A taxpayer-feasible solution to the soaring cost of higher education exists, costing billions less than the community college scholarships that President Obama is proposing. Supervised testing centers for free online college courses – such as Coursera.org and Edx.org offer – would legitimize these classes, making them verifiable for credit.

Knowledge is hoarded by expensive universities. Education should be free (as most of the industrial world realizes) and testing centers for online courses feasible. At some point they could operate 24 hours a day and be located all over the place.

Education is not money leaving the economy, such as the half of the U.S. budget that goes to our massive military (there’s no return on an F-35 fighter jet.) We’re spending more on defense than the next 14 countries combined. How much will refraining from fighting ignorance cost us down the road when we could have an educated workforce now?

The $27 billion CIA budget (fiscal year 1998; by court order, the fiscal year 2001 budget is undisclosed) didn’t stop 9/11, even with the hijackers being monitored and Egyptian intelligence directly warning us. Knowledge is light, and superstition is darkness. We can overcome.

Dan Fitzgerald

former Portland resident

Providence, Rhode Island