At Congressman Scott Tipton's town hall meeting in Delta on Sept. 5, many items were discussed — immigration, the budget, Syrian issues, the border, Obamacare and many local issues to name a few.
I came prepared to present an issue that has profound implications —that of the extreme costs of an education.
That chance did not happen because I did not get my number called. For those of you who do not know, you are given a number when you first come in if you wish to speak. That number is then placed in a container and randomly drawn. I did not luck out!
My item of concern is that of the declining opportunity for an education in America today. The costs of a vocational or four-year college degree are astounding and almost prohibitive for the average student.
This spring a DHS graduate was prepared to attend an 18-month diesel technical school in Denver at a cost of $38,000. The parents could just barely afford the tuition and book fees, but when they factored in the room and board and other incidental costs, this young man had to give up his dream.
This is a two-wage-earner family with three students in school who live on a farm and have their children actively involved in school and 4-H. All the children placed in the 4-H blue ribbon category and represent their school at the state level in athletics. This family did everything right, but an advanced education was out of the question for the high school graduate. Very discouraging and where do they turn?
This is not an isolated happening across America today and it begs for a solution. How can this be? Our young people are the core of our country. They hold the future of America in their hands and minds.
I know of many physical therapists, attorneys, airframe mechanics and teachers who, even though they were fortunate to gain access to a higher education program, struggle over a long period to pay off those student loans. This struggle discourages many to forgo additional education.
My first quarter tuition at Western State College in Gunnison was $37.50. There were many like me who thought this excessive but were able to pay our way quarter by quarter with jobs after classes and jobs in the oil fields in the summer. That would not be possible for the student of today.
The young DHS graduate is now attending Delta-Montrose Technical College's auto mechanics program. He works part time and has several financial supporters. Upon graduation he will work in the automotive industry until he has enough capital to go to diesel school. How discouraging that drive cannot be met with possibilities. How much we lose by not having our resources (young adults) practicing in their vocational choice of fields providing needed services and economic stability to the community in which they live.
China, Brazil, Malaysia and other developing countries send their students to schools under full-ride scholarships. They send them to the best schools available knowing this investment will provide longterm benefits. Much like the G.I. Bill.
America needs to adjust its priorities and give our future a significant chance. Since I did not get the opportunity to speak with Congressman Tipton about this view on the 5th, I will do that by mail.
Perhaps that will be one small effort to help shape America.
We must open the doors to opportunity — and also provide our people with the means to walk through them.
~Lyndon B. Johnson