Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Student wants Free Education

I received this email from Nathan Dickerson, at the University of Kentucky, who I met last week at the Campus Progress conference. Please comment if you have any interest in his ideas.
Hey Anya,

Thanks so much for not only taking the time to attend the Campus
Progress National Conference but also speaking with me (the student
from the University of Kentucky) and so many others. I wanted to tell
you how much I personally appreciate your column, Generation Debt. As
a student who received a full tuition scholarship plus other aid for
housing, etc, I can't complain too much about my debt situation. My
sensitivity to the issue of education inequity was fortunately only
developed when I watched a few of my friends, who usually lived a few
hours away in larger cities, pursue Ivies and equally expensive
pseudo-Ivies. It was quite disheartening to see the college hype in
high school reduced to a matter of money more than mind, a perplexing
end to what I had hoped would be a progressive, enlightening, and
meritocratic salvation from the working class conformist values of
Spottsville, Kentucky. Reading The Ambition Tax [by Brendan Koerner] was the first
thoughtful articulation of my frustrations--which luckily don't equal
tens of thousands of dollars--that made so much sense I began to
wonder why I had never encountered any ideas like it before in the
polarized struggle I felt between "real work" pragmatism and
educational utopianism. In short, keep up the good work.

Also, I'm very seriously considering creating a progressively minded
podcast that would kick off with an analysis of the issue of higher
education. My idea is not incredibly fleshed out, and I still would
need to overcome some technical hurdles as well as to create a
definite brand for a series of shows. However, if I put in some
effort, I may be able to pull it off and get a team of articulate and
proactive students to help me out. I've been thinking about the
crucial first podcast that could be used to energize and interest
students, and I'm wondering if I should push or at least analyze the
idea of federally-sponsored higher education at public institutions.

Would you have any thoughts on this? I realize it is unrealistic in
the present budgets, but the idea of free education could be used to
bargain at least a better deal than students receive now.
Additionally, the economic shift toward a creative class could justify
producing a more highly educated work force.

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