Community College

images-1The data shows that education makes a difference.  People who graduate college do financially better and continue to get better at each level of education.

Costs, debt, real world skills (aka computer programming), MOOCs and other things will change education in the decades to come.

The importance of a community college education will change too.  I was blown away when Obama came out with his college education plan to extend our education system through the community colleges. It is brilliant.  I know that we are not a socialist country where their students can go for free until they graduate college and sometime even all the way through a MBA or a law degree but there is something to be said for that.  Everything is about education.  Just look at the majority of killings in the Middle East that are directly targeting education facilities and the education elite.

Obama is thinking about the future of our work force competing in the global world that we live in today.  Maybe it will give many who can’t even get through high school a reason to hit that milestone first.  He is giving many an opportunity to actually get a college education.  If students do well in those two years they can take those two years under their belt and even get into a four year school and leave without the massive debt that can be incurred in four years.

Republicans do not believe in anything where Government has to pay for this.  They’d prefer the privatization of everything.  The GOP’s desire to not spend money on our education system, not spend money on the infrastructure of our country (roads, bridges, tunnels, etc) but to spend money on a Keystone pipeline because they say it will create jobs is bullshit.  It is old school thinking.  Let’s make the groups that fund our elections happy and it will be good for all.  Really?

Elon Musk has changed the world with the Tesla.  Every other car maker is beginning to roll our the same concept.  What other amazing products will come from this innovation?  Smaller batteries, cleaner ways to fuel the world.  Maybe we won’t have to rely on oil but hey why should we be forward thinkers?

Yes the Democrats do the same damn thing as the Republicans when it comes to supporting the hand that feeds them.  Ok..I am getting off topic.  Can’t help myself.

It is a breath of fresh air to hear Obama actually be a leader by making changes that will be about changing the future.  He is leaving his mark on history.  Bravo.  I love the idea of our Government making community college available for all and I’d be happy to pay more taxes for it.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Brandon Burns

    Right there with ya!

  2. Susan Rubinsky

    I agree that this is an excellent move by Obama. It will strengthen our economy greatly. I don’t know what has happened to the Republicans, it seems like they have lost sense of who they are. They used to care about poverty, conservation, people. They used to care about creating strong frameworks for our country that will bolster innovation and economic stability. No longer. Seems like all they care about is destruction.

  3. Greg

    The “Government” does not pay for anything. Taxpayers do. Your kids and grandkids will pay for it. The Keystone deal does not require any taxpayer money – just the opposite it will immediately produce ‘shovel ready’ jobs.

    1. Gotham Gal

      there are better shovel ready jobs to be ready.

      1. JLM

        .The one thing that Pres Obama said truthfully is that the Stimulus did not fund many “shovel ready” jobs because they simply didn’t exist. To the extent they did, the funding was simply a replacement for local funding.There were almost no projects which were initiated because funding became available.What current shovel ready jobs would you suggest are more worthy? Please remember that the Keystone XL pipeline uses not a penny of Federal funding. It is all private funds.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  4. Ella Dyer

    Bravo; BS is right!

  5. Erin

    Yes to cultivating innovative thinkers, making long-term investments in the workforce, and finally doing something about the broken education system.

  6. JLM

    .This is a remarkably shallow discussion of a modestly complex issue. Having served on the board of a major state university, I can tell you without a doubt that right now anyone who really wants to be educated can. Not saying it’s going to be a bed of roses or free but if there is the want, there is the way.It is not IQ, it is “I Will”.Education at the collegiate level is primarily a state undertaking. Lots of Federal money around but schools are either private or the product of a state.To suggest that this is a Republican v Democrat political issue is naive and a wholesale misstatement of the facts. It is also demonstrably not true.Let me use one example that may resonate — the State of Texas offers the University of Texas @ Austin/Dallas/San Antonio/Arlington/Brownsville/El Paso/Pan American/Permian Basin/Rio Grande Valley and in addition there is the University of Texas Medical Centers (Health Science Centers) @ Southwestern/Galveston/Houston/San Antonio/Tyler.This says nothing about Texas Tech, Baylor, Southwestern, TCU, Texas A & M, Texas State, St Edward’s, etc. etc. etc. Texas is a net exporter of education, a gateway to South America and the home to powerful graduate schools.Republicans control every statewide office. The Legislature is controlled by the Republicans in both the House and the Senate.This incredible system is the work product of Republicans but more importantly it is really not Republicans, it is Texans. It is a group of responsible people who balance budgets, meet only every two years and who fund education at an incredibly high level.The knee jerk temptation to lay this at Congressional politics and that the Republicans, in particular, are bad actors is simply not accurate or true. Not true structurally nor factually. Look to Texas for the proof of this assertion.The President’s initiative is worthy of serious consideration and if it had been a serious proposal, he would have consulted with Congress and sought support before he threw it out there. It is likely to be a $50B — $50,000,000,000 — unfunded “idea”.What is not known right now is how many community colleges will simply be changing how they are paid resulting in few new net students.I am a wild eyed liberal as it relates to the creation of taxpayers. I sincerely believe that targeted education — producing grads who can find jobs not more poets — is an economic issue. I have put considerable money where my mouth is having funded a meaningful block of fully funded scholarships on an endowment basis.It is clear that this is a much larger economic issue and that the health of the economy — the place where grads are going to have to look for real jobs — is as important as the education process. No jobs, no place for grads to become taxpayers.In that context, the Keystone XL pipeline is a very important element of American energy independence. The US is on the verge of energy independence. The US is now the LARGEST producer of energy in the world.Absent Texas jobs — many from the Oil Patch — the US hasn’t created a single net new job since Pres Obama has taken office and yet Federal lands oil production is down 16%. It is the private sector that is creating the jobs, not government. Reflect on that for just a second.We achieve energy independence and several great things happen — the price of gasoline plummets providing the biggest non-government stimulus to the economy imaginable. The Oil Gunboat politics of the Middle East evaporates. The Straits of Hormuz becomes a trivia question, not the place where WW III starts.[Today in Austin, Texas you can buy gasoline at Sam’s for $1.62/gallon.]I hope I have not offended you. I did not intend to do so and I apologize if I did. I support the notion of widespread access to education — I have voted with my own dollars — and the creation of taxpayers.It is a subject that deserves a full and complete discussion and not a “chat”.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Brandon Burns

      “This incredible system is the work product of Republicans but more importantly it is really not Republicans, it is Texans.”We can’t ignore Texas’ rather superlative track record when it comes to higher education. We also can’t ignore that it was built under decades of Republican control. But we also can’t ignore that what happens on the state level isn’t predictive of what goes on at a national level.I’m not an expert on this subject, but I know enough to say that most would agree that the stronger states when it comes to top notch, board and accessible higher education programs are: California and Texas leading the pack, with Illinois, New York, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan following.It’s a mix of red, blue and purple states. Each state has a mix of demographics, urban vs rural, etc.What they all have in common is size. 7 of the top 12 most populated states. And with size comes money and resources.Objectively, I think what can be pulled from this is that money and resources, backed by the government, are crucial to a strong educational system. This is happening on the state level in a good number of states that have the size, money and resources to do so. But it’s not happening in the other 80% of states. I think that’s an argument for the federal government to step in.On the federal level, this is not exactly top (or even middle) of the list for congressional Republicans — neither education as a broad issue, nor anything that has to do with the federal government putting its hands into something new that isn’t “homeland security” or energy policy based. To be fair, while they’re probably less predisposed to fight against Obama’s plan, the Democrats, also, probably don’t have higher education atop their agenda, either.So I think it’s fair to say that we could give Republicans a break on this one and see how it plays out. Let’s see if they fight Obama’s plan, which I personally think (without digging into specifics nor financials) is rather hard to argue against. Then we’ll see what’s what.P.S. The Keystone XL is way down on the list of initiatives that most energy experts say would bring the U.S. closer to energy dependence. When I think of all the wind, solar and hydro initiatives that could be completed for the cost of just the Keystone XL alone — coupled with the millions (billions?) the Kochs have put into lobbying and campaigning for it — I get sick.

      1. JLM

        .Huge educational powerhouse is North Carolina which is also a net exporter of education (and basketball). Punch way above their weight class.There is really no Federal level when it comes to community colleges — they are typically funded by local property taxes as is the case with Austin Community College with 30K students.The President’s initiative is just a pipe dream — in the worst possible use of the word, please — in that it was not the result of a consultation with the Dept of Ed or the Congress or any of the states. It did not contemplate its own source or magnitude of funding. it is just idle conversation. There is no plan.It makes me feel good — real good. And, then, I have to revert to being an adult. Damn!Remember he wants 75% of the funds to be from the Congress and 25% from the states or locals. At $50-60B, this is also a huge economic consideration that has to be funded in some manner other than just adding to the deficit.It is the definition of unfunded mandate when he just cavalierly puts 25% of the cost on the locals without any consultation. Pretty weak politics.If not, then “tax & spend Tesla liberal” seems to be a fair sobriquet, no?[Forgot to tell you, I’m having a party at your house. You’re not invited and i want you to pay for it. OK?]The wind, solar, hydro initiatives don’t work on the fundamental numbers. With crude at $44/bbl and gasoline at $1.70/gal — they don’t work. Still, I love them all and wish they did work. They are just research at this stage of the game but useful and important research.What is desperately missing in the energy debate is nuclear. Not a bad idea to consider coal also.More importantly, there is nothing that keeps them from being funded on their own merits. Keystone is private $$$. It does not really compete with $$$ for any other use.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Brandon Burns

          I wouldn’t say the president doesn’t have a plan, or that one isn’t TBD. An announcement of an initiative with a couple key details before a full plan is presented for review is more than normal. Nor would I assume that Obama hasn’t consulted with anyone — I’m sure his cabinet, including the Sec of Education, are more than clued in. I wouldn’t get so excited to jump on Obama for not being thorough, because that would be shortsighted and likely wrong.As for the details he has shared, I think that, at a high level, 75% of funds to support community colleges coming from the federal government is spot on — and the fact that most community colleges are not federally funded at the moment doesn’t mean that it’s a bad plan, but rather only strengthens Obama’s case. Why? All the states with top education programs are big states with money and resources. That means for everyone to have a shot at a good education, the money and resources have to come from somewhere. How else are the likes of Mississippi and Kansas and all the other poor states (which are almost all red, FYI) going to get their people sufficiently educated?Thus, this is clearly an area that needs fiscal help from the federal government. Kudos to TX, NC, etc. for having great red state education systems — but this ain’t China, and the U.S. government isn’t about to force-move millions of people from one state to another just to bring them closer to resources.So the questions become: Can we afford this community college plan? Is it necessary?Those are endlessly debatable so I won’t go there. Not here at least.However, I will say that such a plan most likely will not contribute to the U.S. deficit (which is almost half related to Republican-sponsored “homeland security” programs, in case anyone has forgotten).It’s a fact that Obama has reduced the deficit of this country by more than half since he took office. Those numbers have been printed just about everywhere, and they are indisputable facts, plain and simple. It’s also a fact that, unlike Clinton, Obama has a direct effect on this — the economy was in a tailspin when he took office, and gravity should have kept it going down. Due to the recession, the government has taken in less revenue via tax dollars during each year of the Obama presidency than any year of either Bush presidency. Considering a deficit = money in – money out, our deficit should have grown. But, no, the deficit has been halved. Which means that is has been an overall reduction in spending that has halved it.So to claim that Obama is willy nilly supporting more spending without making sure our overall debt goes down, and that this new education plan is an example of that, isn’t only not true, but it really doesn’t help anyone trying to argue such an empty case. Beat up on the president, sure, we all have free speech (#jesuischarlie) but Republicans might want to at least think about beating him up for something legit that, you know, makes sense and is grounded in facts. Otherwise Republicans are just spewing more dribble to themselves, and that’s not going to help them gain more share and win in 2016. But if they can start to put forward arguments that are, you know, rational and grounded in facts that can be unambiguously, simply and successfully communicated to the general public, they might actually win again one day! But the random finger pointing at the wrong people and the wrong problems, especially when its done with arguments that have no grounds and are so, so easily picked apart by the press, isn’t really going to help the Republican cause._____A reminder of where U.S. discretionary spending goes:

          1. JLM

            .The notion that Pres Obama did NOT consult with the Congress (the House being the locus by Constitution in which ALL spending bills must originate) is incontrovertible.The injection of the Fed gov’t into the funding of “community” colleges is an idea without precedent. As indicated earlier, most CCs are funded by local property taxes.The impact on the deficit seems irrefutable. You make some utterances as to the state of the deficit that are simply not accurate.Here is a very good source which lays out the numbers with no editorial confusion.http://www.taxpolicycenter….It shows incontrovertibly the relationship between revenues and spending. It is not as you have suggested.Federal revenues are at an all time high. An all time high. The deficit is structurally a product of spending. More spending can only result in a greater deficit.The deficit from the last year of the Bush administration was $458B.The deficit from the first year of the Obama administration was $1,413B — the highest in recorded history. Four trillion dollar deficits in succession and only then — from record revenues — a reduction of any kind.The projection for 2014 is $648B which speaks for itself. Having exploded the deficit, it is very difficult to embrace the notion that the deficit is headed down through some notion of spending control.This is tantamount to having set the house on fire and then being credited with putting the fire out. He started the fire. I would be the first to agree that some, perhaps even a majority, of the initial spending was in reaction to the recession and I would have done the exact same.But we were promised entitlement reform in return for revenue increases and that has never even been discussed let alone materialized.The deficit is still huge but any diminution is only the product of revenue increases not spending reductions. Deficits are projected to be half a trillion dollars as far as the eye can see.This is a discussion about policy — the President’s proposed policy. To suggest that it is somehow opposed by “Republicans” is a stretch particularly when considering the support that Republicans have demonstrated in places such as Texas.Bottom line is this — not the province of the Federal gov’t to start with, an incomplete idea, not funded by anything other than deficit spending (and the mandated contribution of the states) and a policy that must live or die on its merits.The skeptics are harnessing common sense.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. Brandon Burns

            “The deficit from the last year of the Bush administration was $458B.The deficit from the first year of the Obama administration was $1,413B — the highest in recorded history.”Correction — the deficit from the last year of the Bush presidency was $1413B. The deficit from the first year of the Obama presidency was $1294B.Bush started his last year in office, in January 2008, by presenting and approving a budget for 2009. 2009’s numbers — representing the largest deficit in history — are 100% tied to the Bush’s last budget, the last year of Bush’s presidency. 2009’s numbers are 0% tied to the doings of Obama. You already knew this, though, and you must have known that I’m a bit too quick to let that slide. C’mon, now!To be fair, there was a recession, the beginning of which is commonly pegged to October 2008, so we can’t blame it all on Bush. To be more fair, that recession has roots in housing and credit policies, which could rather easily be at least in-part tied to the Clinton presidency. Still, to be super fair, we all know that Obama, who took office after the recession even started, had nothing to do with it.Furthermore, the fact that the deficit has been reduced each and every year since Obama has been in office, and is now half of what it was when Obama inherited it, is laid out very plainly in the link you just provided. So thanks for that!The “Obama caused the deficit” issue is just so easily refuted. When will the Republicans just let it goooooo?!Anywho, so you’re wondering, did Obama consult with Congress about the community college plan? I’ve got a better question — does it matter? We have 3 branches of government (executive / president, legislative / congress, judicial / SCOTUS) and we have those three separate branches for a reason. Furthermore, each of those three branches has limited powers to do things autonomously to make sure that things still get done when the three don’t agree. Obama is well within his constitutional right to use constitutionally-granted executive orders to move his community college plan forward.I know the Republican followup argument against the use of executive powers. But guess what? Obama has issued fewer executive orders than any president since Grover Cleveland! Who took office in 1885!The Republicans in Congress might not like Obama’s chosen line of action, but they should complain to the founding fathers for that. They’re the ones who allowed him to do it. They thought it was necessary to keep the government running. If the Republicans want to disagree with the Founding Fathers that they like to reference so much, go right ahead. They’re disagreeing with everyone else, including themselves, so I wouldn’t be surprised!

          3. JLM

            .Federal fiscal year starts in October not January.The President’s budget submission in the first week of February — required by law — is for the following fiscal year starting in October. [Pres Obama has never made a timely submission in his entire tenure.]The Congress ultimately decides what the budget will be with all spending bills being required to be initiated in the House.It is what is actually spent, not what is budgeted, that determines the deficit.The first thing that any new President (inaugurated in January) does is to examine the budget as he owns the spending thereafter. Pres Obama did exactly that — BTW, that is intended as a compliment.One must also recall that a new President has from November until January to “transition” including examining the budget.This does make it a bit confusing.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. JLM

            .”Obama is well within his constitutional right to use constitutionally-granted executive orders to move his community college plan forward.”The President cannot create a program (rules and regulations), create a law authorizing that program, appropriate money for that program and spend money via executive order.All spending bills must originate in the House. That is in the Constitution.Neither can the White House compel states to pick up 25% of the cost of a program.The idea may possess some merit but the process is doomed to failure.It is not really a close call.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          5. Brandon Burns

            Obama can execute this plan without creating a new law. He can easily move funds that are earmarked for something more general to this specific initiative.But that’s all loopholes and semantics. They’re ugly business, and make for an even uglier, cyclical, never-ending debate.So you know what? Congress should simply sue the president and let it play out in court. SCOTUS currently leans conservative, and Obama has lost 2/3 of his SCOTUS cases (when, historically, presidents usually *win* 2/3 of cases), so the odds are definitely in the Republican’s favor.I’d keep the argument on the facts, though. Argue the unconstitutionality of the federal government funding education in this way, and see if that works (honestly, it might, but unlikely considering that the federal government already has its hands in education funding and this is really no different). Or argue the semantics around the use of executive orders and show that Obama incorrectly used them (this has already worked several times, in favor of Congressional Republicans, so it’s a good route).But a causal relationship between the community college plan (or Obama in general) to the growth of the deficit is week — if it even exists at all considering that the deficit has, you know, shrunk by more than half since he took office. That horse has already been beat to death.

          6. JLM

            .It is getting late and ……….In the end, the “program” is arguably going to be some kind of tuition reimbursement plan or some kind of scholarship plan. There are a number of such plans out there — Pell, GI Bill — and thus the precedent of it being a spending bill originating in the House is very strong.The notion that the President can compel a state to fund 25% of a plan that is not authorized by a law is a bit of a stretch. Obviously states will not be enthusiastic about an unfunded mandate — not an idea that originated with Pres Obama.I cannot see any other conclusion that the expenditure of $50-60B will result in an increase in spending thus having a negative impact on the deficit. What offsetting revenue exists to blunt this impact? None.As to the notion that there is some virtue in the deficit being $600B for as far as the eye can see — that is very dangerous and unsustainable ground. Having added $7.5Trillion to the National Debt what comfort does one take that at a time of record receipts by the Federal gov’t we are “only” adding half a trillion dollars per year?This is the kissing cousin of having a mild case of a terminal disease. It is still terminal.Any improvement in the deficit can be attributed accurately to increases in revenue, not decreases in spending.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          7. Brandon Burns

            You’re right that it’s likely that at least some portion of this plan is going to need to go through Congress.That said, Obama has been effective in getting his way on big initiatives. Granted, he didn’t have a Republican controlled House and Senate to deal with before, but he’s also proven that he can work around things when he wants to.You’re also right that mandating the states to spend money on anything, probably including this, usually ends up in at least some of those states not following suit.That said, Obamacare has had numerous positive effects in the states that chose to support it. In the states that chose not to support it, the Republicans who fought against it have a lot to answer for in the eyes of independents who are feeling the burn of not having Obamacare while they watch friends and relatives in other states who have it get the care that they need.You’re right that any money used to fund this that wasn’t already on the table adds to spending. But you’re wrong that it will automatically add to the deficit. The deficit is made up of millions of transactions. You cannot look at any one bit in isolation and claim that it caused the whole thing to go up or down. But, hey, if you want to, let’s look at the one bit that actually does have a huge effect on wether the whole deficit goes up or down: defense spending, the bit that represents 55% of discretionary spending, roughly 12x what we spend on education.Like anything, especially in politics, we don’t know for sure if this community college plan will work. The plan is a gamble, just like Obamacare, which most informed economists say worked, or the efforts to change the Voting Rights act, which SCOTUS shot down and never saw the light of day.But when we’re talking about a plan that, at its core, is about equipping Americans with job-ready skills, and when we’re talking about a plan that is also designed to help fix the current student loan situation that, if not dealt with soon, is on track to cause the next credit crisis that will cripple our economy, I’m going to have to put my faith in the plan and support it and look forward to it turning out alright. I hope Republicans are on board with that noble mission and, instead of poking holes and throwing more questions at it, to rather give constructive criticism and throw some solutions at it instead.

          8. JLM

            .I think the recent election in November was probably the definitive statement as to Obamacare. I personally don’t think it survives because it doesn’t work. The next two years will tell the tale.The unfunded mandate for the States is a non-starter. Not even close.Remember one thing, the states are not asleep at the switch on the issue of education. States like Texas have invested huge sums for a long, long time.There are 30K Austin Community College students right now, so it is a hugely successful program. Subsidizing tuition doesn’t strike me as the impetus for an increase in the rolls. Big thing about ACC is everything is transferable to University of Texas and Texas State and St Edward’s and Concordia Lutheran.This transfer initiative is one of the things the Pres mentioned. Already being done in Texas for a long time.The job ready skills — which is also part and parcel of every sound vocational education program — is the key to everything but only if they are real skills in demand for real jobs.It is impossible to believe that a $50-60B expenditure is going to be subsumed or otherwise disappear in the budget. Not going to happen. The numbers are simply to big. This is TEN PERCENT of the deficit for goodness sake.I think you way overplaying your hand suggesting that Republicans are doing anything other than being fiscally prudent and intellectually skeptical. Remember it was Republicans who made the Texas educational system work. Texans who happen to be Republicans. You are trying to demonize something that is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt in a place called Texas.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          9. Brandon Burns

            I’m definitely not demonizing anything going on in Texas (at least as it relates to this issue). Texas gets a lot of things right, and it’s a state that functions exceptionally well, especially as far as managing fiscal matters and providing quality education are concerned.But Texas is not the U.S. The Texas legislature is not Congress. Texas’ Representatives are a mere sliver of the Congressional Republican establishment. Texas is not representative of how Republican policy will play out on the federal stage with respect to education, in the same way Republican-governed Massachusetts was not representative of how congressional Republicans dealt with Romney-Obama-care on the national level.Or, you know, maybe it will. Maybe the representatives from Texas will stand up and lead this debate and influence policy in a positive way. Maybe they’ll do the exact opposite of what happened when Republicans shunned the very health care plan that one of their own give birth to and made successful on the state level. Maybe instead of shunning the community college plan just because it came from Obama, maybe Texas reps will lead Congress to embrace, mold it and shape it for the better. That would be a good thing.

          10. JLM

            .We have a huge disconnect in our convo. I am simply saying that Republicans have no homogeneous reaction at the Federal level to something which is a state or county issue.I have a very difficult time seeing where the Federal interest is in how the state’s run their community colleges.Having said that, not only have Republicans been huge supporters of education, at the state level of Texas — wherein there is not a single Democrat in any statewide office — they are not only supportive, they are extraordinary.I am suggesting that it is not the behavior of “Republicans” but Texans. Even when Lloyd Bentsen was our Senator, we still governed Texas like Texans.There is no reason to suggest this has anything to do with Republican national politics of any kind whatsoever.As an aside, the jobs in the Oil Patch are being filled by vocational and community college grads. It does work.It is really not a Federal issue.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          11. Brandon Burns

            Fair. The debate, when we strip everything away, is at its core about should the federal government be involved in this or not. And while that debate irritates both sides, since the responses of “no, government should stay out” from Republicans vs. a “yes, government should step in” from Liberals are just as predictable as they are unwavering, its a good debate to have. It is at the foundation of American culture to be skeptical of government and to ask these questions.And the two sides will almost always disagree. And from the comment section of Gotham Gal to the halls of Congress to dining tables across the country, both sides will have to duke it out. One will win and the other will lose, or they’ll meet somewhere in between. Either way the debate is worth having, for its how we all get to the meat of the issue and plot actions that will put it on a better path, and I’m happy to have had that debate with you today.

          12. Brandon Burns

            Still friends? 🙂

          13. JLM

            Of course. When ideas wrestle, the result is better ideas.

        2. Brandon Burns

          In other news, we’re due for a friendly non-political chat!

  7. pointsnfigures

    I am a community college grad, and father was a community college teacher. This is a horrible idea. As Greg points out, taxpayers pay for this. It’s not “free”. Community colleges can be a tremendous asset if deployed properly. But, they are encumbered by bureaucracy as well, just like other public schools.I went to the USAFA on a basketball scholarship. I could have gone other places, like Columbia, but my family couldn’t afford it. I wound up dropping out and going to play at a JC.Obama isn’t thinking out of the box here, he is thinking about extending government power.

    1. Brandon Burns

      Are police and paved roads a bad idea since they’re not “free” and taxpayers have to pay for them?Seriously, Republicans, help yourselves. Chanting the same irrelevant arguments without considering context doesn’t help anyone, except those who are looking to rip apart your argument.

      1. pointsnfigures

        I think we will never agree on this. What’s the standard of living like in the countries you listed? Not even close to the US standard of living. It’s easy to cherry pick small countries with a homogenous population. We are the most diverse country on the planet.I love the paved roads, police argument. Paved roads aren’t free-and studies by the Freakonomics guys have shown private roads might be a better idea. By the way, you are from Chicago right? No graft in public financing here right? No favoritism? No angles are played right?At least private companies have to hold their feet to the fire of microeconomic principles most of the time, unless they are protected by cronyism in government.

        1. Brandon Burns

          We’ve seen time and time again, from healthcare to education to agriculture to energy, that markets do not automatically lead to what’s best. If that were the case, our farmers would grow more vegetables that will nourish our people instead of the corn that the market demands, our hospitals wouldn’t charge $600 for a box of kleenex, and all that money going towards the Keystone XL would be put towards a renewable resource instead of oil, a disruptive, dated resource that’s also finite and makes no sense to keep investing in (btw, the oil market has been tanking and artificially propped for decades — so tell me again how the market is to take care of itself?).Government is flawed. Markets are even more flawed, mostly because there’s no “override” function. No one can stop a market when shit hits the fan. But a government can.This is a general explanation of why I identify as a liberal. As I get older, and witness more and more of what humans will do when left to self-regulate, I get more and more cemented in this point of view.You’re right, though. On this we will never agree. 🙂

          1. pointsnfigures

            Markets are the best allocators of resources, not bureaucrats.

    2. Brandon Burns

      And in other news, here are, according to the IMF, the 9 countries with a higher per capita GDP (PPP) than the U.S.1. Qatar2. Luxembourg3. Singapore4. Brunei5. Kuwait6. Norway7. United Arab Emirates8. San Marino9. SwitzerlandIf we were to take this as the defining metric of the health of a country (not saying we should, but you have to start somewhere), all 9 of these countries have one thing in common — their governments are all either monarchies or socialist, and all “bigger” than the U.S. government in terms of % of things the government controls.The “big government’ argument has emotional play, for sure. Keep using it if you want. But at least try to find relevant context in which to use it that will strengthen your point. Don’t make it so easy to rip your argument apart!In other news, we’re also due for a friendly non-political catch up!

    3. Brandon Burns

      Related-ish:”Welcome to Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago, the privatized metropolis of the future.”…

  8. JAJones

    I support the President’s plan to make a college education more accessible but we shouldn’t forget about training skilled workers that are needed in industries that don’t require a college degree. As you mentioned, the infrastructure in the US is falling apart and yet we don’t have enough skilled workers in the construction industry to meet the ever growing demand. This is driving up construction costs and further delaying efforts to rebuild our infrastructure. I was the first in my family to graduate from college with a Civil Engineering degree from Lehigh University, worked for the Pennsylvania Dept of Transportation and one of the largest heavy highway construction firms in the nation and I can tell you first hand that even back in ’96 the situation was bad and almost 20 years later it’s only gotten worse. My dad was a union electrician and raised 5 kids on his salary so highly skilled construction jobs can definitely provide for a good middle class life. I think parents and teachers need to educate kids on all the options that are out there for a career and not make them feel like college is the only option. This quote from the NPR story below sums it up. “They almost made it seem like you either go to college or you amount to nothing,” Swanson says. “Coming from teachers, from parents, from other kids. It just — pretty much you either go to school or you end up working at McDonald’s.’

    1. Gotham Gal

      Great weigh in

    2. JLM

      .I agree more with you than you do with yourself.The speed with which technology is being injected into construction is incredible and yet the placement and finishing of concrete hasn’t changed all that much. The transport, the design, the reinforcement — they continue to change dramatically.We should be focusing on vocational training as a means of ensuring that education results in jobs, good jobs.In the end, the program works if we create taxpayers. Educated, productive taxpayers.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. JAJones

        I have a ‘Concrete Man’ T shirt from college that a professor gave me for earning the highest score on the Concrete Design final. So Concrete Man approves of your comment!

    3. Brandon Burns

      The community college plan is about actionable skills, like construction. What I love about it is that it feels like an option that is markedly different from traditional higher learning.I can’t verify that construction related trades are specifically expected to be address in the plan, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s apart of Obama’s intention. These trades, along with nurse-level medical skills and lower level technical and design jobs represent the majority of the opportunities that continue to grow more and more everyday, but the supply of people to fill the roles isn’t catching up. These are not jobs you need to go to a traditional four-year college to get. These are jobs that require skills that can be obtained at the community college level. That is what this plan is all about.