Obama, Tom Hanks Push Free Community College

May 11, 2015

President Obama on Friday showered attention on community colleges and his plan for free community college. As graduation speaker at Lake Area Technical Institute, in South Dakota, he said he picked the institution to highlight its success in graduation rates and job placement rates, and related those statistics to the care of the faculty, quoting students about the support and guidance they receive. And President Obama plugged his proposal for free community college, arguing that Congress could easily endorse the concept and pay for it.

"If folks in Congress decided to make this a priority, we could do the next best thing and make community college free for an entire generation of young Americans, as long as they’re willing to work, keep their grades up, be responsible, graduate on time," President Obama said. "And we could pay for it by closing just one loophole for millionaires and billionaires. Just one. Just one tax loophole enjoyed almost entirely by very few at the top, we could offer a quality education to millions of middle-class Americans. It’s in everybody’s interest." The full text of the president's remarks may be found here.

Also on Friday, the White House released an email from the actor Tom Hanks, a community college graduate and already a supporter of the president's plan, describing how Chabot College changed his life, crediting specific faculty members and endorsing the free community college plan.

"I produced the HBO miniseries John Adams with an outline format I learned from a pipe-smoking historian, James Coovelis, whose lectures were riveting," wrote Hanks. "Mary Lou Fitzgerald's Studies in Shakespeare taught me how the five-act structures of Richard III, The Tempest and Othello focused their themes. In Herb Kennedy's Drama in Performance, I read plays like The Hot L Baltimore and Desire Under the Elms, then saw their productions. I got to see the plays he taught, through student rush tickets at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and the Berkeley Repertory Theater. Those plays filled my head with expanded dreams…. Here's my bottom line, and it's simple: More kids (and adults, for that matter) should have this chance."

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