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Obama draws praise on community college
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Devonte Jenkins has one semester left before he’s done at Modesto Junior College and headed off to Southern California to fulfill his lifelong dream of attending film school. 

He just wishes that President Barack Obama moved a little bit faster with sweeping community college overhaul and he wasn’t stuck footing the exorbitant per-unit bill that has forced him to incur credit card debt in order to fund his two-year stint and lay the foundation for what he hopes will be a long and prosperous future. 

“I think that it’s a great idea and when I first heard about it and how he was going to include it in the State of the Union address tonight all I could think about was how I wish it came just two years sooner,” he said with a chuckle. “It’ll help a lot of people and I know that’s really what it’s all about. I just wish I had a chance to take advantage of it.”

Obama is proposing the federal government partner with states in a bid in certain situations to provide unit free access to community colleges for students that go to school at least part-time and maintain a 2.0 grade point average.

But not everybody that moves in political circles is completely sold on how the President is going to be able to pull it off. 

Manteca TEA Party Patriots President and soon-to-be Stanislaus State graduate David Cushman said that while he agrees with the community college concept in principle, it’s the implementation that worries him. 

“I think that it’s a noble goal and I’m all for getting more young people to go to college – I think that community college definitely has its benefits and will help a lot of people in life,” Cushman said. “But the way that he wants to implement it is to raise taxes on the wealthy and large businesses to get the billions to pay for this. Our economy is just barely hitting a recovery that people are starting to be able to feel and I think that something like this, however noble, will be a detriment to that recovery. 

“If he worked on cutting spending instead I think he would have more conservatives lining up to support the idea. But it has to be something benefits everybody equally.”

And Cushman didn’t really have much use for a whole lot of the other ideas that the President threw out onto the table either – at least not until there’s action to substantiate them. 

“I think that the president made a lot of promises like he always does, but what determines his success is whether he can meet his opposition in the middle and he hasn’t done that for most of his presidency,” Cushman said. “If he wants to cement a legacy he’s going to need to compromise and he hasn’t been willing to do that for six years.”

It took Obama just shy of 90 minutes to complete his sixth State of the Union address, and focused heavily on “middle-class economics” and issues facing working-class families. 

He spoke in particular of one woman, Rebekah Erler of Minneapolis, Minnesota, that wrote him a letter and told him of her families struggles when her husband lost his construction company and she ended up having to take out student loans to pay for community college to better the family’s fiscal future. Both she and her husband are now employed and just recently purchased a home. 

“My fellow Americans, we too are a tight-knit family. We too have made it through some hard times,” the President said, referencing Erler’s letter to him. “Fifteen years into this new century we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and begun again the work of remaking America. We have laid a new foundation – a brighter future is ours to write. 

“Let’s begin this new chapter together. And let’s start the work, right now.”