And just how are they doing that? By challenging colleges and universities to find ways to educate students without imposing staggering, lifelong loan debt on them. One way to do that is to incorporate more Internet-based classes.
But that’s part of a villainous plan, according to Leonard.
“There’s a political context to the transformation,” he writes. “Higher education is in crisis because costs are rising at the same time that public funding support is falling. That decline in public support is no accident. Conservatives don’t like big government and they don’t like taxes, and increasingly, they don’t even like the entire way that the humanities are taught in the United States.”
Those internet classes — termed massive online open courses (MOOCs) — are part of a bigger plan.
“Call them the three horsemen of the MOOC apocalypse,” Leonard writes. “Florida’s Rick Scott, Texas’ Rick Perry and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker all see themselves as education reformers, and they are all seeking ways to lower the cost of college education while at the same time cutting state funding support. Their holy grail: the so-called 10K degree — a university education completed for just 10 grand.”
But the quality of a college education will be sacrificed, he claims.
“Online education might work for remedial algebra or the basics of computer programming, conceded several professors, but when the goal is to teach students to think and write critically about history or literature, the benefits of teaching thousands of students simultaneously via their iPads becomes much hazier,” he writes.
Those rising costs not only make things tough for families, they force students to take out loans that will often take decades to repay.
The simple truth is that a $10,000 degree will greatly benefit many, many American college students. Online courses will make college education more affordable and accessible. Why isn’t that a good thing?
Will the quality of education be hurt? It’s too soon to tell, but with so many high-dollar university courses being taught by grad students in auditorium-size classrooms now, it’s hard to see how it would be.
There’s no “war on higher education.” There are just some stark realities facing college administrators who seem determined to price themselves out of a market.
That’s certainly not the fault of Republican governors.