A community college: Investing in education is worth the cost

via—an aerial view of Eastern Idaho Technical College, which would become a community college should the ballot measure pass

Edit: The measure passed! Eastern Idaho Technical College will soon become College of Eastern Idaho. Thanks to all who voted.

Tomorrow citizens in Bonneville County, Idaho, will have the chance to vote for or against the development of a community college. It’s a big deal, and it needs to pass.

The biggest beef of those opposed to the community college is the additional tax. It’s been widely publicized that the average cost to homeowners in the county will be $13.37 per year with a maximum increase of 40 cents per year thereafter—a small price to pay for providing affordable higher education in a state where, according to Idaho Ed News, the number of high-school graduates who go on to college the following year has dropped below 50 percent.

But taxes are taxes, and some just don’t want to pay more. Here’s the thing: Funding a community college will cost less than picking up the tab for food stamps and Medicaid for the working poor or unemployed. Funding a community college will cost less than paying for inmates to live in prison. And when people don’t have good jobs and can’t find a feasible way to achieve a better life, they’re likely to despair, and they’re more likely to turn to crime. It’s a vicious cycle. A community college is a proactive response to the needs in our state, rather than a reactive one.

For those who care about our youth, here’s one more thing to consider: When I taught remedial reading at a local high school, only one student thought she might attend beauty school. Not a single other student planned to attend college—not one. I so wish I could have said, “Look, you can live at home and work the job you already have and attend night classes to help you earn a degree. Then you’ll have options! Then you’ll gain exposure to different subjects you might fall in love with! Then life can get better for you!” I wish I would have had this tool for helping them get excited about the future instead of feeling like a victim of what was coming next.

So please, members of my generation, get out and vote. This is an important opportunity for our community, particularly for those whose lives could use a boost. Let’s change the future of southeast Idaho. Vote yes tomorrow.

Click here for more information on the proposed community college.

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