Letter: Old school ... not revolutionary

Old school ... not revolutionary

Editor of the Reformer:

Sanders is quoted in the Weekend Reformer (Jan. 16/17) as saying "When we make public colleges and universities free ..." we are saying to every child that if they "study hard, take school seriously, they will be able to get a college education regardless of the income of their families." That is revolutionary and will transform our society."

He ignores the hugely important fact that, from the Land Grant Act in 1862, public higher education in this country was tuition-free until the mid-to-late 1900s. The State University of New York began a modest charge for tuition in 1963. At the University of California there was no tuition until the 1980s; small fees for incidentals, but free tuition. That was the way higher education was supposed to be and was, in community and four-year colleges and universities across the country. We honored the aim of the Land Grant Act: education for "the industrial classes," "the sons of toil."

In contrast, today, at the University of California, tuition alone is $13,400 for California residents, $38,108 for non-residents. At UVM — $14,664 resident, $37,056 non-resident. And colleges and universities recruit out-of-state and overseas, displacing in-state students in favor of well-off non-residents.

This radical change is due to out-of-control rise of college costs plus grievous failure of public support. And a sad thing is that today's college students have no idea that the tuition they're amassing debt to pay was supposed to be free.

On the issue of college costs, Bernie needs to do some consciousness-raising. Free tuition at public colleges is not "revolutionary."

Lee and Byron Stookey, Brattleboro, Jan. 17


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