No Class: Bill Clinton's Education-as-Entitlement Programs Threaten to Reverse Positive Trends in Higher Education
Postrel, Virginia I., Reason
It's not surprising that Bill Clinton has decided to become the education president. Southern governors always emphasize education, hoping to drag their states up a few economic notches and prove they're on the side of civilization; hence, the South has produced such secretaries of education as former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander and former South Carolina Gov. Dick Riley. Clinton follows in this tradition, hailing from a state in which a mere 13.4 percent of the population had college degrees or better as of 1990 (an even worse showing than Mississippi). He knows education is important because he grew up in and later governed a place where it was relatively rare.
Now he wants to make two years of college an entitlement and turn tuition into a tax shelter. He demands a "new nonpartisan commitment to education" and declares that "education is a critical national security issue for our future, and politics must stop at the schoolhouse door." That declaration is, of course, backed by piles of polls showing that education handouts are popular among voters in general and women in particular. And it's tied to programs designed to make educational entitlements as much a part of middle-class life as Social Security or the home mortgage deduction.
In a moment of ideological frankness, Assistant Secretary of Education David Longanecker blurted out this allegedly nonpolitical policy's goal: bribing Generation X and its successors to back big government. "We want to make a very strong statement," Longanecker said following the State of the Union Address, "that it is worth it to this country to invest in these middle-class students. We believe it will help them re-engage in civic life and make them believe that government does something for them too."
Maybe politics should stop at the schoolhouse door, but intelligent analysis shouldn't. Clinton's …
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Publication information: Article title: No Class: Bill Clinton's Education-as-Entitlement Programs Threaten to Reverse Positive Trends in Higher Education. Contributors: Postrel, Virginia I. - Author. Magazine title: Reason. Volume: 29. Issue: 1 Publication date: May 1997. Page number: 4+. © 2009 Reason Foundation. COPYRIGHT 1997 Gale Group.
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