Bernie wants Free College, Hillary wants Full Education Reform

subMAHLER-articleLargeOn the issues I like to think realistically, pragmatically and about the entire country when I am trying to select who to vote for when I am voting to elect the next President of the United States of America. Obviously education in this country has been a hot topic for decades. Educating our citizens, our workforce, and our future leaders is one of the most vital issues we have to tackle and one of the issues we continue to struggle with 240 years after the independence of this great nation.

Parents can’t afford preschool! It often costs more than rent. Inner-city schools and rural schools often can’t afford text books, paper, computers and basic necessities. Teachers are under paid, but often have to buy classroom supplies out of their pockets. The best and brightest teachers are often lost to corporate America for better paying jobs. Student dropout rates are still alarmingly too high. The list of issues goes on.

One of the popular topics that Senator Bernie Sanders touts on the campaign trail is his promise to make college free if he is elected president. I have found this idea to be ridiculous on a number of levels. Fiscally it doesn’t make sense to me. He will have to raise taxes, along with his other lofty ambitions, a reality. Government will grow by 40% by some estimates. Yet, that’s not why I have come to you today. I have come to you today to say college tuition isn’t a topic we should even be discussing at this point.

We have a systemic problem in our public education system from kindergarten to 12th grade. Until we resolve these issues we can’t tackle higher education (a privilege). We are leaving children behind, something Senator Sanders seems to be forgetting.

IMG_4190I decided to head over to his campaign website to see what he has to say about education reform. Color me surprised to find out that he has nothing to say on the issue. The only topic relating to education he touches on is college tuition. Why? My guess is because college students can vote and he is trying to appeal to their wallets.

His approach to education is one-dimensional and only discusses college tuition and  making it tuition free and debt free. That is not enough. It does not tackle the issues facing America’s education system.

The problem I see here is that we don’t need politics as usual. A revolution is not won by politics as usual and is not defined as politics as usual and political tricks. It’s won by change and change we can believe in.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities “most states provide less support per student for elementary and secondary schools than before the Great Recession.” They go into great detail about how our county continues to struggle to put into place needed reforms at the k-12 level like “hiring and retaining excellent teachers, reducing class sizes, and expanding access to high-quality early education, many states have headed in the opposite direction.” Mostly due to budget cuts.

We need to fund our public schools. We need to find money in our federal and state budgets to start paying teachers and to attract the best and brightest. States are struggling to pay for public education and as their funds dwindle the federal government has cut their aid to states.

If we cannot afford to help public schools at the k-12 level how can we pay for free college for all Americans? We simply can’t, especially if we can’t resolve the systemic problems currently facing our education system. For instance, how can we even consider worrying about covering college for students if we can’t guarantee students will even make it to their high school graduation day?

According to DoSomething.org “over 25% of high school freshman fail to graduate from high school on time.” That is unacceptable! “1 in 3 minority students (32%) attend a dropout factory, compared to 8% of white students.”

We need to focus on this issue first. If we focus on free college tuition first we are focusing on issues for the privileged, the middle and upper class only and that to me is a travesty. We are leaving our friends, families and neighbors behind. We are one country regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status and/or where in the country you live.

IMG_4191When you head over to Hillary Clinton’s website you find a candidate that is trying to make change and reform around education at all levels from K – 12 and at the college level.  Hillary Clinton plans to address issues such as k – 12 education, early childhood education, campus sexual assault, college and much more. She is a candidate that knows you can’t be a single issue president. College tuition isn’t the only education issue needing to be discussed and looked at by our great nation.

Hillary Clinton will:

  • Invest in early childhood programs like Early Head Start.
  • Ensure that every 4-year-old in America has access to high-quality preschool in the next 10 years.
  • Provide child care and scholarships to meet the needs of student parents.
  • Make high-quality education available to every child (of all ages) – in every ZIP code – in America.
  • Ensure that teachers receive the training, mentorship, and support they need to succeed and thrive in the classroom.
  • Ensure students with disabilities have the resources and support they need throughout their school years.

Yet, for those concerned college students Hillary has their backs too!

  • She will fight to ensure no student has to borrow to pay for tuition, books, or fees to attend a four-year public college in their state.
  • Enable Americans with existing student loan debt to refinance at current rates.
  • Hold colleges and universities accountable for controlling costs and making tuition affordable.

And one of the things I find missing from Bernie Sanders College Plan that only speaks about tuition is an ongoing issue we have seen repeatedly in the news of campus sexual assault. This is something Hillary tackles in her campaign issues head-on as a champion for women’s rights. She will:

  • Provide comprehensive support to survivors.
  • Ensure fair process for all in campus disciplinary proceedings and the criminal justice system.
  • Increase sexual violence prevention education programs that cover issues like consent and bystander intervention, not only in college, but also in secondary school.

Hillary is a woman who approaches the world with a comprehensive view of issues. She looks at the entire picture and figures out how we can fix the problem from beginning to end.

It’s time those who think free college tuition is the revolutionary idea to change the United State’s education issues to look around at the rest of the country and see what will make a real difference for the entire country and not just a handful.

It’s time to elect Hillary Clinton as president!