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Recently two competing ideas about college tuition were making the rounds. Fareed Zakaria, focusing on incarceration rates, noted that:

In 2011, California spent $9.6 billion on prisons, versus $5.7 billion on higher education. Since 1980, California has built one college campus; it's built 21 prisons. The state spends $8,667 per student per year. It spends about $50,000 per inmate per year.
Also, Rush Limbaugh went on a typical rant about student loan debt and tuition rates. I'm pretty sure Limbaugh is being sarcastic when he says birth control is one reason for student loan debt. Because, see, Sandra Fluke and others cited the cost of birth control as a reason it's important for it to be covered as free preventive care, so it's hilarious, in Rush-land, to act as if the cost of birth control accounts for debt on the much larger cost of college.

But Rush is definitely serious that liberals should be blamed for student loan debt, and the problem is, too much of his basic account is taken seriously. Not the birth control part, but his real explanation. It appears that his argument is that student loan debt is growing because, first, 1965. The federal student loan program was started in 1965, and what else originated in 1965? Medicare, Medicaid, and other "rotgut." Second, Rush says that President Obama "directly controls" student loans. I'm guessing he's talking here about the fact that the Student Aid and Financial Responsibility Act cut out the middleman on federal student loans, taking subsidies away from lenders and increasing the amount of funding available to students. Which, quelle horreur.

But the final word on student loan debt, per Rush, is that:

Tuition's increasing far faster than the rate of inflation. Yeah, and who's in charge of this? Liberals. Lifting student debt higher? Isn't the rising cost of tuition like the whole problem, other than the birth control pills? Yet there's never any criticism from Obama or the Democrats or the news media about colleges and how greedy they are.
So the problem—the whole explanation for more than $1 trillion in student loan debt—is that liberals are in charge and colleges are greedy. Not that Rush Limbaugh deserves to be seriously fact-checked, but college tuition costs and the student loan debt that results are important topics, and Rush's explanation is basically just a crude distillation of Republican policy. What is going on here, then?

Well, some colleges are greedy. That would be a solid slice of your for-profit colleges, which aggressively recruit students, charge higher tuitions than public colleges, have high drop-out rates, and produce nearly half of all federal student loan defaults despite only enrolling around 10 percent of students. But to Rush, that's likely the sacrosanct private market.

What about public colleges and universities? It's true, tuition has gone up—rising 8.3 percent at four-year schools, on average, in 2011. That's because tuition plugs the gap when state appropriations fall short of covering the costs of educating students, and in 2010, per-student public higher education funding fell to a 25-year low (PDF). Then it fell again in 2011. Since the 1980s, at the same time as a college degree was becoming more essential to making your way into the middle class, the cost of college was falling more on students, with tuition steadily increasing as a share of revenue for public colleges and universities.

Between 2006 and 2011, 43 states decreased per-student funding, and in 17 the drop was greater than 20 percent. During that five-year period, even with increasing tuitions, total per-student revenue dropped in 26 states. So the biggest part of the public higher education tuition story is that more people are going to college and state funding is not keeping pace.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

That's something even President Obama occasionally pretends he doesn't know; in this year's State of the Union address he said:

Of course, it’s not enough for [the federal government] to increase student aid. We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money. States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down. [...] So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down.
This is why you can't ignore Rush Limbaugh. Obama knows better, and on a press call not long after the State of the Union his Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, did emphasize the role of state funding in tuition increases. But the fact that the president, in his highest-profile address of the year, dispensed with state funding in a sentence and then focused on costs at colleges and universities, concluding with the flagrantly nonsensical "If you can't stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down," is a good sign of how broken the national discourse is. Because the data show that it's exactly when funding from taxpayers goes down that tuition goes up. Quality education doesn't get cheaper because funding gets cut—instead, either quality declines or tuition goes up.

Oh, but what about waste? What about unreasonably high salaries? There is some of that. But it's to be found among exactly the people who would be tasked with making decisions about how to cut costs within a given college or university: administrators. For 12 straight years leading up to 2009, senior administrator pay rose by more than the rate of inflation. Their ranks grew, as well:

...from 1976 to 2005, the number of full-time college administrators (vice presidents and deans, for example), rose by 101 percent, while the number of full-time nonfaculty professionals (in student services, development, and information technology, for example) rose by 281 percent.
But:
Over the same period, the number of full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty members rose by only 17 percent.
Cost savings at colleges are decided on by the rapidly growing ranks of well-paid administrators, and the costs cut tend to be among faculty, the people who actually teach students. That work is increasingly being transferred to low-paid adjunct professors. Not only is the low pay adjuncts face an issue in itself—to pay the bills, they may forced to teach more classes than is good for them or their students—but it goes along with factors that very directly affect students:
For example, adjunct faculty often have trouble connecting with students because they lack office space, and thus can’t mentor struggling students. Their fragile position as contract workers also means they are less able to be outspoken about campus reform and improvements, and less able to advocate for their students when administrative issues arise.
Studies have indeed found both that high numbers of adjuncts, and especially adjuncts with poor working conditions, have adverse effects on students. To be clear, this is a systemic problem, not a problem with the individual teachers. But the issue, when we're talking about higher education funding and tuition, is that this is exactly the cost-cutting measure that administrators tend to turn to—they're sure as hell not cutting their own jobs.

The miserable wages and working conditions faced by adjunct professors, and the fact that there are so many adjuncts because good college teaching jobs haven't kept pace with the number of students needing to be taught, aren't the only ways rising college tuitions and student loan debt are a part of the broader war on workers. Putting people into the catch-22 of a college degree being a virtual necessity for a middle-class life but one that requires students who don't start off middle class to accumulate large debts helps keep people trapped, struggling not to fall further behind rather than figuring out how to change the system. If we make higher education—the kind middle-class kids have gotten all along, not something with the same name but lacking big parts of the actual education—available to anyone who wants it, without a lifetime of debt, suddenly the economic prospects of the coming generations start looking really different. The fact that instead, investment in college students is going down? That's not an accident.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 04:55 PM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Progressive Hippie, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Like a college drop-out should know? (6+ / 0-)

    I blame Bill Gates, another drop-out, for giving a voice to those who didn't finish!

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 05:10:09 PM PDT

  •  Because stupid people are easier to control (8+ / 0-)

    Lets face it, the whole logic behind the Repub war on education, is that the uneducated can be led easily through hate, fear, and bigotry. The elimination of intellectuals has been a tactic by totalitarian governments in this century - Stalin, Mao, the Khmer Rouge, etc. and if anyone doubts that Repubs are pushing towards fascism, please take a look at what they're doing in Michigan right now. That's their template for the future.

    Hi, I'm Mitt Romney, and I love America! I have some very good friends who own it.

    by Fordmandalay on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 05:19:02 PM PDT

    •  Doubt it (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cali Scribe, RW, akeitz, cap76

      Occam's Razor and all, it's a lot easier to think they just don't want to pay for it than that they have some nefarious roundabout scheme to dumb down Americans by denying them education.

      Hitler and Mao arrested intellectuals and put them in camps. They didn't subtly defund various education initiatives so 20 years from now people would be dumber.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 05:29:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  education is like abortion (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annieli, Words In Action, Amber6541

      GOP types think it should be withheld from the great unwashed masses and reserved for their fair haired lil darlings  

    •  What? (0+ / 0-)

      It was our "stupid" grand parents that bought us the 8 hour day, the 5 day work-week, bans of child labor, government inspection of meat and poultry, to name just a few of the thing the "unwashed and uneducated" of the 1930s and 40s bought us.

      I hate that movie Forest Gump, but it is true that "Stupid is as Stupid does"  

      get a mirror

      First, Serve the People - Second, Defend the Community - Always, Organize to Take Power

      by mpjh on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 08:02:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Education" doesn't necessarily lead to (0+ / 0-)

      more "intellectuals."  To become an "intellectual," one has to develop critical thinking skills and that starts with parenting.  Lots of people who went to (great) schools are complete morons.  Remember Bush?  How about Larry Summers?  

      I think education is overhyped and somewhat overvalued.  Any non-skilled worker who has a job knows that employers aren't looking for someone who scored A+ in art history or English lit.  Employers are almost always looking for those who are productive and have good social skills to improve teamwork and work environment.  If you were an employer looking to hire a sales rep, would you care whether a prospect went to college or not?  

      That said, one of the biggest reasons why tuitions keep rising is because our government has been guaranteeing student loans.  When banks know that they'll be paid regardless, they'll lend to anyone (see subprime loans) including 17-18-year olds fresh out of high school.  And when colleges know that they'll be paid regardless, they have no reason to lower their tuitions.  

      Our young men and women need to acquire skills that are (and will be) in demand.  Whether it's becoming an electrician, machine/computer ops or plumber or what have you, they need to have skills that people are willing to pay for because skills and labor are money that cannot be diluted by big banks and politicians.  People can go to school to learn more about arts, literature and what have you but they should be aware that they'll be in debt for a looooooong time.  Personally, I wouldn't pay $40 to 50,000 a year for 4 years just so I can say I have a diploma in something that has no practical use.  I'd rather put that money to use on something that will net me a return or go out into the real world to get a real world education.

      Congrats. You've been divided and conquered. We're all serfs now.

      by Smoke and Mirrors on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 10:15:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Make student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy (7+ / 0-)

    Right now, student loan companies can and will loan ridiculous amounts of money to average students who major in [generally] go-nowhere majors like psychology, sociology, etc.

    The student loan company knows it will be paid back, and the college has little incentive to stop teenagers from making serious errors. I mean what is the psychology department going to say: most of our graduates don't really make any kind of money with our degree so we basically should not exist or be scaled back a lot? Of course not.

    With discharge-ability of student loans, the student loan company has to think long and hard about whether it is going to offer certain kinds of loans, because they will lose major money if they make the wrong decision. Far better to put the issue in their hands, than to put it in the hands of a 17-year-old whose parents never went to college.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 05:27:33 PM PDT

    •  So you think (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DemSign, hooper, wishingwell

      lenders should be dictating what students can major in, and making judgments about what majors will lead to practical careers, even though that sort of thing is really difficult to gauge? That path leads to a bunch of young people being assigned careers that corporate overlords need automatons for.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07. http://www.ewaynepowell.com/

      by anastasia p on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 05:38:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Personal Bankruptcy (6+ / 0-)

        carries a significant penalty for those who file.  Making a terrible decision about a college major and future employability should be subject to this significant penalty rather than indentured servitude for the rest of life.  The NYTimes recently reported some 60 year olds still paying back college loans.   This must be because they can't be discharged through bankruptcy.  Such a national policy is just stupid.  At some point, being able to declare your losses and move on is appropriate.  Student loans should be permitted to be part of that equation.

        •  Some of those loans (0+ / 0-)

          are for college later in life or co-signs.

          Reality is that it's not for loans taken out in 1970.

          But it was alarming and it was a spiffy headline.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 10:19:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  That said… (3+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        hooper, hmi, nextstep
        Hidden by:
        JugOPunch

        …students shouldn't be taking out massive loans to major in say, pottery, at a massively expensive school like GWU, just because they can get a loan, no questions asked.

        Someone needs to occasionally, say "NO".

        Teh stoopidTM, it hurts. Buy smart, union-printed, USA-made, signs, stickers, swag for everyone: DemSign.com. Get your We are the 99% Yard Sign.

        by DemSign on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 05:43:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You rec'd the comment that disagreed with me (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nextstep

          I'm genuinely curious what mechanism you think should be used to say 'No', eg who says no, how is no enforced, and how is the naysayer motivated to do so? What's in it for them?

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 05:57:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ideally… (0+ / 0-)

            …parents would say, "No."

            Another thought is that students actually get credit counseling and basic financial education before being allowed to take out a loan, so that the student could then make an educated decision, thus being able to tell him/herself, "No", without the necessity for creating an enforcement mechanism.

            Teh stoopidTM, it hurts. Buy smart, union-printed, USA-made, signs, stickers, swag for everyone: DemSign.com. Get your We are the 99% Yard Sign.

            by DemSign on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 08:33:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  The current system... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, Flying Goat, hmi

        ...allows students to run up massive debt in useless majors.

        No one is entitled to a loan, and I would argue that no loan is entitled to special protection from bankruptcy of the borrower.

        This isn't some special thing I'm asking for, just for student loans to be placed in the same category as all other loans.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 05:50:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Unentitled loans (0+ / 0-)

          "no loan is entitled to special protection from bankruptcy of the borrower."

          Except that part of the reason why student loans were removed from eligibility for bankruptcy was that a significant number of students would graduate from college and, with little to lose by way of assets or credit rating, would immediately declare bankruptcy. So, I'd at least go with the suggestion that's been mooted that you could make those loans eligible for bankruptcy declaration only after 10 years. I'd also like to see the universities on the stick for 50% of the loan amount. As it now goes, they have zero incentive to control costs or to advise borrowers as to the wisdom of taking out loans for this or that particular program. And it wouldn't be beyond the pale to require the schools to publish detailed job placement statistics for all majors, going at least 5 years out from graduation.

        •  Which is why we should stop loans to for-profit (0+ / 0-)

          colleges regardless of what they call their major.

          I think you and I disagree on what counts as "useless" though I suspect we would agree that 6 figure debt is too much for any degree.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 10:21:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  How do you know what is right four years from now? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell, Calamity Jean, elfling

      Example:  A close relative has a B.S. in Architecture from perhaps the top state university program in the country and an M.S. from another highly regarded program in a different state.  

      20 years later the loan from the M.S. hasn't been paid off yet as each recession brought a layoff and a bought of unemployment, the worst being of course the last one.  It's been about 2 years since they had a job with bennies and now they have a devastating health crisis.  I don't know if they will ever work again, though at age 50 they need to support themselves for however long they are blessed to have remaining.

      Should they be penalized for choosing Architecture 33 years ago at age 17?

      •  not penalized... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, hmi

        but if you "purchase" more education than you can afford, or afford to pay back...that's a different issue.

        I always have owned a car...but I've never owned a Beamer.

        "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

        by Keith930 on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 06:46:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But some sneer at Humanities Majors (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RerumCognoscereCausas, elfling

          Granted my B.A. in history was in state tuition in the 1980s so my parent's thrift was enough to cover tuition.  Would some say it's a "stupid" degree to get now without knowing the salary I make as a top performing financial analyst.  Would someone think Architecture was a "worthy" degree back in 2005 leaving one with graduate school debt and 60 percent unemployment in the field come 2010?

          •  That's why you... (0+ / 0-)

            ...make the student loan company responsible for making that determination, not you.

            A student loan company does finance and is (in theory) well in tune with understanding the state of the economy and what will and will not be useful in future years.

            A 17-18 year old student alone is almost completely incapable of doing this unless they or their parents are some kind of genius or very knowledgeable about the state of the world.

            Can you do all the right things and get screwed anyway? Absolutely, it happens all the time. But at least this method removes a lot of dangerous possibilities from the hands of people who do not know any better.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 07:15:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Would they know in 2005 about the housing crash? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elfling

              Seriously would they?  Or would they have predicted the oil price crash of 1986 that caused me to switch from Geology to History?  Would they think Pets.com was the next AOL?

              Now all that said, I do think I'd advise a college student to get a minor in something marketable like say Accounting in my case.

              •  Re (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                DemSign

                They should get a major in something marketable.

                It is true that market shifts can happen, but that isn't an excuse for majoring in something you know is unmarketable now and never will be, especially if you're going into serious debt to do it.

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 08:13:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  I like to hire humanities majors.... (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            akeitz, ebohlman, hmi, elfling, Dr Stankus

            Because they can think, and they tend to have a very deep well of knowledge to draw upon.  Years ago at the height of the dot com boom, I was hired at a small software company of about 200 people.  After about 6 months of hard work, I was promoted to management of a team of programmers.  I almost always found that the people with so-called "worthless" degrees who taught themselves programming surpassed those who had computer science degrees in their ability to problem solve.  

            If I had a buck for every jackass with a master's in computer science who was one-upped in ability by some person with a history degree who learned programming with one of those "teach yourself....." books, I'd...  wait, I probably do.  

            Anyway, point is, many employers have found humanities majors to be excellent employees in a wide variety of fields which seemingly have little to do with their major.  

            •  Hahaha, I did teach yourself Oracle ;-) (0+ / 0-)

              Before my current gig, I was an oracle junior DBA having done OTJ training when my organization dumped the WANG mainframe for a customized database using InfoMaker back in the 1990s.  Now I'm the one learning as much as I can about the customized version of Oracle Financials my government agency switched to on October 1st last year .

              I think I'm the John Hodges character from the Daily Show, every night he was an "expert" in a different crazy field.

              •  I started with MS SQL Server... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                elfling

                ..and later moved up to Oracle.   I made a more detailed response to another of your posts down below, but I took a couple classes at Comm. College.  My first job as a database designer was at some fly-by-night outfit in Los Angeles who really wanted someone with more verifiable database experience than I had, but they gave me a chance (at a laughably low salary!) and the rest is history.  Within six months, I was off and running.  I left that place and went to the small software company I mention above, then to a private venture capital firm, then onto state government and finally federal...   By the time I got to that level, I was burned out, and decided to go back to college to study what I wanted to study all along -- humanities.   ;)  

      •  Exactly (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        akeitz, ebohlman, Mr Robert, elfling, Chayanov

        IT was a great field to get into during the 1990s, during the 2000s it experienced a tremendous slump.  Law school used to be considered a ticket to great wealth;  now that field is glutted.  Engineering went up and down.  Mathematics at the graduate level experiences a boom because somebody had to derive the derivatives.

        It will be interesting to see what happens to the MBA when a trade can be executed as easily in Bangalore as in Manhattan.

        Maybe the smart choice is for each student to study what appeals to himself or herself and become really good in it.  The world does not need half-hearted, mediocre graduates in even the most-demanded fields.  

        "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

        by Yamaneko2 on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 06:59:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I studied what I loved, consequences be damned (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RerumCognoscereCausas, elfling

          Granted it wasn't underwater Basketweaving but some look at History as worthless and to be sure I'm NOT working in my field.  However it was a great foundation for the financial analyst position I'm in.

          Now if only more employers were enlightened about this....

          •  You're lucky. It took me years to figure that out (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elfling, akeitz

            I studied engineering when I was shipped off to college at 18.  My dad was an engineer, and he made decent money at it, and he was paying not only my tuition, but for my relatively extravagant lifestyle.  Yeah, I never had to sell plasma to buy food.  I had a car and an Amex Gold card (linked to dad's platinum) and the usually visa and master cards.  So when my dad told me to study engineering, I listened.  

            I hated it.  Absolutely hated it.  (Funny thing is, my dad hated it too, but it paid the bills so he did what he thought he had to do).  

            I graduated, went to work in the engineering field, and detested my life.  I changed tracks to computer stuff in the 90s completely by accident:  I was good with computers since they were a hobby of mine, so I was named backup sysadmin at my office.  I filled in for the single IT person we had when he was out sick or on vacation, and would help him with special projects.  I found I liked my "backup" job more than my primary one, so I took a few classes at community college, and made the switch.  

            Nothing ruins a hobby faster than doing it for a living, and after a few years in the software business, my wife finally convinced me to quit my job (where I was miserable) and go back to school to study anything I wanted.  

            It was the best thing that ever happened to me.  I love what I studied, and I love what I do.  I find it interesting, meaningful, and I'm far from starving.

            If I knew then what I knew now, I would have gone to the registrar's office when I was 18 and changed my major to the "Worthless" degree I wanted to get.  And I would have told my dad to keep the car and the credit cards if he didn't like it.  I could have taken out loans, ate ramen noodles and drunk Milwaukee's Best Light just like my room mates.  And I would not have spent 15 years floundering around between jobs I hate but that pay the bills, just like my old man.    

    •  also these companies push the parents to cosign (0+ / 0-)

      so the kids have access to more cash.  When I realized one of the kids was going to flunk out, I refused to cosign for him to transfer to another school.  That earned me a flurry of phone calls with one loan rep upbraiding me for being a lousy parent

    •  I'd rather see sliding rates (0+ / 0-)

      depending upon major.

      Want a loan to pursue a degree in medicine?   Here's the rate.

      Want a loan to,pursue a degree in Art History?  Here's the other rate.

      "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

      by Keith930 on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 06:42:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re (0+ / 0-)

        It will be that way.

        If you make student loans dischargeable, the market will naturally evolve to be what you are suggesting in any case. Availability and interest rates will vary depending on the major.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 07:18:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Here's another reason (16+ / 0-)

    This is a chart of senior management positions in the UC system vs. faculty:

    I can tell you first hand that UC administration / management didn't get better in those years.  So what were all those top-level admins doing for us?

    contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

    by barath on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 05:31:55 PM PDT

  •  Along with the rise in support staff… (12+ / 0-)

    …also look at the facilities being built. Really, does that school need a new gym or would the old one have lasted another decade. Does the school need a state of the art fitness facility? Brand new dorms that give each student their own private quarters?

    I worked my way through George Washington University as a campus police officer getting 21 free credit hours per year. I couldn't afford to attend there when I was in my 20s. I was aghast when I read that GWU was the most expensive college in the nation. Why? Because it seems that in the 20 years since I left every building has been replaced with a new state-of-the-art facility and all the real estate near the school has been purchased by the school.

    Teh stoopidTM, it hurts. Buy smart, union-printed, USA-made, signs, stickers, swag for everyone: DemSign.com. Get your We are the 99% Yard Sign.

    by DemSign on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 05:35:27 PM PDT

    •  Yes, I completely agree that both the (6+ / 0-)

      increase in overpaid administrators and the cost of building new facilities (especially swanky dorms and gyms in order to attract  students when they come for campus visits) is a huge problem, especially at private colleges and universities.  As the number and pay scale of administrators goes up, the number of tenure track faculty goes down, and low-paid adjuncts and lecturers are hired to cut costs.  And I throw my hands up in despair when prospective students talk excitedly about the flat screen TVs in the campus pub and in the new dorms' common rooms, but seem to care less about issues of class size, student to faculty ratio, number of lecturers and adjuncts teaching introductory classes, or average time to graduation.  It is a vicious circle that drives up tuition to pay for unnecessary amenities and overpaid administrators who run universities like businesses rather than educational institutions.

      Nothing amuses me more than the easy manner with which everybody settles the abundance of those who have a great deal less than themselves. --Jane Austen

      by feeny on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 06:13:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This depresses me (8+ / 0-)

    It's another issue that's technically "Not my issue" (I got out of grad school nearly four decades ago; my parents set up a trust fund for my education when I was a baby so I had no student debt; and a semester of grad school was under $1,000!!!) but you can't help but seeing the impact all around you and projecting the impact on society as a whole.

    And one night late, I was on Facebook and got a message from the college freshman son of a long-time friend of mine, asking me for arguments for controlling student debt that he could throw back to a conservative friend (I probably should have told him to avoid conservative friends). I think he was surprised when I told him I thought higher ed should be free and explained exactly why. I think the strength of our country and its future depends on educating everyone to the best of their abilities and interests.

    Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07. http://www.ewaynepowell.com/

    by anastasia p on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 05:36:05 PM PDT

  •  Reagan Destroyed Cal Ed, now it's worse (6+ / 0-)

    An important diary looks at a critical problem in a critical state. California is unique in many ways with it's wealth, a huge population, vast cities with their individual hinterlands, in some cases with national aspects.

    What went wrong? Simple answers to complex issues -- and Non-issues-- have left insanely complex consequences.

    It's easy to forget that at its most muscular, California's higher education was largely without cost. It was Reagan who demanded that students pay their way.  And so began the inevitable escalation of costs for both students and universities without any of the cost controls that had existed before.

    Reagan played to Bonzos of the Bozarts by attacking Berkeley, never recognizing its diversity and its energy as a vital element. It was the shallow Orange County Right-wing speak to attack the intellectual center of the state. It overlooked the critical elements Berkeley contributed to national security. Robert Oppenheimer drove the team as probably no one else could in developing the bomb, but sadly the national conversation over the result was truncated. It was at Berkeley where the first American analysis of Keynes work occurred. And the faculty and others participated in the earliest forms of cooperatives for housing.

    Those experiments without cost ended when Reagan pushed Berkeley and the rest of the state's high education to beg for money, prize fund-raising and all the rest ahead of a common good. This is shallow analysis but the damage he wreaked was far beyond his wild demonization of an entire university system based on a very few names, e.g. Mario Savio. Reagan was not just distinctly anti-intellectual, he was completely ignorant, or chose to be, of how a higher education state system should work.

    If Berkeley represented anything, it was a people's elitist form of education as opposed to a elite form of education for the rich. Now, California's most elite but poor struggle to find a way there while the  rich elite too often compete against them without the concerns for repaying student debt.

    It's easy. e.g., for Mitt Romney and his ilk to talk of how they made it on their own, but my family like most other working class never had the chance at access to Harvard or the money to pay for it. (this is in late 50s early 60s). Had I lived in California at the time, it would have benefited me and the state.

    Our Republican friends in knowing nothing about true costs can never appreciate the what the attacks on higher education is producing in a national dumbing down.

    As for prisons, it's more simple answers for complex issues. The short answer is that the states with the most enlightened criminal justice systems, as crude as they are, produce the lowest crime rates, in particular violent crime rates, in the nation. While Texas has more inmates in prison for violent crimes than Western Europe.

  •  Well, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, sayitaintso, Matt Z

    my proposal for a stimulus to the economy is that when a student gets a 4 year accredited degree s/he gets at graduation credit on the loans. A big credit. This would serve two goals: it would be a tremendous, annual, countrywide stimulus to the economy AND it would allow students to escape the fearfu necessity to take ugly, drone jobs (that are not the careers they would like to pursue) because if they don't they won't be able to back pay their loans.  I'd also give a credit for community service jobs, and I'd give a credit for advanced degrees.  And, yes, I'd give a credit if you became ill,and I would allow the whole thing to be discharged in bankruptcy.

    Please read and enjoy my novella, Tulum, available in soft cover and eBook formats.

    by davidseth on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 05:40:21 PM PDT

  •  Lack of support from the state (6+ / 0-)

    has forced state schools in my state to jack up tuition and fees to such an extent that my youngest goes to a "fancy pants" private institution for only $4000 more.
    My generation went through the state system without generating crippling debt. Now we all pay taxes, but we broke the social contract somewhere along the line.

    •  Yes like her in PA where Corbett wants to be the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joemac53

      Christie/Walker type with deep , deep cuts to education.

      Now he is talking about how he would like to privatize Penn State and other State universities to save the state money. That is not going over well at all. There is a lot of anger toward Corbett about this and a lot of other things.

      Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

      by wishingwell on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 06:32:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Administrative Expansion is a problem everywhere (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Renie57, Flying Goat

    Not only are the administrators paid far too much, there are too many of them.  But this is not only at Universities, but in the local elementary schools as well.  For example, in my small town with no high school, one elementary and one middle school right next to each other we have a superintendant, two principals, and two vice principals. The local public university has a very well compensated (some would say grossly overpaid) president, a provost, lots of vice presidents and vice provosts.  

    There is an group of adminstrative people who spend a few years at a university to polish a resume, some doing more harm than good, and then move on to better pastures.

    But this is not unique to education.  In every part of the country we seem to have a system where you don't need to know anything about a business to run it.

    •  School Superintendents are very well paid overall (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Flying Goat

      in most states and in states where there are a lot of school districts in rural areas and every little town seems to have its own school district; instead of cutting the pay of the big wigs, they cut teachers and teacher salaries and teacher benefits and blame the teachers. Some school consolidation would solve that problem as far as public schools are concerned..meaning K-12

      Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

      by wishingwell on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 06:34:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We are in a small rural district (0+ / 0-)

        our superintendent/principal makes less than principals in many larger districts.

        We only have two administrators for the entire district (this is really not enough for the workload) and both of them are dealing with kids (and parents) every day. Then, there is some additional office support.

        The administrators have elected to take the same cuts teachers have agreed to take.

        The job of administrators is to make the job of the teachers as easy as possible. Not everyone is good at that, of course.

        I don't think consolidation of our district would lower costs or improve education.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 10:43:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It might depend on the state and region and county (0+ / 0-)

          as most superintendents in my area make a 6 figure salary easily.  And wages are very low and the cost of living rather low in my area.

          Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

          by wishingwell on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 04:51:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I find it ironic that the the first source quoted (0+ / 0-)

    ...is Fareed Zakaria on "Incarceration Nation" (and yes, it's noted that he does focus on that), but that part is ignored in the rest of the article.

    But, everyone seems to ignore the per-inmate spending and Mr. Zakaria's other comments, in favor of noting our low spending on education. Yes, we obviously DO spend far too little on education. Yes, this diary is about education, but I have to wtf a little at using a graphic like this and just ignoring half of it.

    Sure, it's a fair comparison, but it's used as the lead reference and title graphic. And it's not like the average DK reader is in favor of increasing our prison population.

    (And really, the spending per inmate is not the issue, but the other points that Mr. Zakaria aptly makes.)

  •  the penal industry has a lot more (3+ / 0-)

    political clout than poor students do. from the DEA (and its manifestly losing "war on drugs") down to the local yokels, all of whom get a piece of whatever assets they can seize during an arrest. add to that the private prison systems, which need a constant stream of bodies to fill those beds, and politicians all to happy to oblige, by passing more legislation making more things illegal, and demanding stiffer, mandatory sentences, and you've got yourself one incestuous business, none of which actually benefits those of us actually paying the tab.

    college students can't muster that kind of power, and that power will fight, tooth and nail, to maintain (and expand) that revenue stream, and the jobs it provides.

    •  certainly true--but it's equally important that th (0+ / 0-)

      "business models" are so different.   Imagine if it were an option (and became an accepted practice) to make prison inmates take out loans to pay for their incarceration?  

      In reality, higher education systems in many states still have quite a bit of political clout, but what's their incentive to go toe-to-toe with the prison industry when THEIR market keeps finding other ways to scrape up the money?  I'm with Sparhawk above -- the first step is to make student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy like any other form of debt.  

      Though now I'm fascinated by the "prison loan" idea.  You'd certainly get a massive increase in white-collar-crime prosecutions, for one thing...

  •  abolish D1 athletics (0+ / 0-)

    Higher education spending is a complicated issue.  I could write pages.  But truly,  any university throwing money at D1 athletics  has no business crying poverty and no credibility to receive more public funding.

    It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

    by sayitaintso on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 06:07:03 PM PDT

    •  Not likely to happen because the games bring (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thestructureguy

      in big money, especially televised games and bowl games and playoff games.  It generates a ton of money for the university.

      Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

      by wishingwell on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 06:37:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, sayitaintso

        Of all the college football teams in the United States, only 22 of them turned a profit in the 2010-2011 season.  On average, schools with football teams lose $9.5 Million per year.  Pretty much every college athletic program winds up costing money, but football tends to be biggest money pit of all of them.  Most of the revenues that come with athletics goes right back out the door paying for stadiums, coaches, travel, and all the other costs of the programs.  

        There have been several high-profile studies lately that thoroughly impugn the oft-repeated notion that college athletics make money for the schools.   By-and-Large, they don't.  The reason why European Universities don't have serious athletics?  In most of those countries, the University system is government subsidized, and those governments are not willing to throw money down the shitter like that.  Also, if you're in University, you're there to learn, not play sports.  YOu want to do that, do it on your own time and your own dime.  

        Look at it this way -- if athletics made as much damn money as the people at state universities claim, then your top-tier private schools like the Ivys, the new-Ivys (places like Wash U and Rice), and wealthy liberal arts schools would spend more time and money at them.  But they don't.  

      •  Not true. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Flying Goat

        This is an often repeated lie that people use to justify throwing money at athletic programs.  They point at revenues, which are huge.  However, so are the costs.  Of all the college football programs in 2010, only 22 of them actually made any money.  The rest lost money, the average loss being $9.5 Million.  

        There have been numerous peer-reviewed studies that thoroughly impugn the notion that athletics make money for schools.  It just simply isn't true.  Pretty much every dollar that comes in from athletics goes right back out to pay the expenses of it.  And it takes others with it.  

        If athletics were as lucrative as public university administrators claim, then the big private schools (the Ivys and "new-Ivys" come to mind) with huge piles of money laying around would be in on it too.  But they're not.  They didn't get rich by flushing money down the toilet on programs that are a net liability.  

        It's a sad, sad, sad world we live in when a football coach at a public school makes to or three times as much as a Nobel Laureate faculty member.  

  •  Many years ago (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tethys, elfling

    in what seems like a different country, there was a Republican Senator named William J. Fulbright who believed America's strength, as a nation, derived in large part, from University education.

    Well, that was a long time ago.  Before America became an intellectual wasteland that believed that Chinese and Indian graduate students and foreign educated doctors were our future.

    Oh, well.  Things were nicer then.  Even the GOP.

  •  Clawson's fatuous criticism of Obama (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell

    betrays her ignorance of how America runs.  Obama cannot directly order states to increase their education funding.  But the president is able to regulate federal grants to colleges and the amount of student loans.  He could increase the amount of student loans and therefore increase the burden of student debt which will become the next bubble ready to explode.  Or he could continue to let the states off the hook and pour more and more money out into the colleges which would blow a hole in the federal budget.  But he has chosen to pressure the states to increase their higher education funding by cutting back federal subsidies if the states refuse to fund their own schools.   If Laura Clawson had a more informed intellect she would have realized that Obama sketched out the most workable solution to the current imbalance of state funding.

  •  Same cost drivers as in healthcare . . . (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bgold, BeeDeeS, Flying Goat, basket

    Administrative layers are constantly being intercalated into the healthcare structure, just as the diarist describes in the higher education structure, and undoubtedly the K-12 educational system structure as well.

    I chaired a division of a medical center department. As medical staff I had three administrative layers over me. My technical director, however, was hospital staff and he operated under seven (7) administrative layers.

    In the modern institution it seems the first step in cost-cutting is to hire somebody (usually an a-hole or professional dickwad) to come in and manage it. It is important that the newly-acquired cost-cutter have an adequate staff to thoroughly seek out those areas of the operation that can be trimmed. Now armed with an added staff of six or seven new administrators, they are ready to get after all that wasted patient (or student) contact that seems to demand so much of institution's scarce resources. By Jove, that's where the savings are to be found!

    It's just a damn shame, isn't it?

  •  Less competition (0+ / 0-)

    for their DNA.  Why should someone w/o wealth become educated!  It can only cause disruption.  All their actions are directed to reducing competition for their offspring.  After all the,  these sociopaths are on the same level of evolution as a tiger or bear, eat their competitors young and  preserve for their progeny control of their world. No education for you!

  •  Prisons Are Worth It. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    There are under half a million California prisoners. But there are 2+ million community college students alone.

    Education is bleeding the state dry of ability to enforce and punish.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 06:31:40 PM PDT

    •  Exactly. Let's keep our priorities straight. (0+ / 0-)

      Too much education will reduce crime and we need to criminals to create jobs for the prison industry!

      Damn those job-hating, liberal eggheads!

      The suffering will continue until it is sufficient to mobilize a counterforce sufficient to overwhelm the plutocracy. And no sooner.

      by Words In Action on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 07:28:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A good take on this issue (0+ / 0-)

    From Lawyers, Guns and Money a few weeks back:

    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/...

    You can see how pissed off the faculty members commenting are about their workloads and poor pay.  I just got hired as administrative staff at a state university and the pay isn't that great but the job does have psychic rewards which make up for that.  I am truly looking forward to working in an environment where I contribute to society in some way other than the almighty dollar, and the ability to take classes for free sounds interesting!

  •  so Rushbo is continuing with flank attacks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    Having taken a pasting with his frontal assault in Ms Fluke, he now has resorted to an oblique attack on contraception by using college tuition as a smokescreen to give him a platform to launch his attacks.
    In the meantime he touts his victories over his enemies and brags about how the leftist attacks on him have boosted his ratings. Baghdad Bob much?

  •  thank the prison guard union (0+ / 0-)

    I know that isn't kosher to say here, but California's union of prison guards is is a problem, and not a solution.  Anyone who has lived in the state has an appreciation for that reality.

    California is so dysfunctional it's not even funny.  This is just one small slice of the pie.

    "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

    by Keith930 on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 06:38:48 PM PDT

  •  When I went to college in Australia in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Flying Goat, elfling

    the '70's, not only was there no tuition fee, the government paid me $3500 a year to go. Without the revolutionary policy of the Labour government that educating Australians was a bloody good idea, I would have end up with PhD. Higher education is so important to the future of the USA that we ought to be treating the State college system's disrepair as a national emergency. We need a new kind of tax-free bond that people can buy from their IRA's, 401K's and college funds to completely refinance state colleges across the board. Our national goal should be that everyone who qualifies gets a slot. With a fully financed system, you would see the end of the college loan system and falling fees at private schools. If you planned on a fund of around $2 trillion paying around 3% interest, you at looking at around $136 billion in interest over 10 years.

    Fructose is a liver poison. Stop eating it today.

    by Anne Elk on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 06:41:10 PM PDT

  •  I teach at a large, Big Ten research university. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Flying Goat, elfling, Words In Action

    State school.  Flagship school in the state higher education system.

    Percentage of state funding that makes up our yearly budget?  

    8%.

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 06:49:23 PM PDT

    •  Judging by some diaries you've written... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action

      ...I'm guessing you're an instructor at The Ohio State University...anyways, one of several reasons why tuition rates are sky high at many public colleges and universities is because Republicans want to make government so small, that, in the words of anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, "you can drown it in a bathtub."

      That's a scary thought...Republicans want to drown our higher education system in a bathtub by cutting federal and state funding away from our colleges and universities. This forces those who attend public institutions of higher education to pay more money in the form of increased tuition and other fees. Obviously, this is an unsustainable pattern.

  •  Reasons for Increased Tuition at Public Higher Ed (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BeeDeeS, tethys, Tonga 23, elfling, basket, Ruh Roh

    There are many reasons for increased tuition costs at institutions of public higher education, but it is not true that the problem is bloated administration.

    In the past 30 or so years, costs associated with technology have skyrocketed.  Remember that in the 70s and 80s, we didn't have to wire up every dorm and every classroom for the internet, set up wireless in every building and across campus, establish intense security to protect the data networks.  Every student and teacher on campus has high expectations for a variety of technology-based services.  They never used to exist on our campuses.  It costs close to $50,000 to retrofit a classroom in an existing building to have smart technology (project powerpoint, connect to the internet, show a DVD, etc.) This is NEW and it is unfunded.

    In the past 30 or so years, costs associated with health insurance and health services (including counseling) for all employees and students have also skyrocketed.  This is part of the larger pattern in society so it does not require much explanation, but we must also be mindful of the fact that 30 or so years ago, some students with significant disabilities or health conditions would not go to college.  Now they do.  And as a society we are legally and ethically obligated to welcome them and provide them with the services they need to succeed.  The number of students self-reporting significant psychiatric problems has also skyrocketed in recent years, placing increased demand on additional staffing in health and counseling services.  In the past, these students wouldn't go to college at all.  I remember a time when college campuses consisted entirely of buildings that were not accessible to people in wheelchairs.  Now every new building must go through ADA compliance check and any time an older building is renovated, it must have additional renovations specifically to enhance accessibility (e.g., more ramps, doors that open automatically for people using a wheelchair, braille signage, faucets and stalls that can be used for people using a wheelchair, etc.).  This also costs money.  Is it worth it?  You bet.  Should we do it?  Of course.  It's the right choice, both legally and ethically.

    In the past 30 or so years the cost of liability insurance has skyrocketed.  While many (most?) institutions have typically established a policy of "the college does not assume the role of your parents, colleges do have legal liability and are sued - all the time.  For instance, Virginia Tech was sued by the parents of the students murdered back in 2007. Those lawsuits are still unfolding.  Was the university responsible?  Did it have liability for the events that occurred that horrible day?  I can't say - I'm no expert. But universities have had to establish significant legal offices because lawsuits otherwise threaten to close down the institutions completely.

    Thirty years ago there was a much smaller demand for study abroad programming.  These programs cost money to build and maintain.  The same can be said for internship programs, experiential learning opportunities, undergraduate research programs, and cooperative learning programs.  Thirty years ago few colleges had freshman seminars; now they are widely identified as a best practice.  And they are costly to run because they must be small.

    In the past 30 or so years, the demand on public institutions of higher education to provide data on many topics has increased substantially. Colleges and universities have established offices full of employees just to meet this unfunded mandate.

    In the past 30 or so years the expectations of students and parents for top-of-the-line accommodations and meals have transformed the dining facilities and dormitories on many campuses, not to mention the exercise facilities (state-of-the-art gymnasia).  If colleges and universities don't compete on this level, they lose students.  And when they lose students, they lose enrollments and tuition dollars.

    In the past 30 or so years the cost of books and journals has also skyrocketed, making it very expensive for libraries to maintain their collections.  30 years ago virtually no library was connected to an electronic database.  Now every college or university library subscribes to many databases. In the past, libraries collected only books and magazines.  Now the number of new media in which libraries must maintain collections has also grown.  This too costs money.

    And lastly, and most importantly, state (public) support for public higher education has been plummeting in most stages (North Dakota is a notable exception).  In Pennsylvania, after a massive cut to public higher education last year, Governor Corbett has proposed a 30% cut to higher education this year.  The pattern in other states is similar.  If state support declines, how do institutions manage to pay to provide the services (including instruction) that students need to complete their degree in four years as promised?

    These are just some of the cost structures that have challenged higher education recently.

    One of the biggest costs on any campus is the cost of personnel.  In higher education, that's faculty.  So of course as the states reduce their contribution to public higher education, and colleges and universities find themselves unable to make up the difference in tuition increases, they will not replace retiring tenure-track faculty.  Instead, they will hire part-time faculty.  Some of those part-time faculty are brilliant.  They include lawyers and accountants teaching courses on law and business, for example.  Translators teaching a course on translation. Having a professional in the classroom can be an outstanding educational experience.  Some of those part-time instructors are graduate students working toward their doctoral degree and they can also be great teachers, too.  But some of those part-time instructors are certainly not great.  And in many cases they are not well trained or supervised.  But this is the way that many institutions manage their budgets.  

    Many of the offices at public institutions of higher education are so understaffed that phone calls and e-mail messages go days before getting a response and that offices may be closed to the public one day a week to allow staff members to respond to those phone calls and e-mail messages.  Some programs are shut down (one university in Indiana eliminated majors in Philosophy and Physics last year, SUNY-Albany proposed eliminating majors in all the foreign languages, etc. etc.)  The governor of Florida suggested eliminating the study of anthropology from all state-funded institutions because he personally did not see the value.

    While tuition goes up across the country, many institutions have continued to honor their commitment to financial aid for students with demonstrated need.  I fill out my financial aid forms for my son in college and am grateful for the grant I get from his college.  This is a way of discounting that big sticker price for families with need.  Not all colleges do that - some do not have a need-based financial aid system.  

    While we complain about the cost of education, we should be mindful of the efforts of people in higher education to do more with less and we should certainly be mindful of the cost of ignorance.

    Certainly there are areas where higher education can be improved and good-hearted and well-intentioned people are trying to improve higher education for our country.  Complaining about the cost of education without stepping forward to help support education doesn't help us move forward.

    •  You are illuminating the state of the schools! (0+ / 0-)

      nice job,  the diarist should reference this for background about the challenges  universities face compared with  a generation ago, with 40 years ago.  Much different.

      Universities have succeeded in being open to nearly everyone.  Should they remain that, or should they become selective again?  It looks like a Darwinian resource based/ access to the well to do paradigm is on the rise and winning.  Is that desireable?  Not really, but where is the coherent message and response about the issues raised in the diary and what higher ed means and needs to do in America today and in the future?

      This signature....is currently under construction..

      by BeeDeeS on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 07:12:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  so...I can go along with all of these increased (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fatherof2

      costs too -- as a faculty person I've watched them all happening -- but if "one of the biggest costs on any campus  is the cost of personnel", how can you say this does NOT include administrators?  Do you believe that administrative salaries, and administrative headcount, have NOT risen during this same 30-year period?  

      I certainly do not think administrative bloat is the sole or even the decisive factor in increased costs, but someone above made the excellent point that we now have a class of DECISION-MAKERS throughout much of higher ed for whom the present system works just fine -- even as it works less fine for faculty and for students.

      •  So-called administrative bloat (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, basket, Jim M

        I concede that at some institutions there may well be administrative bloat, but at all the institutions I know the increase in administrative staff does not keep up with the administrative burdens.

        For instance, the creation of an "enterprise unit" to run revenue-generating programs in the evenings and the summers to bring in money to support the core mission of classes during the day for full-time students.

        For instance, the addition of staff to the development office to recruit more donors to step up the plate, and similarly the addition of staff to the alumni affairs office to enhance efforts to bring more alumni around to the idea of supporting their alma mater.

        For instance, the addition of staff in financial aid services to help manage the increasing complexity of student loans and grants, providing counseling for students and families and helping them to monitor how they are paying for their college education.

        For instance, the addition of staff in counseling services and disability services to meet the significantly increased need of students enrolling in college with psychiatric challenges or physical or emotional disabilities.

        For instance, the addition of staff charged with monitoring the effectiveness of technology deployed on campus, including the security of data maintained (and the volume of data maintained grows exponentially every year), as well as the institution's website, Facebook page, youtube channel, twitter feed, etc.

        The addition of personal trainers and coaches for an ever expanding number of teams, the staff to maintain the grounds and the classrooms and the laboratories and the dormitories.

        And this does not even include the addition of staff to teach disciplines that are new now, but maybe were not feasible or even imagined as a fundament part of the curriculum 30 years ago:  majors in molecular biology, sexuality studies, interactive multimedia, geographic information systems, and many more interdisciplinary programs.

        All of these - and many more I can't come up with just off the top of my head - are markers of significantly increased personnel on college campuses, none of whom is sitting around, twiddling his or her thumbs, staring at the ceiling and bemoaning the lack of meaningful work.  On every college campus I've visited, everyone is really busy, and most faculty seem to work 50-60 hours per week, administrators (deans and provosts) working 60-70 hours per week.  And the salaries and benefits at public colleges are typically not competitive with market rates for employees with doctoral degrees.  So the people who do take on those jobs do so for love.  And it shows when you ask students how they feel about their faculty.  AFter they dismiss one or two with whom they have had unpleasant experience, they typically describe very positive feelings with enthusiastic and inspiring faculty who have transformed their lives.

        I would say: it's worth it.

        The trick is to figure out how it can be affordable for students of all incomes and backgrounds so that they complete their degrees without a burden of debt that is crushing.

        •  this is useful--one doesn't see the case made (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          basket

          very often with this kind of care and insight.

          Given the array of costs you've itemized, I'd be interested in your ideas for how we curb the inflation and get (back) to greater affordability--and you might as well make it a diary since I think others would be interested too.

          The case for new waves and layers of technology is almost always about greater efficiency (and by implication lower cost) -- is there some room for skepticism there?

          Do we have too many institutions offering too many esoteric majors (or majors period)?  Are there too many graduate programs?  

          Is there some way to walk back from the ridiculous competitions in physical infrastructure, among the more elite schools?

          More basically: is it possible that the GI-Bill vision of universal higher ed was something only sustainable with massive state subsidy?  And if so, what do we do if that subsidy is simply gone, and not to return?  (I could imagine even a very optimistic general political scenario in the US that reaffirmed most of the New Deal/Great Society commitments but still didn't take us back to that ed vision -- which would after all align us with most of the rest of the developed world...).

        •  Between this and your earlier comment (0+ / 0-)

          I think you have the makings of a great diary.

  •  Not Just Tuition.... (0+ / 0-)

    Add the cost of tuition to the expenses associated with buying books and now doing online homework.

    College textbooks have been a thieving racquet for decades, with universities and publishers ripping off students in forcing new edition after new edition into the market. Some of these "new" editions just change the page numbers.

    It used to be that for some higher end science courses you could buy a used copy of the book for a class. But that's impossible now, since for some classes the homework is done online & the code to register for the homework is tied to buying a new book that has it bundled as part of the price.

    Some new general biology & chemistry books are $200-$300 a pop.

  •  I've Been Singing This Tune Since I Joined DKos (0+ / 0-)

    ...in a slightly different way. California spends 50% more (60%-40%) on incarceration than it does on education.

    This is on top of a philosophical change 10-12 years ago (IIRC) changing the focus on incarceration from rehabilitation to punishment.

    Common sense will tell you this is simply outrageous, and a complete failure of society. Our politicians, both GOP and Dem are to blame for this. State government in CA has long been coin-operated.

    If we don't educate our children properly, and at least give them a fair chance at attaining the American Dream, what do you think happens when that child matures?

    Finally, it's about time a nationally known writer shone a light on this outrage, and thanks to Ms. Laura for this excellent diary.

  •  Speaking of singing (0+ / 0-)

    Sometimes . . . I feel . . . like a redneck with chopsticks . . . Dreaming of squirrel while I'm sucking down squid . . .

    by Pale Jenova on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 07:34:24 PM PDT

  •  we need alternatives to college (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541

    that are cheaper and more specialized. College will stay, cost need to drop, but I would rather expand community colleges, technically oriented schools that in partnership with indusry provide excellent education.

  •  A reason not yet spoken in California (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, Amber6541, Dr Stankus

    As a Californian and graduate of the U.C. system, let me say I have lived through this change from the beginning.
    It all begins with Proposition 13 back in 1978 when I was a Junior at UCSC.

    Prop 13 was a Trojan Horse that gave huge tax breaks to commercial property owners (the steak) and threw a comparative dog bone tax break to homeowners. Two thirds of the property tax deductions went to businesses. The net result was an increase in all sorts of taxes, fees, and tuition for individuals.

    Because it takes a 2/3rds super majority to change taxes in the state legislature, California is now in a perpetual budget crisis because revenues do not keep pace with either inflation or population growth.

  •  more prison guards may have tenure / job security (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    basket, Words In Action
    In 2011, California spent $9.6 billion on prisons, versus $5.7 billion on higher education. Since 1980, California has built one college campus; it's built 21 prisons. The state spends $8,667 per student per year. It spends about $50,000 per inmate per year.

    slutty voter for a "dangerous president"; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare." 政治委员, 政委!

    by annieli on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 09:18:35 PM PDT

  •  why are we concerned about what the pig man says? (0+ / 0-)

    The pig man will never say anything that makes the slightest bit of sense.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 04:41:26 AM PDT

  •  Laura (0+ / 0-)

    You mention for profit schools.  You mention public schools.  You do not even mention private colleges.  In fact, no one is talking about them at all.  

    Why?

  •  Dead on. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541

    I would also add that the 1% salaries among higher ed administrators is also not helping.

    You could cut dramatically the number of $500K to $1MM salaries and still attract competent leaders, pay post-docs better salaries AND reduce overhead.

    The 1%. Wreaking havoc everywhere.

    The suffering will continue until it is sufficient to mobilize a counterforce sufficient to overwhelm the plutocracy. And no sooner.

    by Words In Action on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 07:23:58 AM PDT

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