Fear and Loathing of Public Policy

Shrinking Access To Post Secondary Education =  Permanent Underclass

Guest Blogger:  theangryliberal

What are we going to do since the cost of education is skyrocketing? Students these days graduate with enormous debt or they don’t get the opportunity to attend post secondary training.

Long ago when I started college it was an inexpensive 1200.00 a year that included books. I didn’t really have debt when I graduated from college. That isn’t the case for students today, and with the cost of tuition rising as much as 20% in one year at some state colleges, soon enough the middle and lower classes will be unable to afford post-secondary education. And the thing is, we’d become a thriving first world nation in part because we expanded access to education to almost everyone.

Let’s look at some numbers:

So my numbers are personal numbers, and at the time, it was not difficult to afford a college education, I could even hold down a part-time job, go to school and not really worry tons about tuition, it just wasn’t that expensive.  Let’s look at the rising cost of post secondary education with information obtained from the US Census bureau.  The data I am going to share with you is also an example of the tiny policy things Democrats do in Office juxtaposed with how Republicans treat government function. First and foremost, the data I found spans the years 1991 – 2001, the 2001 data wasn’t published until 2006. This information is published in table form, as excel worksheets, but without an explanation of that data, that could be distributed to the general public. As usual, Republicans take the function of government for granted, but as you will see during the Clinton era, government produced much demographic information from years of data collection and comprehensive analysis. I digress, but if you follow my links you will see evidence of my statement.

It isn’t unknown to anyone that tuition at public universities, colleges and technical schools has been on the rise since the anti-pay for anything crowd solidified their choke hold on government functions. In the 1970’s prior to Prop 13, post-secondary education was free in California and in doing that they created one of the best post secondary systems in the country at that time from Riverside CC to UC Berkeley.

I digress, since 1990 college tuition has had steep increases according to the census studies.




2000-2001 the data used is from Table 5b

In 1991, the total average tuition cost for a student was $2653.00 per year. At the same time students receiving financial assistance were receiving on average $2919.00. The cost of education has obviously risen, however, it is still affordable for students and there is still ample financial aid to cover the cost of education. These numbers will be used as a baseline for comparison.

In the 1993 -94 years, on average students were paying $3905.00 per year. In just two years the cost of education had risen 47%. At the same time students were receiving on average $4,486.00 in financial aid, which was up 43% from just the two years prior. A 47% increase is pretty big, and one has to wonder how many students at this time are beginning to be priced out of education. Well times began to boom even more, and people forgot about funding post-secondary education, and all over the country Tax-cutting fever began to hit every county in America. The result of course was less state funding for post-secondary education, and more burdens on students and their families. Well they were voting for that stuff, so I guess they couldn’t see plainly what could be the unintended consequences of the republican meme of “we don’t need to pay no stinkin’ taxes”.

Well the results from the 1996-97 study are even more stunning; by 1996-97 the average cost of post-secondary education had risen to a stunning $8,667.00 on average per year. In less than 10 years tuition had risen 292%, and in 3 year tuition had risen 122%, these numbers are stunning. And you begin to see a pattern developing, one that will eventually price lower and middle class kids from ever obtaining a college education, it will simply be too expensive.   Well that aside, the average financial aid package was worth about 6,022.00, and as you can see it failed to cover the entire educational needs of the student, and I believe this began a rise in private lenders who would take advantage of unsuspecting college students, in order to meet the rising cost of their education.

The 2001-2002 years are even more shocking. On average students tuition is $10,560.00 per year on post secondary education. This represents an increase of 298% from 90-91, of 170% from 93-94, and 21.8% from 96-97, which the financial aid package on average rose to $6,291.00 per year.

As you observe the stark differences in how the two administrations presented the data they gathered from Universities around the county, be reminded, this is the difference in how Republicans and Democrats view government. Demographic information is important; we use it to justify funding programs around the country. We make better decisions when analysts present the data in an understandable way, with a narrative attached as opposed to just throwing a bunch of spread sheets. It is an example of how little Republicans care about government in general; they don’t see it as useful to the nation.

It is now real news in every state in the nation that tuition costs are rising yet again, in my own state tuition costs have risen 20% this year, that is huge, and in many cases it is becoming unaffordable for many students to obtain post-secondary education. As a society we are supposed to be more conscious of funding education from k-16, because it is education that will help us prepare for our next steps economically. If we do not find a way to help students get educated without being buried in debt when they graduate, our society will be worse off for it, and we will create a permanent underclass, which will grow. As a nation, we have to ask ourselves if this is the direction we really want to take.

CrossPosted at DAGBlog


11 thoughts on “Fear and Loathing of Public Policy

  1. Thanks, theangryliberal for writing this article. My son is in his 3rd year at RIT, It’s really hard to contemplate how much money he will have to pay back. Meanwhile my daughter went to a community college which was really great, because she didn’t have to take out a loan. In Sept. she transfered to Rowan University, where she now has to take out a loan.

    We really have to to make sure President Obama and the democratic candidates running for election win. The way the republicans are balancing the budgets by cutting education, and laying off teachers if this trend continues our children will be the one to suffer.

  2. The tuition at the private liberal arts college I attended in 1960 was $3000 a year…now its $35K. I transferred to the University of Houston, a state institution, and tuition was $50 a semester for a full schedule of classes plus some fees that added another couple of hundred like parking, library, athletics, etc. This fall the U of Houston is nearly $4500 a semester (in state, out of state is $7500). Add another $10K for room and board. That is a 90 TIMES increase in 50 years, far greater than the 12 times increase at my private college.

    Even though my majors were in the sciences and math, the liberal arts curriculum forced me to study 2 years of English literature, 2 years of a foreign language, 2 years of history, a year each of fine arts (music and art appreciation), political science, economics, and religion (I studied comparative religions of the world). Although initially pre-med, I ended up working over 20 years running my own construction business before a bad economy under Reagan forced me to look elsewhere and I taught high school science for 15 years until my retirement. For six years I worked in California and first landed a job as a marketing manager of a large homebuilding company even though I never had one marketing class in college. I had previously been involved in advertising in my own Houston company, working with ad agencies and learning much from that relationship. Many times in my lifetime, I’ve had to adapt and glad I had my liberal arts schooling to help me transition.

    Kathleen Parker laments that we are no longer giving such a varied education, that we are giving out degrees in areas where a graduate cannot find a job, saying, “Fundamentally, students aren’t learning what they need to compete for the jobs that do exist.”


    For example one can get a degree in Entertainment Engineering and Design at U. of Nevada, Las Vegas. Students can focus on such specific areas of the entertainment industry as advanced visualization techniques, automation and motion controls, biomechanics and animatronics, entertainment venue design, and structural design and rigging. Surely Las Vegas is a good place to market these skills but somebody taught critical thinking skills can probably learn these things with on the job training, internships. And how many jobs exist out there for these skills?

    Kansas State offers a degree in Bakery Science and Management. Once again a most specialized training, maybe good if one inherits the family bakery, but probably their parents learned the business by WORKING in the bakery.

    We used to joke back in the day about “less than intellectual” athletes majoring in underwater basket-weaving but seeing some of the courses offered these day, there is probably such a major now.

  3. Thank you for your comment. RIT is a great school, but the amount of money our kids have to pay back just to get an education is horrible and it is something as a society we need to get a handle on. Everyone needs some sort of training in order to eventually be gainfully employed, whether they want to be a welder or a college professor.
    This is certainly one of the policy issues that Democrats take more seriously than do republicans, who seem not to care at all about whether or not our children can afford and be adequately educated in the long term. Republicans are always short term folk, who seem to prepare only for today and never for tomorrow.

  4. You present some interesting things grantinhouston, and I agree with your assessment of a liberal arts education. I am amazed mostly at the increase in tuition at our state run institutions versus private, your example is amazing. It isn’t good, and it is pricing middle and lower income citizens out of technical schools and colleges. That isn’t right, we need to do something about that.

  5. I spent time in both a liberal arts school of 850 students and a big state university with upwards of 30K students. The differences were many. Testing at U. of Houston was mostly multiple guess/true-false with answers bubbled in on Scantron sheets. Some of my classes had over 100 students where I had classes as small as 6 or 8 at the private school. At the liberal arts college nearly all tests were taken in “Blue Books” where we had to answer questions WRITING several sentences or paragraphs. Even in my science and math courses, no multiple choice tests…we had to show all of our calculations.

    I even had one U.S. History final exam that only had one question….”Cite the reasons for the Civil War”. We were given 3 hours to answer and if we filled one blue book, went up front and picked up another (free whereas the few times I needed one at U. of Houston had to buy them at 50 cents each). The history test prompt forced us to use critical thinking tying together such subjects as slavery, economics, cultural differences, religion, etc. This question required us to integrate a variety of sources that we had studied into a coherent, well-written essay. We had to support our position, avoid mere paraphrase and BS and finish with a good summary.

    Due to teachers being fired by the thousands in Texas by Republicans, class sizes are being forced to be much larger. So even at the high school level, teachers are forced to give multiple guess tests as they just don’t have time to grade essays. I found as a teacher that too many could not write or spell anyway. As for “critical thinking”, it is being killed by standardized testing, the “teach to the test”, “No Child Left Behind”
    movement! Supposedly these political ideas are cited to raise teacher standards, to reward the “best” (BUST UNIONS?). That is a bunch of hooey. I taught the best and brightest in AP Physics for 14 years. However, the last year before my retirement, a track coach was hired who took all of my physics classes away from me. I was relegated to teaching a 9th grade General Science class known as a “dumping ground” where many were 17 year old “Freshmen” who had already flunked the course twice before. I was physically assaulted twice that semester causing me to resign a semester early.. Based upon their very bad scores, I should have been had my salary cut if one goes by class performance. Often it is the luck of the draw whether a teacher gets some bright kids or those who refuse to learn a thing.

  6. “Critical thinking” is being killed by standardized testing.
    I emphatically agree with that statement.
    These Assessments weren’t meant to take over curriculum and methodologies and they especially weren’t designed to be used against teachers who primarily work in low income areas, that sucks.
    Your story is awful though, being assaulted while at work, that is terrible.

  7. One boy slapped me in the face when I picked up his Walkman after he was told 3 times to put it away during class. Another boy knocked me onto the floor as he was walking out of class with a referral to the principal’s office I had given him.

    I taught in a 99.9% Mexican-American district in South Texas where 80% of my students were from homes below the national poverty level. Most parents had never attended college, were lucky to have a high school diploma. However, I was able to get my AP students into Harvard, Columbia, MIT, Notre Dame, Purdue, Southern California, Cal Tech, besides the Texas colleges and several smaller highly ranked liberal arts schools over the nation like Colorado School of Mines, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Wabash College. So it was a shock to go from teaching the “cream of the crop” for 14 years only to be given classes of mostly uninspired kids when I turned 64.

    With the pressure of “No Child Left Behind” on our schools, I had nervous administrators popping into my classes unannounced, taking notes. Then I would be called into the front offices for their “review” after school. I never had as much “observation” when I was a greenhorn student teacher in the 1960’s. One vice-principal, once an English teacher, was most critical of the way I taught science. She said we teachers were supposed to open each class with a “sponge activity” like a short quiz using old standardized test questions. Then we were to quit teaching the last five minutes to ask the students, “What did we learn today?” This administrator said the bulk of the class hour was like wrapping a gift and the summary was putting the bow on it! Well, I messed up, got caught by the bell and wasn’t able to “tie my bow” that day and got called on the carpet for it. Here I had younger administrators, one an ex-coach, the rest English teachers telling me HOW to teach science at the end of my career. I often wondered if any of them could even pass my high school course.

    I got out of my contract a semester early. I awoke one night with tightness in my chest, having difficulty with breathing. I thought I was having a heart attack, however, the EKG showed my heart to be in excellent condition. My doctor said it was all due to the stress of teaching and wrote a letter to the superintendent asking that I retire in December as I had already reached age 65. At the same time in 2004, my stock portfolio had dropped under George W. Bush to only 1/4 of its initial value. My doctor also told me to avoid reading the daily stock reports. BTW, my stock portfolio worth has increased under Obama, nearly back to initial prices when I invested my inheritance under Bill Clinton.

  8. No question college loans now a days are murder. Obama himself has discussed this. One problem is: strange to say we have too little inflation! In the 70s for example, college loans tended to disolve like water. Now a days the more you pay the more you owe, it’s like quick sand. That’s a big part of the current crisis-we need debt restructuring but the bondholders have the politicians by the balls. Then again the college lenders have a real sweatheart deal now where you can’t even get rid of them in bankruptcy.

    I recently wrote about this myself about this same topic . http://diaryofarepublicanhater.blogspot.com/2011/10/republicans-are-problem.html

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