Thursday, July 25, 2013

Obama is Wrong on Higher Ed

President Obama says he wants to get aggressive about the rising cost of higher education. But he's very mixed up.

"Families and taxpayers can’t just keep paying more and more and more into an undisciplined system where costs just keep on going up and up and up. We’ll never have enough loan money, we’ll never have enough grant money, to keep up with costs that are going up 5, 6, 7 percent a year. We’ve got to get more out of what we pay for," Obama said.

This is ignorant and even dangerous BS, at least for public schools. The main reason costs are rising is that every year many state legislatures are reducing their investment on higher education and thereby passing the cost onto the student. The idea that we can slash more within the university without hurting students is naive. Already at UNC Charlotte, dozens of tasks normally done in other offices are now forced on departments--we've been cutting constantly for a decade, but there is only so much you can cut without hurting the quality of education. I want smaller classes, for example, because they are better for students, but the budget will not allow it.

When Obama says taxpayers are "paying more and more and more" he is wrong. The North Carolina legislature passed a budget yesterday that the governor will sign today, and in the next two years it cuts $482 million from higher education. So don't tell me about taxpayers getting the shaft.

Obama is buying the argument that higher education costs have nothing to do with their funding source, which is illogical but pervasive. Now professors are going to be blamed for a problem the legislature has forced onto them.

Unfortunately, if a Democratic president believes this line, then public universities are in even more trouble than I thought.


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