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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

David Brooks, "Support Our Students": What's Another $60 Billion If You're Going Bankrupt Anyway?

In an important New York Times op-ed entitled "Support Our Students" concerning President Obama's decision to make community college free, David Brooks writes:

"The problem is that getting students to enroll is neither hard nor important. The important task is to help students graduate. Community college drop out rates now hover somewhere between 66 percent and 80 percent.

Spending $60 billion over 10 years to make community college free will do little to reduce that."

So, is the creation of educational opportunities a "good thing," even in the face of evidentiary failure? Maybe.

Will the community college program expand employment opportunities for professors, guidance counselors, college administrators, etc.? Absolutely.

Might the program reduce America's workforce if it results in the full-time enrollment of students, thereby bringing unemployment down by a small notch? Perhaps.

Can the United States, whose national debt now exceeds $18 trillion, afford this program? I suppose if you're going bankrupt anyway, it doesn't make a difference.


  1. Investing in education is always a good thing. However, there has to be some kind of incentive to prevent so many from dropping out, otherwise it's a total waste of tax payer money. It would make much more sense to reimburse two years of community college tuition - only upon graduation. For those who do complete their associates degree, more incentive should be given to encourage studying towards a BA/BS.

  2. Well, when the overfed babble, they babble.
    Most students who go to community colleges juggle two-three jobs (and some being older have families to take care of). Limiting the number of jobs to just ... 2, for example and increasing the number of sleep to .. let's say generous 3 hours might help some to stay in school.
    Graduating from college might help some individuals to find a decent job and get some sleep. Isn't this what Mr Brooks, the notorious meritocracy babbler, has been babbling about for decades?
    Yes, there is a difference between partying (sorry "studying") when some slaves write the term papers and working 3 jobs and writing the papers by oneself (and being homeless on occasion).

  3. someone needs to find the money to teach literacy, civics, and cursive writing to the generation of American students who did not get such instruction from their 'student-centered group learning' education theory past 20 years or more.

    Today, employers complain 4-year college graduates lack basic work skills. Free 2-year college would not change that.

    The crisis is de-industrialization colliding with failed education theories.


  4. Anonymous (11:50)
    One can teach civics in a day and this won't help America. American population is illiterate in many ways. Particularly scary is ignorance of not only history, but even of the concept "history." Murdering of history in a nation which never was very knowledgeable in the area was criminal and resulted in the situation we have now. Compare with my education - I started history classes in 5h grade and continued (both national history in two different countries and general) till the graduation from high school. The problem is ridiculously idiotic American pre-college education.
    Free 2-year college can help those who can't afford the absurd cost of American higher education to get one. There is no prohibition to continue education - just a tiny detail - cost. The last time I checked, human beings are more than employees (the nation which brags about being religious should know that) and viewing education through the prism of usefulness to this or that employer only, limiting individuals to marching working, working, working zombies status is unacceptable. As a citizen I want my co-citizens be generally educated so we won't have another Obama the Messiah and for many other reasons.