College Isn’t Higher Education and May No Longer Be the Best Way to Deliver the Goods: New at Reason

Many Americans are said to be turning against higher education. But they may just be sick of an expensive and dysfunctional model that has outlived its usefulness.

J.D. Tuccille writes:

There's a "deep partisan divide on higher education," reported Inside Higher Ed in July. A month later, Gallup got more specific, asking, "Why are Republicans down on higher ed?"

Is that really true? Have our red/blue tribal loyalties actually split us over our views of the value of education beyond the high school level? Let's see.

Well, the articles, based on separate polls from Pew and Gallup, found some strong partisan disparities. According to Pew, 58 percent of Republicans say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the way things are going in the country (36 percent said they have a positive effect), compared to 19 percent of Democrats with a negative view of colleges and universities. Gallup found that only 33 percent of Republicans and those leaning Republican have a great deal of faith in colleges and universities (67 percent had some or very little), compared to 56 percent of Democrats and those leaning that way (43 percent had some or very little).

So why do Republicans have so little faith in—

Wait a minute. Those headlines said "higher education," but poll respondents were asked about "colleges and universities." That's not necessarily the same thing. Sure, colleges and universities have long been the traditional means of hammering learning into the heads of adults, but asking about the delivery system isn't the same thing as asking about the product.

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