• Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.

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Friday Fragments

Out-of-staters; free community college; more.

March 28, 2019
 
 

We’re living the truth of these two articles. The first shares the results of a study finding that state-level disinvestment in public universities has led them to recruit out-of-state students as cash cows.  Judging by the financial aid offers The Boy has been receiving from out-of-state public universities, that’s really true. The post-aid prices they’re asking us to pay are wildly high, given that these are ostensibly public institutions.

The second, by Robert Kelchen, finds that universities that admit more out-of-staters as cash cows don’t necessarily use the revenue to lower prices for low-income students.  Instead, I’m guessing that they use the revenue mostly to forestall or minimize cuts.

The combination is rough. If your kid wants to go out of state, and you aren’t wealthy enough to pay sticker price, it’s a pincer movement.  The Boy keeps getting accepted, but keeps receiving offers that make the acceptance irrelevant. Coming in the wake of the admissions scandal, I can’t blame him for being frustrated.

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Meanwhile, a state that has done “free community college” the right way -- with broad eligibility and ample funding, and without post-graduation residency requirements -- is finding that community college graduation rates are increasing dramatically.

Hmm.

It’s almost as if large-scale improvement requires significant, sustained investment. 

I’m just gonna leave that there.

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Not my usual beat, but I like this story a lot. At one level, it’s about Fox News and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, but go ahead and ignore that; the really meaty part is about the connection between immigration policy and Social Security.

The short version is that the two issues are connected, but they’re connected in ways that run against the grain of much of our current politics.  Essentially, you can support The Wall, or you can support Social Security, but you can’t support both; the math doesn’t work. An aging society needs an influx of young immigrants to support its benefits.  As the article notes, modestly increasing legal immigration would ensure the fiscal solvency of Social Security for at least 75 years. Decreasing legal immigration would hasten the shortfall of funding.

What makes the piece so refreshing is that it connects the dots.  So much of our political discourse separates issues into silos, as if each can be considered in a vacuum from the others.  They’re connected in reality, but rarely in discussion. This article actually traces the connections, and does so in an intelligent, accessible way.

More like this, please…

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Someone scrawled on a bathroom wall on campus “fight vandalism.” Grudgingly, I had to tip my cap.

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