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Sun Sep 13, 2020, 11:26 AM

Student debt and the end of the liberal arts dream


Student debt and the end of the liberal arts dream
The corporatization of the university experience is reaching its conclusion

CURTIS WHITE
SEPTEMBER 13, 2020 2:00PM


(Salon) Most people know that student debt is a problem, and most people agree that "something should be done about it." The consensus opinion appears to be that something should be done because it's "not fair" to young people. According to a recent poll conducted by the Pew Charitable Trust, 80% of Americans believe that "the government should make it easier to repay student loans."

Even so, there is very little understanding of why student debt has become so burdensome in recent decades. It's as if we thought student debt were an unhappy fact of nature, like a weather front that has passed through leaving us with no option but to put on a warmer coat if we can find one, and if we can't find one, it's welcome to the Brave New World of Cold and Indifference.

And yet, it was not so long ago that things were very different. I was born in a working class suburb of San Francisco in 1951. At that time, public education was good, teachers still had some social prestige, universities were affordable (cheap actually), and few students graduated with debt. It was possible for me to sally forth without the threat of young adult bankruptcy.

In other words, at that time students were freer to choose what they wanted to study and freer to explore careers. As for me, I was free to be a student of literature and philosophy at the University of San Francisco. I learned to play the classical guitar up the hill at Lone Mountain College. I was also a longhair war resistor and draft counselor in the chaplain's office. And I was mostly sure that I wouldn't be punished for these decisions, or not punished any time soon. ...........(more)

https://www.salon.com/2020/09/13/student-debt-and-the-end-of-the-liberal-arts-dream/




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Reply Student debt and the end of the liberal arts dream (Original post)
marmar Sep 2020 OP
Midnightwalk Sep 2020 #1
appalachiablue Sep 2020 #2
The Genealogist Sep 2020 #3
smirkymonkey Sep 2020 #5
Bradshaw3 Sep 2020 #4
appalachiablue Sep 2020 #6
Bradshaw3 Sep 2020 #7

Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Sep 13, 2020, 12:26 PM

1. My first reaction

Was that we should be making college affordable without massive debt because we want an educated society.

The article said it better:

Our plutocrat masters concluded, "So this is what happens when you let the working class and minorities go to college. They study things of no value to us, and they learn to hate us."

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Sep 13, 2020, 12:30 PM

2. universities, hospitals, schools, nursing homes run by corporations; end of the liberal class

Excerpts, Ed:

Unhappily, the university as I knew it no longer exists. Through the decades of Reaganomics and neo-liberal austerity, an elite determination was made that the state should no longer pay for public higher education; henceforth, universities would be funded through personal debt. Tuition to public colleges and universities became a bloated "user fee" for access to a government-affiliated service, like gaining access to a parking lot. Novel arguments gained force: students were just another type of consumer, and "student demand" should determine the content of the curriculum.
programs in the arts and humanities—not just in universities but at all levels of education—had become the primary way in which we were allowed to think about who we are, where we are, how we got here, and what, if anything, we'd like to see changed. In the place of that worthy process, we were left with what David Harvey described succinctly: "The traditional university culture, with its odd sense of community, has been penetrated, disrupted, and reconfigured by raw money power."



In both the public and private sectors, the corporate university has been slowly growing for many years, but it has now become more brazen in its destructive tendencies..The Board of Trustees at Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU) in Bloomington, Illinois, announced in May of 2020 that it was considering the elimination of many long established programs all of which were in the liberal arts and social sciences..Without the consent of the faculty, the Board sent pre-termination letters to 25 faculty members and instructional staff in philosophy, anthropology, music, foreign languages, sociology, art, and religion — in total, about a quarter of IWU's faculty. A liberal arts university without philosophers is a contradiction in terms, but a Wesleyan university without a department of religion is an exercise in self-mockery. No doubt, IWU will continue to claim that its "primary focus" is in "opening students' minds," but the college of business will have to do most of the opening. "philosophy will support business and accounting, computer science and data science." the department of art will "move more in the direction of art and design," including graphic design and product design. In other words, before the arts can transform students, commerce will first transform the arts.
Andy Warhol saw it coming: art is a can of soup.

After the 2nd WW, there was an enormous investment in public education. For the first time, the children of the working class had an opportunity to study subjects, like literature, that were formerly a privilege for the children of the affluent. We studied the humanities and the social sciences and in so doing found ways to critique and resist corporate culture and all of its murderous inequalities. In the 1960s, universities became best known for their "student protests." The protests may now be in the streets and not on campus, but many of the protestors of the present—marching with Black Lives Matter, or against gender bigotry, or against the world as organized for the benefit of oil companies—got their intellectual chops in universities taking courses like Professor Rundblad's "Sex and Gender in Society" or "Race and Ethnic Relations."

But all this time our masters have been paying attention, and they have seen clearly and correctly: for many, many students, going to college was and remains a liberalizing experience (thus Biden's enormous lead over Trump among college-educated voters). Our plutocrat masters concluded, "So this is what happens when you let the working class and minorities go to college. They study things of no value to us, and they learn to hate us." As a consequence, slowly, decade after decade, universities were starved and students were put in debt. Meanwhile, the wealthy came to the rescue and became university trustees. In these fallen days, the ideal trustee is someone who has money or knows people with money, ideally both. The ultimate benefit of all this for our oligarchs, the 1%, is a new but very powerful form of social regimentation.

Their message to students: "If you want a job, you will study what we want you to study, or else you will live in debt." We could call this naked coercion, but for students it is their first adult taste of American Un-freedom.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1780 Letter: "I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain." ~ John Adams

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Sep 13, 2020, 12:45 PM

3. Right wing reaction happened

They HATE post-secondary education, because it teaches critical thinking, the exploration of multiple viewpoints, and the presentation of ideas that are often anathema to right wing dogma. They have given their all to destroying higher education, and will continue to do so until there is nothing left that doesn't benefit their cause.

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Response to The Genealogist (Reply #3)

Sun Sep 13, 2020, 01:22 PM

5. +1000

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Sep 13, 2020, 01:06 PM

4. I watched this at the large public university I worked at

In a 20-year period state funding went from about 60 percent to less than 20 percent, a common trend. So colleges made up the deficit by increasing tuition yearly to rates that prevented poorer students from attending, unless they accumulated great debt. Schools also went after big donors, who usually were older white elites, or had endowed professorships extolling their Friedmanomic perspective, or entered into development deals for luxury student housing, and we saw researchers tailor their research grant proposals to the defense department because that's where our tax dollars are flowing.

People wonder why Americans are so ignorant to vote against their own interests and for an obvious con man like drumpf. As is pointed out here, this defunding of a liberal education didn't happen in a vacuum. The ruling elites and their henchmen planned it.

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Response to Bradshaw3 (Reply #4)

Sun Sep 13, 2020, 02:40 PM

6. Points directly to why so many Americans can't think,

reason, or read well anymore. Add in monopolized, entertainment- saturated media, structural racism, enormous inequality and no wonder people are so apathetic they don't follow issues or vote, or they're uninformed and hateful and vote for cons and abusers.
~~~~~
"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain." ~ John Adams, 1780 letter.

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Response to appalachiablue (Reply #6)

Sun Sep 13, 2020, 04:31 PM

7. Well said

Also, your quote from Adams well exemplifies the thinking of the men who created this country and the Enlightenment principles that undergirded their approach to government. Our efforts ought to be, in the long run, toward pursuing happiness through art, nature and the things that feed our spirit, not our pocketbook. Our current culture proves that the latter doesn't work. Obviously we have a lot of work to do in order to get back to the kind of society they hoped for, with systemic changes needed in all the areas you mention, starting with education.

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