The Corporate Assault on Higher Education - 2017-04-30
A barrage of policy proposals threatens to fundamentally transform higher education. In Kansas, the Board of Regents erases the notion of academic freedom by deciding that faculty members can be fired for social-media comments deemed "contrary to the best interests of the university." An Iowa lawmaker says he doesn't think that "bad professors should have a lifetime position." In Florida, the governor proposes a system of "differentiated tuition" that would raise fees on the humanities while keeping them low for business and computer-science majors. And legislators around the country are demanding that state universities use online courses to create a four-year degree costing less than $10,000.
These and similar policies have raised cries of alarm, but how should we understand them? What, if anything, links such disparate initiatives? Why are they all happening now? Are these the manifestations of cultural conservatives trying to impose a political order on young minds? The backlash from families sick of watching tuition grow ever steeper while their own wages stagnate? Working-class resentment toward arrogant eggheads?
No. They are part of a coherent and well-coordinated agenda that is fueled by the largest and most powerful political forces in the country: the nation's premier corporate lobbies. The key to understanding the attacks on academe — and to revealing the bleak future toward which they lead — is understanding the ways in which these proposals serve what the country's biggest corporations believe is their interest.