What Kind of Person Can’t Afford Community College?
I’m going to begin this blog like a Cassandra, but end it more positively. No one needs another blog entirely dedicated to how awful things are.
So here’s the bad part:
I was talking with some moms recently and one, disparaging an acquaintance who was saving up to attend a two-year college, asked with an incredulous laugh, “What kind of a person can’t afford community college?”
The remark sent a chill through my bones. First, she was so insulated by privilege that she honestly didn’t know how a decent hardworking person could not afford the bottom rung of the educational ladder, and second, that she seemed to consider it a moral failing to be poor. Finally, she represents the people most likely to vote, most likely to lobby a school board, Congressperson, or Council member.
“Books are actually very expensive,” I pointed out, and later I wanted to kick myself for that answer because even without books, tuition at a community college – the very institution set up to serve all – is too expensive for a worrisome segment of the workforce. I recall talking to a waiter who told me that when the price went up to $20 a unit, he couldn’t afford to go anymore. He had two kids and he couldn’t work a second job. However, he was very interested in books for his kids. It was painful to think that someone willing to learn and grow, wanting a better job, wanting to contribute more knowledge to his kids and capable of contributing more skill, and taxes to the economy, should be barred from that opportunity. How un-American! And how troubling to meet a person with a great deal more power in the world who insists that he and people like him don’t exist.