America, Anything Is Possible, But Is Anything Probable?
America has earned the reputation of being the land where anything is possible. The orphan can grow up and become rich, the poor can grow and become President, and the immigrant can grow and become a superstar. This vision has fueled much of the American dream over the years but slowly the world has changed and the question is, is anything still possible?
President Obama announced yesterday his goal of insuring that all Americans can get a “free” education of at least two years at a community college. Details are still not clear but the proposal’s intent is to provide those financially challenged a chance to gain skills necessary to attaining a “good” job. This may not be the best idea for breaking the poverty cycle but it is the only idea put forward by either political party in recent times.
The idea of “free” is troubling. Must we always revisit the “no free lunch adage”? A low interest loan with provision for ultimate principle forgiveness might be wiser, and provide a better life lesson. It is never too soon to get that satisfaction of “earning” something.
Building upon this thought, let’s consider the generational factor. Getting ahead and truly improving a family’s wealth (security) position can happen in ones lifetime, but that is not probable if you are starting from an uneducated and dirt poor condition. Dirt poor and uneducated is no place to put confidence that the American dream is around the corner. Look around.
On the other hand, if one is from an uneducated, poor generation and dedicates itself to ensuring their children reached a high school/trade school education level, it is not unreasonable that from this platform their children could reasonably anticipate competition of a 4+ year university program. Success breeds success. And with 4+ years university, the American Dream probability increases significantly.
Like most progressive policies, “free” community college may be good but it is woefully insufficient if we are interested in breaking the poverty cycle and creating a generation of productive members of society. America must demand that those receiving this “free” education repay not in money but in kind for the next generation (their children).
Unless each generation takes responsibility to improve itself AND provides more capability for its children, large portions of Americans will be condemned to failure.
Education is a tool which passes on a vision and sets the course towards the American dream.