You know how President Obama is always going on about how he wants everyone to go to college?
Low-income strivers face uphill climbs, especially at Ball High School, where a third of the girls’ class failed to graduate on schedule. But by the time the triplets donned mortarboards in the class of 2008, their story seemed to validate the promise of education as the great equalizer.
Angelica, a daughter of a struggling Mexican immigrant, was headed to Emory University. Bianca enrolled in community college, and Melissa left for Texas State University, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s alma mater.
“It felt like we were taking off, from one life to another,” Melissa said. “It felt like, ‘Here we go!’ ”
Four years later, their story seems less like a tribute to upward mobility than a study of obstacles in an age of soaring economic inequality. Not one of them has a four-year degree. Only one is still studying full time, and two have crushing debts. Angelica, who left Emory owing more than $60,000, is a clerk in a Galveston furniture store.
Each showed the ability to do college work, even excel at it. But the need to earn money brought one set of strains, campus alienation brought others, and ties to boyfriends not in school added complications. With little guidance from family or school officials, college became a leap that they braved without a safety net.
The story of their lost footing is also the story of something larger — the growing role that education plays in preserving class divisions. Poor students have long trailed affluent peers in school performance, but from grade-school tests to college completion, the gaps are growing. With school success and earning prospects ever more entwined, the consequences carry far: education, a force meant to erode class barriers, appears to be fortifying them.
Oh, spare me, would you please? They don’t go to school, they’re trapped in the lower classes; they do go to school—and they’re still trapped in the lower classes.
The story is riddled with contradictions. They “excel” at college work, yet fail at college; college improves “earning prospects”, yet imparts “crushing debts”. And how can economic equality be described as “soaring”, even with the broadest license? It goes on for eight more pages like this—or at least I think it does: I stopped reading. (It’s a NY Times piece, if you’re counting.)
But mostly this just reproves to me how empty, shallow and failed is almost every idea Obama puts forward. Just when “climate science” is shown to be a fraud, he resolves to do something about climate change; a low-tax, low-regulation stable economic environment is most conducive to growth, yet he lurches from debt ceiling crisis to fiscal cliff, calling for higher taxes and greater regulation all the way. And just when Generation Y can’t find a job, Obama goads the next generation to walk the plank of pointless college degrees with their accompanying unbearable debt.
But it’s all of a plan. Failure is very much an option when the government can step in where government failed.
Make no sense to you? You didn’t vote for Obama. It’s a Democrat thing. We wouldn’t get it.