I’m with Tyler Cowne about President Obama’s plan to reduce the cost of education:
I would find it helpful if this proposal would outline the core, underlying theory of market failure in higher education, and then how these ideas would fix it. It is difficult for me to put that argument together in my mind. I do get the intuitive reason why “aid should be tied to outcomes.” But presumably students, who already have by far the most at stake in choosing a college, already allocate their own dollars and aid dollars on the basis of outcomes. If that process isn’t broken, this plan seems to address a pseudo-problem. If that process is broken (misguided students?), we need to know whether this plan really will fix the kink in the system. For instance if students cannot right now choose the schools offering the best expected outcomes for them, this plan seems to work mighty hard to get the schools to do the choosing for them, but in reality only ends up putting the students into tougher and less appropriate institutions. Can you spell “remedial”? In any case, under these assumptions, it would seem to be the students who need the fixing, not the schools.
Overall the ideas here strike me as underdeveloped in terms of logic.
Is the idea behind the rating system to frighten schools into lowering their prices? I really don’t get it. Other than at the margins how will this plan lower the cost of higher education? Please explain it to me.
Lord knows I have no objection to higher education costing less but it seems to me that the problem of college costing too much has a simple solution and one I’ve proposed before: a high quality, accredited online program, free of charge or at least inexpensive, available to anyone who’ll do the work.
Of course, if our actual problems are that the top schools are the top schools because they’re selective, select students who have high earning potential when they walk in the door, and expensive or that our educational system’s greatest problem isn’t the outputs (students with degrees) but the inputs (the capabilities of the students when they enter college) or that we aren’t producing enough jobs for people with any level of education, even that won’t help much.