by David Safier
I posted about an ASU study which is heavily critical — and damning if accurate — of Jay Greene's report for G.I. saying administrative costs at universities have soared. I suggested if Greene has any integrity and wants to keep his credibility as a scholar, he needs to answer the criticism directly and honestly or submit his report for an academic peer review.
Frequent commenter Todd weighed in on the topic. Here is his entire comment.
I am also very interested in seeing Greene's response. The allegations made in ASU's rebuttal are quite serious and, if true, quite damning.
Bill Astle noted something interesting in a comment on another thread and that is, according to the 'study', private colleges/universities have twice the 'bloat' as public colleges /universities. It then becomes truly bizarre for the Greene study to recommend the solution to the problem is to cut funding for public universities and student aid. It is hardly surprising coming from the Goldwater Institute, but it seems beyond belief that this can actually be put forward as a solution to the problem based on the data in the 'study.'
Feeling real victory in their attempt to discredit public k-12 education, right-wing conservatives will be focusing more attention to trying to do the same to higher education. We will likely be hearing much more about administration as well as claims, likely made mostly by people with PhDs, that what we actually need to be doing is limiting access to higher education instead of expanding it. These arguments will face several problems. One is that higher education is in a much better position to respond to claims being made by the right-wing. Also, there is a very extensive system of private higher education in this country and it is quite clear that private higher education does not result in lower costs. Finally, most people are quite aware that a college degree has significant economic benefits to one's earning potential (let alone other areas of life) and that many 'for-profit' institutions are much less rewarding in that regard as can be seen in things like the shockingly high college loan default rates. While it can be argued that the more people have college education the less it will reap economically, wanting to base public policy on this belief is basically telling most people they are going to get the short end of the stick.
The shame in all of this is that higher education is facing some real problems which are not because of being 'over-funded' but rather because in the past 40 years the expectations being placed on higher education have grown immensely. It is expected not just to educate but also to be a driver of economic well-being through their very presense as well as partnering with private industry and improving the community they are located in and the general public. Whether these and other expectations are realistic is a real discussion that needs to take place but instead the Greene/GI solution doesn't address these and would rather see public institutions do more with less and thereby do more badly. This is likely the result they want since public higher education provides tremendous access to opportunity but their ideology wants it gone.