Friday, August 23, 2013

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August 23, 2013

"Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom." --John Adams

Putting Higher Cost in Higher Education
It's back-to-school time and that means thinking about education policy. Student loan debt is now more than $1.2 trillion, most of which is federal loans, while job opportunities for graduates are not exactly abundant. Prospective students are therefore beginning to consider alternatives, such as online schooling. Barack Obama even highlighted this good idea in his education proposal on Thursday.

Unfortunately, the largest part of Obama's new plan to make "college more affordable, tackle rising costs, and improve value for students and their families" involves more government regulation and interference. The president proposed creating a college rating system, wherein the federal government would evaluate colleges and universities on graduation rates and affordability, as well as on leftist goals like student income-level and race quotas. The feds run a $1 trillion annual deficit and they're going to evaluate colleges on affordability?

Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation explains, "[A] monopoly government scorecard would inevitably reflect what bureaucrats -- rather than parents, students, and local policymakers -- determine is or is not important in education. For another, existing institutions that are comfortable within the cocoon of protectionist accreditation would lobby hard, and no doubt effectively, for output measures that define success in their own terms."

Naturally, the federal government would tie monetary aid to its own rating system, which would lead to (more) political favoritism and a lobbying nightmare. As for that money, Obama described higher education as "an economic imperative," while Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) added, "There is no reason why a young person should have to pay for college." Federal aid is the primary driver of skyrocketing college tuition rates as it is -- wait until it's a "right." Instead of the top-down government solution, the correct path is to gear education toward real acquisition of knowledge and skills through the free market.

It's back-to-school time and the president has just the proposal -- a federal college rating system. Meanwhile, an Oklahoma murder has the usual suspects up to their old tricks, a survey of the economic "recovery" and Mark Alexander's unique take on Bradley Manning.

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