs that are here today and in the future are going to require more college than our citizens are currently getting.”
  • Well, no. The problem is not that students aren’t getting enough college. The problem is that students aren’t getting enough education. America is spending a whole lot of tax dollars on subpar public schools.
  • My home state of Washington spends about $10,063 per student, and Washington DC spends more than $18,000 per student on K-12 education. On average, the nation’s taxpayers shell out $10,600 dollars per student per year to educate them in the public schools. That’s over $127, 000 over twelve grades, and the figure doesn’t include capital costs such as school construction and maintenance.
  • Tuition for the community college I attended was approximately $4,000 per year, assuming one was taking 45 credits per year. But tuition doesn’t reflect the actual cost of a junior college education. Washington State‘s proposed budget for 2015-2017 is more than $800 million.  SBTC.edu, Washington’s main website for the 3- college system, claims that it “prepares nearly 400,000 students for careers, to transfer to four-year colleges and universities, and with new skills for better lives.” That translates to just above $1,000 in subsidies annually per student, and factoring in books and supplies, a sum of about $6,100 per year per student. Had I been educated in the public school system, my education through freshman and sophomore year of college would have cost a whopping $151,400.
  • In other words, we are spending a fortune on educating American children, yet we still feel that we must spend even more money, and another four or more years going into deep personal debt (for which the taxpayers are on the hook) to be “ready for the workforce.”
  • Are you telling me that in 13 years of having children focus on practically nothing outside of education (fewer and fewer teens have part-time jobs now), we graduate them without the tools they need to succeed in the job market? This has to be the biggest scam the government has ever run on us. Yet America is poised, if Obama has his way, to swallow an estimated $60 billion in new taxes, because we’ve done such a bang-up job with kids’ first 13 years of “education.”
  • Let’s be clear: advocates for free community college are advocating for six years of public high school, and a mediocre six years at that. The reasoning is two-fold: One, that community college provides education our current high schools should be able to, and two, that once “free” community college is established, government bloat ensues, further reducing the quality of junior college education.

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THE FEDERALIST

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