28.11.17

WHEN HIGHER EDUCATION BREAKS THE SOCIAL CONTRACT.

(Edited and bumped) The provisions in the current, not yet ready for a floor vote, tax code revision that will treat tuition waivers as income are not playing well in the common room and the administrative offices.  One might say the proposals are concentrating minds.

Perhaps, though, a quarter century of higher education breaking the social contract that used to ensure that students would learn, and taxpayers would support the enterprise, is behind the proposal.  Peter Wood suggests as much.
We are in deep educational trouble, much of which does not appear to be a matter of excessive tuitions or government programs. The erosion of intellectual standards, the rise of shout-downs and student-led censorship, the disappearance of regard for Constitutional rights and responsibilities are conspicuous evidence that something is amiss in our colleges and universities.  The price of education doesn’t all by itself explain this descent into the maelstrom, but it is a key factor that is often overlooked.  Let’s, for a change, consider it.
Most of his essay concentrates on the ways in which tuition waivers are part of a much more complicated framework by which nobody pays list price.  We've seen that erosion, midwived in part by political correctness, for better than a quarter century.  And the conversion of universities from places of learning to summer camps with beer 'n circus and maybe the odd imposition of a class here or there antagonizes politicians who want to be seen as fiscally responsible.  Maybe, as Mr Wood suggests, it's not so much the nests of court intellectuals for Democrats and latter-day juveniles dressing up as Leon Trotsky (!) that antagonize the legislators as it is climbing walls and water parks (while the classroom buildings and the libraries decay).  "Congress’s decision to start cutting the subsidies is what happens at the end of the river."

That's not to say that the trendy leftists with their intersectionality and culture studies and French rot and BLTGQUINOA and the rest of it aren't partly responsible.  Mark Bauerlein doesn't quite say "We told you so."  But we told you so.  "If the conservatives and traditionalists predicted a dark future of the humanities, well, that was just because they didn’t have the acuity to understand how rich and cutting-edge theory and cultural studies had become."

Facts are stubborn things, and shrinking enrollments and angry normals are real.
I haven’t seen any of the people who mocked conservatives and traditionalists for their sky-is-falling rhetoric say in response to the catastrophes of the last few years that they were wrong. They can’t. When you dispute an opponent over the facts, but stick to those facts and hold off on raillery, you can change your mind and make admissions. But when you desire not only to prove your adversary wrong but to discredit him, you can’t go back.
And discrediting adversaries is a game anyone can play.

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