12 December 2010

Blaming is Easy

A recently released poll says respondents blame students, and to a lesser extent their parents, for failure to finish college.

The news stories about the poll, though, don't give the popular perceptions any context. So they allow readers to jump on the bandwagon blaming the kids for not finishing school.

Actually, it's finances. A few students drop out because they're just not doing the work. But if those kids come from relatively wealthy families, chances are they'll transfer to a different school, or at most take a year or two off and then continue.

The ones who drop out and don't go back are the ones who can't pay. They're struggling to pay the bills, much less tuition; they have family responsibilities; they can't get financial aid for part-time study.

To increase college graduation rates for lower-income Americans would require vast structural change in the way we expect people to pay for college. Rather than expecting students from lower-income families to cobble together jobs and outrageous amounts of loans, we'd actually have to give these kids free tuition and money to live on while in college.

But a nation that has the stomach to cut taxes for the rich clearly doesn't want to give an equal chance to the poor. We believe, as a nation, that the rich deserve their money, and the poor deserve their fate.

After all, if they drop out of school, it's their own fault.