War on Education?

Jared Bernstein shares this chart by the OECD which shows how education levels have changed from one generation to the next. The US has made no progress. In other words, the percentage of Americans who are in the 55-64 age range who have attained a college education is the same as the percentage of 25-34 year olds. This is more than lamentable. And yet, the Republicans in the House have just approved a budget that cuts Pell grants significantly.

What Are We Doing?: So the last thing you’d want to do is to cut rungs from that ladder.  Yet that’s exactly what the House Republican budget, authored by Rep Paul Ryan, does.  According to the White House, the budget changes “eligibility and funding under the Pell Grant formula so as to eliminate grants for 400,000 students and cut grants for more than 9 million others in 2013 alone.”

Paul Krugman connects the Republican war on education (what’s a little incendiary language hurt every now and then?) with the plummeting trust of science among conservatives, especially educated conservatives. This is both infuriating and saddening and I have to admit that I continue to be at a loss as to how anyone can think it’s a good idea to diminish education in our society by discouraging it both verbally and financially.

I have the same question as Jared Bernstein: What are we doing?

But, I have another question too, have conservatives shifted their battlefront away from social issues (at least to a small degree) and to education? If so, why?

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One thought on “War on Education?

  1. There’s two problematic trends developing here, in my opinion. First, it’s difficult for the general public attitude to say “you really need to go to college because the experience and learning opportunities are invaluable and will help you get a job” thus increasing enrollment, when there’s already not adequate funding at state universities. This leads to a decline in the quality of education that can be provided at large, state universities, thus cycling back on its self for the argument that college is unnecessary because people aren’t getting their time/money’s worth. Unless the issue of funding for state universities is seriously addressed, I think it will remain difficult to make the case for someone to go to college who is on the fence about the whole matter or for someone from a lower socio-economic background who would really need to financial support. Second, I think that the “war on education” is just an out-growth of the general Republican social values platform. Many, even highly educated, Republican leaders are still suspicious of universities because they see them as bastions of commie, atheistic, liberal thinking bent on brain-washing their conservative children. Thus, I guess I see it more as a shift within a larger discussion of traditional, conservative values for America than as a separate conversation from other social issues.

    Also, I realize that I probably could have just walked over to the other side of the office and said this is person, but as Harold pointed out, I’m ABD now so I have time to respond to blog posts, haha.

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