The Prostitution of Higher Ed

The following appeared in Andrew Sullivan’s “The Dish” (with a hat tip to thebestoftheinternets):

Capitalism Goes to College

by Jessie Roberts

Thomas Frank rails against the role of financial interests in higher education:

What actually will happen to higher ed, when the breaking point comes, will be an extension of what has already happened, what money wants to see happen. Another market-driven disaster will be understood as a disaster of socialism, requiring an ever deeper penetration of the university by market rationality. Trustees and presidents will redouble their efforts to achieve some ineffable “excellence” they associate with tech and architecture and corporate sponsorships. There will be more standardized tests, and more desperate test-prep. The curriculum will be brought into a tighter orbit around the needs of business, just like Thomas Friedman wants it to be. Professors will continue to plummet in status and power, replaced by adjuncts in more and more situations. An all-celebrity system, made possible by online courses or some other scheme, will finally bring about a mass faculty extinction—a cataclysm that will miraculously spare university administrations. And a quality education in the humanities will once again become a rich kid’s prerogative.

And so we end with dystopia, with a race to the free-market bottom. What makes it a tragedy is that President Obama is right about education’s importance. Not because college augments our future earning power, or helps us compete with Bangladesh, but because the pursuit of knowledge is valuable in its own right. This is why every democratic movement from the Civil War to the 1960s aimed to bring higher ed to an ever widening circle, to make it more affordable. Ours is the generation that stood by gawking while a handful of parasites and billionaires smashed it for their own benefit.


3 responses to “The Prostitution of Higher Ed

  1. We in Wichita, Ks. can see the potential problem with big business controlling higher education with Charles Koch Foundation giving Wichita State University millions. The Koch Foundation recently flooded the regional airwaves with $200,000 worth of ads telling us that a minimum wage worker is in the to 1 or 2 per cent earners of the world. We are also told that we lag behind many countries in FREEDOM. What Mr. Koch is saying he does not want government regulations that costs him any money.

  2. Reblogged this on Edge of the Forest and commented:
    From Andrew Sullivan’s “The Dish”

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