What Obama’s Plan for Free Community College Means for Homeschoolers

President Obama gave the nation a teaser last week when he announced that he’d like to give two years of free community college for everyone willing to earn above a 2.5 GPA. Hopefully he’ll expand on that idea and his plan to fund it in today’s State of the Union address.

Without further details one thing is obvious: getting this plan passed through a republican congress is a long shot. But with all the failed attempts lately at increasing the quality of K-12 education an idea like this is at least worth exploring–even if it is just to realize how bad it is.

Here is what the government funding two years of community college would mean for homeschoolers:

Homeschooling parents committed to an education that humanizes their students will have to search even harder for colleges that avoid a utilitarian approach to education.

Apparently, businesses have been complaining that they don’t have a qualified workforce ready to hire. By making community college more financially accessible, the administration is presumably trying to fill this need.

Everything in politics is about power (i.e. money), and this is no different. Not only would such a move garner the democrats votes from grateful lower-income parents who otherwise wouldn’t be able to send their kids to college, but it theoretically strengthens the economy by providing businesses the qualified and educated workforce they’ve so desperately been desiring.

But really for businesses, the benefit is that they won’t have to spend the cash to train their workers in-house. If an industry can lobby the government to attach certain training programs to the cash they dole out to community colleges, it won’t have to spend that cash on on-the-job training–a long-term financial win for the industry.

In the end, the aim is to get lower-income students into higher paying jobs. Not an unethical plan at all, but it all depends on how the cash will be distributed and what strings will be attached, doesn’t it?

In case your student is currently on the hunt for the right college, here are just a few colleges that don’t take any federal money and therefore are free from governmental strings:
* Patrick Henry College
* Christendom College
* Hillsdale College
* Pensacola Christian College

Depending on how Obama plans to fund this “free” community college, this could end up costing homeschoolers even more money for education services they’re not using.

Homeschoolers already pay to educate their children twice by paying property taxes that fund their local school districts in addition to funding curricular materials, co-op classes, and field trips for their own kids outside of the public system.

My personal opinion is that I’m fine with paying property taxes to fund my local school district, because our society is better off with free K-12 education than without it. Additionally, I like that if my kids want to utilize some public school services like sports or music programs, they can do that even while we homeschool. Not all homeschoolers feel the same. Still, only a few states offer any kind of tax credits for homeschoolers.

Obama’s plan would essentially extend high school for two more years, while redistributing wealth from upper class earners to fund associates degrees for those who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford it.

So what happens if you’re a homeschooling, higher income family that chooses not to send your kids to free community college? You’ll pay for a public K-12 school you don’t use, then you’ll pay for 2 years of community college you don’t use, all the while self-funding K-12 and college for your own kids. That’s a pretty raw deal.

On the other hand, given that homeschoolers are scoring better than 86% of other standardized test takers, it’s not hard to imagine that many homeschoolers actually use community college courses as part of their high school coursework. For those homeschoolers, Obama’s plan would reduce the financial burden they face. They’d still graduate high school with some community college classes on their transcripts but wouldn’t have to pay out-of-pocket for them.

Again, it all depends on how Obama plans to fund this “free” community college and what tax bracket your family is in.

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