I believe that state and federal governments should be falling all over themselves to make quality public higher education available to everyone who wants it.
I think Americans should be embarrassed that while many other countries provide higher education at little or no cost to everyone who qualifies — here it is becoming harder and harder for families to afford to send their children to college.
Many students are still coming to college, but they and their parents work harder and students take on greater and greater debt loads to pay for their educations.
It is shortsighted for us to put college education beyond precisely those students who can least afford it.
Why should policy makers and legislators worry about the students whose parents or academic gifts do not make possible Ivy League educations?
— Because as low skill American jobs move overseas the worthwhile replacement jobs demand an educated workforce.
— Because if we want to compete with the rest of the world — economically and politically — we should be sure that anyone who wants an education gets it.
— Because there are more students of brains and ability who can’t get to the Ivy League than there are students who can.
One of the joys of teaching at a public university like mine is to see students learn about the world beyond their towns and use that knowledge to grow and prosper.
One of the agonies of teaching at a public university like mine is to see bright and capable students doing less than their best work because they are juggling their classes, internships and three jobs just so that they can stay in school.
As a society:
We should be proud to make public education affordable.
We should be glad to support public and university library services.
We should welcome international students because they teach our own citizens about the larger world and they will be friends when the go home.
We should be forcing extra money on K through 12 programs to guarantee that children get music, art and languages in addition to extra English, science and computer science classes — so that they are ready for college.
States should pay the bulk of the cost of undergraduate education and increase their support of graduate education.
The federal government should provide grants to cover the remainder
And both state and federal governments should be supporting all the library, computer, and other technological resources that set the United States apart from the rest of the world rather than cutting them so that we match the rest of the world.
With the education and the tools it requires we have the best chance of producing a creative, committed and trained workforce that will create a future we want for our country, for ourselves and for them
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