Free community college for all.Conversation-starter? Definitely. Political possibility? Not any time soon.President Obama unveiled the idea in a video posted to Facebook on Thursday night, then pitched it publicly at an event Friday in Knoxville, Tenn."Community colleges should be free for those willing to work for it," Obama told a crowd at Pellissippi State Community College. "It's not a blank check, not a free lunch, but for those willing to do the work…it can be a game changer."The president called a community college education one of the "central pathways to the middle class."While certainly ambitious, the idea currently lacks a total price tag, proposed legislation, and Republican support on Capitol Hill.But the White House says that’s beside the point at this stage.The president merely hopes “to start a conversation,” Obama domestic policy adviser Cecilia Munoz told reporters.The administration said the plan would cost the federal government an estimated $60 billion over 10 years, in addition to tens of billions of dollars in commitments from the states. The Republican Congress would need to pass legislation approving funding. State governments would need to each act as well.Details on how the Obama envisions covering the federal cost remain a mystery.
Not a chance in hell this proposal is happening.
That's why the administration hasn't really put together a plan to make it happen - they know doing so would be a waste of time and resources.
It's a cynical PR ploy, that's all.
It's a shame that the president and his merry men and women in reform have decided to engage in cynical PR ploys because it's worthy idea that should and perhaps could be implemented (if the administration had laid the groundwork for it.)
But Obama, Duncan and the rest of the administration have made enemies on both sides of the political spectrum, especially on education issues.
On Monday, Duncan is supposed to call for the "repeal" of No Child Left Behind (though he'll demand many of the onerous parts of the law - like annual testing in grades 3-8 - remain.)
That too is a cynical ploy.
It's not a "repeal" when you demand much of the old law stay when you "repeal" it.
Next time Obama accuses his critics of not being serious about stuff, remember the community college plan he suggested that he has no intention of trying to enact but does want to use to juice his numbers with young people.
Same goes for his NCLB "repeal" that keeps much of the onerous (and odious) parts of the law in place.