In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama announced his intent to make college affordable. “We’re shaking up our system of higher education to give parents more information and colleges more incentives to offer better value, so that no middle-class kid is priced out of a college education,” he proclaimed.
The day before his speech, the Pew Research Center released the results of a new survey on inequality that revealed a change in how Americans define their class identification. In 2008, 25 percent of Americans self-identified as “lower-class.” By 2014, that number had risen to 40 percent, while the number of self-identified “middle-class” Americans fell from 53 to 44 percent…
The newfound willingness of Americans to identify as lower-class speaks to the desperation of the post-recession jobless recovery. The rhetoric of “waiting out tough times” has been replaced with acknowledgement of a structural shift. For many, the American Dream is not deferred. It is over.
Putting aside the facile nature of Obama’s promise—which he has made every year he has been in office, as tuition costs soared and the standard of living plunged—what does it mean to promise a “middle-class kid” an affordable education in an era of downward mobility?
And what does it mean when higher education, often portrayed as a ticket into the middle class, is now a way out of it, saddling students with insurmountable debt in a time of diminished opportunity?
Read the whole thing: Who is Obama’s ‘Middle-Class College Student’?