Sunday, January 29, 2012

Where Have You Gone, Richard Hofstadter?*

Obama "Putting Colleges on Notice" Regarding High Tuition:

President Barack Obama fired a warning at the nation's colleges and universities on Friday, threatening to strip their federal aid if they "jack up tuition" every year and to give the money instead to schools showing restraint and value.

Obama delivered his proposal with campaign flair, mounting a mainstream appeal to young voters and struggling families. He said higher education has become an imperative for success in America, but the cost has grown unrealistic for too many families, and the debt burden unbearable.

"We are putting colleges on notice," Obama told an arena packed with cheering students at the University of Michigan.

"You can't assume that you'll just jack up tuition every single year. If you can't stop tuition from going up, then the funding you get from taxpayers each year will go down."

LMFAO (for real, not the band). I can't believe he actually delivered that with a straight face. Well, this being an election year, yes I can.

Lost on the "professor-in-chief" is the correlation between declining state revenues and "jacking up tuition." Meaning, higher ed has already had it's "funding from taxpayers" slashed by billions over the past three years. Hence, higher tuition to cover costs.

But in Re-Elect the President world, beating up on them evil, overpaid professors and their ivory towers (which Obama supposedly came from at one point) is election year red meat to the anti-intellectual, higher-ed is for "elites" crowd.

Kevin Carey, policy director at the independent Education Sector think tank, said higher education leaders will surely detest Obama's plan even if they do not say so directly.

"Instead, they'll work behind the scenes to kill it," Carey predicted.

University of Washington President Mike Young said Obama showed he did not understand how the budgets of public universities work. Young said the total cost to educate college students in Washington state, which is paid for by both tuition and state government dollars, has actually gone down because of efficiencies on campus. While universities are tightening costs, the state is cutting their subsidies and authorizing tuition increases to make up for the loss.

"They really should know better," Young said. "This really is political theater of the worst sort."

Cheer all you want, students, but you're missing the real bogeyman here. The only reason your tuition costs keep going up (and the reason here in Georgia that our HOPE scholarship is circling the drain) is because your political leaders used the "Great Recession" to budget-axe higher education.

Why? Because there is no greater source of political capital (outside crime and punishment) than beating up on "them elites" and higher education.

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*Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

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