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With Democratic primary debates coming potentially as soon as the first quarter of 2019 (sorry!), it’s time to start checking in on the issues that will be dividing the candidates. Today, the education reporter Adam Harris has a preview of the coming battle over higher education. And head to the bottom of this email for details on our December Book Club pick, Kiese Laymon’s Heavy.  — Matt Peterson

What to Know: The National Conversation About Free College

By Adam Harris

What we’re watching: It’s hard to escape the question of college affordability. The upward trajectory of college costs undergirds concerns about the utility of higher education. For the past couple of years, advocates looking for an answer to the affordability question have often argued  that college should be “free”—though precisely what that means is up for debate. The Atlantic’s education team has been keeping an eye on how the “free college” conversation has progressed, and how it might factor into the 2020 election. The cycle is almost certain to feature a slate of progressive candidates, several of whom have already outlined free-college plans. Of course, there will be at least one candidate on the ballot who is opposed to the idea: President Donald Trump.

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