As South Whidbey seniors celebrate their graduation, they should take a moment to revel in the fact they have finished 12 years of schooling and universally have zero education-related debt.
That’s right. All those readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic classes have been provided free to you by taxpayers. Look at any house you pass as you’re driving around celebrating and the owner of that house has paid thousands of dollars over the past 12 years to make sure you get a free education.
On South Whidbey, we don’t have enough homes to cover all the costs, so homeowners in richer parts of the state help support us. Is this a great system, or what? In many parts of the world education isn’t free, even if it takes place under a banyan tree. The idea of a free public education didn’t just happened, it was a right acquired after years of effort. Free elementary schools weren’t available in every state until 1870 (thanks, Wikipedia), nearly a century after the United States was founded.
So, just spend a moment appreciating all society has done for you to date. Free education, free breakfasts and lunches for those who otherwise could not afford to eat, and free transportation to and from school. A lot of people had to sacrifice to make that happen.
As for the next stage in life, it’s no bowl of free cherries. Probably the easiest thing to do is join the military. The pay isn’t bad these days and only a small minority end up being killed or losing limbs in foreign adventures.
If you’re lucky, you can join mom and dad’s business and work your way up quickly because blood is thicker than talent. If you have a mechanical aptitude, trade schools are less expensive than college, and electricians, plumbers and builders make good money when the economy is running well.
For the rest of you, the options are a starting wage job or college. The job at least pays you to work; college costs you a ton of money to attend. Most of you don’t have it, so you’ll borrow. Can you handle being $35,000 in debt four years from now? Just the thought if it should make you appreciate all you’ve been given to date.
Congratulations on your graduation, though. We’re proud that you’ve worked hard for us.