A Conspicuous Omission in the Pitch for Free Tuition


Here’s one of those bothersome bits of evidence that news consumers have to do much of their own work to understand what’s really going on in the Ocean State.  On March 12, Linda Borg published a Providence Journal article about Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s hope to expand her free-tuition program to students at Rhode Island College (RIC), with the following information:

Calling it her top priority, Raimondo extolled the success of the existing scholarship program at the Community College of Rhode Island, which offers two years of free tuition to fulltime students who enroll right after high school. For a “modest” investment of $6 million, Raimondo said, Rhode Island Promise has increased enrollment of Promise students by 113 percent, increased the numbers of low-income students by 143 percent and quadrupled the number of students graduating in two years. …

Meanwhile, Promise assumes increased enrollments at both colleges at a time when the number of high school graduates is declining due to lower birth rates, part of a national trend.

“Does CCRI become less popular with the expansion of RI Promise to RIC?” [House fiscal adviser Sharon] Ferland said, adding that enrollments at RIC and the University of Rhode Island have declined. “These are statewide issues.”

Yet, somehow, the piece never mentions another article three days earlier noting that enrollment is down at all of the state’s public institutions of higher education.  The author of that earlier information?  Linda Borg.

This sort of conspicuous omission (which appears to have affected every news outlet except Channel 10) is why the public rightly suspects that we’re often getting big-government promotion from our press, rather than straight news to help us make decisions in a democratic society.

That’s not all, of course.  No journalists appear to have questioned how it is that 60 college students knew to show up wearing matching shirts for the press conference.  Nobody appears interested in finding contrasting voices who might suggest that working the proverbial two jobs to pay tuition is a long-standing tradition that has wonderful benefits.

That was certainly my experience.  Unloading fishing boats in the wee hours of the morning and then helping out around the office of a university department later in the day were both experiences as, if not more, helpful to my adult life than anything I learned during the classes in between.  The former gave me practical experience working with people who were genuinely diverse, and the latter led me to skills that were critical in getting me to where I am now.

  • Joe Smith

    Justin – c’mon, it’s Linda Borg – how do you know it’s simply not omission, not comission? I mean – it’s actual work given how CCRI has clouded the data (Promise students are the entire cohort, not just the state free scholarship ones) so you have to do some real research and analysis here. ProJo isn’t paying reporters enough to do real investigative work on ho-hum stories that the Gov’s office has spun so tightly you have to work to unravel.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    Justin, is “working your way through college” even worth thinking of anymore. I relegate that to the ancient past (60’s, 70’s) when state college tuitions were $100 per semester. Thinking of that, I suppose $100 per semester was “free”