Do you remember high school election campaigns when many presidential hopefuls promised free ice cream on Friday, more school dances, relaxed dress codes and other pie-in-the-sky promises?
Such highfalutin promised were not limited to high school political candidates. Who can forget when Herbert Hoover campaigned on a promise that if he were elected he promised “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.”
His promise hit a bit of a snag when shortly after his election the Great Depression left most Americans without a pot to cook the chicken and no garage to park the car.
When I listen to Bernie Sanders talk I go back to my college days when my kumbaya generation believed in peace, love and all that shit. Our idealism was only matched by our fundamental immaturity. Not that the lofty goals were not something to aspire to. I still believe in those lofty goals, but while I believe that many changes can be legislated, we can’t pass laws to make people less selfish and more compassionate.
That brings me back to good ol’ Bernie Sanders…a man after my idealistic heart, with particular attention paid to his Hooverism of promising all Americans free public higher education.
I’m all for education for a lifetime. I also like free. And to be truthful, funding free education through taxation, doesn’t even bother me because the history of American education shows how “we the people” realized how important that education was that we first introduced free mandatory public elementary/grade school education and then extended it to free mandatory high school education…and then to state supported community colleges with low tuition.
My problem is not with a free college education, but with this notion that every American student is ENTITLED to the free ride. If the motivation behind the Sanderesque concept of free college is to create a highly competitive work force, I suggest that we begin that process in the lower grades. Bring back vocational education as a viable path for young people. That would call for a complete overhaul of our archaic educational curriculum.
But to develop education tracks, one being vocational and the other being academic, I fear would be considered elitist.
For a moment, let us imagine the day when EVERY students goes to college. Where would that get us? The common denominator would not only be common, it would be so commonplace that tomorrow’s college degree would have as much value as today’s high school diploma.
I’d like to offer Bernie Sanders a suggestion. Make a college education free, but not to everyone just because, but to any student, regardless of his/her economic demographic, who, by virtue of his/her accomplishments in high school, is DESERVING of a free education.
If we raise the bar in high school we will separate the wheat from the chaff and the deserving will be like the cream that rises to the top of the milk.
(How do you like that? Two clichés in one sentence.)