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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Paul Krugman: Ignorance is Strength



That is the title of his article on U.S. education in his New York Times blog. Krugman notes that historically the U.S. has strongly supported education. However Krugman says Republicans have turned against more support for education at least education that most Americans could afford.

Krugman maintains that a new hostility to education seems common in both the social and economic conservative wings of the Republican Party as evident in the views of Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney.

Santorum claimed that Obama wanted to raise college enrollments as the colleges are indoctrination mills which among other things destroy religious faith. I wonder what wall the faith based colleges think about that! Krugman thinks the Romney the economic conservative has views that are even more detrimental to educational development.

In answer to a question from a high school student about high cost of college Romney said: "Don't just go to one that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And, hopefully, you'll find that. And don't expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on."

In other words aid will be replaced by loans. Even the less expensive route of going to a public university rather than a private one is becoming more and more expensive and the debt load more onerous.

Public universities have been under siege in terms of their budgets and in response have increased tuition fees in order to gain more revenue. State support for higher education has been falling Krugman notes. Over the last five years it declined 12 per cent but in some states such as California the fall is much steeper. Support in California is down 20 percent.

Tuition increases at public colleges over the last decade adjusted for inflation are above 70 percent. Even the lower priced college may be beyond the reach of many students. Krugman does not compare the U.S. with countries such as Finland which has no fees for post-secondary education. Finland has no special riches or resources just a political culture that considers education at all levels as a right that must be made a priority. The complete article can be read here.

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