Friday, June 01, 2007

Deval Patrick: Free Community College

According to the Boston Globe, that's his ultimate goal. Very cool. I don't know how he intends to pay for it, but he's going to set up a commission to investigate it. And, really, is that such a bad thing? To create a goal, then spend the time figuring out how to get there?
Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, estimated Patrick's plan for the community colleges alone would cost roughly $50 million to $75 million a year.

Not only does it sound worth it, but it sounds rather reasonable as well. One of the biggest goals our founding fathers had was to create equal opportunity for all. That doesn't exist today - and Massachusetts isn't much better than the rest of the country. Free community college could be a stepping stone that truly does equate to equal opportunity: it really could open up some doors.

Equal opportunity is far different than handouts or public welfare. It's giving people the boots they need to wear to rise up. If people have almost no opportunity, how can they be expected to get out of poverty or improve their lives? Furthermore, it could be very likely that, over time, investing in this kind of public education would create additional revenue for the state. The people who take advantage of free community college are going to be able to turn that into better paying jobs, which means they'll pay tens of thousands more in taxes over the course of their lifetime.

Kudos to Deval Patrick for creating another great idea. Now, what can we do - as citizens of this state - to make it happen?


I do like one of Widmer's other lines in the Globe,
"We can't do it either without making some tough choices or raising a broad-based tax or if we get major economic growth," said Widmer, adding that support for raising taxes appears weak.

And I'm sure that's coming from a purely non-prejudiced, could-never-have-any-bias sort of opinion, right? In my experience, people don't mind paying fees as long as a) they know what it's going to and b) they feel as if it's worth while. For example, people aren't likely to say yes to a Prop 2 1/2 override if they don't understand why it's necessary, but if they do know what it's going for and they think it's needed - they're a whole lot more likely to pass it. The Governor, with his bully pulpit, is the person most poised to make an argument of why certain things need additional funding. He's doing that right now with the Municipal Partnership Act, something that enjoys broad support in cities and towns - it's just a few pesky leaders in the House and Senate that aren't thrilled (and I'm sure that has nothing to do with their corporate funders lobby friends).


Anonymous said...

The only way I'd support free college is if it's tied in with a public service requirement for people who have benefited from the plan. Two years free college, two years in Americorp, Peace Corp etc.

Ryan Adams said...


Why not support it because everyone deserves the same opportunity to succeed? There's still a very large inequity in higher education: in a town like where I'm from, where people are middle to upper class, nearly everyone got to go to college. Next door, in Lynn or Salem, things were radically different.

Why shouldn't they have the same opportunity I did? It's not their fault they were born with a parent who wasn't quite as capable as mine in providing me an opportunity, and a safety net, to go to college.

Furthermore, not all people come from a background that everyone went to college - and therefore, the expectation and knowledge isn't there. If you haven't had a parent who's gone through the process, you're going to be lost, lost, lost. It's a complicated thing and *so easy* to fuck up - for example, my friend this year didn't sign up for a dorm in time... and now, God knows if he'll find housing. I knew better than that - because I've had parents who have done that been there, seen that, before.

Anonymous said...

And then what free 4 year schools, maybe throw in grad school. Then get jobs where you can't be fired for screwing up, because it was their first mistake. Guess what, from the time we divided up for dodgeball teams in 2nd grade some people are going to achieve more that others because they're hungrier. If your friend didn't get in a dorm, he learned a life lesson. It won't happen again. Next time he'll be first in line, good for him.

Ryan Adams said...

That, sir, is not what America is all about. If you don't believe in equal opportunity, that's your right, but in America we value equal opportunity for all.

Is it full-proof? No. Do I think people should get a free four years? Yes, but I think starting out with two has merit. If people do well with two and get at least a B average, then I think the state ought to invest in the full four.

By that point, I think equal opportunity has been reached. Many grad programs will pay for themselves and, if not, will certainly garner wages afterwards to compensate students. Furthermore, they'll know the system by then and be fully prepared to advocate for themselves by then.

My friend could be royally screwed next year - and it ain't his fault. You ought to take my word for it because I've had experience at that college and know exactly what happened and how easy it was for someone to do that who had never had housing before and dealt with that process. Hopefully, things will work out, they tend to do that in the long run, but it shouldn't have happened and it's as much the school's fault as it is his.

Anonymous said...

I beleive in equal opportunity, up to the end of high school. Then you're adults and learn to act in the real world. You can't hold someone's hand forever. I was the first in my family to graduate college, guess what, I went to work full time after high school and put myself through college nights. No handouts but then again I didn't expect any.

Anonymous said...

Why not both? You know, like 10-15 hours of service while attending school.

Anonymous said...

Good idea, as long as it's not something for nothing.

Roll Over Nuts said...

What's wrong with having something for nothing if it leads to a better educated citizenry? Have you ever stopped to think that the reason people become homeless, commit crimes or whatever is because of lack of education and opportunity? Free community college could go a long way in helping that. With a better education people could be getting better jobs and contributing more to society. Instead of being bitter and wanting to deny people a free education because you had to work hard for what you have, you should be happy to help your fellow citizen/human being.

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