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Biden replaces free college with Pell Grants

Biden replaces free college with Pell Grants

In the recent CNN so-called town hall meeting, President Biden said that his free two years of community college proposal is no longer in the shrinking reconciliation bill.  As an alternative, he is suggesting that it may be possible to expand the federal Pell Grant program that provides money to students to attend college.

Biden’s reference to Pell Grants brought me back to my long effort to introduce universal school choice for elementary and high school students.  The concept is very simple.  Instead of paying the school system for each student, you allow the student to direct the money to the school of their choice.  That could be the public school, a private school or even a parochial school.

The idea of allowing parents and students to determine which school best serves their interests is vehemently opposed by the school unions , the public-school boards, the political machines that run the urban schools and the progressive left.  That is because their power and profit come from keeping as many kids in their public schools as possible – regardless of the quality of the education.  In the education consulting business, we refer to it as “warehousing kids.”

The human tragedy of their opposition to school choice is most clearly seen in the minority schools that served the segregated communities in America’s major cities.  In those communities, black and Hispanic kids are trapped in crumbling crime-ridden buildings – where they receive poor quality education and the dropout rate is as high as 70 percent.  On-campus violence is common.  These kids have little chance at moving on to college and pursuing career level jobs in the future.

I have always considered the crushing of positive and productive futures for millions of black and Hispanic children is one of the greatest civil rights immoralities of our times.  It is the sinful residual of slavery, 100 years of southern segregation, and urban de facto racism.

These children have been trapped in these failed institutions for generations solely for the political and economic benefit of machine politicians – black and white – the school unions, and a parasitical industry of education contractors and consultants.

Opponents of school choice argue that allowing the money to flow to other school systems would undermine the public schools by drawing money away.  That is true, but it is largely offset by removing the student who is a major part of the cost.  In fact, most school choice proposals only require a PORTION of the state financial allotment to be transferred.  That means the public schools would have more money per pupil – an economic gain.

Opponents claim that other schools may not teach according to the public school’s curriculum.  That is also true.  And in view of all the controversy with what the public schools ARE teaching, that would be a very good thing.  It would put the parents back in control of what their children are being taught.  It would break what is evolving into a state-run indoctrination system in which the government determines what a child is to know and believe.

They also argue that it would violate the Constitution to have taxpayer money flowing to parochial schools.  If that were the case – an this is my point – the Pell Grants would not be possible.  That taxpayer money often goes to such parochial schools as Notre Dame.

The Pell Grant program is a favorite of the education/industrial complex – of the left-leaning intelligentsia.  They do not recognize their own hypocrisy.  And obviously, Biden loves the idea so much that he wants to expand it.

Of course, the Pell Grant program blows away every objection to school choice because it does EXACTLY what the Pell Grant program does.  It takes federal taxpayer dollars and allows the parents and the students to take that money wherever they wish to attend college.  They can go to a state school … a private school … and even a parochial school.

If Biden wants to expand the Pell Grant programs, he should expand it to all those elementary and high school students who are now being warehoused in substandard schools in our segregated cities – or at least encourage the states to use school choice as their funding mechanism.

The essential difference between the current system and school choice is that the current taxpayer money is for the benefit of buildings and unionized government workers – and the political leaders who benefit from the millions of dollars that flow from the school unions to the Democrat city politicians who maintain the system.  Yes … almost all the education union money goes to Democrats because they are in control of the cities and can keep school choice from disrupting their corrupt and immoral racist policies.

What is wrong with something like Pell Grants for K/12 students … something like school choice.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Frank stetson

    Interesting idea Larry, but there’s a lot of apples and oranges here. Very interesting idea, but there is a high degree of difficulty in making this happen.

    First, school choice is a pretty good idea in my opinion and I believe iadopted in about half the nation currently. The $$$ %\budget-wise are pretty low and probably neither helps parents nor affects the school budget all that much so I guess better than nothing. A number of program options for parents like 529s to vouchers. I am not sure what universal school choice is as you define it.

    As you know Schools are funded primarily by local and state taxes; Pell grants are funded federally. Federal funding for schools averages about 10%. So, you’re really talking about the state being the main actor here to provide the Pell Grant. Your concept of variable cost for each student just doesn’t work. There’s fixed cost that rules; so if you take one student out of the system, the cost does not change. It’s only after you take enough students out that you can actually fire teachers, remove classrooms, heating, parking lots, etc., that you would see cost reductions. Downsizing is a thorny financial problem. But you know that. Therefore, funding this at the state level is quite the mountain to climb unless you add taxes which is just not gonna happen..

    Frankly, it would be quite easy to fund this at the federal level as long as, like the existing pell grants, Congress just approves the budget and then the grants are handed out. I could support that, especially since it would be targeted towards low income groups, I am guessing that would not be the way you would like to proceed.

    And then you have the problem of each state being in a slightly different situation. In New Jersey, we consistently pay a high dollar, but not top dollar, for education per student with the result being the number one or two ranked school system in the year, almost every year. Not sure we want to overturn that Apple Cart at the State level without proven benefits. Other states may have different situations and results.

    Again, very interesting idea, have no problem with a federal funding for such programs, but working through on a state level via tax rebates is a most difficult problem. Just don’t think it’s as simple as represented above.

  2. Frank stetson

    As an aside, but in the ballpark, I think federal funding, loans, grants, etc. for college needs to be re-engineered. I believe it has corrupted, financially, the entire system, increasing tuitions, and ultimately costing us more tax dollars and student loan payment dollars. Reminds me of welfare system run amuck starting with the great society.

    At the same time, I am a proponent of free two-year college because I feel America needs it to remain competitive in the world against other countries who offer advanced education as part of the state funded program. To me, the G.I. Bill that put so many men through college was a case of an investment that paid off in economic gold. I feel the same way about a free two year degree; not only would make for your schools want to be more competitive, it would also better educate the larger portion of our population which, in turn, could boost the economy immeasurably.

    • Martin underwood

      Freebies have to be paid for by someone. And the idiot in the White House has no problem with people losing their jobs over a phony vaccine but backs giving illegal immigrants work permits. And people think that’s ok? I don’t think so, except for leftist assholes

  3. Frank stetson

    That’s what I said about tax cuts for the rich. Wonder who got and who paid for the freebie there? At least Biden didn’t put the freebie in his own pocket.

    Good try though. You know, based on the amount of feedback, I can’t figure whether Larry has no readers or no friends….

    “Won’t you be my neighbor.”

    • Burt denny

      Biden’s pocket has a hole in it so he can have something to play with.