Day By Day

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Crunch Time in Higher Education

The utilitarian calculus that informs the current health care debate and informs us that certain classes of people are too expensive to treat is now creeping into discussions of public education. The continued failure of successive waves of education reform has convinced many educators and social scientists that most young people are just not cut out to succeed in college and should therefore pursue alternate career paths.

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published a discussion of the question "Are Two Many Students Going to College?" It is apparent from the remarks of the experts polled [and they include several distinguished figures in the field] that more and more they are willing to apply the same kind of cost/benefit analysis to education -- especially in the case of publicly subsidized education -- that we are seeing in the health care debate.

Thia is a tough set of questions because they challenge fundamental assumptions upon which our culture is based, the most basic of which is, "in the allocation of resources in our economy are all persons equally deserving of support?" The answer to which, increasingly, seems to be a resounding "NO!"