We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Instead of seeing college as a private investment, we must consider it a public good. If we remember the generation that was educated after World War II, generous public support meant that they could afford -- economically -- to spend four years studying the subject that most interested or spoke to them, and then they took their education and did millions of things with it that helped us develop a richer society, not just in terms of wealth but in terms of knowledge, art, and citizenship. That generation could do so because they did not have to take on thousands of dollars in debt and to worry all the time about how to pay for it. They could do so because public support for their education -- meaning low tuition for students thanks to tax support for America’s colleges -- gave them the freedom -- the leisure -- to study.
While I am somewhat sympathetic to the feeling of the article, I also find it foolish in several ways.
First, it is not only the elites who have access to the liberal arts. With 70% of current job seekers holding higher ed degrees, that no longer applies.
Second, any public high school offers an abundant introduction to the liberal arts, enough to prepare anybody to pursue their intellectual interests for the rest of their lives.
Third, "leisure to study"? That's ridiculous. Full-time college offers leisure to drink, to attend football games, and to pursue the opposite sex. Best students I've known had no leisure.
Fourth, the idea of a "public good." Last I heard, that just means that somebody else ought to pay for it, preferably my neighbor via taxation. Why my neighbor should pay for my kid to "pursue at leisure the things that speak to him" is utterly beyond me.
My thought when reading that article was then I suppose the liberal arts professors won't mind a pay cut. Something livable but not very profitable. The liberal arts being by definition non-profit. Oh and more teaching less navel gazing for the liberal arts professors.
Also, a nice quite rural college with spartan accommodations devoted to study with few distractions would be the perfect liberal arts college. So, why all the posh dorms, first class dorms and giant sports stadiums? Such a school would produce his generation without high costs to the taxpayer.
I mean, if education, by definition, is non-profit....
Of course, the real problem is as government assistance with tuition increases, so does tuition. The solution would be strict state controlled tuition. We could make the universities public utilities.
Question: Why does liberal arts at Harvard cost so much more than liberal arts at the state school down the street? Do they have snootier accents at Harvard? Use bigger words? Sound like excess profits to me, we should equalize that.
Here is a study from 2007:
For private universities, though, increases in Pell grants appear to be matched nearly one for one by increases in list (and net) tuition. Results for out-of- state tuition for public universities are similar to those for private universities, suggesting that they behave more like private ones in setting out-of-state tuition. Institutional responses in these latter cases appear at odds with federal grants-in-aid policy. source
There was a time (1960's and earlier) when companies looking for management trainees sought out graduating Liberal Arts majors. Back then to earn a degree from a prestigious liberal arts school, a student had to pass rigorous courses in history, economics, business, mathematics, logic, science, and languages. That diversity of study was supposed to prepare the student for continuing to learn and adapt to situation in the real world.
Now the liberal arts courses have been politicized and the logic removed. The math and economics requirements are gone or so little as to be meaningless. They simply aren't prepared for to work in a professional enterprise.
As a History major (before returning for an MBA) I'm disappointed that I can't interview liberal arts majors for internships. They simply don't have the requisite tools to make a meaningful contribution during the course of a summer.
Having worked full-time to pursue my AAS and then my BS, I had no leisure. I can understand lifelong pursuit of knowledge; I have been a weekly visitor to the local library since I could read, no degree necessary for that. I don't understand why universities don't offer two tracks: if you are here to learn, you pay less than if you are here to party. When you graduate from the first program, you get a real degree that every one knows if real. If you were on the second track, you get a shiny gold star.
When I look at my medicare bill they typically cut the doctor or hospital bill by 60% or more and then pay 30% and I pay the remaining 10%. So why couldn't the government do the same with tuition? The hospitals and doctors "take it" unless they choose not to accept medicare so most colleges would probably "take it" too if that was their only choice.
Jefferson was adamant that democracy could not survive with an uneducated populace, because they would be easily swayed by demagogues. Well, just look around. It is an amazing commentary on our educational system that twelve years does not appear to be enough to teach anyone anything. People who know anything about macroeconomics or history do not continually redestroy the economy by voting in folks who bizarrely parrot eighteenth century free market maxims, or try to establish this or that religious cult as the basis of government. Been there. Done that. If high school is "enough," then why is half the country so astonishingly stupid?
I do believe in 'an educated populace' is necessary, however I'm not sure that it (educated) isn't accomplished by High School. As for 'free market' and religious cults (please explain) I don't believe anyone in our current congress, with their massive public programs and spending believe in either of the above.. Larry