SHOULD EDUCATION: 'If we keep giving colleges money, they will find ways to spend it'.

Author:Riley, Naomi Schaefer

Should education be free to all? No. A lot of politicians and policy makers are trying to make higher education more affordable, which is a great goal, but making it free is not the way to go. It may be that too many people are going to college. We're telling kids, "All you need is college," but nothing about what they should study when they get there. We don't require them to develop advanced skills in reading and writing and math. People say the skills for the jobs of tomorrow will be different, but I've yet to hear anyone explain why, in the jobs of tomorrow, we won't need reading and writing and math.

In four-year or even two-year colleges these days, people are advised to follow their passions, just as they're told they should find their soulmate to get married. These are both terrible pieces of advice. Not that they shouldn't study something they like, but we need to be honest with kids about what they need to learn and what the jobs that are out there require. By putting everyone on a college track, we've actually cut off a lot of vocational options for students who might like to pursue them. There are great jobs out there for people who want to be carpenters, welders and plumbers, and we have a shortage of all these things, which used to be well-paying jobs, because we've told people they need a college degree. We also have a lot of people who have wasted money on college and not gotten a degree. That's time and money lost for them, and for us.

Subsidizing this broken system even more would be bad for the kids who could be making better choices, and it would also cause a further rise in tuition. If we keep giving colleges money, they will find ways to spend it. The biggest growth on college campuses unfortunately is not in hiring faculty, it's been administrative load and facilities, fancy gyms and so on.

Should there be free vocational programs, or free tuition at community colleges.? Community colleges don't cost that much to begin with. These people you hear about with crushing student debt burdens, that debt usually is not from community colleges. So I think that's a solution in search of a problem. A lot of things are good, and it's not necessarily going to be better to make them free. I think there should be an operating market and competition, and we should be holding community colleges to quality standards and not just saying we'll foot the cost no matter what.

Vocational programs don't actually need to be subsidized. The...

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