From Bernie Sanders:
An education should be available to all regardless of anyone’s station.
Today, there is universal access to free, public schools across the United States for kindergarten through 12th grade. That didn’t happen by presidential decree. It took populist pressure from the progressive movement, beginning in the 1890s, to make widespread access to free public schools a reality. By 1940, half of all young people were graduating from high school. As of 2013, that number was 81 percent. But that achievement is no longer enough.
A college degree is the new high school diploma.
In the 1950s and 1960s, it was possible to graduate from high school and move right into a decent-paying job with good benefits. Strong unions offered apprenticeships, and a large manufacturing sector provided opportunities for those without an advanced degree. A couple with a sole breadwinner could buy a home, raise a family and send their kids to college.
That was the American dream. Unfortunately, today, for too many Americans, it’s not a possibility.
An important pathway to the middle class now runs through higher education, but rising costs are making it harder and harder for ordinary Americans to get the education they want and need. In 1978, it was possible to earn enough money to pay for a year of college tuition just by working a summer job that paid minimum wage. Today, it would take a minimum wage worker an entire year to earn enough to cover the annual in-state tuition at a public university. And that’s why so many bright young people don’t go to college, don’t finish or graduate deeply in debt. With $1.3 trillion in student loans, Americans are carrying more student debt than credit card or auto-loan debt. That’s a tragedy for our young people and for our nation. …
We need to ensure that every young person in this country who wishes to go to college can get the education that he or she desires, without going into debt and regardless of his or her family’s income. …
It is time to build on the progressive movement of the past and make public colleges and universities tuition-free in the United States — a development that will be the driver of a new era of American prosperity. We will have a stronger economy and a stronger democracy when all young people with the ambition and the talent can reach their full potential, regardless of their circumstances at birth.