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Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy Kindle Edition
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|Length: 256 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Cottom's thesis is that the driving forces behind the rise of for-profit, financialized Lower Ed are persistent social inequality combined with a shift in risk from institutions to individuals, most prominently here a shift in responsibilities for job training from employers and government to individual students and employees. This shift is partially masked by a collective myth-making about higher education as a source of the collective good, allowing for-profit conglomerates to ride the moral coattails of elite universities: elite Ed's explanations about why they don't need to distribute their enormous endowments or get taxed justify Lower Ed's expansion and growth to serve non-traditional students. But the conditions for Lower Ed to rise required a bipartisan faith in markets as the rational mechanism for distributing educational credentials, rather than a collective responsibility to use policy to support full employment and public funding of higher education. As carefully as Cottom describes the stories of individual actors, the real intellectual accomplishment is interpreting their actions as parts of larger systems.
Cottom refuses to blame the poor judgment of students or the evil hearts of college enrollment managers, but insists that we see the society that we all build and share as responsible for the social inequalities that produce Lower Ed.
For me this book did two things: 1) made me think critically about the landscape of higher education and our labor system in new ways and 2) inspired me to more carefully consider ways in which my personal history intersects with unsolved social problems. I am convinced that employing a combination of lived experience and research, heart and smarts, will lead us to innovative solutions that will make our society more just and more vibrant.
All in all, even though,the author does present a some salient points of argument between vocational vs.traditional, she does not close the sale.