November 2, 2016

We often read stories bemoaning the high cost of college education and the attendant baggage of debt that haunts our college graduates.

Seldom, however, do we read articles as to the “why” this is occurring.  The following excerpt from “Your Alma Mater’s Biggest Rival?  Stingy State Government” by James Carville sheds some light:

“ .  .  . Today, government investment in public colleges is less than half of what it was in 1980, and the reason why is pretty simple: A lot of .  .  . politicians just don’t like the idea of public education. They don’t believe that government should be investing in universities like UNC, or LSU, or UC Berkeley. Instead, they think that those public institutions should be run like businesses, without much government support.  .  .  .

 This is a policy debate most people probably aren’t aware of, and yet it’s the most consequential fight over American higher education in more than a century.  .  .  .

 For over 150 years, state universities in America have followed the vision of a minor historical figure named Abraham Lincoln. In 1862, Lincoln took a break from saving the Union and signed the Morrill Land Grant Act, which laid the groundwork for nearly every major public university, from Ohio State to the campuses in the University of California system. More important, it cemented the idea that a student shouldn’t pay for a college diploma all by himself. Instead, the state should invest in that student because a well-informed, well-trained populace benefits the whole country.

 Under this model, America grew from a nation where we educated surgeons in the back of barbershops to a country with more than half of the world’s top universities. Public institutions have educated the majority of our nation’s leaders, .  .  . 

 Nevertheless, many politicians and think tanks now look at this same educational system, and they say they’re no longer willing to pay. Higher education, they say, needs a new financial model. And their solution is to treat knowledge like a commodity, like a barrel of oil, or an ounce of gold, or a blue chip stock. A college degree is just a bill of sale. And therefore, the people receiving it—the students—are just customers. They should bear the cost.

 The result has been a sea change in who pays for an educated workforce. Compared to three-and-a-half decades ago, states now pay 50 percent less for higher education while students pay 500 percent more for tuition. And that bill is only going up.  .  .  . “  (THE DAILY BEAST, September 21, 2016)

 Since the earliest days of our country, “education” has been prized as a key tenet of an evolving democracy.  (“A Nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry,” Thomas Jefferson)

And, there’s an increasingly ugly sign appearing which will weaken our nation in both the long and short run.  (“According to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of, student loan debt is growing by $3,000 per second. According to a report by The Institute for College Access and Success the average debt from those who graduated in 2013 topped $30,000 in six states and was only below $20,000 in one state.”)

I realize that, at this time, we are all caught up in next week’s presidential election.  However, our votes for State Government officials may be of even more importance.  An educated citizenry, free of excessive debt, is paramount to our future.

More on Monday –  –  –

      — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning  (Mondays & Wednesdays)

 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)