What’s So Radical about Defending Public Education?

Oct 24, 2015 by

Martin Kich – Being antagonistic to corporatization should not necessarily be conflated with being broadly antagonistic to corporations. Universities and corporations have long had mutually beneficial relationships that have caused relatively infrequent controversies. And, just to be clear, although some faculty with more progressive political values have been very skeptical of those relationships between their universities and corporate interests, very, very few faculty have been categorically opposed to the development of such relationships because, for the most part, they have clearly been mutually beneficial.

Corporatization, on the other hand, is the recent manifestation of a historically recurring attempt to redefine public higher education as a business enterprise. In the 1980s, it started with the premise that universities had become such complex institutions, with very large budgets and multifaceted operations, that they would benefit from the adoption of more formal, and perhaps some cutting-edge, business-management practices. American corporations were beginning to respond to post-industrial economic conditions, and some of the new business practices seemed applicable to the universities, which had expanded dramatically to accommodate the baby boomers and were then adjusting to flattening enrollments and flattening state and federal funding.

But in the space of the last quarter century–a relatively short period when compared to the many decades over which many universities have established their reputations–that initially modest goal has become a very determined movement to privatize what have  largely been very successful public institutions; in fact, together those institutions constitute the most admired system of public higher education in the world. Instead of regarding public higher education as something that in many different ways serves the public good, the “reformers’ are attempting to turn it into just another commodity to be measured simply by its profitability.

Source: What’s So Radical about Defending Public Education? | The Academe Blog

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