Obama’s Community College Plan Rife With Problems


I have to admit, there are things to admire about this shiny new version of President Obama. Mired for years in a state of ineffective wishy-washiness, Obama finally seems ready to embrace his role as leader of the free world. Unfortunately, his aims as leader are contrary to the betterment of America, but, you know, no one’s perfect.

Obama’s latest swing for the fences is a rudimentary plan to make community college free for students who can maintain a 2.5 grade point average. It’s a better idea than we’ve seen out of this administration in quite some time. Certainly, a plan to increase the prevalence of higher education is more laudable than a plan to embrace illegal immigrants. But as always, Obama’s efforts come with a litany of problems that appear invisible to his most fervent supporters.

We don’t have many specifics on the plan yet, but we can make preliminary judgments based on what we know. Announcing the project, Obama said it would save as many as nine million students an average of $3,800 per year. He said he wants the states to pick up 25 percent of the tab, with the federal government picking up the rest of it. He said it will be modeled after Tennessee Promise, a program that will make community college free for state residents with money from the lottery.

So far, that’s about all we know. Facing a Republican-dominated Congress, Obama is unlikely to push such an initiative through, especially if it means raising taxes. Based on the scarce information we have, it’s not even clear if it’s something he wants to push through. It may just be meant as a talking point; something he can recall fondly in interviews about his legacy years down the line. But if he’s serious – and millions of millennials hope that he is – it’s important to point out the potential pitfalls.

The Need for Skepticism

The problems are plentiful. Funding tuition through the government doesn’t address the big problems with community college graduation rates. While costs are likely part of the reason behind the country’s abysmal 31 percent, three-year graduation rates, they aren’t the whole story. Furthermore, federal funding may steal incentive for community colleges to improve. And finally, there’s no such thing as “free.” The money has to come from somewhere, and that either means increasing the debt or increasing taxes. Neither sounds good at a time when the economy is still on shaky ground.

There is another problem, of course, and that’s with the federal government taking yet another step into controlling the nation’s education sector. We’ve already seen liberal ideology seep into our public school system. Colleges are little fiefdoms of liberalism as it is; this proposal will seal the deal.

I applaud the president for aiming big on American education, but let’s make sure we look at this plan from all angles before we do something stupid. We already know what happens when we pass a bill without reading it.

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