The Corner

An Education Department Appointment that Would Really Make the Left Blow a Gasket

The Left blew up over the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education because she is opposes the near monopoly that “progressives” have over K–12. But DeVos has no experience with or much background in higher education and that’s why it would be great to have someone as undersecretary who has such background and takes a contrarian view when it comes to federal higher-education policy. The proper role for the federal government in higher education is none at all, but if we can’t get there, let’s at least minimize the damage it does. One scholar who perfectly fits that bill is Professor Richard Vedder. In this Martin Center article, Jane Shaw makes the case for him.

Vedder has done a lot of work on the economics of higher education and sees that government intervention here has the same sort of malign effects as it does everywhere else. It has made higher education higher in cost and lower in value. His 2004 book Going Broke by Degree was a trailblazer in the field of higher-education criticism. Vedder also served on the Spellings Commission, acting as the only true free-market advocate. And his small think tank, the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, has turned out numerous useful studies and papers that challenge the conventional wisdom about college education in America.

Betsy DeVos will need a steady hand on higher-education issues and there is simply no one better equipped for that role than Richard Vedder.

In Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, Vedder had a sharp op-ed piece on the way to lower the high cost of college by changing our absurd system of student aid. I hope DeVos read it and thought, “Maybe he ought to work for me.”

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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