The opinion piece on free college tuition by Draven Coleman raises important points about the K-12 educational arena, and there's no question that there's room for improvement in this area. But the last half of the piece, which actually tackles the free tuition question, asserts positions that simply must be rebutted. First, the argument that things shouldn't be available for less cost (or free) because others in the past may have had to struggle to pay for them is absurd. I had barely enough money to attend college, worked like crazy, and endured crushing debt that I spent 10 years afterward paying off. I wouldn't wish that scenario on anyone who's trying to pursue higher education, and that's exactly the point that Warren and Sanders are making. Worse, the statement "Providing free college tuition would also de-value the worth of a college degree because so many people would have them" is elitist, distasteful, and perhaps most importantly, incorrect. First, education should not be a commodity to be meted out by the fortunate to maximize its worth to that population alone. Second, free tuition doesn't eliminate college admissions standards or modify the marks I write on homework or tests. Free tuition simply provides vastly expanded opportunities for people to educate themselves and prepare for a workforce which increasingly requires education beyond K-12, as automation and other factors reduce the number and quality of blue-collar jobs. Finally, the last paragraph in the piece is so abhorrent that I encourage everyone to read it carefully and then act in exact opposition. I've spent over 25 years teaching students to ignore statements like "...reach out and take it [the world], but try to be a little reasonable in your demands, because not everyone is defined to become a president or CEO". In fact, I would argue that a primary key to success is ignoring elitist admonitions of this sort that essentially translate to "know your place" and instead reaching for the sky.
Golden G. Richard III
LSU Professor of Computer Science and Engineering