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Friday, June 15, 2012

Schooling Ted Van Dyk

Posted by on Fri, Jun 15, 2012 at 7:41 AM

I know it's not really worth my effort responding, because almost nobody reads him and even fewer take him seriously, but Ted Van Dyk's latest post on Crosscut—advising legislators not to "bail out" our state universities—is particularly stupid, even for Ted Van Dyk.

From his I-got-my-bargain-education-so-fuck-you-youngsters attitude to his blame-the-public-employee-unions reactionary bullshit, this whole post is such a stinking pile of poop the words make my eyes sting. And I'd leave my criticism at that if not for one offensively misinformational sentence I just can't let slide:

Nationally, questions increasingly are being asked about the decades-long increases in public-university and college funding beyond the general inflation rate.


That question may be increasingly asked, but only because careless and/or clueless crackpots like Van Dyk keep pushing the meme along.

There is a simple economic reason why the cost of providing higher education tends to rise faster than the "general inflation rate" (I presume Van Dyk means the Consumer Price Index), and it's the same reason why the cost of providing government services like police and firefighters etc. also rise faster than inflation. It is because the CPI measures the whole economy, including sectors like manufacturing that achieve productivity gains through automation and outsourcing—paths toward improved productivity that are largely unavailable to the kind of services that governments and universities mostly provide—services delivered by well-paid highly-trained professionals.

How do you increase the productivity of the capital we invest in a professor? Increase class size or extend his or her hours at the same or lower pay. It simply makes no sense to apply the same inflation measure to the cost of educating a student as one applies to the cost of manufacturing an automobile or an iPhone. And it is both stupid and counterproductive to suggest otherwise.

Not everything is a goddamn widget! It's not that the inflation rate of the cost of delivering services at Washington's public universities is through the roof, it's that by comparison we've become very good at making other stuff cheaper!

Besides, it's not the cost of educating students at Washington's public universities that has been skyrocketing, it's the price, largely because the legislature has chosen to balance our budgets on the backs of the young by slashing higher education funding. And in that sense it's the universities that have bailed out legislators, not the other way around.


Comments (13) RSS

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Some day a hard rain will wash all the Ted Van Dyks and Joel Connellys from the street...
Posted by Pol Pot on June 15, 2012 at 7:57 AM · Report this
Time to pop the education bubble and cut back on uncontrolled loans to students that encourage schools to waste. Want to know where your education dollars go? Let's look at UC Davis:

"UC Davis has a Diversity Trainers Institute under an administrator of diversity education, who presumably coordinates with the Cross-Cultural Center. It also has: a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center; a Sexual Harassment Education Program; a diversity program coordinator; an early resolution discrimination coordinator; a Diversity Education Series that awards Understanding Diversity Certificates in “Unpacking Oppression”; and Cross-Cultural Competency Certificates in “Understanding Diversity and Social Justice.” California’s budget crisis has not prevented UC San Francisco from creating a new vice chancellor for diversity and outreach to supplement its Office of Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity and Diversity, and the Diversity Learning Center (which teaches how to become “a Diversity Change Agent”), and the Center for LGBT Health and Equity, and the Office of Sexual Harassment Prevention & Resolution, and the Chancellor’s Advisory Committees on Diversity, and on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues, and on the Status of Women.
Posted by Eduction bubble = housing bubble on June 15, 2012 at 8:01 AM · Report this
the notion that government services can't be delivered more efficiently is simply wrong. imagine a big university with a large lecture hall. do you really think it makes sense to have 500 students listening to some professor drone on and on when they could
A. just read his book, or B. be linked via internet to 50,000 other students in psych 101. it's not like they're asking questions and dialoguing anyway.
Imagine if courts would just use skype for the thousands of traffic hearings. they schedule 20 matters for the same time forcing you and the cops to sit there for hours. king county charges you $30 for the "service" of providing an extra copy of a brief to the judge by e mail. What? He can't read it on the computer? prisons are in toto engines of inefficiency; half of the government programs are at cross purposes with themselves anyway. drug courts for vets? what? just decriminalize it. there's mountains of inefficiency in government. it doesn't help the pro government side -- progressives -- to be in denial about this.
Posted by lower standards much? on June 15, 2012 at 8:01 AM · Report this
seatackled 4
Never heard of him, but I assume the guy has a goatee.

@1: That'd be nice.
Posted by seatackled on June 15, 2012 at 8:02 AM · Report this
Puty 5
@ Trolls: ugh. Registered comments are still the best Slog thing evar.
Posted by Puty on June 15, 2012 at 8:23 AM · Report this
"Not everything is a goddamn widget!" Amen and education should not be a business. Well-run and well-managed but not a business.

FYI, UW has long been touted by media like US News & World Report as a top buy for parents looking for a great public university at a good price. While the rise in tuition is very tough, UW has not kept pace with other public institutions (if anyone had bothered to look around).
Posted by westello on June 15, 2012 at 8:43 AM · Report this
@5 Ugh, facts.
Posted by Education bubble on June 15, 2012 at 9:01 AM · Report this
Still, you have to admire the conservative/Republican strategy for its effectiveness.

1) Reduce state support to public universities.

2) Force the universities to raise their tuition to cover their costs.

3) Point to rising tuition costs as PROOF that the universities are poorly managed and demand they be cut off from the public coffers.

We know this has some traction with the general voting public, because the fuckers get re-elected after doing this shit. The only question is, why? Why is the public so fucking stupid, and where the fuck is The Glorious, Truth-Seeking, Democracy-Supporting Press when we fucking need them?
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on June 15, 2012 at 9:24 AM · Report this
@8 They don't call it an ivory tower for nothing.
Posted by Education bubble on June 15, 2012 at 9:38 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 10
"The Glorious, Truth-Seeking, Democracy-Supporting Press"


Present newspaper excepted, of course. Excellent post.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on June 15, 2012 at 10:46 AM · Report this
A 4 year degree is still the best economic investment ever.

Consider that if a professor can train a class of 30...or 300...who graduate with skills to get a middle class job...then isn't she worth some part of that eventual income?
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on June 15, 2012 at 11:50 AM · Report this
thene 12
But professors aren't even the main providers of teaching any more. The adjuncts who now teach most university classes are very poorly paid and have no job security. If you were arguing for paying them more, I'd understand that, but as is it sounds like you haven't really looked at the higher education problem much before. There's been a bubble in the pay of deans and other high-level administrative staff who don't teach, much like the bubble in CEO pay in the corporate world, while the rank-and-file workers have been left behind. The higher education bubble is about inequality as well as inefficiency, and both are valid concerns.

You might like to read some of for an adjunct's-eye view of the inefficiencies of the US college system; there's a lot of people out there blogging about the topic but she's the most readable, imo.
Posted by thene on June 15, 2012 at 3:02 PM · Report this
Van Dyk is at least 78 years old. You're a very good writer now, Goldy, but if you can string three words together to make sense when you're that age, you'll be lucky. TVD can still do that, whether you agree with him or not.
Posted by sarah70 on June 15, 2012 at 5:24 PM · Report this

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