The Price of Higher Education
by Anthony Stasi
Jan 12, 2010 | 2614 views | 0 0 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s interesting how when we talk about funding education in certain policy circles the arguments are always so passionate, even when practice doesn’t follow theory. There are few politicians in New York that would tell you that education is funded to its maximum. And the key arguments are often about where money should go - to a teacher’s union contract or perhaps to put more money in the classroom and the infrastructure.

People who make policy are usually in agreement with the hoped-for end result. But what about other voices that shape education policy? Most college professors and academics call for more school funding and college loans. ‘Access to a higher education is a right,” we often hear. Many of those same professors, however, often put as many as six or seven books on their class syllabus. Students then have to dig in and pay for that. Many times, it is the professor’s own book – what a surprise.

As a former professor, I cannot discount the value of new and up-to-date books. But I always made it a point to limit the amount of required texts that students needed to purchase, and then put the rest of my class assignments online. In today’s information age, these reading materials should be easier to access for students, not more and more difficult and expensive.

This constant drumbeat from academics is often that we need to dig further into tax revenues to fund education, yet many of them do not find ways to make it easier on their own students. As someone who has made a living teaching and writing, I completely recognize the importance to exposing students to various works and writings, but there is way to be creative and understanding of the students’ challenges as well.

When books come out with a new edition (meaning there may be a simple change in a case study) students might then be prohibited from purchasing a used version. It was different 20 years ago, when books were all we really had, along with articles on reserve at a library. But now, it’s so easy to make a copy and post it, that there seems no need to anchor people down with elaborate book lists. If we care about the plight of our students, then we need to be more sensitive to their needs going in.

Harold Ford, Jr. - New Yorker

Harold Ford was the young successful congressman from Tennessee that ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate in 2006. He was one of the few Democrats to not win that year. Ford has since relocated to New York, and has been working with Merrill Lynch. Now, some influential power brokers from media and finance are encouraging him to run for the U.S. Senate in New York.

If Ford has made New York his home, he has a right to consider running for office. Would this be considered carpet-bagging? Of course it is, but that no longer seems to be a big factor with voters.

What makes this a little odd is that Ford was one of Tennessee’s favorite sons. His father was a congressman in Tennessee, and Ford, Jr. enjoyed a good public life there. In order to run here in New York, he has to first unseat a fellow Democrat in Kirsten Gillibrand.

In the end, Ford has as much of a right to do this (should he want to) as William Weld did when he ran for governor in 2006. If Weld can come to New York after being governor of Massachusetts, and run for governor here, then what is to stop Ford?

Ford has the influential friends that he would need to get started, even if some of his friendships have not weathered the storm of public life. Take his friendship with radio host Don Imus, for example. Imus went out of way to endorse Ford’s run the U.S. Senate in 2006. Imus even called the Republican campaign that opposed Ford racist.

In Ford’s defense, it was an ugly campaign. But when Imus was under fire and being called a bigot, Ford waited seven days and then issued a written statement. After all of Ford’s appearances on the Imus program, he was a little slow to defend his friend.

It’s a tough mix to be a loyal friend and still maintain a public image statewide. It must not have been easy for Ford, but Imus gave him unlimited access to a nationally syndicated microphone if only because he believed in him.

Imus dug his own hole with what he said about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. But if Ford is going to run for office in New York, he will probably have to do his morning talk on the airwaves in a new place.

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