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U.S. Opinions: Pittsburgh

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Coffee and a degree

From an editorial published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Friday:

A college degree for cappuccinos? That could become a reality for workers at Starbucks, which announced a partnership last weekwith Arizona State University to help pay the tuition costs for an online college education for thousands of its employees.

The program, available to any U.S. employee working at least 20 hours a week and with sufficient academic credentials for admission to Arizona State, will provide full tuition for workers with at least two years of college credit and partial tuition for those with less.

With financial aid and government grants, many baristas will be able to earn a bachelor’s degree for free.

Starbucks deserves praise for treating its workers like resources, not liabilities. Its unorthodox approach to the low-paying service industry includes providing health insurance and stock options for part-time employees.

College education is increasingly out of reach for the poor and middle class because of rising costs. “Many Americans are being left behind,” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said. “The question for all of us is, should we accept that, or should we try to do something about it.”

Schultz isn’t accepting it. Neither should we.

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