Public education well worth the investment

The commonwealth of Massachusetts is proposing to create a public law school. A study declares the endeavor a “high-risk, low-reward proposition” and says the expenses such a school would cost taxpayers are irresponsible. It’s a prime example of how little our country is prepared to invest in education.

The main concern is the price tag, which the study says would clock in at $39 million over the next seven years. What many do not consider is that the estimated $5 million a year would give less-affluent prospective students the chance to study law. In that regard it would be a steal.

Making the counterarguments in the study even more dubious are the initiators of the study: It was commissioned by two law schools that would likely feel the competition from the new public rival. Naturally they would like to prove that a public law school is not worth financing.

So why the concern over money? There are few military items on the U.S. budget that cost less than $5 million, yet far lower expenses are deemed frivolous when they are to be invested into education. The question should therefore not be “why spend money on education?” but rather, why not? Military spending is necessary as it ensures national security. But even guaranteed national security, if such a thing is even possible, would hardly be worth it if the living standard of the people the military is protecting suffers as a result of the military’s upkeep. Since education is part of a fulfilled life, lack of it would definitely result in a lower living standard.

The general public balks at financing such endeavors, no matter what the price tag is. It appears most taxpayers are only prepared to pay for services they know for certain they will take advantage of themselves. If the proposed expense’s returns are less obvious, the screams about “redistribution of wealth” are heard.

It must be understood what such a public law school would create. The opportunity to study law is usually associated with astronomical long-term debts for the students if affluent benefactors are not footing the bill on behalf of the student. But if only the wealthy can afford to study at a university, it would create an intellectual upper class that is congruous with the nation’s richest.

We are still a far cry from creating this sort of intellectual apartheid, but any attempt to make education available to all, not only the rich, should be seen as in the interest of all and is well worth the expense.