Spotlight for education reform

Jasper Johnson

Though still in its infancy, President Barack Obama’s proposal for two free years of community college for qualified students seems to show serious promise for educational reform. Hopefully, it will set a precedent for an even more ambitious overhaul of the college system.

Community and technical colleges offer an excellent return on investment — they can lift up students from poverty. For that precise reason, they warrant a position as a focal point of government spending.

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, however, is skeptical that Obama’s plan will yield its intended results. Instead of strictly financing two-year schools, Kaler believes that “the state should support higher ed more broadly.”

But the last thing students need is more complexity to how financial aid is dispensed. With any luck, the funding needed to support Obama’s free community college plan would be administered via a streamlined, consolidated form of federal education subsidization.

In my mind, the biggest risk in all of this is the needless complication of an already-unstable system. No doubt Obama’s goals are admirable, but much more planning is needed.

Making education more affordable and accessible is a complex issue, and it is high time that it’s brought into the national spotlight. As it has been demonstrated, policymakers’ good intentions are not enough.

Real, lasting solutions mandate serious intellection on the part of pundits. In any case, Obama’s, Kaler’s and the state Legislature’s efforts toward simplified and impactful education spending seem to be a step in the right direction.