Thursday, February 11, 2016

Can Bernie and the Socialists offer free college?

I haven’t visited Manchester University (in Indiana) since the 1990s, and was amazed then at the buildings (not necessarily growth) especially in sports facilities and library, but now when I look at the web site it’s even more so. I was thinking this morning that the “new women’s dorm” where I didn’t live (I was in the old dorm--Oakwood), would now be about 60 years old if it hasn’t be razed, and looking back, that in 1958 when I was a student, a comparable building would have been late 1890s! 
Every college seems to have a bad case of Keeping up with the Jones’s to attract students with first class amenities. It's breathtaking when I walk across the campus at Ohio State--especially the sports and recreation facilities. Plus, there’s been huge growth in non-academic staff and departments to keep up with federal regulations on diversity/gender, health, testing, psychological development, etc. and to spend the ever growing federal aid to education. 
I know students personally who have graduated with no debt, and that’s quite possible in Ohio which has an incredible system of 2 year and technical colleges within driving distance of everyone. Now with online, that may not be such an issue. Living at home, working part time and being selective about important courses, a student can have a debt free education (undergrad) in Ohio thanks to the foresight of Governor Rhodes back in the 1960s-1970s. In European countries we’ve visited their  “free” colleges, but their testing system very early eliminates many children (usual, poorer working class) from the pool, so even if “free” it’s definitely not “fair.”

My college expenses in 1957-58 and 1958-59 were right around $1,000, although I did have occasional part time jobs at the schools. I had saved enough for my freshman year by working while in high school. I doubt anyone could do that today. My father would have considered it an insult if a child of his needed a government loan. Very different today. But he also considered a married daughter the responsibility of someone else, and for my senior year (I was married), I borrowed money from him for tuition. 
A few years ago I checked and Manchester was about $30,000 a year (although with aid and scholarships it’s difficult to know true cost, just like health insurance). University of Illinois from which I got my B.A. and MLS was higher (was the same back in the 50s), but probably in $35,000 range. 
Whether talking education or poverty or environment, progressives/socialists/Democrats push government programs, then years later sound the alarm that they aren't working or are too expensive, blame the situation on the Republicans for not giving them more money to throw at failing programs, when in fact, they created the situation (although Republicans always go along and renew the funding).  So it is with soaring education costs.  They are reaping what they have sown, and found it bitter or poisonous. 

A note of history: "Mount Morris College in Mount Morris, Illinois [where I grew up and both my parents and grandparents met], merged with Manchester College in 1932. Founded as a Methodist seminary in 1839, Mount Morris had been purchased by representatives of the Church of the Brethren in 1879 and operated under the name of the Rock River Seminary and College Institute until 1884, when the name was changed to Mount Morris College. The merger of Mount Morris College and Manchester College came about when the Church of the Brethren decided its educational program would be strengthened by pooling its resources in a smaller number of colleges [and after MMC suffered a terrible fire on Easter Sunday 1931]" from Manchester's website.

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