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PSA vs F2CO

In a recently released Lumina Foundation policy paper, Sara Goldrick-Rab and Nancy Kendall reveal their plan to give Americans a free 2 year college option (F2CO).  That is, the 13th and 14th years of (postsecondary) education at community college would be free, which under F2CO means:
“…students will not face any costs for tuition, fees, books or supplies, and will receive a stipend and guaranteed employment at a living wage to cover their living expenses. Unsubsidized, dischargeable loans of a small amount will also be available for those who need them.”
In a number of important ways, this plan is inferior to the professional model for higher education that I propose (referred to here as, PSA). Having made this claim in a tweet to Sara Goldrick-Rab, her reply was that PSA is:
“…not adjusted for increases in enrollment and persistence rates; would result in declining per student $ over time.”

Meranze of UCLA Calls For A New Social Contract

This is in response to a recent post by a fellow advocate for HE reform, Michael Meranze of UCLA.
Hi Michael,
I wonder, what is the disposition of Conservatives and Liberals toward professions? Equally inimical, I suppose? Trump can treat HE the way he does – as can any government – because the current HE model substantially depends on public money. I gather you would like to increase this dependence, since you would like to see increased public funding for this model.
You say, “A new social contract that preserves access, funds quality, and ensures academic and intellectual autonomy must be developed and fought for.” I have developed such a social contract. And as I can, I have fought for it.

The PSA Tax Relief Master Plan for California HE

The Reclaim California Higher Education (RCHE) Master Plan maintains that an additional $48 in annual taxes per median household would be enough to fix the system. The organization claims that this additional tax revenue would make all college and university education tuition-free and restore state funding to the 2001 level of 1.17% of AGI.
For several reasons, I think this “$48 fix” is broken. As an alternative, I will present the financials for what might be called, the PSA HE Tax Relief Master Plan.
My model – the Professional Society of Academics (PSA) – does not require additional tax money, but rather far less public money than is currently spent on HE. Of course, even if PSA were implemented, the government would not reduce taxes or give out refund checks; but nor would they be legislating new taxes, as RCHE recommends. And anyhow, one of the benefits of PSA is that the tax money it saves and earns the state can be used to improve the finance of other valued social goods such as …

The $48 Fix Is Broken

$48 per median household is what Reclaim California Higher Education (RCHE) estimates is needed to restore postsecondary education in the state. They claim the $9.43 billion in new taxes would not only restore state spending on HE to the 1.17% of AGI it enjoyed in 2001, but also provide tuition-free HE to all qualified in-state students. Importantly, the only new money in the Reclaim Master Plan (RMP) is $4.71 billion that RCHE calculates would restore funding to comparable 2001 levels, since even without their plan, by state or by student, $4.72 billion in tuition revenue will find its way to institutional coffers in 2016-17.


I like the RCHE approach to this problem, using straightforward, basic funding calculations, rather than administrative or bureaucratic redesigns. Weissmann, from The Atlantic, has made similar calculations in support of nationwide tuition-free HE. His estimate is an additional $62.6 billion in public funding. And across the country there are other initiatives th…

Paying the Price with Vulnerable Funds

Sara Goldrick-Rab's book, Paying the Price, underscores how the crisis in HE severely impacts the personal and academic lives of students. Her student-centered research provides perspective that helps shape her reform recommendations. This approach to HE reform is not a new tactic.
The data-driven personalization offered by such advocacy research is also popular with those that hope to reform HE through the faculty narrative, who, like students, both have a stake in HE and suffer the current crisis. In concert with faculty-centered researchers, Goldrick-Rab calls for more money to fund the reforms she believes will improve the current HE model.
In the introduction to, Paying the Price, she says, “The price of college must be lowered much further than the current system allows. Money must be brought to the table - there is no way around it.”
This current system is institution-centered, expensive, underfunded, without sufficient transparent information and complex in terms of its fina…

Irony in the Alt-ac Movement

I am a post-ac, but not by choice. I have a PhD in philosophy and for a decade worked as an adjunct. Affairs of the heart seduced me from my university hometown where I was fortunate enough to enjoy seniority on a couple of part time hiring lists, affording me a modest living. But my romantic love meant the forfeiture of my academic love. And even if I was to return home I would no longer enjoy seniority, without which I could not make even a modest living. I was very good at my job and would love to be doing it still.

This, or some more or less tragic version of it, is a common story in the academe.

As such, I understand those who seek a PhD with the intention to pursue a career other than as a traditional academic.  If only a small fraction of those with the degree land full time faculty positions, while the remainder are left scrounging for part time work, then a reasonable response is to generate alternative career paths for the degree.  Less dramatically, some PhD candidates sim…

Fantasy From Fact: All Higher Education Can Be Tuition-Free

I have read the submissions published by Evolllution on the two-year tuition-free initiatives that are the rage these days in higher education:

J Noah Brown, President and CEO, Association of Community College Trustees and a member of Obama's College Promise Advisory Board, considers them a mend for the American economy and a long overdue fulfillment of a promise made by the Truman Commission. Barmak Nassirian, Director of Federal Relations and Policy Analysis, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, considers them "frivolous escapist fantasies." Claude Pressnell, President, Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities, worries about "under-matching" and the undervaluing of education in favour of training. Others such as Shannon McCarty, Dean of Instruction and Academic Affairs, Rio Salado Community College, and Lenore Rodicio, Provost, Miami-Dade College, see opportunity to introduce more technology and more government funding to accommoda…

A Post-ac, Para-ac and Alt-ac walk into an Alt-mod…

With social media craze and higher education crisis as parents, the hashtags #alt-ac, #post-ac, and #para-ac refer to people classified by their work, education, and attitude toward the academy, who opt or aim for careers across the public and private, employee and entrepreneur work spaces within and without higher education, and who by some lights are laying foundation for a new academy.
Until recently I was unaware that I might be classified as an “acer” – as in “hacker.” Like many others I do not fit nicely under any one of the three hashtags, though best fit is a reluctant post-ac.For a decade I worked as an adjunct until five years ago when romantic and labour market forces left me without even this tenuous access to faculty work.