President Obama got the ball rolling by suggesting tuition-free public community colleges and technical/vocational schools. Sen. Sanders has taken it one step further by promoting the idea of tuition-free public college.
There are at least three compelling arguments for these proposals:
- Filling jobs that need an educated workforce. There was a time when a high school education was sufficient for most of the occupations in the U.S. Not any more. Many blue collar jobs require post high school education. The December 2015 jobs report stated there were 5.6 million unfilled jobs because of the lack of qualified applicants. 5.6 million!
- We need to be able to compete with countries that do provide tuition-free college. Many European countries offer tuition-free education and at least seven offer it to foreigners, much as we give free K-12 education to foreigners who live here. America is the hot-bed of innovation. It’d be a shame to lose that status and economic benefit to others.
- It would invigorate and maintain a healthy economy. An educated workforce creates new products and new consumers.
How are we going to pay for it? Same way the countries that offer it do: tax revenue. Stronger economies result in increased tax revenues.
This is an idea whose time has come.