Obama's latest Republican oriented analysis: College costs
President Obama has served notice to higher public education officials to become "more efficient" and threatens reduction in their federal aid if they don't control prices they charge students.
As the parent of a high school senior, that is superficially welcome news. But as usual for Obama, he has embraced a Republican narrative. I won't speak about public colleges outside California, but I know quite a bit about the UC system because my wife's cousin is a high ranking budget analyst there. I've seen the budget and analysis, and I can state with great confidence that the UCs are one of the most cost efficient administrations one can find anywhere. See here for a glance at its latest cost cutting moves, and its continued efficiency that I would defy other private entities to compare for themselves. These latest cuts were on top of other cuts that would have already crippled most institutions. See here.
The reason for the 50% increase in UC school tuition these past five years is straightforward: The state has significantly reduced its aid as part of UC's overall revenues.
The shortfall from state revenues had to be filled from somewhere else, and the obvious places are from the pockets of the students and the students' parents. And recruiting out of state students to pay higher tuition fees.
If Obama was the socialist Kenyan Muslim he is supposed to be, he'd ask:
Where are the tax rates of forty years ago when UCs charged next to nothing for tuition, and attracted the best professors and the best students?
How can we continue to allow more money to be spent on imprisoning people than educating them?
But no. Obama just threatens to cut federal aid and demands the UCs become more efficient, when neither he nor his hapless Education Department Secretary, Duncan, have the slightest clue about how the UCs actually operate. It is telling that late in the first linked article, it is left to Lamar Alexander (Republican-Tennessee) to recognize why Obama's statement is not merely cynical, but wrongheaded. And get this: Alexander says Obama is wrongly punishing students with the effect of Obama's proposal.
Obama is now to the right of Lamar Alexander when it comes to higher public education. Sheesh!
The UCs are the crown jewels of public higher education. We as citizens of California need to do more, starting as taxpayers, to support the UCs regardless of whether we have children, regardless of whether our children attend any UC. A UC college is, without a doubt, good for the economy of that area. I'd rather have a new UC or a new California State University than a Wal-Mart any day in my community. See here for CSUs and see here and here for UCs....Ethical alert: It is true that my son has applied to four UC campuses: Berkeley, Davis, Riverside and San Diego.
Notwithstanding the above, I must say I am deeply impressed--and knocked out--with the various private liberal arts schools to which my son has also applied. And the Ivys he's applied to, well...not much more to say there other than...Wow!
Overall, we simply as a nation cannot allow our higher eduction to fall from its status as the envy of the world. Our higher education drives the best and most useful aspects of our economy, and the scientific endeavors, from stem cell to neurobiology to physics and astronomy, are what gives us our sense of wonder in an otherwise cynical world.