Free college is a bad joke that refuses to die. Senator Bernie Sanders just joined Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) to have another try at a federal promise of college for the masses.1 Sanders’ press release about the College for All Act talks of how things are different from the days when a high school diploma was enough.
Arne Duncan left Chicago and a school system dominated by unions to oversee the Department of Education. Has education in America changed?
The harangues about failing children, a dumb and dumber America losing its place in the world, underpaid teachers, and crumbling school buildings are tired political issues that manage to skirt one big problem: we don’t have enough money for public education in America. Why? Because too many benefit from the money that should be going to kids’ educations. Just ask Arne Duncan and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn how much money goes to pay exorbitant teachers’ pensions instead of preparing children for the future we keep hearing is slipping out of our grasp.
Big education has brought us Common Core, demands to pay exorbitant teacher salaries, battles with unions over wages and benefits, restrictions on what our kids can eat, arguments for training more STEM teachers, and the insistence that anyone coming to America has the right to a free public education whether they should be here or not. These are the issues discussed in the education category.
For better or worse, public education is a government offering for the masses paid for by taxpayers. How much can and should we expect?
“Pipeline to prison” is a slogan you are going to hear many times over the next year. What it means is that no matter how much money taxpayers give to schools, kids are going from kindergarten to the big house because we aren’t paying enough.
Someone wiser than me confided that the secret to college is understanding that you are persevering against nothing. The only thing you are fighting is yourself as you acquire lots of debt to attend classes you will never use and study long, lonely hours while living like a pauper.
Had we taken it seriously we would have been stunned by the new White House proposal that taxpayers shell out $60 billion to pay for the first two years of college. This sort of meaningless gibberish is standard political fare before the State of the Union, so the shock over suggesting a massive new federal giveaway was blunted by knowing it is never going to happen.
The Department of Education is giving its all to turn the failure to achieve equity in education into a civil rights problem. Tossing the race card on the table was a shamelessly transparent follow-up to the release of civil rights data on inequality in school discipline (see: Universal Preschool: Civil Rights and Race, or Bad Kids?