From the Department of Stupid Ideas (via Dan Weintraub, who has endorsed this idea): this president of a private university in Ohio is calling for privatization of all public universities, to free up more money for subsidizing lower income students to go to the school of their choice.
The assumption is that public funds for universities are doomed and never coming back. But this assumption rests on the belief that people are never going to wake up and stop voting for representatives that don’t understand the value of a state investing in it’s children. Especially since we’re in a brain-based economy now, this seems like a shaky proposition at best.
The Campaign for College Opportunity released a study last year that quantified this: for every dollar invested in public universities, California’s taxpayers get three dollars back in expanded economic growth for the state. Not a bad deal! The report with all the details is availabe on their site. It’s really too bad that the leaders of a state like Ohio – that’s been hit so hard with manufacturing and outsourcing losses – still aren’t able to connect the dots on how to accelerate the shift towards an information economy.
Publicly funded universities are the crown jewels of this country. Yes, they can be inefficient, but the process of education and research, of pushing back the boundaries of ignorance, is intrisinically inefficient at times. But they exist to the benefit of everyone and ought to be paid for by those in our economy who have benefitted the most from their existence. The great storehouses of human knowledge that we’ve simply developed are simply too important to be subjected to the whims of the marketplace.
Random link I came across while trying to remember the name of the Campaign for College Opportunity: The American Presidency Project at UCSB. Very nice!