SIXTEEN YEARS OF TAX SUPPORTED FREE EDUCATION. REALLY?

OCTOBER 2017 KELLEY KIDD When I was born in rural Georgia back in 1942 every child in America was legally entitled to 12 years of tax supported education. Nobody called that socialism or even “too expensive”. We agreed to simply call that “good for everybody.” Seventy five years later progressives like Bernie Sanders propose to add 4 more years—long enough for a college degree. Republicans and many “moderate” Democrats call the 16 year proposal radical or socialistic. Really?

Life expectancy has risen by more than a decade in my 75 years. We have acquired huge technological changes and challenges during those 75 years (i.e. hydrogen and atomic bombs, television and internet, open heart surgery and drones, etc.). Life has become filled with new and challenging change, all of which demands more knowledge and understanding. We have reached a sensible consensus that everybody needs much more education than they used to —especially if they are going to fill jobs that demand skill and pay well. The rest of the world—at least a large portion of it — is now covered with governments that support a lot of education and training of workers.

As the need for more education has become more pressing and obvious, tax supported education remains stuck exactly where it was when I was born. Twelve years max. Then you “need to be responsible” for paying the cost of a day more than that! The additional schooling has become so hugely expensive that only the rich and the heavily indebted get beyond high school graduation.

So I am going out on a limb here. Every child in America is entitled to more tax-supported education than when I was born three quarters of a century ago. Twelve years and no more is engraved neither in the Constitution nor the King James Version. Sixteen years seems fair to me. Call me a commie if you want to.


 

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