Our universities: the outrageous reality

Article by Andrew Delbanco in The New York Review of Books. July 9, 2015.

“Death may be the great equalizer, but Americans have long believed that during this life “the spread of education would do more than all things else to obliterate factitious distinctions in society.” These words come from Horace Mann, whose goal was to establish primary schooling for all children—no small ambition when he announced it in 1848.”

“Perhaps concern for the poor has shriveled not only among policymakers but in the broader public. Perhaps in our time of focus on the wealthy elite and the shrinking middle class, there is a diminished general will to regard poor Americans as worthy of what are sometimes called “the blessings of American life”—among which the right to education has always been high if not paramount.”

I teach at a public university, UMass Amherst. In-state students pay more than $14,000 in tuition and fees to attend. With room and board, the total cost is more than $25,000. In 2012, Massachusetts spent only 0.3% of its economic resources on higher education – less than 47 other states in the US.

“We are now in a transitional place, where we understand college to be as essential to success as high school was understood to be in the middle of the last century, and yet we charge citizens thousands of dollars to get a college education.” Clawson & Page 2011

Facebooktwitterredditmailby feather