Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cast a cold eye

While I admire what Historiann's doing with her roundup of "What's the matter with higher education?" posts in response to Anthony Grafton's piece, I just don't have anything useful to contribute and so will look forward to the posts. Roxie, Notorious Ph.D., Dr. Crazy, and others already have some great posts up in response, and there'll be more.

My short take would be that it's a resources divide: being starved of money is forcing public and private universities to face compromising either their educational mission or their existence as an institution. It's a mirroring of the gap between the 99% and the 1% all over again. I'm especially struck by this:
Americans, as Malcolm Harris recently pointed out, now owe almost a trillion dollars in student loans, more than they owe in credit card debt. Student debt, he explained, “is an exceptionally punishing kind to have. Not only is it inescapable through bankruptcy, but student loans have no expiration date and collectors can garnish wages, social security payments, and even unemployment benefits.” The burden is distributed by the reverse of the Matthew principle: to him who hath not, no one gives anything.
. As one student with $200,000 in student debt put it in the New York Times not long ago, it's like graduating with a house on your back, but a house that you can't live in. If you marry, you saddle the person you love with this debt. You put your life on hold to pay it back, which may be never on the wages you can earn. There's something profoundly wrong with this system.

So. In other news, and to push down the previous post, today's the day I cast a cold eye on all I've written so far on the big project to see where everything is going, if it is indeed going at all. When I started this post, that's what I thought I was casting the cold eye on, but now I see it's not the only thing that needs scrutiny.

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