I received an update from state Sen. Craig Wilcox the other day with lots of information. One thing that caught my eye was his comment on President Biden’s proposal for free junior college tuition for all Americans. He stated, ”nothing is free” (totally accurate) and he seemed opposed to the idea. I think it could be reframed as all of us pitching in so any American can attend a community college. We all pay taxes (although apparently some companies and individuals pay none) and then use the roads that the taxes pay for. Our interstate system, instituted by President Eisenhower, is the envy of the world. So the question when we all pay in for something is how do we benefit?Education is really an investment in our biggest resource, our people.
Most of our inventions come from research in educational institutions; these inventions in medicine and energy and technology and agriculture fuel our economy. When someone, whether it be a young person, or an adult retraining from a lost manufacturing job, or a parent who was never able to go to school before, attends a community college and gets a degree, they will most likely join the workforce and add to our economy as well as our tax base. I counted over 60 degree and certificate programs at McHenry County College from Manufacturing Supervising to Nursing to Fire Science and Criminal Justice and on and on. This is an investment in our fellow citizens that pays itself back in many, many ways. Twenty-five nations in the world already provide free education, not only for community college, but for four-year university as well. They understand the importance of education for their citizens and their nation, as well as an economic investment that pays off for the whole nation.
Higher education is becoming increasingly out of reach for middle and low incomeAmericans. This erodes at our concept of equal opportunity. Covering tuition for all community college students not only helps us provide equal opportunities, but is a tremendously wise investment in America. I hope Sen. Wilcox will rethink his position. As he said, it is not free, but it is an investment by all of us — for all of us.