WASHINGTON—In her statement, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten embraces President Obama's proposal to offer free tuition to hardworking students attending our nation's invaluable community colleges:
"Students deserve a high-quality, affordable and accessible higher education. And our 21st-century economy needs an educated workforce prepared to compete. Providing free community college for hardworking students could expand educational opportunity, strengthen our workforce and boost investment in community colleges, which have been hard hit by austerity budgets at the state level.
"With decades of stagnant wages and rising student debt, young people and returning adult students alike are either deterred from going to college or, when they do choose to attend, are buried under debt. That's why extending the ladder of opportunity to those who may have thought college was out of reach is so important. We applaud the president's proposal and hope that Congress, state governments and higher education institutions will work together to make this program a reality.
"In fact, we already see how programs like the one the president proposes are working. For instance, at the City University of New York, where faculty and staff are members of the AFT, the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs waive tuition and provide targeted supports that lead to better outcomes for students. We are delighted to see our members' work recognized, and we urge legislators to sustain and expand on programs like it across the country."