Is President Obama’s proposal to make community college free a good idea? Is it even a functional idea? The issue definitely is complex and has its pros and cons. As Socrates said, “Every action has its pleasures and its price.”
It is not difficult to find flaws and potential ill effects of the proposal. If college were made free, even just the first two years, it is quite possible that the overall value of a college education would be diminished. Additionally, if community college were made free, four-year universities likely would suffer large losses in enrollment. Given the choice (1) to incur debt or pay for an education and (2) a free two years, it’s a no-brainer which most would choose.
Another side of the same problem is that it’s not likely that community colleges across the country are equipped to deal with a huge surge in enrollment. Finding a place to park at Amarillo College is bad enough already. Imagine if we had a few thousand more students.
Higher education is crucial to building an informed populace. A society should do everything it can to make it accessible to as many of its citizens as possible. But while hearing “free college” tickles the ears, it is common sense and basic economic principle that nothing is truly free, and someone would have to pay.
Here at The Ranger, we spent multiple meetings debating the pros and cons of the idea of free education. Those listed here are just a few that we touched on. We came to the conclusion that the proposal seems destined to fail and raises more questions than answers.
More than likely, any harm or benefit that might result from this plan is irrelevant. As our own congressman, U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, said in response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address, “Rather than propose serious solutions to address our nation’s pressing needs, the president chose politics and partisan rhetoric that show very little regard for the overall good of the country. The president chose to roll out plans for steep tax hikes and so-called ‘free’ community college that he knows will not pass the newly elected Congress.”
Many think the president has no intention of his proposition actually succeeding – that he simply wants to gain political points. The Republican Party now has control of the Senate and a stronger majority in the House than it has had in 80 years. Considering that Republicans generally are much more conservative with spending, it is highly unlikely that the president’s idea will come to fruition.
But President Obama did us and AC a favor by proposing it. Thousands of students start their journey to a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate every year at community colleges. Just as many complete vocational training and jump into the work force, quickly becoming productive members of our society.
Regardless of one’s position on the issue and the fact that the proposal probably will fail to get through Congress, the president’s proposal has accomplished something important already. The president has drawn attention to the importance of community college and the essential role these institutions play in American society.