I’m sure Hillary Clinton sees herself as a champion of progressivism, someone who will gladly take on any vested interest that stands athwart the needs and aspirations of the great unwashed, the 99 percent.
But is Mrs. Clinton really a progressive?
Here is Mrs. Clinton’s plan to help those struggling with the cost of higher education, as reported by the New York Times:
Under the plan, which was outlined by Clinton advisers on Sunday, about $175 billion in grants would go to states that guarantee that students would not have to take out loans to cover tuition at four-year public colleges and universities. In return for the money, states would have to end budget cuts to increase spending over time on higher education, while also working to slow the growth of tuition, though the plan does not require states to cap it.
The Times continues:
Mrs. Clinton would pay for the plan by capping the value of itemized deductions that wealthy families can take on their tax returns. The tax and spending elements of her proposal would need support from Congress — a tall order, since it is now run by Republicans — while the plan’s goals would depend on support from state governors and legislators, more and more of whom have been Republicans recently.
Do you see anything new or novel in Mrs. Clinton’s plan? I don’t. It’s the same-old, same-old. Spend more money, tax the rich, and give Washington more control.
But my biggest gripe against Mrs. Clinton’s plan is that it doesn’t question the higher education business model. Has it ever occurred to Mrs. Clinton that the business model might be the problem? Has it ever occurred to Mrs. Clinton that the definition of “education” by the college-industrial complex might be seriously flawed?
Here are some things I would like Mrs. Clinton to consider:
- Do we need more Americans with skills or more Americans with a piece of paper certifying they took forty classes over five or six years?
- Why can’t we unbundle college and allow students to take just the 15-20 classes that pertain to their majors? A college credit doesn’t cost $15 anymore. Well-roundedness, as defined by the college-industrial complex, is a luxury fewer and fewer 99 percenters can afford.
- Why is the most common grade on campus today an A?
- Why are there so many remedial classes in math and English in higher education?
- Why are colleges running minor league football, basketball, baseball, and hockey programs?
- Why are colleges sponsoring fraternities and sororities?
- Why are colleges offering resort-like amenities? Do students who eat in a food court, as opposed to a cafeteria, do better in class?
- Why do an ever growing number of college presidents make more than the POTUS? Is dealing with the latest affront to faculty sensibilities more difficult than dealing with ISIS?
- Why are more and more college classes being taught by adjuncts and grad students? What is the typical course load of a full professor? Is it two classes a semester? Why can’t it be five?
College is expensive because the business model stinks. It’s asking students and the taxpayers to pay for an “education” that imparts just as much fluff and nonsense as it does valuable skills.
But in the end I shouldn’t be too hard on Mrs. Clinton. Just because she clings to the past when it comes to higher education doesn’t mean she clings to the past in other matters. Besides, she isn’t the only politician with archconservative views on higher education. Every politician in the land is a neanderthal when it comes to challenging the college-industrial complex.