Dear Commons Community,
The Chronicle of Higher Education has a featured report this morning commenting on the dire state of American public higher education, a regular topic on this blog. The title says it all: An Era of Neglect: How public colleges were crowded out, beaten up, and failed to fight back! It traces how state politics have rendered a system that was seen as a public good to one that is seen as personal benefit that should be funded by students and their families. Here is a brief excerpt from one of the articles:
“The story of public higher education’s transition from a key national priority to an increasingly neglected special interest is untidy. It cannot be traced to any single moment in time. It cannot be laid at the feet of any one individual or ideology. Rather, it is the story of dozens and dozens of consequential moves made by individual actors across the country. They are lobbyists and activists, antitax conservatives and big-government liberals, conflicted idealists and self-preservationists. Even college leaders themselves. They are the American public.”
The article is well worth a read and summarizes interviews with several players in this transition. One question I would ask: where was the US Department of Education during all of this? The answer: Absolutely nowhere and where it continues to be.