Americans have long recognized education as a cornerstone of democracy, equal opportunity and progress. Distressingly, since the turn of the new millennium the state of Illinois has essentially turned its back on higher education. Currently the state provides only one fifth of the cost of educating its citizens at state universities, a dreadful decline from almost 80 percent of funding not that long ago. As a direct result most Illinois college graduates now start their young lives burdened with debt, a debt averaging $30,000, a debt that benefits only banks, political donors and other big money men. In fact, Illinois college graduates have the 8th highest level of indebtedness. Illinois needs to return to the business of educating its young citizens. It needs to stop coddling wealthy special interests and enabling their attempt to turn us into a state of one against all where the wealthy educate only their own and the rest are left to flounder and fester in ignorance or debt. Last presidential election Senator Bernie Sanders proposed free college tuition. Despite shrill cries of bankruptcy from plutocrats, like Bruce Rauner, and politicians, such as Reggie Phillips, Illinois is still one of the more prosperous, vibrant states in the nation with the fifth highest state GDP and the 12th highest GDP per person. We can still fund our children’s and grandchildren’s education as our forefathers funded ours, but only if we have the will, wisdom and fortitude to resist the propaganda from those who have a choke-hold on our state and our children’s’ future. Better times must come!
Keith Wilson, Charleston