Letter: The cost of free education

To the Editor:

I would like to respond to Jeff Varda’s letter regarding free community college education. I appreciate that he recognizes nothing is free. But he then says, “we all pay taxes.” Unfortunately, that is not true. Some 40% of our country’s citizens do not pay federal income taxes. He states that certain corporations and individuals do not pay taxes. Unless these corporations and individuals are perpetrating fraud upon the government, these “nonpayers” are simply filing their tax returns under the laws that have been passed by Congress. Maybe we should fix that problem.

Research shows that one of the key reasons for the investment in interstate highways shortly after World War II was to be able to quickly move troops around the country to wherever needed. This was a good decision for two reasons – that investment benefits all of us, and it helps protect the country, which is the main responsibility of the federal government. The word “education” is nowhere to be found in the Constitution. This freebie will only be pertinent to a subset of citizens, and not all high school graduates want to (nor need to) go to college.

I agree that the cost of education (both for K-12 and college) has become exorbitant. Mr. Vargas does not propose any solutions to that problem other than to increase taxes, which will make the problem worse. For K-12 education, we need school choice (competition) and fewer “administrators” compared to the number of teachers. This bad trend needs to be reversed. And with the continued slide in academic achievement scores for K-12 students, we should question the investments we are already making.

The cost of college “administration” also needs to be fixed. The usefulness of a college degree compared to the cost students and their family incur (their choice) continues to decrease, especially considering alternatives available for post-high school education. Free education is not an investment by all of us, for all of us.

Tim Beck