Mexia News Editorial

'Free' doesn't solve everything

In last week's State of the Union address, President Obama announced plans to make two years of college free for everyone.
It is a noble idea and in theory very good, but there is much substance to work out in this plan if we want something that will truly enhance education and offer the most benefit to students.
Think of two free years of college as an extension of the current free public education system. That works for some, but not others.
The idea behind the national plan is a program in Tennessee that pays tuition students can't cover through grants and scholarships. More importantly, the Tennessee program comes with strings attached such as community service a minimum grade point average of 2.0 and a mentor to help guide the student.
We should not get caught up in the idea that throwing two more years of free education at a student's feet solves anything. How do we create an opportunity to help a student achieve his or her goals? That's the question we need to ask.
An associates degree doesn't work for everyone. At the same time we offer this jumpstart to a college degree, we need to have a plan for those needing job or career technology training.
Too often we end up with a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to education.
That plan has no basis in reality and will never be the solution for everyone. If we provide a quality education through high school, then help them plan for and work toward the career of their choice – whether it be a trade or a college degree – we have truly created an opportunity for all to succeed.
A blank check to cover 13th and 14th grades is not a quick fix, but it is a first step in recognizing and providing for more extensive, practical education that gives our children a chance. Education doesn't just happen when we pay our taxes or write a tuition check. Education happens when we create opportunities and surround our children with parents, teachers and counselors who see the importance of lighting the way.
If we want to get away from “handouts” and “free passes” in this country, we need to improve on our efforts to provide everyone with the tools to stand on their own.