Fernandez: By Rights

Michelle Singletary at the Washington Post says that whether or not America achieves President Obama’s goal to “once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world” depends on how much the taxpayer is willing to spend. “To reach Obama’s goal, we have to decide, as a matter of public policy, whether college is a right or a privilege.”

She believes it is a right. Otherwise only the rich will be able to go to college in this era of rising educational costs. Singletary writes:

There are those who will decry even asking if college is a right or a privilege. Nonetheless, the question must be asked and answered.

If going to college is a right and vital to our nation’s economic standing, then government will have to do more to make it affordable for all. If it’s a privilege, only the nation’s wealthiest families will one day be able to send their children to college. Or are we damning a large percentage of our citizens to burdensome student loans, leaving them to conclude college isn’t worth it?

But if Singletary were to reflect, what she probably means is that the lifestyle that graduation from college is meant to afford is what she desires as a right. What is the point of making a college education a “right” if it doesn’t make an economic difference? One of the “we are the 99 percenters” recently held up a hand-lettered sign which complained that all her masters degree qualified her for was work as a housekeeper.


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