I think this is exactly what the federal government ought to be doing: building the national infrastructure and setting priorities. So I’m completely behind Obama’s proposal to make community college free for everybody for the first two years, a project that will lead to an expansion of our educational system, more employment for educators, and more opportunities for young people. It’s estimated to cost $34 billion — scrap a few defense contracts, we can cover that.
I’d also like to see more support for four year colleges — somebody needs to call state governments to the carpet for their steady decline in support for their educational responsibilities. Cecilia Munoz has said that one expectation of this plan is that they want this to be a high quality education, that enables a transition to a four year college.
“Community colleges have to raise their game by establishing standards to allow students to transfer those credits to a four year degree,” she said. “And students must take responsibility for their education, earn good grades and stay on track to graduate in order to earn free tuition.”
That’s a good start, but the places with four year degree options are also really strapped and reaching the limits of our capacity — a new influx of students into our upper-level courses (with their greater teaching demands) with no increase in our support from the state is worrisome. We’ll also need additional income to support those students, and it shouldn’t come in the form of even more tuition increases.