Other than scaring the bejeezus out of Hillary Clinton, Vermont’s Independent/Democrat/Socialist senator is also making constant headlines along with much political hay regarding his free college tax scheme. Unfortunately for the native Brooklynite, questions are very publicly being raised as to the wherefores and the whys of taxpayer subsidized free tuition for all.
Case in point would be NPR.org’s report of Feb. 17, 2016 by Anya Kamenetz in which she gives a refreshingly objective primer on the Sanders sponsored Senate Bill 1373, popularly known as the “College for All Act”. As Kamenetz correctly points out, this promise to has such powerful appeal in no small part to college tuition increasing “more than any other good or service in the U.S. economy since 1978.”
With student loans hitting an eye popping and budget busting $1.2 trillion, the Sanders plan is quite attractive to cash strapped Millennials and parents. But after rubbing away the very thin veneer of electro-plated gold, many Americans may think twice before rushing to “Feel the Bern”.
As reported, the United States currently sits in ninth place as the as the “most educated workforce in the world, with 45 percent of young adults having earned some form of diploma or certificate.” That’s according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is a leading source on detailed statistics of the world’s developed nations.
Sanders oft quoted campaign trail sound byte of making America “the most educated workforces in the world” doesn’t quite tell the entire story. With South Korea (67 percent of adults have some post-secondary education), Japan and Canada (both at 58 percent) listed as the highest educated, Kamenetz correctly cites that all three nations “charge tuition at their universities, which are overwhelmingly public. The numbers are roughly on par with in-state tuition at many public universities here.”
To further poke holes in the Sanders plan it was also noted that recent college grads in Canada “have student loan burdens similar to those of U.S. students, and they’re not happy about it.” Obviously, making the student responsible for paying for their own costs doesn’t necessarily keep a nation from producing a highly educated workforce.
On the other side of the coin, the Sanders campaign has quite the habit of pointing to the Germans as a winning example of what happens when a nation abolishes college tuition, and “Finland, Norway, Sweden and many other countries around the world also offer free college to all of their citizens.” NPR’s reporter again correctly states, “This is true. But again, there’s a catch: Only one of these free-college countries does better than the United States when it comes to educational attainment.”
Far from done, Kamenetz also cited:
- Germany and Finland are both below the OECD average (Germany is a bit of a special case because of its extensive training and apprenticeship system, which tracks students as early as high school).
- Sweden’s rate is almost identical to that of the United States. Norway is just a tick higher: 47 percent.
- And two more free-college countries, Brazil and Slovenia, are below the average too.
In regard to the College For All Act, the text of the bill does go into excruciating detail with the legalistic intricacies expected of any new law that would expand taxation. However, precious little is mentioned regarding even the most general directions as to when the taxpayer gravy train comes to an end, if ever.
(2) Additional funding.—
Once tuition and required fees have been eliminated pursuant to paragraph (1), a State that receives a grant under this section shall use any remaining grant funds and matching funds required under this section to increase the quality of instruction and student support services by carrying out the following:
(A) Expanding academic course offerings to students.
(B) Increasing the number and percentage of full-time instructional faculty.
(C) Providing all faculty with professional supports to help students succeed, such as professional development opportunities, office space, and shared governance in the institution.
(D) Compensating part-time faculty for work done outside of the classroom relating to instruction, such as holding office hours.
(E) Strengthening and ensuring all students have access to student support services such as academic advising, counseling, and tutoring.
(F) Any other additional activities that improve instructional quality and academic outcomes for students as approved by the Secretary through a peer review process.