Main menu


Higher education prepares for the fall

featured image

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

Listen, Boston: Higher Education — Postwar America’s Treasure, Its Growth Fueled by the GI Bill, its Surge in Credentialing, the Concept that a College Degree is a Ladder of Social Mobility, and Suburban Tailgate Saturday’s Attraction stadium — in serious trouble.

Blue-collar Americans can’t take advantage of it (too expensive), mainstream conservatives don’t trust it (too leftist), Trump-based rural Americans hate it (too mean), recent graduates hates it (loans are too much), too expensive ($75,291 for a year at Harvard), and the course doesn’t seem to align with core American values (Professors speak an incomprehensible language outside the doors of the faculty lounge) and their liberal arts orientation is neglected (Read “Paradise Lost”). So much is lost in our money-making culture), students seem too spoiled (check out LSU’s “Lazy River” than Disney’s Beach Club Resort in Orlando). may be good).

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist (and Brown University alumnus) Will Bunch is a thoughtful, deeply disturbing new meditation on the value of a college education. In it, he examines “how the ways of American colleges and universities have derailed,” and convincingly and frightfully created a schism that has profoundly affected not only college culture, but American life. He also offers a fiery indictment about the broader American culture he claims. Sectors in this country are unable to speak, understand and respect each other.

One consequence: “The growing resentment of rural working-class life and the growing ridicule of the lazy and ignorant elite masked the real pain of change in the American economy. It made life difficult for people who grew up in a comfortable lifestyle that didn’t require a diploma.”

Bunch was a discerning tour guide to modern America, and was inspired by Gambia, Ohio (where student workers at the private, highly selective, and very expensive Kenyon College unionized and went on strike). and Katstown, Pennsylvania (the local college has a student food pantry).

Along the way, he has some compelling insights: Since 1979, as the gender gap has widened on campus, there have been more women than men in college. That Ronald Reagan emerged as a cultural and political force at the very time the first baby boomers entered campus. That the college debt crisis pushed alumni to the left. The country’s deindustrialization coincided with the inability of college-educated youth to return to blue-collar communities. There was a marked divide between the upper middle class, which was mostly college-educated, and the blue-collar lower middle class.”

The liberal frenzy sparked by the immersion in the liberal arts became an important part of the American political landscape and provoked Newton’s polar opposite reaction. “The youth power of the student movement, driven by groups such as SNCC and his SDS, has created a powerful opposition force. The backlash has given voice to Ronald Reagan, then Rush Limbaugh, and then Donald Trump. ’” he claims.

Was it really a coincidence that Lyndon Johnson’s great society was announced at the university (his commencement speech at the University of Michigan in 1964)? It was at a time when universities had become an attractive target for conservatives. The crisis in higher education came when, as Bunch points out, “university started to become more expensive and less accessible at the very moment it became important for getting a good job.” do you want?

Students in the 1960s tried to change the world as much as they wanted to change the university. They have achieved more with the latter than with the former. But in their efforts they made a point. That is, if the university is a vehicle for change, it must be an important vehicle for culture. And once these students became faculty members, they could push the overhaul further and keep them away from the public.

“Probably not for nothing,” Bunch tells us. Authority — remained the islands of progressivism. ”

“After the Fall of the Ivory Tower” is neither a right-wing screed nor a screeching Jeremiad. Bunch offers some useful antidotes that accompany his anecdotes and his arguments. Please reconsider making public education free when he is 18. Market these changes by pointing out that they will boost the economy. It fuels the liberal arts debate by arguing that critical thinking is an essential personal tool. Reinjecting moral values ​​into education. Make community colleges “the intended foundation of American higher education.” Break cultural barriers with universal attendance, perhaps right out of high school.

This review was written by a Dartmouth College graduate and later trustee.College motto Desert Vox Clamantis, It means “crying in the wilderness”. Higher education and the country it is supposed to serve will do well to listen to the cries of the bunch in the wilderness.

After the Ivory Tower Crashed: How Colleges Broke the American Dream and Blew Up Our Politics — And How to Fix It

Will Bunch

Tomorrow, 320 pages, $28.99

David M. Shribman was the Globe’s Washington bureau chief for ten years and is a nationally syndicated columnist.