GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has criticized President Obama for encouraging more Americans to seek higher education, even going as far as to call the president a “snob” and noting that “a lot” of Americans have no desire to go to college. Is there any merit to his viewpoint?
We recently asked our readers what they think about the issue—and while one might assume Santorum’s comments would be poorly received among educators, some agreed that Santorum might have a point.
Some readers said President Obama is forgetting about important programs like career-training schools, while others believe Santorum’s comments dig at a larger stigma that exists in today’s culture: judging those who don’t hold a bachelor’s degree.
Here are five diverse viewpoints from our readers [comments edited for brevity]:
What about the economy?
“Santorum certainly hasn’t listened to business owners who need educated Americans to work for them. Does he really want to demote ‘a lot’ of Americans to the most meager economic status? All recent studies indicate that, without education, they will have just that. I agree with setting the goal of educating the public to the fullest extent possible. It is healthy for a democracy. Higher education comes in many forms: liberal arts, science and math, technical skills, art and music, vocational skills, online courses to improve or learn new skills. It is not snobbish to ask Americans to aspire to do their best, it is elitist to promote mediocrity for the middle and lower economic classes.” —David F. Withrow, director of technology, Harford Day School, Bel Air, Md.
“It’s an insensitive and ignorant remark by someone who obviously has his education under his belt already. Does he know that only 4% of Black and Hispanic males have a college degree? Furthermore, less than 60% of students are graduating from high school in the Chicago Public School system—counting approximately 500 schools. We need educated people to keep our democracy strong and embrace freedom in this great country of ours. [Santorum] is disconnected from the mainstream of America.” —Louise Eggert-Nevins
“Many will never escape the death grip of poverty without a solid education. If someone doesn’t want to go to college, they don’t have to, but the fact that the President thinks it is important enough to try to ease the burden for those who do is a good thing.” —Tina Roberts