Saturday, May 2, 2015

Abstract and Works Cited

Abstract: In this paper I aim to investigate the political-economic origins of the privatization of higher education in the US. The definition of privatization is a transferring of ownership from the public to the private sector. A public institution that has been privatized transforms its purpose from whatever public service it was intended to serve to being an instrument of profit for private entities. Although the purpose of institutions of higher education –put simply, education - has been reoriented by privatization, it has not been completely destroyed; however, it has been greatly undermined. Manystudents and faculty across the US, aware of the rise of tuition, the decrease of tenure-track positions, the growth of the of administrators, and rise of the college sports ‘circus,’ and aware, of course, of their own subjective experiences, have deduced the decline in the quality of education, and thus the undermining of the stated purpose of the colleges they inhabit. What policies facilitated these changes in higher education? What were the goals of the policy makers who carried out the policies? These are the ‘origins’ I wish to investigate, naturally, through an examination of recent history. I shall find help in this investigation from scholars like Henry Giroux, Noam Chomsky, and Christopher Newfield, who have preceded me in investigating questions similar to those with which I am concerned. 

[1] Henry Giroux, Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education, Chicago: Haymarket Books 2014. Print, pp. 1
[2] David Harvey A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005. Print,  pp. 1
[3] Devin Fergus, "My students pay too much for college. Blame Reagan," New York Times (2014)
[4] Christopher Newfield Unmaking the Public University, Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2008, Print, pp. 5
[5] Christopher Newfield Unmaking the Public University, Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2008, Print, pp. 51
[6] Dan Barrett, "The Day the Purpose of College Changed," The Chronicle of Higher Education (2015),
[7]  Christopher Newfield Unmaking the Public University, Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2008, Print, pp. 53
[8] The Powell Memorandum, 1971
[9] Ibid
[10] Christopher Newfield Unmaking the Public University, Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2008, Print, pp. 55
[12] Paying for the Party, Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton pp. 19
[13] Paul F. Campos  “The Real Reason College Tuition Costs so much,” New York Times (2015)
[14] Matt Reed, Letter to the Editor, New York Times (2015)
[15] Noam Chomsky, “How America’s Great University System is Being Destroyed,” Alternet (2014)
[16] Benjamin Ginsberg, “Administrators Ate my tuition,” Washington Monthly (2011)
[17] See endnote 8
[18] Shawmaf Khubba,  “Rutgers Plan Unconcerned with Student Needs,” the Daily Targum, (2014)

Literature Review #5

(From his Wikipedia page) David W. Harvey is the Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He received his PhD in Geography from the University of Cambridge in 1961. Harvey authored many books and essays that have been prominent in the development of modern geography as a discipline. He is a proponent of the idea of the right to the city. In 2007, Harvey was listed as the 18th most-cited author of books in the humanities and social sciences in that year, as established by counting cites from academic journals in the Thomson Reuters ISI database. On that basis, the books of Harvey were cited 723 times in 2007.[1] In a study of the most-cited academic geographers in four English-speaking countries between 1984 and 1988, Harvey ranked first.

(From me) David Harvey is also regarded as one of the leading leftist intellectuals in the English-speaking world. He wrote a standard companion to Marx's Das Kapital volumes one and two. His videotaped lectures of Capital 1 and two are also famous within leftist circles.

"Neoliberalism is in the first instance a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by individual entreprenurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade. The role of the state is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices. The state has to guarantee, for example, the quality and integrity of money. It must also set up those military, defence, police, and legal structures and functions required to secure private property rights and guarantee, by force if need be, the proper functioning of markets. Furthermore, if markets do not exist (in areas such as land, water, education, health care, social security, or environmental pollution, then they must be created, by state action if necessary."

David Harvey explains neoliberalism as a political philosophy as distinct from neoliberalism the political regime or system.

"There has everywhere been an emphatic turn towards neoliberalism in political-economic practices and thinking since the 1970s. Deregulation, privatization, and withdrawal of the state from many areas of social provision has been all too common. Almost all states, from those newly minted after the collapse of the Soviet Union to old-style social democracies and welfare states such as New Zealand and Sweden, have embraced, sometimes voluntarily and in other instances in response to coercive pressures, some version of neoliberal theory and adjusted at least some policies and practices accordingly. Post-apartheid South Africa quickly embraced neoliberalism, and even contemporary China, as we shall see, appears to be headed in this direction."

David Harvey explicates the global turn toward some form or other of neoliberalism since the 1970s.

"The first experiment with neoliberal state formation, it is worth recalling, occurred in Chile after Pinochet's coup on the 'little September 11th' of 1973 (almost thirty years to the day before Bremer's announcement of the regime to be installed in Iraq). The coup, against the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende, was promoted by domestic business elites threatened by Allende's drive towards socialism. It was backed by US corporations, the CIA, and US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. It violently repressed all the social movements and political organizations of the left and dismantled all forms of popular organizations (such as the community health centers in poorer neighborhoods). The labor market was 'freed' from regulatory or institutional restraints (trade union power, for example). But how was the stalled economy to be revived?[....]"

David Harvey details the "first experiment in neoliberal state formation" in Chile after the U.S. had backed a coup against the democratically-elected leader Salvador Allende.

Summary: Surveys the history of neoliberalism. Explains neoliberalism as a political philosophy and mode of governance and economic organization. Answers the question of who pioneered neoliberalism and who were its ideological founders. Studies cases of neoliberal systems.

Key terms: neoliberalism - a system of governance which attempts to 'liberate' market forces in as many areas of society as possible; the neoliberal turn - in the 1930s, political leaders of the U.S. had begun to realize that state regulation needed to be introduced to put a check on unfettered capitalism and prevent communism. The neoliberal turn occurred in the 1970s when political leaders began to deregulate everything and reintroduce unfettered capitalism.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Interview: Noam Chomsky interviewed by Edward Radzivilovskiy, Deputy Opinion Editor, Washington Square News

In this interview, Chomsky explains that the exorbitant cost of higher education today is not explained by economic necessity, but rather conscious policy of the elites in this society. He agreed with Jill Stein that student debt is a modern form of indenture but also elaborated his own view, namely that student debt is a technique of social control and indoctrination. 


"Well the first question that arises is whether there is an economic necessity for student debt. I don't have to tell students what the numbers are. It's over trillion dollars, beyond credit card debt. So is there an economic justification? There are a number of ways of testing that. So for example, we happen to be right next door to a poor country -- Mexico. [It has] quite a good university system. It doesn't have all the things we have -- it's a poor country. But it has a very high quality, high level of instruction. I've taught there, been there. It's free. There was an attempt by the government some years ago -- ten or fifteen years ago -- to raise costs slightly, and this led to a national student strike. The country was practically closed down, and they backed off. In fact, last time I was there about two years ago -- there was an administration building that was still occupied by students from the student strike long before it was turned into a community center.
That's Mexico -- a poor country. Just in our northern border -- in Quebec -- where tuition is higher than Mexico but not at our level -- there was an attempt by the government a couple of months ago to raise the tuition. There was a student strike in Quebec, joined by much of the population. It led not only to backing off on that proposal but actually to change in the government. A lot of changes -- there were protests against neoliberal policies and much more."

"These comparisons suggest very strongly that there is no real economic reason for high student debt. So we have to then ask what it's doing. It is part of a much more general process. Over the past generation, thirty odd years, there has been a major assault on the population. Basically the neoliberal era. That's one of the reasons we have the slogan 1% and the 99%. We are back to levels of inequality among the highest in history before the great depression. There has been economic growth during these years, but it's overwhelmingly gone into very few pockets. Latest figures I saw indicate that there are 400 people in the United States who have as much wealth -- more wealth in fact -- than the lowest 180 million. Wages have pretty much grown very slowly -- more or less stagnated for most of the pop and sometimes declined. Meanwhile there has been enormous wealth going into a tiny percentage of the population. The 1 percent and 99 percent imagery isn't exactly right. It's more like one-tenth of one percent if you look at the way graphs actually work. That has led to a lot of consequences. It's not an economic necessity -- it's not happening at comparable countries. There are a lot of other effects. So for example the OECD, the organization of affluent countries, the so called-developed countries, just did a study of social justice in 31 of OECD countries. The US was 27th, right above Mexico. You have to remember this is the richest country in the world with enormous advantages that no one else has. And there are other studies of infant mortality, maternal health, lots of measures and US is way down at the bottom of the rich countries –around 20th or 21st, which is just totally scandalous."

Argument and Counter-Argument

Argument and Counter-argument

My argument is that the rise of college tuition is an effect of the domination of the public higher education system by private, wealthy interests. This move towards, what means the same thing, privatization of higher education had a two-fold purpose for the policy-makers who helped implement it: 1) to turn public universities into an instrument of profit for private industry and 2) to beat back the threat of a growing, conscientious mass of college-educated youth who had challenged the power of the wealthy elite and managers of this system. An illustration of this is when the newly-elected governor of California, Ronald Reagan, announced that “High taxes threatened ‘economic ruin’,” affirmed the need to make budget cuts, and then insinuated that higher education would be one area where cuts would be made. To support this, he said: “we do believe that there are certain intellectual luxuries that we perhaps could do without” (“The Day the Purpose of Higher Education Changed,” Higher Education Chronicle). At the time, Dan Berrett says, “California still boasted a system of public higher education that was the envy of the world.” It was also magnitudes more affordable than it is today. The idea that education is a luxury began to be propagated precisely at the moment when many U.S. elites realized the threat an increasingly educated mass posed to their interests, as had been exemplified by the protest movement which broke out in college campuses throughout the ‘60s. As Christopher Newfield writes: “To oversimplify somewhat, conservative elites who had been threatened by the postwar rise of the college-educated economic majority put that majority back in its place. Their roundabout weapon has been the culture wars on higher education in general, and on progressive cultural trends in the public universities that create and enfranchise the mass middle class” (Newfield 5).

One of the premises of my argument is that this assault was carried out through a policy of budget cuts to higher education. But in his article in the New York Times, “The Real Reason College Tuition Costs so Much,” Paul F. Camps disagrees. State appropriations for higher education, he argued, had “skyrocketed” since the ‘60s: “from $11.1 billion in 1960 to $48.2 billion in 1975.” Moreover, “By 1980, state funding for higher education had increased a mind-boggling 390 percent in real terms over the previous 20 years.” It is quite interesting that Campos stopped at 1980. If you look at the chart on tuition increases taken from the National Center for Education Statistics in my previous blog post, you’ll see that the most significant increases to the cost of four year public institutions took place from 1981 onward. He says further: “It is disingenuous to call a large increase in public spending a ‘cut,’ as some university administrators do, because a huge programmatic expansion features somewhat lower per capita subsidies. Suppose that since 1990 the government had doubled the number of military bases, while spending slightly less per base. A claim that funding for military bases was down, even though in fact such funding had nearly doubled, would properly be met with derision.” It is only disingenuous if the administrators in question refer only the period between 1960 and 1980. But given the fact that administrators are not historians, and presumably have a more recent period in mind, it is not at all disingenuous. Furthermore, he admits that “a huge programmatic expansion features somewhat lower per capita subsides.” This “huge programmatic expansion” is precisely one of the features of privatization: the corporate university rapidly expands for the sake of taking in more profits, regardless in the difference in actual quality of education. This ethic of expansion also explains why less money has been invested in each student individually.

Works Cited:

Visual: Graph on the Increase of average total tuition, fees, room and board rates charged for full-time undergraduate students in degree-granting four year institutions in constant and current dollars from 1981 to 2012

This chart exhibits the rise of the cost of an education at a four-year public institution between 1981 to 2012, in CURRENT dollars (not adjusted for inflation). The first two data points leap a decade, indicating that from 1981-82 to 1991-92, the cost nearly doubled from $2,871 to $5693, and from 1991-92, the cost rose from $5693 to $9168. The remaining data points are broken up by yearly intervals and show a steady increase in the cost of an education.

The rise in tuition has contributed to the growth of student debt. Today, there is over 1 trillion dollars in student debt nationally. The eminent public intellectual and social critic Noam Chomsky describes one of the effects that burdensome student debt has on students receiving an education, which is quoted in the image below. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Literature Review #4

Stanley Aronowitz is distinguished professor of sociology, cultural studies, and urban education at the CUNY Graduate center. He is also a veteran political activist and cultural critic, an advocate for organized labor and a member of the interim consultative committee of the International Organization for a Participatory Society. He has written several books on various sociological and political issues pertaining to the U.S., including "The Crisis in Historical Materialism: Class, Politics, and Culture in Marxist Theory" (1981), "Science as Power: Discourse and Ideology n Modern Society" (1988), and "The Knowledge Factory: Dismantling the Corporate University and Creating True Higher Learning."

“At the end of the 1930s, the most sophisticated pole of higher education was represented by perhaps a dozen full-scale state universities. California, for example, supported a world-class school at Berkeley, which largely conformed to the objectives for universities set in 1907 by Columbia professor JR Wheeler and to which many subscribe today: ‘to preserve and transmit liberal culture; to share useful knowledge with the populace at large; to serve as an agent of beneficial social change in a burgeoning industrial and commercial order; and to serve as a center for disinterested inquiry and the production of new knowledge through research and scholarly writing.’ Whatever the University of California’s merit as a preserver of traditional liberal culture or as an agent of social change, the sharply honed focus of this and similar schools was to serve as a center for the production of new knowledge, especially for private corporations and, later, the federal government’s rearmament program” (15).

The express purpose of universities in America, going back as early as the 1930s, was the production of knowledge useful to corporate and state power.

“By 1900, the university-corporate complex was in full bloom. The two aspects of this relationship, that universities adopt the business ethic and more directly serve business by training cadres for industry was well described by contemporary observers John Jay Chapman and Thorstein Veblen. Writing in 1909, Chapman declared, ‘The men who stand for education and scholarship have the ideals of business men. They are in truth business men. The men who control [universities] today are very little else than business men.’ Veblen ‘detected the hand of business control dominating every aspect of the modern university,’ including the ‘prominence given to intercollegiate athletics’ and ‘vocational instruction’” (16-17).  

The link between corporations and universities has long existed. Even before a university education was the privilege of the wealthy. What has happened to the universities from the 1970s on, however, is the intensification of the link between corporations and universities. In fact, it is no longer just a link – the universities are now under the full control of corporations.

“The Cold War brought into existence new disciplines linked to managerial and research activities in government service. Generally grouped under the rubric of “policy sciences,” departments and graduate programs in leading universities were established to provide dedicated and relatively narrowly trained professionals and managers for government departments” (40).

Summary: Describes the evolution and emergent state of universities in America, the manner in which they have been dedicated to mere vocational training and the production of knowledge instrumental to the needs of business and government power. Proposes a solution for dismantling the corporate university and changing it into a system promoted to higher learning or education for the sake of education instead of for the sake of the imperatives of the powerful.

Key terms: "The Knowledge Factory" the term used to describe American universities whose function has largely been the production of knowledge useful to the needs of business and the government, or otherwise providing vocational training to people in anticipation of their joining the workforce, in contrast to education for its own sake.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Literature Blog #3

Giroux, Henry A. Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2014. Print.

Henry Giroux is an American scholar and cultural critic. He is one of the founders of the field critical pedagogy in the U.S. In 2002 Routledge named Giroux as one of the top fifty educational thinkers of the modern period (from Wikipedia). According to his official website, “Giroux received his Doctorate from Carnegie-Mellon in 1977. He then became professor of education at Boston University from 1977 to 1983. In 1983 he became professor of education and renowned scholar in residence at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where he also served as Director at the Center for Education and Cultural Studies. He moved to Penn State Univeristy where he took up the Waterbury Chair Professorship at Penn State University from 1992 to May 2004. He also served as the Director of the Waterbury Forum in Education and Cultural Studies. He moved to McMaster University in May 2004, where he currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest.”

Summary: The book shows how the political policies of neoliberalism have shaped the higher education system in the U.S.

Key Terms: 1) Economic Darwinism: A principle according to which it is ‘every man for himself’ in economic life; 2) Neoliberalism: the political philosophy of those who have ushered in policies of privatizing, commodifying, and deregulating everything for the sake of "free trade," that is, for the sake of the interests of the owning class in society; 3) Plutocracy: rule by a wealthy elite

“As George Lakoff and Glenn Smith argue, the anti-public philosophy of economic Darwinism makes a parody of democracy by defining freedom as ‘the liberty to seek one's interests and well-being, without being responsible for the interests or well-being of anyone else. It's a morality of personal, but not social, responsibility. The only freedom you should have is what you can provide for yourself, not what the Public provides for you to start out.' Put simply, we alone become responsible for the problems we confront when we can no longer conceive how larger forces control or constrain our choices and the lives we are destined to lead” (Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education 3).

Giroux discusses the philosophy of economic Darwinism which are necessary to promulgate in order for people accept neoliberal policies which are destructive of the public good. 

“Clearly, US society is awash in a neoliberal culture of idiocy and illiteracy. It produces many subjects who are indifferent to others and are thus incapable of seeing that when the logic of extreme individualism is extended into the far reaches of the national security state, it serves to legitimate the breakdown of the social bonds necessary for a democratic society and reinforces a culture of cruelty that upholds solitary confinement as a mode of punishment for thousands of incarcerated young people and adults” (Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education 8).

Giroux discusses the stupidity occasioned by the crass insensitivity to the well-being of others that subjects living under neoliberalism are encouraged to cultivate within themselves. These subjects living under neoliberalism still hold hallow in their mind the time-honored slogans 'democracy' and 'freedom,' yet fail to understand all the ways in which democracy and freedom are undermined by the sweeping powers our state has taken up in the name of national security. 

“Critical learning has been replaced with mastering test-taking, memorizing facts, and learning how not to question knowledge or authority. Pedagogies that unsettle common sense, make power accountable, and connect classroom knowledge to larger civic issues have become dangerous at all levels of schooling” (Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education 6).

Giroux discusses the type of pedagogy which has been prevalent under our neoliberal regime.