T Nation

For the US: 13 Years of Free School is Good... 17 is Socialism

So I’ve got an itch that I wanted to scratch. I would do it on facebook, but I had a business owner advise me against it.

I think it’s fairly safe to say that in the US it’s the general consensus that public school for free is a good thing. I don’t think there’s any prominent thought to do away with public schooling for free (though of course there are anarcho-capitalists… but we’re talking about the other 99.9% of the population that doesn’t live in their mom’s basement). So public schooling became prominent as the educational needs of the population shifted in light of the industrial revolution. More people moving to cities, less agrarian living, etc.

We are on the verge of the fourth industrial revolution. AI and automation are going to drastically change the work market (nobody knows how, but it’s a fairly well agreed upon outlook). Why would opening up universities for free be socialism? The first thirteen years (not counting pre-K either) are all on us, but the next four to eight are on you and it’s up to you to pick yourself up by the bootstraps and be a productive member of society.

This is also not even looking at the additional taxes that someone will pay over their lifetime as a consequence of earning more. This is just speaking about educating people to an actual level of competence where they’re fit for entry into a career that is able to sustain a family.

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This word again. Yes though I would agree that if K-12 is (or isn’t socialism) then the same thing done at the college level would be the same.

2 extra years for an associates degree or most trade type certificates could be something to look at instead of making the whole thing free. This also keeps those kids who are young and shouldn’t be “trying” college from being saddled with a big debt. Right now the one year dropout thing is a pretty massive mistake and we are still talking about pretty young people.

Not really arguing for or against any of this necessarily at this point just framing my thought process.

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I agree. I honestly think we should have trade schools much more available and just as “free.”

I also use socialism tongue in cheek here.

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Be careful with the s word. It can mean different things to different people.

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You’re starting to see more and more high schools do this. Career exploration is being explored a lot more nationwide. Here in Kansas many schools partner and send kids to vocational school when they are junior/seniors (these kids typically forfeit electives to be able to do this). It’s free for some kids and not for others (sometimes schools have county partnerships).

The problem is a lot of areas don’t have these options. Especially rural areas where you have a lot of kids who might want to take advantage of something like that.

You also have a lot of kids taking college classes online now. Usually these have a cost but not always. I know of at least one Kansas community college that offers them for free for kids who live in that county.

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My biggest concern with free post secondary is the devaluing of the degrees that people obtained before the free education was around.


In theory you wouldn’t necessarily have to have more degrees. I know we can argue about it in practice.

Free or not most people don’t have what it takes to be a doctor. Assuming standards for receiving degrees doesn’t change.

I would love to see the for profit scam universities die. Except for Trump University of course. Renowned institution of higher learning.

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The best university. I majored in winning. I was so good at it, I got sick of it.

There’s probably at least some limited effect of this as well, but there’s supposedly a shortage of doctors and engineers.

Why do you think degrees would have less value if obtained for free though?

As an engineer, I want as few of them around as possible. Supply is low, pay me!

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What percentage of the population do you think can actually pass Cal II and Dif EQ?

The same amount regardless of whether it is free or not. Most of the population struggles with college algebra. In fact it has been discussed at many places to stop making it one of the required courses (except for majors tracking with higher level math needs).

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Because more people will have them. Supply and demand.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that our system (US is where I am from) is not very good. I would like to see more done to make education accessible, but it also needs to be balanced.

Not to mention fluids, thermo, statics and dynamics, and all the core engineering classes.

I don’t think we’ll be suffering from a huge upswing in engineering grads any time soon.


While I agree with you, I think you need to think on the margins.

If only a couple percent more graduate per year, over a couple years, it could create a glut of engineers. I don’t think it will happen enough with engineering degrees, but it may have large impacts on other majors.

Ok, you have a point.

Number of MDs is a tricky thing though. Shortage of MDs means more patients to see per MD = higher work load = faster burnt out MDs and so on. It also means less access for patients to an MD if specialists are far from their location.
Too many MDs and you have too many MDs competing for good training programs. Reality is, not all training programs are created equal. Too many MDs also means MDs get to see less patients, so less clinical experience

As for the college algebra part, do you guys think it should be removed? like offered to only engineering students for example

A high amount if they applied themselves. How many do? Not very many.

The thing about all of the mentioned classes is that they all make sense. There is no subjectivity to them. The teachers opinion does not matter, you are right or wrong.

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Personally yes. I didn’t have a problem with college algebra (not bragging or a math genius). I know you can make good arguments for keeping it (just like you could with about any pre-req).

So why would you want it removed? Not here to argue. Just curious what your take is

The only reason I’d rather it be offered to a wider selection of students, specially those in science fields (okay maybe not Art major students and the like, you get my point), is that more than learning to find x, apply tangent or cosine, and whatever is that it’s training the brain to think, much like training our muscles through lifting. That’s the only reason I could think of right now for it