Wednesday, May 20, 2009
COLLEGE - March 19, 2009
A recent development in the party that calls themselves Labour in Britain is the bill to remove the limit on tuition fees, allowing the stresses of the labor market to put the privilege of higher education on the block for sale to the highest bidder. Already we see colleges describing themselves in terms appropriate for a department store, where the ruling paradigm is that the customer is always right. Although the unlimited fees apply only to the rich, it is surprising how little incomes remains in a family before they are ineligible for substantial decrease in tuition charges and how little it takes to defeat any claim for a fellowship due to need. Indeed polling data shows how many people think of college as beyond the reach of their children and available only by undertaking crushing debt, money beyond what they feel they can spare after dealing with ordinary household expenses. Indeed, the middle half of the income pyramid consists of families who think of college for the children as out of reach. And as the decision makers see themselves as those who can afford the cost, the genuine intellectual underpinnings of higher education are the bars to that education of ever fewer among those whose families can pay the bills, and a perversion causes those who can to think of a prestigious diploma as the natural right of whoever can manage to pay the financial costs. And the thought of attaining the level of subtlety appropriate to delicate thought is dismissed as elitism, more like the purchasing of fancy clothes. And surprisingly, even elementary and secondary schooling is also subject to the same thinking in increasingly many school boards. So those districts and school committees who are not driven by genuine intellectual commitment may find that only the richest can obtain the fruits that are said to be the heritage of all.