Why All Public Higher Education Should Be Free
by Bob Samuels

"In his book The Price of Civilization, Jeffrey Sachs argues that the cost of making all public higher education free in America would be between 15-30 billion dollars. While this may sound like a large sum, it could actually save money."

"First of all, the government is currently spending billions of dollars on for-profit schools and other colleges and universities that have very low graduation rates. In fact, what is going on in the state of California is that as students get priced out of the University of California, they either drop out or go to community colleges. Meanwhile as community colleges are defunded, they are forced to cut their enrollments and raise their fees, and the result is that students end up going to high-cost for-profit schools that have a very low graduate rate. In other words, in the current system, everyone pays more, and we produce fewer graduates."

"Currently, only 30% of Americans who start college or university end up graduating, and this represents a huge waste of time and money. If students did not have to work while in school, the graduation rate would improve drastically, and students at universities could graduate in four years instead of six or more years. In fact, the biggest reason why students drop out of higher education is that they cannot afford the high cost of tuition."

"Not only is higher education seen as a key to economic advancement, but if all 18-24 year olds were in college, we would reduce the unemployment rate by 2 million people, and fewer people would be in need of governmental assistance. Moreover, a federal program to fund higher education would relieve states of having to fund these institutions, which would free up money for other needed services."

"While the US has a free K-12 public education, its failure to fund higher education means that America's economy is unable to compete with other developed nations that have free universities."

"Furthermore, by removing the need for students to go into debt, the government would allow graduates to be more productive, and they would have more money to spend, which in turn would act as a stimulus for the economy."

"Of course, there are reasons beyond economics to provide free higher education. Not only do we need a more educated workforce, but we also need more educated citizens. It is also important to point out that people with higher education degrees report a higher level of health and happiness. In fact, societies with a high rate of degree attainment have lower crime rates and higher rates of social welfare."

"While few people would now reject the idea of compulsory K-12 education, it is now time to make college universal and free."

NYT: Fatal Stampede in South Africa
Points Up University Crisis

"They hoped for a shot at a coveted spot at one of South Africa’s public universities, and with it a chance to escape the indignity of joblessness that afflicts more than a third of the nation."

"The stampede embodied the broad crisis in South Africa’s overstretched higher education system as it struggles to extend opportunities once reserved for whites to all South Africans. It is a problem of grade school mathematics: Too many students are seeking too few seats at the country’s public universities, which turn away more than half of their applicants, leaving few options for most high school graduates."

"Not only that, the squeeze plays into a wider problem of unemployment among young people. The jobless rate among youths is nearly 70 percent, a staggering problem that even a college degree does not promise to solve."

"Access to higher education for all South Africans was one of the most cherished goals of the struggle against white minority rule."

"Under apartheid, higher education for black South Africans was tightly controlled, and blacks were restricted from many forms of skilled employment. The University of Johannesburg was formed in 2005, when the once all-white Rand Afrikaans University was merged with two other schools."

Student Loan Countdown:
Beyoncé "Countdown" Parody

"went off to school to get my education
little did i know debt was part of the equation
could of dropped out but that's a bad situation
if you don't pay up they'll garnish your wages"

"sallie mae and the government make bank
if i default
but i can't find a job
so that's not my fault"

"me and my boo yeah we wanna get married
my debt is a load that we both gotta carry
didn't know my interest rate would be 12%
payments just high as New York City rent"

Visit Franchesca Leigh Ramsey 
on Facebook or at her blog!

How to Film a Demonstration: A Tutorial

"An introductory tutorial for aspiring citizen journalists to consider before next entering the field. You are needed more than ever, to bring the people direct truth, taking out the middle man in the archaic mainstream media. Each camera is a new set of eyes we all share in near real time - no one can take this from us, so it is imperative we refine and develop new skills
and strategies to capture the missteps of power. "

The Chronicle: California’s Higher-Education Disaster

January 3, 2012
By Kevin Carey

There’s no doubt that the ongoing crisis of governance in California and resulting disinvestment in the University of California system is deplorable. But this recent Washington Post dispatch from UC-Berkeley doesn’t exactly paint a picture of a campus in deep crisis:

Star faculty take mandatory furloughs. Classes grow perceptibly larger each year. Roofs leak; e-mail crashes. One employee mows the entire campus. Wastebaskets are emptied once a week. Some professors lack telephones. … The state share of Berkeley’s operating budget has slipped since 1991 from 47 percent to 11 percent. Tuition has doubled in six years, and the university is admitting more students from out of state willing to pay a premium for a Berkeley degree … the number of students for every faculty member has risen from 15 to 17 in five years. Many classes are oversubscribed, leaving students to scramble for alternatives or postpone graduation, a dilemma more commonly associated with community college. … Berkeley’s overall budget continues to rise modestly from year to year. Total university revenue rose from $1.7-billion in fiscal 2007 to $2-billion in 2010.

For-Profit Colleges’ Mostly Black and Latino Students
Face Higher Debt and Unemployment

"Private for-profit institutions have been the fastest growing part of the U.S. higher education sector for decades now, but a new Harvard study finds students attending for-profit colleges end up with much higher student-loan debts, are less likely to be employed after graduation and generally earn less than similar students at public or private nonprofit schools."

"The for-profit sector disproportionately serves older students, women, African-Americans, Latinos, and those with low incomes, according to the report “The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators?” published by Harvard’s National Bureau of Economic Research. "

"African Americans account for 13 percent of all students in higher education, but they are 22 percent of those in the for-profit sector. Latinos are 15 percent of those in the for-profit sector, yet 11.5 percent of all students. Women are 65 percent of those in the for-profit sector. For profit students are older, about 65 percent are 25 years and older, whereas just 31 percent of those at four-year public colleges are and 40 percent of those at two-year colleges are."

"“[For-profit colleges] do better in terms of first-year retention and the completion of shorter certificate and degree programs,” according to the report. “But their first-time postsecondary students wind up with higher debt burdens, experience greater unemployment after leaving school and, if anything, have lower earnings six years after starting college than observationally similar students from public and non-profit institutions."

“Not surprisingly, for-profit students end up with higher student loan default rates and are less satisfied with their college experiences. The report also found for-profit students have substantially higher default rates even when comparing students across school types with similar cumulative debt burdens."

Fault Lines: Chile rising

"Chilean students have taken over schools and city streets
 in the largest protests the country has seen in decades."

"These actions are causing a political crisis
 for the country's billionaire President, Sebastian Piñera."

"The students are demanding free education, and an end to the privatization of their schools and universities. The free-market based approach to education was implemented by the military dictator Augusto Pinochet in his last days in power."

Unfettered Capitalism: Chris Hedges & Michael Moore

"I think it comes from being an imperial power...
and all imperial societies end as we end."
"The tyranny they impose on others 
they finally impose on themselves."

Michael Moore on Student Debt "Debtor's Prison"

"Michael Moore is talking about student loans,
and how students start their lives with a financial handicap."

"Education a way to talk about class and labor"
by Malcom Harris

"At the core of contemporary liberal ideology is the idea that education, done right, could solve all the nation’s major economic problems. Education is supposed to remedy the nation’s sundry inequalities and prepare a generation to become involved citizens. This is one of the few areas where the center-left has won over the wider public. "

"But if education really were the silver bullet, we would have hit something by now. Instead, as Penn State professor John Marsh argues in his forthcoming book Class Dismissed, we have an increasingly unequal country hiding behind the flimsy twin excuses of equal opportunity and personal responsibility. Marsh makes a convincing case that no amount of reformist tinkering can make higher education an engine of egalitarianism, because schools were never meant to reduce inequality in the first place. As long as we credit the education system with the ability to fix labor problems, Marsh argues, it is doomed to failure."

"Marsh, who comes from a union household, sees the decline of labor organizing as the central source of high and rising inequality. As workers have lost bargaining power, he insists, the gap between classes has increased. Through a series of statistical correlations, he traces the “great divergence” between rich and poor incomes to the early ’80s and President Reagan’s union busting and supply-side tax cuts, and uses data from economist Emmanuel Saez, to show how the U.S. has become less and less equal ever since."

"Unlike union organizing, which by its nature distributes benefits, the education cure functions through exclusivity. A diploma may offer a better place in line, but it doesn’t guarantee anyone a job commensurate with their skills."

"Education has become the way to talk about class and labor in an American political system that is profoundly uncomfortable with both. In the hands of reformist technocrats, inequality is a matter of nuanced social engineering rather than a conflict between two unequal and opposed sides – those who profit and those who only work.

"If society wanted to reduce the growing discrepancy between rich and poor, we would worry less about tweaking the educational system and simply pay or give the poor more money. Marsh writes, “Given the political will, whether through redistributive tax rates, massive public works projects, a living wage law, or a renaissance of labor unions, we could decrease poverty and inequality tomorrow regardless of the market or the number of educated and uneducated workers.”"