Heartless and Barbaric Free Education

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@SenSanders *Forcing* others to pay for your education? Sounds heartless and barbaric. – Chris Rossini*

So Chris Rossini…whoever the hell he is…thinks that free community college is “heartless and barbaric.” I think that Chris Rossini evidently hasn’t been watching any news at all for about the last three months because he has no idea what “heartless and barbaric” really is. BUT I DIGRESS.

After my father abandoned our family when I was 11, my mother had to go back to work after 13 years of working solely in the home. My mother had always wanted to be a police officer. She didn’t just apply for a job at the police department. She went back to school first, community college, to earn an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice.

I developed an interest in the law immediately because I was fascinated with whatever my mother did. Many times over her two year course of study, she left my two younger sisters with my grandparents and took me to school with her. The professor in charge of the Criminal Justice program allowed me to sit in on classes. If the class was going to center around something too intense for a pre-teen, he let me sit in his office and read criminal justice textbooks.

I don’t know how my mother paid for community college. She may have gotten grants. My grandparents may have paid for her tuition and books. My mother got her degree, became one of the first female police officers in our town, and retired from the police department after 26 years. My interest in studying law went in a different direction. When I was in my early 20s, I attended the same community college and got an Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Technology. I really wanted to work in the District Attorney’s office but I ended up working for a criminal lawyer. My grandmother paid for me to go to community college because she believed that a two year degree would give me an edge in the job market.

Community college worked for our family. It helped my mother get a career, not just a job. I left my job to get married and now I’d like to go back to community college and get a degree in some area of the medical field. I was thrilled to read about President Obama’s proposal for free community college. I knew that there would be opponents to the idea of free community college but I did not expect to read the words “heartless” and “barbaric” applied to using tax dollars to help people start the process of furthering their educations.

We’re constantly told that we shouldn’t rely on the government for food or healthcare and that we should pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and get jobs and move up the ladder until we’re making above poverty wages and working full time and getting health insurance benefits…but how are we supposed to do that without any higher education?

Ivory towers must be nice but the majority of us are not born into them and denial of the difficulty in finding a full time job that pays a living wage and provides benefits is the mark of a fool.

Blocking every avenue that we have to better ourselves is heartless and barbaric. Cutting social safety nets and denying the opportunity for a free two year degree to the poor is heartless and barbaric. It is plainly and simply an attempt to eradicate the middle class, keep the poor in poverty and make sure that the richest of the rich don’t have to spend a dime to assist their fellow citizens and benefit the country as a whole in the process. An educated country is socially and economically healthy. Many people who earn two year degrees with free community college will go on to achieve four year degrees and beyond on their own, because free community college will give them the hand up that they need to get a job, or get a better job, and pay for a university degree via one of the traditional ways.

*I based this post on the referenced tweet because I replied to Chris Rossini, “No, keeping people poor, sick and uneducated is heartless and barbaric.” It is.

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