The point is that the problem is more complex than your claim that government's the problem. Fundamentally, government is a problem because certain special interests control the policy making process to their benefit at the expense of others. The answer is not to get government out ofthe process but to force it to act in the general interest.
When government wasn't involved, education was the perview of only those that could afford it. With government involved, more people have access but so too do those that can game the system to their benefit. The problem isn't government, but human nature.
"For eight years, students at Michigan State University borrowed tuition money directly from the federal government. But last spring, university officials shucked that arrangement and signed up with private lenders and a state agency that provided loans under a separate federal plan. They guaranteed a profit to the university--something the federal government could not do. Sounds sweet for Michigan State, but it's not so terrific for federal taxpayers, who will almost certainly wind up shelling out $23.5 million more each year as a result of the change."
So it isn't government that is the problem, it is special interests controlling it for their benefit at our expense.
@Rob Spiegel: My daughter's psychology class uses an online e-book. It was about as expensive as her books for her other classes. (Actually, it was more expensive, since buying a used copy wasn't an option).
I've always harbored a secret hope that students will start trading pirated textbooks online just like they trade pirated music and movies, and that this will bring down the price of textbooks. Unfortunately, this doesn't appear to have happened.
At the same time, private universities discovered that they had the pricing power to raise tuition if it were accompanied by institutional grants to students with financial need. The combination of institutional financial aid from private institutions and easily available student loans created a system of finance for the private sector: high-tuition/high-aid. By using the standardized "expected family contribution," plus any eligible grants and student loans, college financial aid offices could determine the maximum amount a student could afford to pay.
Institutional financial aid, or tuition discounts, then could cover the difference between financial capacity and the official sticker price. Soon, only fairly wealthy students paid the listed tuition price at most private colleges, while others paid variable prices determined by the financial aid office. Colleges thus extracted the maximum revenue from each student, while avoiding price resistance in the form of reduced demand. They were thus free to raise tuition for those who could afford it while providing an appropriate tuition discount for those who could not.
I love the line about "extracting the maximum revenue from each student. Pretty telling about those altruistic institutions of higher learning, "not for profits".
There is a lot more information in there that basically makes my point (as I read it), but I don't have the time to elaborate.
I like the Khan Academy. It may not be as innovative as some people claim but the topics that I have looked at are clear and concise and do a good job of helping you understand the concepts. I advise my high school junior son to go there first before he asks me for help on math, chemistry, or physics homework. He also used the site for SAT preparation.
The only thing I don't like is that it seems to follow to the California State School System curriculum more than I would like (I don't live in CA).
I understand that some local districts in CA are using Khan Academy in innovative ways. Such as assigning students to watch the video lesson as "homework" and then doing the exercises (that would typically be assigned as homework) in class. That way they can easily discover which students understand the lesson and which students need additional one on one help from the teachers to help them understand.
What do you think about the Khan Academy? It is the in thing now an dis getting a lot of coverage. I really don't think that it's that innovative, but I'm not a teacher. The on-demand idea has been around a while and this is free.
Actually, the textbook publishers are one the verge of going virtual. Amazon and Apple are both pushing the Textbook world to begin offering digital-only textbooks. They're pushing first at the high school market, but that will certainly drift to higher education. The argument is that the purchase price of a Kindle Fire or iPad will quickly be recovered if there is a savings on the digital books.
However, the higher education publishers argue that their costs are not paper and shipping as much as the rigorous editorial process to produce a quality textbook. We'll see what happens.
Privatization has been the primary driver of ever increasing education costs. Private business is in business to create profit, money over and above the costs, whereas public schools do not, and are generally held to constraints to meet tax payer expectations. The fact is that private schools' tuition costs are higher than public institutions and private lenders' interest rates are higher than government rates, and are also backed by the federal government.
As for government being "the" problem, I suggest that you read about the failure of the Articles of Confederation that led to the creation of the constitution that we now know. There are severe limits to what the free market can achieve without constraints. So, regardless of the bad behavior of the people of the United States in promoting immoral benhavior of its government, such as in instituting slavery and committing genocide on the native Americans, the US is what it is today because of government and its interaction with private enterprise, such as the transcontinental railway.
And you couldn't be more wrong with regards to the cost of health care. One of the primary drivers of the cost increase is that private for-profit players could game the system to their profit.
Based upon what I am seeing in my state I would vote for more government (state) involvement in colleges. Here the two flagship universities both get less than 10% of their total funding from the state. They have both argued that they could save at least 10% of their costs if they were private and didn't have to comply with state regulations for public institutions. So state government support is negligible. The other issue with the state is that although the college age population is growing rapidly, the universities are not and can not due to lack of funding. So the number of entering freshmen is static even as the population grows. This means competition for these few spots gets more intense every year even as fewer can afford tuition costs (about $12,000 per year) even if they could gain admittance. On top of that our "state" universities admit about 30% out of state students because out of state tuition is twice that of in state tuition and helps their bottom line. Similarly at our communitiy colleges there are not enough classrooms, teachers, and hence classes to even begin to satifiy demand. Many "two year" programs take over three years to complete because the classes are simply not available to all of the students who need them. So the community colleges classes meet in any old building where space can be found and students drive all over the dozen of campus locations trying to find their classes. Yes our state has a good bond rating and we have reasoanbly low taxes compared to some other states but education is suffering greatly because of it.
@ttemple: If federal student aid were responsible for high tuition rates, then you'd expect the colleges with the highest percentage of students receiving federal student aid to have the highest tuition rates, wouldn't you?
Actually, it's the opposite. Our country's elite public and private institutions cater to, well, elites. At Harvard, 10% of undergraduates students receive Pell Grants and 3% receive federal student loans. At Cleveland State University, 41% of students receive Pell Grants and 59% receive federal student loans. Guess which one has higher tuition?
Where's your support for your contention that the escalating cost are caused by government intervention. So your privae engineering school accepted government subsidies? This doesn't sound like any explanation of the cause of cost increases.
Why not stop the anti-government rant and rationally discuss the issue?
In many engineering workplaces, there’s a generational conflict between recent engineering graduates and older, more experienced engineers. However, a recent study published in the psychology journal Cognition suggests that both may have something to learn from another group: 4 year olds.
Conventional wisdom holds that MIT, Cal Tech, and Stanford are three of the country’s best undergraduate engineering schools. Unfortunately, when conventional wisdom visits the topic of best engineering schools, it too often leaves out some of the most distinguished programs that don’t happen to offer PhD-level degrees.
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