I generally do not publicly comment on national politics. When we cover elected officials in Washington, it usually is on issues related to the Gulf Coast region.
However, President Barack Obama’s $34 billion proposal to provide free community college education to all students in the United States infuriates me. This is a “feel good” proposal that would destroy a functioning higher education system, in the same way that federal involvement in elementary and primary education has resulted in the graduation of numerous illiterate and semi-literate students.
First of all, community colleges were established as a low cost option for young people to prepare for a four year college while living at home, or closer to home; or to achieve associate degrees or certificates for employment in specialized fields.
The Galveston College Foundation established Universal Access in 1996 to ensure that every eligible high school graduate, or equivalent, who resides in the Galveston College taxing district, has the opportunity to attend college or receive technical training through a workforce development program. This is a 501(C)(3) program which makes donations tax deductable, but otherwise it is not supported by federal, state or local taxpayers. The program is voluntarily supported by foundations, businesses and private citizens.
At an event to launch the 50th anniversary of Galveston College on Friday, Dr. Myles Shelton, president of the college, noted that the President’s proposal is not likely to come to fruition anytime soon. Politically, the President faces a solidly Republican Congress and, in Texas, a Republican state legislature. Thus, Dr. Shelton said the Galveston College Foundation must continue to raise funds for endowed scholarships.
It is obvious to me that the President’s proposal will have a negative impact on Galveston College’s Universal Access program by discouraging foundations, businesses and individuals from investing in endowed scholarships that would become superfluous if his program is “successful”.
This President, who was elected and re-elected on promises to “fundamentally change America”, has already destroyed a working health care system. Now he is working on higher education.