Your Children's College (Administrators') Fund?

Monday, April 06, 2015

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for calls for getting the government out of education, but a story on "The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much", appearing as it does in the New York Times, may be a step in the right direction. Law professor Paul F. Campos, author of Don't Go to Law School (Unless), directly challenges the conventional "wisdom" that tuition increases are due to spending cuts on higher education.

For one thing, there have been no cuts:

In fact, public investment in higher education in America is vastly larger today, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was during the supposed golden age of public funding in the 1960s. Such spending has increased at a much faster rate than government spending in general. For example, the military's budget is about 1.8 times higher today than it was in 1960, while legislative appropriations to higher education are more than 10 times higher.

In other words, far from being caused by funding cuts, the astonishing rise in college tuition correlates closely with a huge increase in public subsidies for higher education. If over the past three decades car prices had gone up as fast as tuition, the average new car would cost more than $80,000.
Campos even goes on to show that, despite a larger percentage of the population attending college, these funding increases have resulted in more spending per student than during the 1960s. Campos furthermore tells the readership of the Times what many non-leftists have known or suspected for a long time: A metastasizing college bureaucracy has been eating up all the extra money.

As regulars here will know, facts alone, however broadly disseminated, will not be sufficient for our culture or politics become more self-reliant or capitalistic. I can see calls for price controls or an outright government takeover of higher education (as if we don't have enough central "planning" as it is) much more easily. But at least even those on the left are having to admit that dumping more and more money into education is not necessarily a good idea.

-- CAV


Vigilis said...

An excellent article, Gus, and only part of a sadly bigger picture.

"... what many non-leftists have known or suspected for a long time: A metastasizing college bureaucracy has been eating up all the extra money."

Irrational growth government has allowed incompetent, lazy, or downright corrupt politicians to obscure excesses and redundancies in misnamed programs and mazes of budgets to conveniently thwart simple public scrutiny.

While Mr. Campos has exposed the tip of a huge, man-made iceberg, the greater public fails to see a need for a general alarm.

Gus Van Horn said...

You are correct, and until more and more people are caused to question the whole idea of the government running schools, things will go from bad to worse.