Sunday, April 05, 2015
Dear New York Times,
If you’d like to prevent similar train wrecks in the future, give me a call. If I’m not available, I’ll be happy to refer you to any of a large number of thoughtful and informed people who would have sent that piece back. Higher education is important enough to be worth getting right. Besides, I’m quite affordable; I won’t even ask for seven figures.
Community colleges don’t “cost so much,” nor have they evidenced “administrative bloat,” nor do they have “seven-figure salaries for high-ranking administrators,” unless you could cents.
Or admitting that he is using classic bits of sophistry to create a false impression, what most people would call a LIE, about the funding of public higher education in the US?
"In fact, public investment in higher education in America is vastly larger today, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was during the supposed golden age of public funding in the 1960s."
If you forget to divide by the number of students, yes. If you don't, no, particularly if you have the brains to separate the appropriation for undergrad education from the other line items. And since tuition is paid by individual undergrad students who each expect individual attention, Mr. Campos Esq is prevaricating. He is even kind enough to prove he knows his statement is false by stating a few paragraphs later that appropriations per student have gone down.
But he can't resist adding some more sophistry, slipping in the parenthetical
"(Appropriations per student are much higher now than they were in the 1960s and 1970s, when tuition was a small fraction of what it is today.)"
where he just happens to omit that "corrected for inflation" bit, as if you can still buy a new Mustang today for less than $2500.
And I do know what I am talking about, having worked the numbers based on actual tuition and college budgets separated by four decades, precisely in the window he is talking about. Those numbers show that appropriations have gone down -- in real dollars -- but not enough to explain the rise in tuition. What does explain that tuition increase is the shift to being a flagship research university.