President Obama’s new higher education plan has won quite a few reactions. Few have been as passionately critical, thoughtful, and significant as this one from the president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Rudy Fichtenbaum demolishes the plan at length.
I’d like to identify some of Fichtenbaum’s major criticisms, as we’ll probably hear most of them again as the White House plows forward with this strategy.
- The killer K-12 comparison: “The President’s plan will do for higher education what No Child Left Behind has done for K-12 education.”
- The new ratings system won’t work: “in reality measuring the output of our colleges and universities in a meaningful way is simply not possible.”
- Faculty aren’t responsible for increasing tuition: “rising costs have not been a result of higher faculty salaries, but rather growing administrative costs.” And those administrators? “If anyone has lost touch with reality it is the metastasizing army of administrators with bloated salaries…”
- The best solution to rising tuition is more money: “If we were truly interested in increasing graduation rates, we would provide more funding for K-12 education to insure that students were better prepared for college. If we were truly interested in controlling or reducing tuition, we would increase public funding of higher education both at the state and federal level…”
- And how to raise that money? Two ways: “by taxing the rich, particularly the top 1% who have benefited disproportionately from government bailouts and have been the recipients of the lion’s share of income growth since the 1970s. One way to accomplish this would be through a financial transactions tax.”
- Skewed campus politics: “the administration says they plan to consult with colleges and universities. The problem, however, is they mean they will consult with college and university Presidents and not with the faculty who must actually do the teaching, much less the students they claim to assist.”
- And the results? “The President’s plan… will lead to more testing and to dumbing down the curriculum by a majority of faculty who no longer have the protection of tenure and therefore will be forced to teach students simply to take tests.”
It’s a powerful document. Do you think college and university faculty will rally behind its critique?