Let’s not forget that budget cuts at the state level will destroy higher education.
Well, with any luck maybe…
Let me mince no words. “Education” in the US sucks. Big time. Top to bottom. High schools spend up to $24,000 per student of public funds (DC, where else) and “graduate” kids who can’t read. I can’t remember the last time I met a cashier who could actually make change without reading the number on the cash register. And then there are the all-too-frequent stories about the very high percentage of high school grads who don’t know what CENTURY the Civil War was fought in or the Jay Leno videos showing a COLLEGE TEACHER who didn’t know who the US won her independence from and when pressed as to the time frame when it happened, missed by about 150 years. I could go on, but you get the idea. Heck, if you’re reading this, you probably were irritated by the state of our schools yesterday.
OK, so much for a little background. Fast forward to now. We’re seeing, because of the deplorable spending habits of state legislatures – offset by requirements that many states actually have what appears to be a balanced budget – education money, that in past times flowed unhindered from state coffers to the NEA and to college and universities, is being cut back. And the howling is legion – and I use that term in the biblical sense because I consider the recipients of said cash to be in league with the devil. California, Arizona and New Jersey are just three examples of places where tuition increases have been greeted with massive protests. Fortunately, counter protests from taxpayers have more than offset the initial whining from the otherwise-unemployable class at our colleges and universities.
Money spent on a college “education” has been escalating at a rate that far outstrips the cost of living for decades. IMO, it’s driven not by the quality of the product they offer – which, also IMO, has been declining at a rate inverse to cost – but by the readily available and seemingly never ending stream of state and federal funds both directly to the administrations and indirectly in the form grants and student loan guarantees to students. Both of those revenue streams have been, and are, fundamentally streams for which absolutely no accountability is required to taxpayers.
OK, so we’ve got lots of money flowing into “higher education”. What’s it being spent for? Interestingly enough, The New York Times actually pulls the burka off the ugly truth on this one. And, guess what? They’re not spending it on teaching students.
Tuition, on average, increased more rapidly over the decade at public institutions than it did at private ones. Average tuition rose 45 percent at public research universities and 36 percent at community colleges from 1998 to 2008, compared with about 21 percent at private research universities.
But the trend toward increased spending on nonacademic areas prevailed across the higher education spectrum, with public and private, elite and community colleges increasing expenditures more for student services than for instruction, the report said.
The student services category can include spending on career counseling and financial aid offices, but also on intramural athletics and student centers.
“This is the country-clubization of the American university,” said Richard K. Vedder, a professor at Ohio University who studies the economics of higher education. “A lot of it is for great athletic centers and spectacular student union buildings. In the zeal to get students, they are going after them on the basis of recreational amenities.”
The article goes on to note that spending increases for “country-clubization” increased at almost double the rate of the increase for actual teaching.
The bottom line here – without waxing on about how the University of California Regents will reduce their costs by $500 Million over ten years by simply consolidating their accounting systems or that the cost of tenure v. non-tenured/adjunct instructors is outrageous mostly because very highly paid tenured “professors” get paid to write (or something besides teach) – is that there is absolutely no public accountability for what goes on in what passes for “higher education”. Schools are putting out a product that doesn’t serve their students – look for whining treatises about graduates with degrees that contain the word “Studies” who can’t pay their student loans because they can’t get a job – and don’t serve the prospective employers either because graduates are coming out of school having been exposed to course work that doesn’t relate to any sort of real-world job requirements.
So, let’s hope that the headline is true and as states are required to take a chain saw to “education” budgets our current higher education farce is destroyed and downsized to a system that actually “teaches” – as opposed to “educates” – students and gives them useful tools to build a life, and an economy, around.