Community colleges give us all skin in the game

Fox News

On Fox News, Brian Kilmead started discussing community colleges, and he noted that there would never be a need for free community college programs, saying:

BRIAN KILMEADE (GUEST CO-HOST): Dana, there is not one person out there that wants to go to community college that can’t afford it. There are so many programs.

I would like to congratulate Mr. Kilmeade on his success in life and the opportunities his parents provided to him. I recognize for Mr. Kilmeade, the idea of not affording a community college is so foreign that he cannot imagine it.

Every day in our community, though, thousands of Johnson County, Kansas residents put skin in the game through their own tax dollars, helping to pay in and support our community college, but they never realize the fruits of their labor, because affording a community college is about more than writing a check for tuition. 

Millions of Americans look toward community college for job retraining and career changes. The expense of attending a community college isn’t just tuition, it includes the price of their books, the difficulty of scheduling around a job that they need and childcare.

Yet citizens in our area decide to come back to college in hopes that they can find opportunity. When we talk about skin in the game, we have to realize that for those who have wealth and opportunity, like Brian Kilmeade, the cost of attending a Community College is a low-risk proposition. The low cost in comparison to their income allows them to take the risk with less jeopardy. A single mother who wants to be retrained for a new job, no matter what the cost of a community college doesn’t just have skin in the game – she could be risking everything by coming back and taking a chance on herself, incurring new bills for her family and giving up time at home.

College Promise is a program aimed at helping those who seek to improve their lives with a scholarship that covers their tuition expenditure from community residents seeking to improve their skillset for their community. The cost is relatively low, and the benefits are significant.

For those who are looking to make a change, this is a small relief to their overall cost of retraining for new careers and opportunities. If you are an individual like Brian Kilmeade, who probably pays more taxes, this is a low-cost change to use limited tax dollars to build the workforce of tomorrow, the kind we need to power American industries and make corporate entities more successful.

We all pay taxes. I recognize that a great many hate paying taxes and they question why should they pay taxes for items? What do they get out of it? Brian Kilmeade and others imply that those who want free tuition for community college want something free for nothing. I would remind them that they, too, have skin in the game. With every penny in sales tax they pay, with every dime in income tax, with every dollar in property tax, working class families pay their taxes, and they deserve to see benefit from their input.

They don’t ask for much – in fact, what they ask for is the chance to contribute more tax dollars and become higher earning residents. Some of them are willing to risk a great deal to provide better opportunities for their families.

Let’s move past mocking people who are trying to improve their lives through education. Instead, let’s provide them the opportunity to take part in the colleges their tax dollars have helped fund, and to build the workforce of tomorrow.

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