In his address to Congress tonight, President Obama spoke extensively on the issue of education, and the affordability of college in these tough times.
An excerpt from tonight’s speech:
It is our responsibility as lawmakers and as educators to make this system work, but it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it.
So tonight I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be a community college or a four-year school, vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.
And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself; it’s quitting on your country. And this country needs and values the talents of every American.
That’s why — that’s why we will support — we will provide the support necessary for all young Americans to complete college and meet a new goal: By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. That is a goal we can meet.
This approach to higher education is a valid one; a college degree is highly important to securing a career, and is a marker for America’s competitiveness in the global economy. With a viciously high drop-out rate at the secondary and collegiate level, American students are not holding up their end of the bargain to the taxpayers of this nation that help fund their education via grants and public school taxes.
Conversely, drop-outs from the collegiate level have many causes, not the least of which is the exorbitant cost of school. As the economy worsens, the tuition across the country, including UT, rises in response, to cushion the blow that a large, research institution faces. The Student Government and various political organizations seek tuition relief programs provided by the university, but the fact of the matter is that money is hard to come by during these tough economic times, not the least of which for school.
It’s important for our Congress to pass legislation like the plan outlined tonight, which helps pay for the college of any student who commits to a community-service program to better the communities of this nation. With programs like this, dedicated and selfless individuals will be able to prosper and develop their talents while improving the quality of neighborhoods and American life. It’s innovative solutions like this that must be reached in a bipartisan, intelligent way.
Write to your Congressmen or Senators if you, like me, think that this is a good idea, especially in the state of Texas, which tips deftly to the right; it is responsible and right to help students go to college, because college is the gateway to success for those who commit to walk through it. This isn’t a partisan thing: everyone deserves a chance if they are willing, able, and committed.