Ronald Brownstein accurately documents the catastrophic loss of public confidence in American higher education, but the causes may be more wide-ranging than he suggests.
The past several decades have seen a marked deterioration in academic quality due to overspecialization and the unravelling of core curricula. Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed a crisis of free speech and academic freedom on college campuses that has occasionally spilled over into outright violence at places like Middlebury and Berkeley. Against this backdrop, tuition has steadily increased—in large measure to fund expansive university bureaucracies—which has contributed to a staggering $1.5 trillion in student debt.
It’s no wonder that states are questioning whether tax dollars are being effectively spent. For public higher education to flourish, universities will need to regain the trust of the communities they serve through a renewed focus on academic quality, viewpoint diversity, and reigning in spiraling costs.