One of the things that's most excited me, as a single mother scraping by, is John Kerry's plans for service for college. In this program, two years of VISTA-like service would get you free four-year tuition at a state school.
However, the National Review claims that the number of kids prepared for college is slightly less (!) than the number of kids currently being admitted, so this program is moot.
Now, the NR is William F. Buckley's baby, and most of the folks who work there probably are paying full tuition at Yale, since they don't qualify for any need-based aid.
So I suppose they've never talked to the kids I have, in our public schools, who don't DREAM of going into a college prep track, because they KNOW they can't afford to go. Instead they take a light load, and many of them work 20, 30 or 40 or more hours helping their families.
Now for any of you who are saying "Kids aren't allowed to work that many hours," I have to point you to the laws about family businesses and farms, and the stats on black market labor -- it's not just for unregistered aliens anymore... Kids who can, in this economy, are working under the table. They are working long hours for their family's business without any compensation. They are working and reporting LEGAL hours, and working unpaid overtime to keep their jobs.
A lot of these same kids are smart and obviously disciplined workers, but know they can't hope to pay tuition because all their labor is required to help their families, or maybe get them to a position where they can support their own new or upcoming family.
Service for college is the answer to build a modern workforce for the US, and the conservatives need to get off their butts and into the schools in poor and blue-collar neighborhoods and start doing some damn mentorship programs if they want better prep for college from our "hoi polloi."