Working toward accessible education

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama announced a proposal to make community college free for two years — a proposal that would be immensely beneficial for our country.

The president based his plan on two separate programs — one in Tennessee and one in Chicago — that make community college tuition free for qualified students.

Obama said this follows a long tradition of making education cheaper, from making high school free to various G.I. bills.

In the speech, Obama said, “By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education. Two in three. And yet, we still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not smart for our future.”

The United States has already fallen behind Europe in offering higher education at low costs to its citizens. In fact, Americans can go to countries such as France, Finland and Germany and get an education at a lower cost than an education in the United States.

We agree that an educated populace leads to a more informed electorate, which benefits everyone. But, this is just one step needed to help improve the education infrastructure in the United States. The programs that Obama has modeled his proposal after don’t just provide free community college education, they also try to improve the community college system.

In order for this proposal to succeed, the United States would need to focus on improving community college educations as well.

Obama said that he would pay for the proposal aby raising the capital gains tax and raising the tax on inheritances, effectively taking money from the most wealthy and paying for the program this way.

While it’s unlikely this will pass through the Republican congress, and there is not enough detail to show exactly how this plan would work, we believe that this is an idea that should be explored.

A nation that relies on an intelligent electorate needs to provide as much education as possible to its citizens. The ridiculous cost of college has put many Americans behind their European counterparts and this is an aggressive plan to help the United States catch up.