“Don’t study history, Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton tells students”

The Lt. Governor’s comments are short-sighted and ignorant. Students, of course, should choose their careers carefully, but telling students to make that choice based solely on the likelihood of getting a job is irresponsible. The future job market is not always predictable.  The prospects for engineering students may look good at the moment, but by the time the students graduate things may look very different.

Students also need to consider their commitment to a career that they may not like or may not be suited to their talents. I have had many students who have returned to college because they hated their jobs (many of them engineers). They had returned to college to do what they actually loved, even though it meant they would have to live with a significantly smaller pay check. Money isn’t everything.

And just because it is difficult to get an academic job in history at this moment it doesn’t mean that there are no jobs or that the market won’t change. We still need historians. There are also many non-academic jobs for those with history degrees. History majors are often desirable employees because of their analytic skills and their informed perspective on the world.

More importantly, she should be encouraging all students, not just history majors, to study history. We desperately need an educated population!

Source: Don’t study history, Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton tells students

Who’s Responsible for the Demise of America’s Public Research Universities? – The Atlantic

Jonathan R. Cole accurately calls out the main driver of this “demise”: “The withdrawal of state funds is often one of the direct causes of increased college tuition—not necessarily an increase in faculty size, spending on construction, or administrative costs.”

It is an unfortunate situation that affects all of us. As Cole points out, “A type of delusional thinking seems to convince American policymakers that excellent public colleges and universities can continue to be great without serious investment. As the former Secretary of State and Stanford University provost Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein, the former New York City schools chancellor, wrote in a Council of Foreign Relations report, higher-education investments are a form of national security at least as important as direct investments in bombers, military drones, missiles, or warships. In other words, these education investments have a very high payoff for states, the nation, and the larger world.”

Read the entire article here: Who’s Responsible for the Demise of America’s Public Research Universities? – The Atlantic

“Should We Really Turn College Education over to the Free Market?” | History News Network

This idea that higher education should be driven by free market forces is gaining traction. And it has already had a detrimental impact on the quality of education as students and society at large value “job training” over a real education that prepares them to think critically and more broadly about the world.

The idea that institutions of higher education are and should be run like businesses is appealing . However, few Americans have really thought through the implications of this model of higher learning. As Paul J. Croce explains “education is more than a good-fitting pair of shoes; it can be a walk with towering and challenging ideas that can awaken to a mental map for understanding the world around us. Education can rouse us to support the world’s goodness and beauty, and also to tackle its problems, including those generated by the power of entrenched officeholders and the appeal of marketplace conventions.”



Read Croce entire argument here: History News Network | Should We Really Turn College Education over to the Free Market?

“A Harvard Medical School professor makes the case for the liberal arts and philosophy” – The Washington Post

“David Silbersweig, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, says today’s multidisciplinary world needs liberal arts — and philosophy in particular — more than ever.” Silberweig is right. Unfortunately, just as we desperately need the skills and knowledge that comes from studying the humanities, politicians and business leaders are devaluing these fields. As a result, students view their humanities courses as an unnecessary obstacle in pursuit of their careers, and student disinterest then provides the justification for defunding these fields.

As a successful medical scientist who studied philosophy in college, Silbersweig is the perfect advocate for the liberal arts. He attributes his diverse educational background with his success. He notes, “I discovered that those without a liberal arts foundation, while often brilliant, generally had a narrower perspective. Their path to and through outstanding universities was more vocational.”

He argues that “[i]f we are to remain at the forefront of knowledge creation in this changing, globalizing world, then our students must be the next generation of explorers. We have a sacred obligation as educators, role models and mentors to ensure a system that promotes the attributes conducive to their success. A broad yet rigorous education will best equip them to go forth into uncharted territory to address issues of import to humanity in a creative fashion.”

“We need to foster and protect academic environments in which a broad, integrated, yet still deep education can flourish. They are our national treasure and a strategic asset, whether some politicians would recognize that, or not — and philosophy is foundational, whether my old dentist would appreciate it or not.”

Read the entire article here: A Harvard Medical School professor makes the case for the liberal arts and philosophy – The Washington Post

“Why Tuition-Free College Makes Sense” | History News Network

At the HHN, Lawrence Wittner makes a good case for tuition-free college. The ever-increasing cost of higher education has made a college education unattainable for many, and as a result has contributed to the growing inequality.  The lack of public funding for higher education has also led to many other problems, including an increase in the use of low paying adjunct faculty as well as other schemes that undermine the educational mission.
“In addition, campus administrators, faced with declining income, are increasingly inclined to accept funding from wealthy individuals and corporations that are reshaping higher education to serve their interests.  From 2005 to 2013, two rightwing billionaires, Charles and David Koch, spent $68 million funding the kinds of programs they wanted on 308 U.S. college and university campuses.  In New York State, when Governor Andrew Cuomo initiated Start-Up NY, a scheme to provide a tax-free haven to businesses that moved onto or near public (and some private) college campuses, there was never any question about how SUNY’s chancellor and other administrators would respond.  Instead of resisting this business takeover of university facilities and mission, they became leading cheerleaders for it.”

Read the entire article here: History News Network | Why Tuition-Free College Makes Sense

This college building in Kansas was one of the first created under the 1862 Morrill Act

Bradley Proctor Debunks the Claim that “Faculty Are Ineffective, Students Are Whiny, and Colleges so Misguided as to Be a Waste of Money*” |History News Network

“Today’s conversations about college costs and cries of political correctness gone amuck misidentify the victims and the perpetrators of very real problems. The result is a message that faculty are ineffective, students are whiny, and colleges and universities so misguided as to be wastes of money. Far too few voices remind us the vital importance for our nation and our world of interrogating how art, science, citizenship, identity, and power work. Real learning, the consensus instead seems to be, ought to happen while on the job at multinational corporations. Everything worth knowing, says conventional wisdom, can be learned through poorly- or unpaid internships and by internet searches. It is that message against public funding, in favor of privatization, and against democracy that is destroying higher education. The American mind is not being coddled, it is being sold down the river.”

Please read Bradley Proctor’s thoughtful piece on the real problems in higher ed (and they’re not the misguided ones currently in vogue in the media): History News Network | Faculty Are Ineffective, Students Are Whiny, and Colleges so Misguided as to Be a Waste of Money*

“There Is No Excuse for How Universities Treat Adjuncts” – The Atlantic

Too few people are aware of this growing problem, and the problem is not just the fact that adjuncts are an exploited work force. This injustice also has broader implications for the quality of higher education.

Caroline Fredrickson at The Atlantic explains the problem, and uses an interesting analogy with companies like Uber:  “With courses that need to be taught every semester led by an interchangeable set of adjuncts, the schools seem to be doing just what trucking companies, housecleaning services, and now app-driven businesses such as Uber and Lyft have been accused of doing: misclassifying workers as contractors. Especially when a teacher is asked to carry out similar responsibilities as full-time permanent staff but for less than half the salary, there may be grounds to believe that universities and colleges are evading their legal obligations as employers. And with the overrepresentation of women in these jobs, it seems possible that many of these universities could be violating not only labor laws but civil-rights laws as well.”

Read the entire article here: There Is No Excuse for How Universities Treat Adjuncts – The Atlantic

“Don’t let ‘the market’ dominate the debate on university teaching” | Higher Education Network | The Guardian

“We applaud the government’s plan to bring in a Teaching Excellence Framework, but the language of business devalues it”

The author of this piece is referring to education in the UK, but it equally applies here:
“The traditional role of universities was, in many ways, to offer a counterbalance to the market, with an emphasis on social value rather than economics. The risk, however, is that with the introduction of the Tef, yet another regulatory regime will squeeze the intellectual dynamism, risk-taking, original thinking and vitality out of universities”

Source: Don’t let ‘the market’ dominate the debate on university teaching | Higher Education Network | The Guardian

“The Neoliberal Arts,” by William Deresiewicz | Harper’s Magazine

What is the purpose of higher education?  To create informed, critical thinkers who are engaged, thoughtful citizens? To create workers based on the needs of the market?

The latter reflects the thinking of the new neoliberalism, which now enjoys a broad popularity. The neoliberalist view of higher education is no longer just rhetoric. Colleges and universities have been transforming themselves for at least the last twenty years in alignment with this ideology. William Deresiewicz delves into the troubling consequences of this type of higher education on our society.

Deresiewicz defines neoliberalism as “an ideology that reduces all values to money values. The worth of a thing is the price of the thing. The worth of a person is the wealth of the person. Neoliberalism tells you that you are valuable exclusively in terms of your activity in the marketplace — in Wordsworth’s phrase, your [sic] getting and spending.”

Alternatively, he asserts, “we need to treat it [education] as a right. Instead of seeing it in terms of market purposes, we need to see it once again in terms of intellectual and moral purposes. That means resurrecting one of the great achievements of postwar American society: high-quality, low- or no-cost mass public higher education. An end to the artificial scarcity of educational resources. An end to the idea that students must compete for the privilege of going to a decent college, and that they then must pay for it.” I agree!

Please read Deresiewicz deliberative essay on this very important topic:

[Essay] | The Neoliberal Arts, by William Deresiewicz | Harper’s Magazine.

Here’s another worthwhile article on the subject of neoliberalism and education: Organized Lightning: The liberal arts against neoliberalism.”


Comments on the Rising Cost of Higher Ed: “Check, Please! An Itemized Tuition Bill for College”

As a response to the high cost of tuition Erik C. Banks proposes offering “parents a transparent itemized tuition bill that shows them exactly where their money goes and how much of it is spent on things having nothing to do with education.” I think it’s a great idea! We need some way of making it very clear where money is being spent in our institutions of higher education. Despite popular perceptions that excessive tuition costs are the result of the bloated salaries of professors (there may be some examples of excessive salaries, but they are the exception, not the rule. Trust me!), the main culprits are the combination of decreased state funding and higher administrative costs.

But if we’re going to have a productive debate about the costs of higher education, we also need to make sure that we address the motivations that are driving both of these trends. Banks points out one of the driving factors behind the administrative bloat: “college presidents and administrators embarking on massive spending programs to hype their ratings and impress students and parents with extras which do not directly add to education.” (see also an early post for more on this problem )

The other problem of decreased funding for public education is the result of irresponsible tax cuts and ideological movements to privatize education (see posts about Scott Walker’s campaign in Wisconsin and the struggles at the University of North Carolina).

Please read Banks informed discussion on this very important topic! I would also recommend reading the “2015 Ohio Education Report” that Banks provides at the bottom of his post. It breaks down the increased costs of higher education in Ohio (the trends are similar across the nation) and the decreasing state funding. It also gives a compelling defense of the value of higher education.

Check, Please! An Itemized Tuition Bill for College.

education higher costs