By Samuel Shumate
Obama’s community college subsidy proposal is asinine and destined to fail. While addressing a crowd in Tennessee last month, President Obama claimed that free tuition at community colleges would pave the way for an adept workforce. However, a report from the National Center for Education Statistics claims: “only one in five students who attend community college earn a bachelor’s degree within six years.” Obama’s goal is clear: adding more “skilled workers” to the workforce in order to promote upward social mobility. Liberal pundits believe that subsidies will bolster education; however this is a fallacy because most students in the bottom half of the income distribution are already eligible for federal grant aid. According to a report from the Community College Research Center in 2012, 62% of community colleges paid all or some tuition. The government should focus on reducing the rising costs at four-year universities before handing out more free money.
Interestingly, Obama’s proposal derives from the “Tennessee Promise,” a turbulent statute in the state of Tennessee. For instance, community college graduation rates across the United States are low to begin with. In Tennessee, the average graduation rate is 13%, with some community colleges having as low as 6%. Thus, liberals are right on one aspect: there will be greater access to higher education; however, it will be unattainable due to the low graduation rates in community colleges. With low graduation rates in community colleges and a national average time until graduation of three years, the American College Promise will fail.
Apart from in-school success, an estimated $60 billion in spending over the next ten years remains unpopular with the middle and upper class. How will free community college alleviate the burdensome costs of attending a four-year university? It won’t. Obama thinks he hit a home run with this proposal, but conservatives view it as striking out. Essentially, placing more students in struggling community colleges won’t significantly increase graduation rates as Obama promises. Instead of lying to the American people, rolling up his sleeves and working with Congress to provide states more flexibility with education is a start.
Why doesn’t the president work to eradicate the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Program? This program has been disastrous in the states mainly because courses in the arts have been deeply cut. As a result, students pursuing careers outside the STEM Program are unable to take classes that would be beneficial.
The United States should always strive to become more competitive in education. Funding, investing in teachers, and placing a focus on state over federal control are what generate innovative educational policies. Rather than expanding the welfare state, where individuals depend on the government for years, the U.S. education focus should be rewarding those who worked extremely hard and achieved exceptional grades in high school. Education is not listed anywhere in the Constitution and is certainly a privilege, not a right.