Recently, the likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was quoted saying:
I think this is a land of opportunity for every single person, every single citizen of this great nation. And I want to make sure that we keep America a place of opportunity, where everyone has a fair shot. They get as much education as they can afford and with their time they’re able to get and if they have a willingness to work hard and the right values, they ought to be able to provide for their family and have a shot of realizing their dreams.
Uh, Mr. Romney? If I’d gotten as much education as I could afford, I would have stopped at high school, when most of us not blessed to be Romneys have to start paying for our education. I would have continued reading and educating myself, but I wouldn’t have begun to know how to challenge myself to learn more, to pull up out of the socio-economic group into which I was born, to find a job that didn’t involve me bending over hundreds of thousands of flannel shirts, or bib overalls, or any other of the jobs that awaited me in southwest Missouri.
I don’t say that to belittle those jobs. I have family who worked them, and friends who continue to work them, mostly because they did precisely what you suggested, and got all the education they could afford, and then they stopped. Who knows what lives they might have lived, had they had the opportunity of student loans or scholarships, or any other infusion of money that allowed them to continue on to college and beyond? I guess we’ll never know. All I know is I took out loans and worked multiple jobs and got some scholarships and when I graduated and the first loan payment came due, I paid it. I paid that debt off early, in fact, just as I knew I would. With that college degree I could get a job that would allow me to pay my debts, including the debt I incurred by going to college. It was debt well worth it, and I’d do it again.
I suppose this is a step up from your earlier suggestion that would-college students or entrepreneurs borrow money from their parents. Perhaps you meant borrow money from your parents, as mine didn’t have any.
I don’t see people like me in your vision for the future of education in America, Mr. Romney. Or, rather, I see people like me, and we’re all stuck at getting just the education we can afford. So: No. Thank you.