With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A dieter's delight

Degree in three years?

Taylor Newby sent me this Newsweek piece by right-winger Lamar Alexander. Tennessee Senator Alexander was Bush 1's, secretary of education. Newby is one of these guys I hear from regularly, who must get paid to pump selected media pieces to the blogs. I usually ignore them. But Alexander's commentary kind of interested me so, good job Taylor. I hope you make out on this one.

Lamar Alexander is one of the guiding lights of the Ownership Society. He never met a corporation he didn't want to drop trow for, especially when it comes to deregulation. He and the neocon/Bush crew are among the main reasons we are in this worst of economic recession in history. What makes Alexander even worse in many ways, is his interest and influence in education reform. It was Edison privatizer Chris Whittle who first bankrolled Alexander's political career back in the day when Whittle was hoping to score on a national school voucher program and I have always referred to Alexander as "the Senator from Edison"

Now he wants to "reform" post-secondary education. Uh, oh!

In the face of skyrocketing tuition costs which threaten to make a college education inaccessible to all but the children of millionaires, Alexander proposes a three-year (rather than 4) bachelors degree. Now, I'm not against a three-year degree provided it meets the standards in whatever field it's in. But Alexander isn't about to constrict profits in any way. His comparison between education and automobiles is a stretch:
Just as a hybrid car is not for every driver, a three-year degree is not for every student. Expanding the three-year option or year-round schedules may be difficult, but it may be more palatable than asking Congress for additional bailout money, asking legislators for more state support, or asking students for even higher tuition payments.
Count on Alexander for a free-market solution to any problem. Offer the customer less product or fewer services for the same, or more dollars. You'll notice, Alexander never says how student tuition supposedly will drop as universities cut program length, fire faculty and come to rely more on lower-paid instructors. That's exactly what they have been doing this past decade as tuition costs continue to rise, and rise, and rise.

Here's what I wrote back to Taylor:
My question, Taylor, (Lamar Alexander aside) is what will prevent tuition from rising even more while colleges provide even less? Sounds like some kind of fast-food deal where you would pay extra for less burger and more bun. Or more for a smaller candy bar--a dieter's delight.

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