Free pre-K to college

April 8, 2019

 One of the bewildering things about the modern GOP is that while they call themselves the “party of enterprise”, they are remarkably short-sighted when it comes to investment.  And nowhere is that more apparent when it comes to the issue of education in America.

 

It is then fair to say that while the GOP know pretty much the cost of everything, they know the value of nothing.  So it is then that a generation of young adults are racking up record levels of student debt to take into the workforce.  So it is then that a huge number of working families with young children are also saddling themselves with yet even more debt so as to provide for pre-kindergarten coverage.

 

Looking at college first, the levels of student debt are truly both obscene and eye-watering.  In 2018, the St. Louis Federal Reserve estimated that student borrowers collectively owe over $1.5 trillion in student loans. [1]   A trillion is such an abstract number that it needs extra definition – it is a million million.

 

When graduating from college, our newly qualified employees of tomorrow should be focusing on the future and diverting their time, money and resources to being as productive as they can.  Instead, as graduation day gets ever closer, a sizeable majority of them are instead understandably distracted as to when and how their student their student debt gets paid off.

 

Again, for a party that prides itself on it’s supposed economic acumen, the GOP and the right in general have their math all over the place when it comes student debt.  The most basic of economic lessons tells us that the more disposable income one has, then the more spending power is to hand and the more robust an economy can be.  This is however a lesson lost on the GOP.  They hold a near morbid fascination, particularly so for the (only in name) “land of the free”, of keeping millions of young adults in a state of virtual captivity to big money and banking.  This is unacceptable and needs to be brought to a stop.

 

Sadly, the cries of “American exceptionalism” and “it could never work here” go up time after time when it comes to doing something about this, just as it does with universal, single-payer health-care and gun control.  This is of course a nonsense.  It is no coincidence that some of the world’s most successful Western economies, most notably that of Germany, have virtually free college in place. [2]  That’s right - the modern, democratic and extraordinarily successful country of Germany.  And in a subtle twist, that is a benefit that is extended to those American students that study overseas in Germany.  Irony is something that the GOP may wish to go study at college…

 

And just like so many other countries in the West, the whole education / child-care process should be free from start to finish, including pre-kindergarten, prior to full enrollment in the K12 system.  As we know, the average American family is already struggling under a mountain of debt and often times living from pay-check to pay-check.  Pre- kindergarten care is often-times an essential need, but one that adds yet more to the family debt situation.

“High quality universal pre-K for three- and four-year-olds could significantly reduce the financial burden facing families with young children and help ensure that children are prepared for kindergarten.” [3]

It really should go with out saying, but really absolutely needs to be not only said but shouted from the rooftops – education is an investment in the future of America.  It is not a “supply and demand” commodity that can be shamelessly peddled to long-suffering families, parents and students.  Like health-care and infra-structure in the US, the free market has clearly failed everyone other than big business.

 

For America to rediscover its potential, it needs to adopt of a system of childcare / education that is totally free from cost, from pre-kindergarten through to college.  There is a longer game at stake here and one that the US, if it continues with those reckless anti-family, anti-student strategies, continues to pursue, will inevitably lose.  And that potential history lesson is one that no American student of the future should ever have to endure.

 

[1]  https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/27/student-debt-levels-set-a-new-record-in-2018-heres-how-much-the-typical-borrower-owes.html

[2]  https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/080616/6-countries-virtually-free-college-tuition.asp

[3]  https://www.newamerica.org/in-depth/care-report/policy-recommendations-universal-pre-k

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