A way will be found for those who really want a college education. The answer, however, is not to make college just a way to get your academic ticket punched. The only way to meet Clinton's goal in the short run is to lower academic standards so that everyone is eligible to attend college. This is not the road to national excellence. It is just another way to hand out federal funds to make the public feel good about the federal government taking care of them. It is a way to guarantee that college tuition coast will rise to new levels of unavailability. The "halls of ivy" do not need to be papered over with our greenbacks.
The real long term way to educational excellence lies not in promoting college but in fixing early year education so that eventually there will be a fine crop of intellectually competent students fully ready for college. The priority including federal funding and tax credits should be on massive improvement in kindergarten through third grade (K-3) education for all children.
The use of federal funds to pay for traditionally local school costs is appropriate only if they are block granted to local governing authority. I just can't believe that some bureaucrat in Washington is more aware of educational needs and deficiencies in a state, a county or a city than the governor, county commissioners or mayors of these entities. It is obvious that some areas need more funds than others for various reasons - more capital improvements, more teachers, more teacher training and compensation, etc. Let the local authority be required only to justify these funds are being used to meet K-3 needs.
Why concentrate on K-3 students? Teachers who deal with young children are fully aware of certain learning facts. Children in these age levels when properly instructed, are by far quicker to learn reading and language skills than older children or adults. It has long been known for example, that teaching a second language is much easier at a young age. There is no reason why teaching a first language - English - should be any different if we would concentrate our efforts on the simple precept that success is a function of language skills that condition all future learning.
Let's quit worrying about college education and concentrate all of our educational efforts on giving our children a real head start on life.
Donald R. Currier is a Smithsburg-area resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.