Sunday, October 16, 2005

More on the Spellings Higher Education Commission

I was interviewed for this article on the website of Higher Education Washington, which publishes a newsletter on student lending and other insiderish info. Bryn Lansdowne actually talked to the members of the commission, which is more than I did before I wrote my Tom Paine piece. David Ward, of the American Council on Education, astutely identified the main topic before him and the rest of these guys: the public interest in higher education.

...The question of private versus public gain in higher education institutions needs to be addressed by the commission.“No one really knows what that proportion should be,” Ward said. Ward, the only representative of mainstream higher education policy [that's taken from my article, by the way],

said he plans to keep the public sector in mind during his membership on the committee.“I am much more alert to the interests of higher education, which often involves the public interest,” Ward said.

College is a public good. The benefits accrue not only to the graduate, but to her family and her community. In this way, college is sort of the mirror opposite of prison. As Jennifer Gonnerman has movingly written about, when someone goes off to prison, his mother loses a son, his child loses a father, his community loses a worker, and he loses time. All at a cost to the state of $25,000 a year--five times the average public university tuition.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't the Commission have been more effective if it had included at least one current student and one recent graduate?