Education is something that should be considered a right; it’s already seen as such in the rest of the developed world, yet America lags behind.
Here’s something out of… well, right field, ironically: Bill Haslam, Governor of Tennessee, has proposed a bill called “The Tennessee Promise”, which would allow high school graduates to attend two years at a community college or college of applied technology, free of charge. I say this is ironic because Halsam is a Republican, which is not a party known for a particularly good stance when it comes to education. Given the nature of the proposal alone, this is a bold statement that will greatly benefit students, should it come to pass.
Haslam’s proposal is expected to be funded by in-state lottery reserves, which will work to mitigate the tax burden such an expenditure would otherwise incur. Additionally, The Tennessee Promise aims to modify the state’s scholarship program; qualified applicants would receive $3,000 per year for the first two years of their education, and $5,000 per year for the third and fourth, instead of $4,000 per year as they do currently. This change in payouts is likely seen as financial incentive for scholarship applicants to complete the additional two years’ education to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Given that the average student graduates college with $30,000 in student loan debt, providing the means to obtain an AA degree or equivalent will greatly assist younger generations as they seek out higher education and enter the job market. The combined benefits of less debt and more education will ease the overall burden on students, while The Tennessee Promise will serve as an invaluable experiment in state-funded higher education for others to follow.
While I am by no means opposed to this idea—I support it completely, in fact—I do have an issue with TN State Senator Becky Durham, who calls The Tennessee Dream “very innovative.” Should the proposal become law, it will be the first of its kind in the nation, yes, but this is by no means a new idea. Free education was first proposed to President Truman in 1947, though the idea was not implemented because it was “too expensive.” Secondly, several on the left have proposed free public education for years, usually while advocating effective models from other countries. In fact, the amount of money it would cost to fund college education for all students would be less than what the government is currently spending on financial aid and student loans.
Education is something that should be considered a right; it’s already seen as such in the rest of the developed world, yet America lags behind for reasons that I cannot currently fathom. It is undeniable that education breeds innovation and opportunity in droves; to say otherwise is to deny the progress humanity has made since learning to control fire. Our best and brightest have put men on the moon, connected the world, and improved standards of living for billions of people. If you somehow disagree with this, well, reading this sentence online makes you a bit of a hypocrite. Imagine where we could be as a people if we gave everyone the chance at that kind of high quality education, and the ability to pursue their passion.