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Kucinich and Education
Nicholas Johnson

Daily Iowan, "Opinion"
November 6, 2003, p. 8A

If we’re unwilling to raise Iowa’s taxes, but are constitutionally obliged to balance the state budget, cuts in state revenues require cuts in education. Everyone’s looking for solutions, from the governor to students.

But when there are lots of hungry kids, and only one cookie left on the platter, it doesn’t make much difference how you slice it.

Rather than argue about the size of tuition increases, how about some thinking outside the cash box? Why not national funding of college education? No tuition.

That’s just one of Dennis Kucinich’s proposals. He’s actually figured out how to fully fund public education for all from age three through college. He's introduced the legislation to do it.

Is he nuts? No. We’ve done it before. After World War II it was called “the GI Bill.” The resulting economic growth returned the cost many times over. California provided free higher education for years – and became the world’s seventh largest economy.

Even high school wasn’t always free. Graduation came after eighth grade. We reassessed; “K-8” became “K-12.” It’s time to do it again.

In today’s workplace, a college education is as essential as was a high school education 80 years ago. Change “K-12” to “preK-16” and, voila, no college tuition.

But we’re unlikely even to think about such solutions, let alone adopt them, so long as the media keep us focused on who’s ahead in the polls, raised the most money, or looks best on TV.

So check out for 40 proposals like this. You have a personal stake in Iowa's precinct caucuses Jan. 19.

Nicholas Johnson
Iowa City