Summary of education article Essay

Summary of education article

            Stephen Goode’s article examines educator George Roche’s belief that higher education should be run more like private-sector businesses.  In particular, it focuses on Roche’s assertion that government funding has already harmed higher education and will continue to damage it, because public money has “shielded academic from errors and irresponsibilities that would have brought down most businesses” (Goode).

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            The president of Hillsdale College (a small Christian college in Michigan), Roche is a social and economic conservative who believes that the guarantee of public funding has allowed colleges to become lax; instructors carry lighter loads than ever and seldom fail students, who in turn underperform because they feel no pressure to succeed, he claims.  (Hillsdale, on the other hand, requires its instructors to teach at least four courses per term, places tougher requirements on its undergraduates, and embraces conservative Christian values.)

            American college today, says Roche, are generally in poor shape because they depend so heavily on public funds, getting roughly sixty percent of their money from state governments (Goode).  Because they depend on state budgets, which frequently fluctuate from year to year, colleges defer maintenance and let their facilities become run-down, cut faculty and staff, and deliver less quality in terms of education and services.

            Roche traces the crisis in public education to the 1960s, when the Johnson administration put increasingly larger amounts of money into public higher education, thus making academia too dependent on ties to government and politicians.  When state budgets are tight, public colleges suffer in terms of quality, despite growing enrollments.  Goode offers Florida and California as examples.  In the former, student services and faculty salaries have been markedly reduced despite an expected enrollment increase of 80,000 over the next decade (Goode), while in California, the budget crisis has discouraged large numbers of young people from even pursuing a college education.

            The crisis, he claims, is more than merely financial; faculty have abused grants by doing poor, even plagiarized research, and that schools in general have lost their sense of purpose and commitment.  Goode briefly looks at Roche’s conservative, evangelical beliefs, quoting his assertion that moral and philosophical “relativism” has led to unfortunate “fads and notions” (his term for gay rights, safe sex, birth control, multiculturalism, and feminism), which he believes have undermined colleges’ sense of purpose.  (Though Roche’s religious beliefs may face resistance at secular colleges, Goode does not explore this or depict Roche as a reactionary.)

            Roche’s solution is to run colleges like businesses, instead of simply pouring public money into what he considers a flawed, inefficient system.  He advocates privatizing public universities, as well as reducing them in size, and cites Florida as a positive example of privatization as a remedy.  There, public colleges have let private companies operate bookstores, food services, housing, and facilities and grounds maintenance; however, Goode adds that such measures may not be enough to solve the problem.

            In his conclusion, Goode mentions that Roche’s conservative outlooks alienate some (certainly those who do not subscribe to his fundamentalism); he also makes clear that Hillsdale’s faculty is generally loyal to him, refusing to unionize because such a measure would have driven Roche to resign.  On the whole, the article does not validate or dismiss Roche’s assertions, treating them as valuable food for thought, and neither lauds nor criticizes him for his conservative Christian point of view, approaching him objectively.

Goode, S. (1994).  “Public Funds Could Topple Ivory Towers.” Retrieved 2 March 2006 from http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1571/is_n21_v10/ai_15277303.

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