City University Of New York System

Bernie Sanders’ Promotion Of Free Undergraduate Tuition At All Public Universities And Colleges

Let me begin this entry by pointing out that the author was the beneficiary of a free tuition undergraduate education for four years at Queens College of the City University of New York in the 1960s.

The entire City University of New York system, and the State University of New York System, had free undergraduate tuition a half century ago, until it disappeared in the crises over budgetary issues in the early 1970s.

Also, the entire California University System had free tuition for all undergraduates, until the Governorship of Ronald Reagan in the late 1960s and early 1970s, leading to anger over the Vietnam War, and the imposition of tuition after widespread student demonstrations on the campuses across California. Budgetary issues were used as the reason, but much of it was a conservative attack on higher education in the largest populated state.

Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, 50 years later, the average student must go into tremendous debt to gain a higher education, causing massive student loan payments that harm the economic future of those students and of their ability to buy homes, cars, have children, and live the “American Dream”.

In many states, the cost of a public higher education, including all expenses, is more than $20,000, forcing many to forgo education, and to undermine the concept of gaining an open mind and tolerance, which a college education provides, along with training for a specific career.

So we have seen a “war” on higher education, particularly in states governed by Republican Governors and legislatures, including Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, Louisiana, Texas and other states.

Education is not just for career training, but also for promoting ability to analyze, evaluate, interpret, and develop problem solving skills, and to make college more difficult is counter productive.

In the midst of this reality, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an announced Democratic Presidential candidate, has proposed providing taxpayer supported undergraduate education at all public universities and colleges, and while this would be expensive, it is worth considering.

Returning to the tradition in New York and California 50 years ago, and making it nationwide, would be a good move! Education should be considerd a right, not a privilege to be left only to those who can afford it, similar to the public school system. Of course, conservatives and Republicans are out to destroy the public school system as well, in favor of charter schools, which should not be allowed to harm the concept of public education begun in the 1820s in the New England states.