And so the process of neoliberalism continues: equating everything in the “public sphere” with a quantifiable dollar amount so that it can be better handled by private hands. There seems to be a general trend towards privatizing the public, and I think this explains a lot of recent US history (even fairly far back into the 20th century). Part of this process is an assault on liberal arts education overall.
NPR recently reported that Congress is examining for-profit colleges. This would be good news. I generally think they do not do the best job of educating anybody, and Congress seems to be picking up on this. People are figuring out for-profits are doling out subpar “education” (instruction really). But the main reason they apparently think this is important is because people aren’t getting hired; they aren’t being trained (again, not educated) for the needs of the economy.
Thus, inevitably, the private sector and those representing them (despite the fact they created this problem) are calling for the same review of other traditional universities. Are they training the workers (not educating people) of tomorrow? And, of course, questions about actually education, about learning to be a citizen, not just a worker, are lost in the shuffle. Economy. Economy. Economy.
But, surely, critiquing both institutions would be fair, right? The problem with that assumption is with equating the two institutional formats. They are very different and have very different missions. One has been set up with lofty (and, yes, often problematic) goals of serving the public good, of furthering knowledge, and developing well-rounded human beings will participate as active citizens in a democracy. And, yes, it was understood: these folks would thus be desirable employees. They could think creatively and critically (sometimes at least). For-profit institutions are after, well, profit. They seek to improve their net worth and to push the student out the door as efficiently as they can once the check clears. Such aims are not conducive to fostering education. Hopefully, our congresspeople will take note of that—undoubtedly most of them had the great privilege of attending one of these two types of institutions….
In other news, a 6-year study of school suspensions found that non-white students were much, much more likely to be suspended from school for the same infractions as white students. Post-racial indeed. Listen/read about here at NPR: http://www.npr.org/2011/07/19/138495061/report-details-texas-school-disciplinary-policies