some of us are brave
I roll like that now.
So, this is a real thing that happened. Trapped between teaching my class and going to my next class I see a planned chat with the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, starting on twitter.
Lo and behold he wants to talk about college affordability.
Well, I wrote a song about that. Like to hear it? Well, you know the rest.
I’ve participated in Twitter chats like this before and have found a definite bias against responding to lay policy wonks, academics, or anyone asking very specific, pointed policy questions. So, I never expected Joe to respond to this:
In fact, I said as much immediately after tweeting that:
So imagine my surprise when Joe answered!
It’s an interesting statement.
I doubt that the VP’s position on for-profits differs from the White House’s position. It’s only 140 characters but I’ve parsed less. Let’s go for it:
- State funding crisis of public colleges is being positioned as strictly a state issue.
- For-profits, minus a few bad actors, are seen as a net positive.
- There’s some implied neo-liberal educational theory happening here: profit is good, competition is good, the strong will survive, individuals should shoulder cost of education since they reap the benefit. (“profits plowed back into student opportunities”)
I, of course, take serious issue with profits being plowed into student opportunities. If that was the case for-profits would be not-for-profits — legally prohibited by the tax code from spending profits on anything but that which benefits students. The very definition of for-profit is that profits are EXTRACTED from the institutional entity and paid to owners/shareholders. I’m not sure how that equals ‘plowing” profit back into student opportunities.
Something’s being plowed alright but that’s neither the form nor the direction of the plowing.
It’s an unfortunate response from the White House but not a surprising one. We seem to have decided that the book is closed on education as a public social good. I wish it had, at least, been a bloody battle. Alas, the lamb seems to have been slaughtered with n’ary a peep.
The only possible “do-gooder” spin I can imagine is that the federal government is encouraging the investment of federal student loan money in for-profits to continue as a “stick” to prod states to re-invigorate public universities. It’s still a competitive model but maybe a little…kinder?
The only other alternative? The for-profit lobby invested wisely.
Either, or. It does explain why, despite the negative press and political challenges to the legitimacy of for-profit colleges, analysts remain relatively bullish about their stock.
Regardless, it was a cool moment on twitter. Rivaled only by the time Star Jones saw my Payless Shoe joke tweet, responded, and totally got the joke.
But, then, the stakes were way lower with Star Jones.