Predictably, I thought this was going to be an all-out cheerleading piece on higher education being a “right” and a guarantee to a unicorn-filled future.
It quickly dismissed the notion of “free” and that alone was refreshing enough to keep me going. Most progressives who talk about things like this really do believe that the federal government has a secret money tree somewhere.
In reality there’s no free college, just as there’s no free lunch. The real policy discussion is about how to best distribute the burden of paying for it — between individual families and the public at large — and, secondly, how to hold down the cost of providing it. All while leveraging the power of “free” responsibly.
The author gets around to discussing lowering the cost of education rather than just looking for new people to make pay for it. She concludes without offering a magic fix and by acknowledging an important point: the value of education is dependent upon what the student does with it along the way, and after having received it.
I post this here because I was surprised to see it on the NPR site. It’s a somewhat balanced examination of what is generally a heart string tugging fave of the Occupy freaks. There is even some spirited discussion in the comments that features some predictable “Koch brothers” whining and some push back by center-right types.