Phi Beta Cons

Krugman Flip-Flops on Higher Education

I like to read columns of people I disagree with. Perhaps there’s a masochistic streak in me.

On that front, Paul Krugman’s New York Times column from March 8 struck a nerve because it refuted one of the only columns he wrote in which I agreed with him. On Friday, Dr. Krugman used Rick Santorum’s calling colleges “indoctrination mills” and Mitt Romney’s telling a student to seek an affordable college to label the right as anti-education. He concludes his column with:

And if underfunding public education leaves many children of the less affluent shut out from upward mobility, well, did you really believe that stuff about creating equality of opportunity?

I wouldn’t expect anything different from Krugman, except that on March 6 of last year, he wrote thiss in his Times column:

But there are things education can’t do. In particular, the notion that putting more kids through college can restore the middle-class society we used to have is wishful thinking. It’s no longer true that having a college degree guarantees that you’ll get a good job, and it’s becoming less true with each passing decade.

. . .

What we can’t do is get where we need to go just by giving workers college degrees, which may be no more than tickets to jobs that don’t exist or don’t pay middle-class wages.

We desperately need real alternatives to traditional higher education. There is only so much mud to sling around.


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