Investing in Our Future at Community Colleges

In the article, David Brooks mentions the human capital component in President Obama’s plan to make community colleges free: return on investment. A national policy to offer free community college tuition is a crucial investment in and commitment to our social contract. America prospers because we invest in people, ideas, infrastructure, research, design, education and health care because of the confirmed two-year participation in a national service corps. David Brooks recommends on focussing on a student’s living expenses, mentoring relationships and the “remedial education mess” rather than tuition, which is likely to benefit those for whom community college is already affordable, are on target.

Read an excerpt of the article written by David Brooks:

There is a human capital component to President Obama’s plan to make community colleges free: return on investment. The $60 billion that would be spent over a decade is an investment in our civic future. Our return for that financial commitment should be service to the country, which could include work as a teacher, nurse, engineer, firefighter or police officer. A national policy to offer free community college tuition is a crucial investment in and commitment to our social contract. But let’s be clear about the cost. The tuition isn’t “free”; our citizens cover the cost of “free.” I propose a simple plan: When students agree to accept the tuition (and complete their education), that contract confirms their two-year participation in a national service corps. America prospers because we invest in people, ideas, infrastructure, research, design, education and health care. This is the fabric of the social contract that each generation knows: Invest early, often and with compassion, and watch your returns build the future. MICHAEL G. SIEVERS Portland, Ore., Jan. 21, 2015 To the Editor: “The important task is to help students graduate,” David Brooks says, noting that community college dropout rates now hover somewhere between 66 and 80 percent. Setting graduation as the ultimate goal, however, may be a mistake when technology is changing education and work. Diplomas based on college-mandated credits are becoming anachronistic as online courses become better and more pervasive. ..read more