One weird trick for understanding the free community college proposal


Yes, Just wait. Sara Goldrick-Rab and others have made the same point on Twitter and elsewhere to those wanting details. Details would be nice, but at this point, but I think they would be meaningless. First, Congress will do what Congress will do, whether it makes sense or not. Along the way a lot of lobbyists and special interests will provide help and guidance and so what passes Congress in a year or 20 may have little semblance to what is proposed now.

More importantly, the states will also be involved in deciding what they may be able to accept as a new federal role in state higher education.

I think the first step is perhaps just getting enough people to agree that “two years of universal postsecondary education” is  desirable goal, perhaps even a citizen right. “Free community college” makes a nice talking point to have that discussion, but it does turn some folks off.

I’m enjoying the discussion, but my natural cynicism tends to dominate as I consider that the proposal is really about “free community college tuition and fees” which really only gets us part of the way to what is needed to support students enrolling full-time. I also appreciate those that have written about over-reliance on part-time faculty in community colleges. We need to address that situation.

Of course, another approach might be to simply a propose a model yourself. One does not have to respond the to details of a model if they are unavailable. How about just suggesting how you would do it?

Be nice. It won't hurt either of us.

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