Mismatching Education with the Economy, Student Needs

Two more critical views on the signing of the student loan natioanalization provisions of the heatlh care bill, objecting to the changes’ impact on educational quality:

Richard Vedder, a professor of economics at Ohio University and an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, “Over-educated and Over-indebted“:

[The] bill proceeds from a false premise. President Obama asserted Saturday that “by the end of this decade, we will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.” Putting aside the nasty reality of a 45 percent six year college drop-out rate, the Labor Department forecasts that, over the next decade, there will be fewer new jobs requiring college degrees than there will be new college graduates. This bill aggravates a costly and inefficient system, likely will raise tuition charges, and lead to more over-educated and over-indebted young Americans.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), a former Secretary of Education, interviewed by National Review Online:

The American system of higher education has become the best in the world because of choice and competition. Unlike K-12, we give money to students and let them choose among schools, having the choice of private lenders or government lenders. That’s been the case for 20 years. Having no choice, and the government running it all, looks more like a Soviet-style, European, and even Asian higher-education model where the government manages everything. In most of those countries, they’ve been falling over themselves to reject their state-controlled authoritarian universities, which are much worse than ours, and move toward the American model which emphasizes choice, competition, and peer-reviewed research. In that sense, we’re now stepping back from our choice-competition culture, which has given us not just some of the best universities in the world, but almost all of them.

These issues should have been more thoroughly debated, but instead they were shoved into the budget reconciliation bill. Standing on their own, they would not have passed in the form that is now law.

UPDATE (12:30 p.m.): From George Leef of the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy:

Naturally, the president and his spokesmen will say that this is a good bill because it will expand “access” to college. The trouble with that is the assumption that processing more kids through college is in the national interest. It isn’t. As I have pointed out on more than a few occasions, we already have a glut of college graduates in the labor force, many of them doing jobs that demand no study in any academic discipline, but just trainability. Keeping more kids in school longer is unlikely to make them smarter or more productive. It will, however, keep them out of the unemployment ranks for a while, and the administration doesn’t mind spending more tax dollars to achieve that.

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