dotEDU Episode 20: Can We Promise College for All?

Episode 20

Aired May 4, 2020

More states are considering broad-based college aid programs, an idea that was sparked some 75 years ago with the GI Bill. Hosts Jon Turk and Sarah Spreitzer talk with College Promise CEO Martha Kanter about the future of college promise programs nationwide, particularly in light of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on higher education.

Episode Notes

Here are some of the links and references from this week’s show:

Hosts and Guests

Jon Turk: Hello and welcome to dotEDU, the higher education podcast from the American Council on Education. I'm your host, Jon Turk, associate director of research here at ACE, and recording today's episode from the comfort of the quietest place in my city apartment, my bedroom closet. I'm filling in today for our regular host, Jon Fansmith, But with me today is Sarah Spreitzer, one of our ACE directors of government relations. Sarah, how's life treating you? Are you tired of Zoom calls yet?

Sarah Spreitzer: Not tired of Zoom calls, but I would say I'll do you one better. I'm sequestered in my son's bedroom because it's the only place I can be in that has a door that keeps my homeschooled children-

Jon Turk: I see.

Sarah Spreitzer: That's in air quotes, "homeschooled" children out of my hair, so...

Jon Turk: Of course, the question many of our listeners might be asking themselves is, where is your son, Ben, right now?

Sarah Spreitzer: I don't know, but not in his room, so it works out well.

Jon Turk: Yeah, there you go. So obviously it's a busy time right now. I know your team has just been working around the clock on a variety of things related to COVID-19 and the CARES Act. What's been going on in your world?

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah, and I know you guys have been very busy too, but I would just say from the government relations side, the CARES Act passed, I don't know, like a month ago, but we've been dealing with the implementation and getting out those higher education emergency relief funds from the Department of Ed. They released some guidance last week. We've heard rumors that they're going to release some new guidance today, maybe by close the business. And so all of our institutions have been scrambling to figure out how to get those funds out to students who might need them during this crisis. And then we're also dealing with trying to figure out is Congress is going to do, I guess what we're calling it, the phase four package-

Jon Turk: Yeah.

Sarah Spreitzer: Although maybe it's more like, I don't know, CARES 2.5. Because the Senate and House did come back and pass a smaller bill that puts more money intoithe Small Business Administration programs, but they're expected to do a much larger package at some point, maybe towards the end of May. I'm not really sure. So we've been dealing with our advocacy activities around that. And we have been out there talking to Congress about the fact that we're very grateful for the $14 billion that was included in CARES for institutions and our students, but we're hopeful that they'll consider including another $47 billion in the next package.

Jon Turk: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's much needed, isn't it?

Sarah Spreitzer: Very much so. But you guys have been pushing out surveys and kind of learning what's going on with our institutions, and that's been really helpful as we've been engaging with the Hill.

Jon Turk: Yeah. We've kind of taken a new approach to some of our survey research work. So we launched, or we have launched now a monthly survey of presidents, trying to better understand what's top of mind for them, get a better sense of things that are going on on campus, what kinds of things they're thinking about, what kind of guidance they're looking for, what can we do at ACE, both through our advocacy efforts and our programmatic efforts, to really help support their work on campuses. So we just released the results of our first survey just about a week ago, and so that's up on our website at Probably not a surprise, right? I mean, presidents' top of mind issues around fall enrollment-

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah.

Jon Turk: Around faculty and staff and potential layoffs, and sustaining this online learning environment we all have found ourselves operating in these days. So a lot of other good information in the survey. We're working on a next one that's going to be out in the field in just about a week and it's going to be focused a little bit more on contingency planning for the fall term and what kind of information presidents are hearing and what are some of the considerations they're thinking about for reestablishing their in person classes and operations. So that's all coming up pretty soon.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah, I can't believe we're already in May basically, right?

Jon Turk: Yeah.

Sarah Spreitzer: And people are still trying to figure out what's going to happen in the fall, which nobody really knows. And I would just say one of the other things I've been working on with Brad and Robin and a few others in the ACE office is on the issues impacting international students, because that's another big question for the fall, right?

Jon Turk: For sure.

Sarah Spreitzer: Is the country going to be open? Are other countries going to be open? Even if we are open, can we get visas processed in time for the students to come back? And then what happens if there's another outbreak?

Jon Turk: Yeah.

Sarah Spreitzer: So that's one of the big questions.

Jon Turk: Well, let's go ahead and move right on into the big conversation. It's my great pleasure to introduce our guest today. Today we have with us Dr. Martha Kanter, the executive director of the College Promise Campaign, a national nonpartisan initiative aimed at increasing college access and affordability by building public support for funding for at least the first two years of postsecondary education. Dr. Kanter, of course, was also previously the Undersecretary of Education and served as a college president. Dr. Kanter, we are so pleased to have you with us today.

Martha Kanter: Thrilled to be here.

Jon Turk: So let's kick it right off. Promise programs, free college. Those are words and programs that we're hearing a lot more about these days, but with everything that's on people's mind around the pandemic and COVID-19, why are these programs, why is this topic so important right now?

Martha Kanter: It's really critical that students continue their education beyond high school to be competitive in the global economy, to raise funds in their salaries and in the rest of their lives, to have family-sustaining wages so they can get a life, they can pay the rent, they can buy a house eventually, they can get a car or they can afford a bus pass. And it's also critically important for our social environment. We have a lot of fear. People are afraid right now with COVID-19 and we have to actually help people use the opportunity, I hate to even say COVID-19 is an opportunity, but to leverage social distancing to keep the human connection that reinforces the critical need for an education beyond high school. That's what Promise does.

Jon Turk: Yeah.

Martha Kanter: And I also want to also just obliterate free college and let you know that free equals paid for. And I wrote a paper on this, so if people want the reference, we can put that up on the web after we're done-

Jon Turk: Yeah, we can include it in the show notes.

Martha Kanter: But, you know, there is no free college, but free college is a belief. It's a moniker that draws people that don't think it's possible into the idea and into the reality that a high school education is no longer enough. Whether you're an adult disconnected from the workforce, you're a youth, a foster youth who ages out at 18 and doesn't have a family support, whether you're DACA and you happen to live in a state that will let you have state aid and you happen to live in another state that doesn't, this is what the word free does. I served for five years in the federal government. We launched the concept of Promise for all, that College Promise at any level should be available to help students believe they can go through college or get training beyond high school, whether it's career technical or a full four years or two years, but the concept is we're going to need more college, more postsecondary education. If you get it from your community, that's great. If you can get it in your library through remote learning, that's fantastic, but college for all is going to be essential to do well on that third freedom, which is the economic understanding, which is the economic prosperity, the economic opportunity, and I add to that the social opportunity and the civic opportunity to participate in American life.

Jon Turk: Absolutely.

Martha Kanter: So I went to NYU, I studied 53 Promise programs to recover from the government, which was [inaudible 00:08:52] hours a day, seven days a week. 53. Kalamazoo, Long Beach, El Dorado, Arkansas. I got Michigan, I got Arkansas, I got California. You can go to now, many years later, I left the government in 2013, so we're almost at 2023, and we have more than 300 communities and 29 states. And the great thing is that this summer, Washington state put their Promise in place, and today, Seattle is going to keep the Promise-

Jon Turk: Yeah.

Martha Kanter: For [crosstalk 00:09:29] community colleges, and that's on top of what the legislature did to make any public or private two or four year institution in the state of Washington affordable for everyone who meets the eligibility criteria.

Martha Kanter: So what's great is we have 29 different state models and 300 going to 500 if we can get through the vetting, because we have a very small team in Washington D.C., going through every Promise program that gets announced every other week. Governor Whitmer from Michigan put the first step to a Promise in place using the GI Bill-

Jon Turk: Yes.

Martha Kanter: And I mentioned World War II, can't we get a Promise in place for all frontline workers? This is the people who work in the restaurants-

Jon Turk: Right.

Martha Kanter: The people who have lost jobs, the people on the frontlines in our hospitals and our nursing homes, which are tragic right now for COVID-19. How can we at least keep people engaged that college opportunity beyond high school and American Council on Education? This is the whole mission of ACE.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah.

Martha Kanter: Hopefully it's our whole mission of our 4,500 colleges and universities in the country to keep college in the frontline for every American that wants more education, that has the motivation, the drive, the time and the money-

Jon Turk: Yes.

Martha Kanter: To actually continue his or her education.

Sarah Spreitzer: So Martha, you said at the beginning, you talked about the fact that the term free college doesn't actually mean free college. And I apologize, Jon, if I'm jumping ahead, but can you explain? You know, somebody does have to kind of pay for that, so can you kind of tease that out a bit? Like why free college doesn't actually mean free college and who is paying for it?

Martha Kanter: Right. So free college at any level, so that means career technical, one-year certificate training program, free college in a two-year community college that has a pipeline to the workforce and a pipeline to the four-year, free college for the full four years, it can happen in any level. Communities and states are leading the way, mostly communities. So if I go back to the free college movement and I go backwards in history, we had free college until the 1960s. Most people don't know that. But I use the example of Rice University, which was called the Rice Institute at the time. During the '20s, '30s, '40s and '50s, mostly men were given the opportunity, that's historic. And then after the GI Bill and World War II, and the recovery and the prosperity that followed from the '50s to the '60s, we had much more diversity of women and people of color coming into American higher education at all levels, flagship publics, flagship privates, two-year, four-year, et cetera. And so to your question, free college was a given. And it was only in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and then in the last 50 years-

Jon Turk: Right.

Martha Kanter: That we have transitioned from a public good to a private good. And that's the American tragedy that I'm trying to lift up in these conversations. We can do better. We need a prosperous economy, we need an inclusive society, and we need a democracy that is going to be founded and propelled by American education at all levels. We've got the blame game that has happened for 50 years. I'm tired of it. I don't want to be a little old lady that says, "We didn't fix K-12. We didn't fix higher ed." Well, the fix is the smart design, and that's where Promise comes in because I've got 300 local communities that have put smart design in place to get college affordable in these communities. States have picked up on this over the last, mostly 20 years, since Long Beach and Kalamazoo and Tennessee Promise. They have all led the way in the last 20 years. I mean, people think Tennessee Promise is a state program. It started in Knoxville-

Jon Turk: Yeah.

Martha Kanter: It started in the early part of this century.

Jon Turk: Right.

Martha Kanter: So that's how things happened. We have tremendous diversity in the Promise bucket and we can do better than what we've had for the last 50 years. That's the mission I'm on.

Jon Turk: Yeah, no, I mean, I think you raised so many good points. I mean, I think even using that historical lens, right? Like you mentioned Rice University, you mentioned some of these other institutions. I mean, the California community colleges until the '80s, the University of Florida, I was reading a historical document that was talking about in like 1902, where at the time, their charter was anybody in the state of Florida could attend... Well, when you say "anybody", that's not exactly true, but students who were attending the University of Florida were tuition-free. The idea that tuition-free is some radical, brand new idea is just not the case.

Martha Kanter: Right.

Jon Turk: It is something ingrained in the history of our institutions.

Martha Kanter: SUNY and CUNY were free.

Jon Turk: Yeah. Exactly.

Martha Kanter: And California two and four year colleges were free.

Jon Turk: Right.

Martha Kanter: Most private universities at the time were free, and high school didn't become fully free until the early 1920s.

Jon Turk: Right.

Sarah Spreitzer: Wow.

Martha Kanter: Alaska was the last state to put high school for all in its public policy. So we've had the history of several hundred years to make high school the standard.

Jon Turk: Yeah.

Martha Kanter: [Next hundred years, two and four year public/private has got to be the standard to help students graduate with a formally good education, high quality, with minimal debt. It's not no debt, but I want them to buy a house, I want them to get a car, I want them [inaudible 00:15:48], I want them to live in an inclusive society, I want them to vote, I want them to be the kinds of people that we want to live with that create a democracy that can be number one again.

Jon Turk: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, well Martha, you've sold me.

Sarah Spreitzer: I'm sold too.

Jon Turk: Yeah, I mean, I'm right there with you. I mean, I think you've laid that out so perfectly. We know the value of higher education. We know that people might be debating that right now, but it's unquestionable the value of higher education for individual economic returns, for the benefits of society, for a variety of other things. We know you can't question that. And so, you've totally sold me on that. I guess one of the questions that I have for you then is, I mean, like I said, you've sold Sarah and I, it sounds fantastic, so why aren't these everywhere? Why haven't we gotten to that kind of model yet?

Martha Kanter: All right, I'm happy to talk about the criticisms that I bang my head against the wall to refute, but the first criticism, it's pretty prominent in parts of our country where we have such a great need for more education.

Jon Turk: Yeah.

Martha Kanter: So the first criticism is, "High school's good enough." And I trot out, you know, Sandy Baum, Dr. Baum at the Urban Institute-

Jon Turk: Yeah.

Martha Kanter: Does a report every couple of years that shows the economic returns of people with more education after high school. So if you want a local, a county, a state, a country's prosperous economy, help us educate more people beyond high school.

Jon Turk: Yeah.

Martha Kanter: If you want less divisiveness, create more education so students can learn to live in a diverse society. If you want a democratic system where people can freely vote and you want legislators and governors to actually have a cohesive pattern with their state secretaries, to actually follow the fundamental principles on which our democracy was created, have a Promise, get people more educated. That's the first criticism. The biggest one is, "College is affordable and I paid for it. Everybody else should."

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah.

Martha Kanter: So that's the other big one is the affordability, that it was a me first. And if you look at Raj Chetty's chart that I trot out to thousands of audiences for the last almost five years now, if you are a student coming from a family that has the means, you can go anywhere. And unfortunately, and we know this from the Pell Grant research, which is volumes of studies, that the poorer you are, you don't have the chance.

Jon Turk: Yeah.

Sarah Spreitzer: So, Martha, you talked a little bit about the GI Bill. My father, during the great recession in the '80s, actually went back to school on the GI Bill, and went to a community college to get his associate's and was very proud of that experience. The GI Bill is like that great sort of example where you point to it, where you say the US government made this decision to make a huge investment, right, for all of those people returning from the wars, and obviously it's still ongoing with the new GI Bill, but do you ever use that as an example to demonstrate that those dollars help the entire country? That they not only help the smaller communities and that person's own sort of economic trajectory, but that they are good for the entire country?

Martha Kanter: So for any veteran who uses the GI Bill, there is a big federal study that I have in my computer somewhere that I can trot out, that shows they are going to economically return seven times on the dollar-

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah.

Martha Kanter: Because they got more education after high school, two-year, four-year, graduate school. The tragedy, the American tragedy for veterans and military families is half of the veterans don't use the GI Bill. This is a nightmare. This is something that hopefully people can fix in Washington D.C. so that veterans have the right support, the mentoring. The GI Bill was extended. That's all to the good. Thank you members of Congress for working together to do that, but you haven't done enough for veterans and military families, which is why I chair the Scholarship Committee for Scholarship America, and they have a big veterans component that is encouraging and giving support to military families and veterans and children of veterans who have lost their lives. There's just all kinds of ways to kind of tell the veterans, "Please use your GI Bill to get more than the education you came in with."

Jon Turk: Yeah.

Martha Kanter: Unfortunately, one of the tragedies in America is we just have plain too many underprepared people for all kinds of reasons. And if we don't get lost in the blame game and just say-

Jon Turk: What are you going to do--

Martha Kanter: "How are we going to get people more education at any level?" And we have this, I can borrow from Michael Crow at Arizona State University, universal learner concept. Thank you, Michael Crow. It starts at birth and goes through life, and will give you more education at any level so you're not going to be underprepared for the globalizing democracy of the future.

Jon Turk: I hate to pause the conversation right now, but I know we have to take a short break.

Martha Kanter: [inaudible 00:22:08] thank you. I'm that age, I need a break [crosstalk 00:22:11]

Jon Turk: We have to take a short break. When we come back, we're going to talk a little bit more about some of the specifics of some of the Promise programs that are out there.

Jon Turk: And we're back. So we've had a lot of really rich conversation about the value of Promise programs and the power that they can have to really help move our country forward. Martha, can we talk a little bit about some of the different types of programs that are out there? You've referenced the cataloging that you've been doing of all of these different programs. We know that there are local programs, we know that there are statewide programs. Can you just maybe highlight a couple of those programs that are out there and tell us a little bit about them?

Martha Kanter:

Sure. So I'll just start with Kalamazoo because that has been in the news since the early part of the 21st century. And the part I love about the Kalamazoo Promise, which is in Michigan, is that any graduate from Kalamazoo high schools can go to any two- or four-year college in the state of Michigan. And they've been working on this for a long time. They've added more student supports over the last five years because they learned that low-income students don't have the reinforcers, I call them educational interventions, incentives, ways that families and community members and educated folks in good quality schools can attend to the diverse needs of young people who are less prepared for all kinds of reasons.

Jon Turk: That's a really good point, right? Like I think sometimes we forget that it's not just about the money, right? There has to be other supports that help students into and through their postsecondary education.

Martha Kanter: Right. And I'll just use a little quote from Dr. Millet from Educational Testing, ETS, who says this is about to, through, and beyond college. And I love that because if you think of those three things, and back to your question, what are the models out there, the Kalamazoo Promise is making it affordable for any student in the state. It was all privately-funded, in contrast with many other places in the country.

Martha Kanter: So we have today 300 plus Promise programs in local communities-

Jon Turk: Wow.

Martha Kanter: Moving to 500.

Jon Turk: Wow.

Martha Kanter: I have a couple more that are in vetting. So in 2021, we'll have more than 500. And we went from the state of Tennessee to 29 states.

Jon Turk: Yeah. That's incredible.

Martha Kanter: And that's been in five years since I've been tracking this in the database. What's great about the catalog that we just published, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, if you click on the new College Promise website, which is opened today-

Jon Turk: Oh great.

Martha Kanter:

That's opened today, and we have a lot more work to do, but you will be able to click on a map and find your Promise programs anywhere in the country and then figure out if you're eligible or not. So Van Guarantee in North Carolina, the Van Guarantee Promise, two- or four-year community college in Van Guarantee, community college students can go, any youth or adult from high school or disconnected adult. In contrast with El Dorado, Arkansas, which was one of the early programs like Kalamazoo-

Jon Turk: I used to live there, just as a heads up for everybody.

Martha Kanter: If you're a graduate from the El Dorado High School, you can go anywhere in the country.

Sarah Spreitzer: Wow.

Martha Kanter:

If you happened to live in Washington state last year, if you happened to live in Seattle, you could go to the community colleges. This next year, you can go to any two- or four-year public or private at the median or below income level of anybody in the state.

Jon Turk: Yeah.

Martha Kanter: So that's a great example where Mayor Jenny Durkan pulled the Seattle Promise in to...Governor Inslee picked it up, and went a step forward. You're seeing Governor Whitmer in Michigan taking a first step with veterans and frontline workers to get a two year Promise that could be taken to a much larger, but in Michigan, you've got already a University of Michigan Promise.

Jon Turk: Yeah.

Martha Kanter: So we have tremendous variation around the country. Tennessee has led the way in all of this, and it started in Knoxville. The Knoxville mayor, before Governor Haslam, who was then mayor of Knoxville, was preceded by the former mayor who actually architected the initial design of the Knoxville Promise. Governor Haslam took it one better, expanded it. He was then elected Governor, and in 2014, launched the Tennessee Promise. And I was fortunate when I was working in the Obama administration to actually work with Governor Haslam on the design and really understanding what they wanted to accomplish in his administration to grow it to statewide. So that really helped, you know, with the Tennessee higher education folks who've taken a lead. Mike Krauss needs to be congratulated for getting out there with the state higher education executives and other ways that American Council on Education and so many other organizations have picked this up. We have a long way to go. This is probably going to be a 10, 20, 30 year project. The GI Bill didn't happen overnight.

Jon Turk: Right.

Martha Kanter: Free college happened. It took 200 years for free college. It took more than 150 years to get free high school.

Jon Turk: Yeah.

Martha Kanter: But this is the mission that creates a prosperous democracy in which we can all participate.

Jon Turk: And I think it's important to note, as you were talking about some of those programs in some of the states, I mean, I heard Democrats, I heard Republicans, I heard folks from the different political parties. It doesn't seem to be just one party or the other, does it?

Martha Kanter: I can tell you that, at the state level, what's great is that the governors of Arkansas, Kentucky and Indiana have put a stake in the ground for adult Promise programs in highly targeted economically attractive fields of study where there are workforce gaps. So in Arkansas, we profiled the Governor of Arkansas. We have annual reports that are profiling all the bipartisan and nonpartisan richness of the Promise movement, and you can look at different governors and what they did, and different mayors and different university leaders and community college presidents-

Jon Turk: Yeah.

Martha Kanter: And all kinds of government, education, philanthropy and business leaders. In Detroit, the Detroit Promise, which has some great early returns with MDRC that has been studying them now for five years, early returns on African American students in Detroit that got the Detroit Promise do better in college. So we're looking at persistence, we're looking at outcomes, red and blue. So I can go from Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee and Indiana, all the way over to California, Washington state, and other states that have different Promise programs. Some are highly targeted, some are universal. Hawaii, the state of Hawaii. So it's a movement.

Jon Turk: Absolutely.

Sarah Spreitzer: So, Martha, you're talking a lot about different programs at different states, but as you know, there's been a lot of discussion on the federal level, right, about the idea of free college, a lot of different proposals that have been offered by different presidential candidates. And we saw some language in the House, higher education reauthorization, the Aim Higher Act that talks about free community college. Are there like some best practices from among the states and the communities doing this that you think need to be kind of baked into a federal policy if we are able to sort of come to a bipartisan consensus about the need for this on a federal level?

Martha Kanter: Well, I want to give a shout out to the Bipartisan Policy Center, and I'm thrilled that I got to work with the folks at the BPC. I'm thrilled that I got to work with the folks at the BPC because the state federal partnership is one of the policy recommendations.

Sarah Spreitzer: Okay.

Martha Kanter: So for any federal leader, president, senator, congressman, member of Congress, that wants to pick up a state federal partnership, look at the recommendations there, look at all the bills. My moniker is simplicity. Just do the GI Bill for all, that's all we need to do. Just do the GI Bill for all, or set an income level if you want to have that fight, universal versus eligibility. Have that fight in Congress, that's where it belongs, and do something meaningful for the top 100% of Americans.

Sarah Spreitzer: Okay. It's interesting because the other thing that's also been talked a lot about obviously is student loan forgiveness, which I think is kind of looking back at the incredible amounts of student loan debt that's being held right now by people that have taken out loans. And thinking about a free College Promise, removing that anxiety about the debt that people need to take on to access postsecondary education, I think that the two of those discussions go hand in hand.

Martha Kanter: Right. So some of the universities that have huge endowments decided not to take the CARES Act money. Take all that money and give it to students to reduce their debt.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah.

Martha Kanter: I mean, there's a lot of ways to reduce student debt and that's probably a whole other podcast. We have experts that are actually working in that space, policy experts. We have too many student loans and we should get rid of all of them and create one student loan with a sliding scale. That goes back to my simplicity principle. Do it on a sliding scale and then have Congress fight out who's eligible, but do something in a bipartisan manner that you've already done on this policy affordability task force with a budget policy with the Bipartisan Policy Center, and do something that makes sense for all.

Jon Turk: So I mean, you've mentioned the Washington Promise programs now a couple of times as some of the examples. We saw an article just I think today actually talking about the state reiterating its commitment to its programs even during these somewhat turbulent economic times and what many people are seeing as heading towards that recession kind of point. What would be some of the takeaways? What do you think people should be thinking about in terms of how do we keep our existing Promise programs going strong and how do we think about sustainability for the current ones and for new ones as we might be heading into some rougher economic times?

Martha Kanter: So I'm this old to look forward to entering-

Jon Turk: Not that old though. Let's just be clear, not that old.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah, not old.

Martha Kanter: So I'm looking forward to entering my sixth recession, just like my parents looked toward the prosperity after World War II, and prior to that, the Depression, right? So we need a WPA and we need every community, every county, every state to get a reserve that will generate interest over the next 30 years to be able to offset recessions for education. And that is the brilliance of Governor Haslam in Tennessee. He took money out of the lottery, and now the lottery is going to go kaput, so you're going to see everyone scrambling in K-12. You're going to see a reduction of anywhere from 5 to 20%, or maybe more, in college and university enrollments that are enrollment-driven. They don't have endowments, so enrollment-driven. So you're going to see a scramble to borrow money to stay alive, and all kinds of financial strategies, which we have written out actually in a college Promise. We did five financial sustainability models with ETS, a paper on this, a big report on this a couple of years ago, and now we have a new survey, Financial Sustainability 2.0 we call it, and we're working on 3.0. But one of the bottom lines is can we make this sustainable for the 21st century so that the schools don't have to scramble? And if you want to actually eliminate schools and create competencies for the future, go ahead and do that, but we've got a lot of world-class schools that, at least for the next 10, 20, 30 years, could really give a very fine education to students in this country. And the American public loves their local university, loves their community college, loves their K-12 schools, and there's not a consistent way to help those families get those students to good quality schools.

Jon Turk: We're running up right against our time for today. Before we close out, Dr. Kanter, is there any last message you'd like to leave our listeners with?

Martha Kanter: I guess my last message is from Eleanor Roosevelt. "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." We can do this. We can do college for all, and we can make it affordable. And we can have the fights where we need to have the fights, and we need to just stay the course on College Promise, on sustainability, and on simplicity.

Jon Turk: Thanks to our amazing guest, Dr. Martha Kanter, and thanks again to our listeners for tuning in. As always, if you have feedback or suggestions for future episodes, please email us at That's You can find our podcast as well as links to all of the resources that we mentioned today on our website at And finally, you can subscribe to our podcast, leave reviews, which we know you all really want to, and find more episodes on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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