Pro: Free community college is crucial
State-funded two-year institution system needs to hold primacy within California
Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 17:05
California community college education is being transformed, leaving people with the inability to pay for education in the dust.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to learn, even if he or she doesn’t have the proper pocketbook for that education.
According to the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education in California, education “shall be tuition-free to all residents.” This was based on the idea that public education should be free and available to all students just like with the K-12 system.
Sadly, at a meeting in San Francisco on Dec. 10, 1982, the Board of Governors voted for the first time in state history to make students pay for courses at two-year colleges. If the same principles that were put into a free, state-funded K-12 system were put again into higher education, we could truly make education available to everyone.
Author Jeffrey Sachs argues in his book “The Price of Civilization” that the cost of making all public higher education free in America would be between $15 to $30 billion. While this may sound like a large amount of cash, it could actually save money in the long run.
First of all, the California government spends billions of dollars on for-profit schools and other colleges and universities that have low graduation rates. What is going on in California is that as students get priced out of the University of California, they drop out or go to community colleges.
The current educational system needs to be changed to make education available to everyone. According to National Center for Education statistics, only 30 percent of Americans who start college end up graduating. This represents a huge waste of time and money.
If students did not have to work while in school, the graduation rate would improve dramatically. It seems the biggest reason why students drop out of college is that they cannot afford the extremely high cost of tuition.
Although the U.S. has a free K-12 public education system, its failure to fund higher education means that America’s economy is unable to compete with other developed nations that have free universities.
By removing the need for students to go into debt, the government would allow graduates to be more productive and have more money to spend, which in turn would act as a stimulus for the economy.
While few people would reject the idea of a free K-12 education, it is now time to make college available to everyone by making it free, once again, in California.