This article in The Chronicle of Higher Education by Suzanne Mettler from Cornell University is a more detailed version of an article by Mettler that I posted a few days ago. In general, the changes that have occurred in higher education are a reflection of the political changes that taken place over the last few decades. In the first place, leaders in the Republican Party, like Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon were strong supporters of public higher education. Democrats, of course were also strong advocates as well. That is no longer true. Politicians in both parties have been influenced by changes in the political climate. Republicans have developed a passion for cutting public spending on almost everything but national defense. That passion coincides with their desire to make the tax system less progressive. The Democratic Party has also been influenced by the growing role that money plays in politics. They voted against efforts by the Department of Education to impose tighter regulations on for-profit colleges. Lobbyists supporting the for-profit colleges overwhelmed the critics who saw the need for tighter control.
The article that follows illustrates in great detail how financial support for public higher education has shifted in the last decade. The public, and most of our leaders, believe that higher education plays a key role in our economic and social future. Our leaders do not agree, however, on how we should pay for it.