Excelsior: Free Tuition for Whom?

By Steve Brier

If you’ve at all been confused about or even impressed by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s widely touted Excelsior Scholarship program that was just voted into law by the New York State legislature, a good place to start to deal with your questions and concerns is Lauren Gurley’s article in the May issue of The Indypendent, “Free Higher Ed for a Few.”

Gurley’s piece reveals the ways Excelsior serves as a giveaway to NY State’s middle class taxpayers — especially those who would like to send their kids to SUNY schools — while denying real and much-needed support to CUNY’s working-class and poor students who will hardly benefit from Excelsior, given the scholarship’s extremely restrictive terms. Cuomo is trying to burnish his progressive credential in anticipation for his 2020 run for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

Gurley interviewed me at length for the piece and I’m quoted a few times, including the final statement:

“We made a commitment as a nation in the post-World War II period that public education would be free and available to everyone who was interested in pursuing it. And we created institutions like city colleges, junior colleges and state colleges […] It was a different world. And that is the world, I would argue, that we should go back to.”

For the full article, visit The Indypendent.

You can also listen to Lauren Gurley´s article on iTunes or Soundcloud as part of a the new Indy Audio podcast, where you can listen to articles from The Indypendent.

 

Photo by MTA via flickr (CC-BY)

 

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