We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lapp√©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Higher Learning

by Chris Lehman from New Left Project

This excerpt from the author's book describes the neo-conservative trends of higher education in the US. With all the talk coming from Obama, the "change" President, about the importance of higher education, one would think that the state of higher education in the US would be quite rosy. This piece shows the continuing reality of reactionary forces at work on higher education.
...the once-noble dream of a universal higher learning has been transformed, as have so many other social goods in America, into a brutally class-segmented market.
The big money still goes into the elite Eastern Seaboard schools—and students at those institutions get customized, grade-inflated, kid glove treatment in lavishly appointed campuses and physical plants.
Meanwhile, at the under-regulated frontier reaches of the college market, students are thrown largely back on their own resources—and systematically lied to by recruiters - mainly to furnish market subsidies in the form of federal aid to benefit a group of private investors. These shareholders evince no particular interest in educational quality, let alone the benefits that a liberal arts curriculum might bestow on a democratic citizenry. Indeed, it would be utterly irrational for them to cling to such notions, since doing so would only increase the company’s production costs while dramatically narrowing its consumer base.