The Elite Culture That's to Blame for the College Cost Crisis (Opinion)

Ann McClure's picture
Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Why can’t Johnny afford college?

In a stinging, expletive-laced missive called “The Commencement Address That Won’t Be Given,” Robert Reich makes the issue an existential one, calling it “a problem for America as a whole:”

If unemployment stays high for many years, if the wages of young college grads continue to fall, if the costs of college continue to rise and state and local spending per college student continues to drop, and if the college debt burden therefore continues to explode – well, you do the math.

At some point in the not-too-distant future these lines cross. College is no longer a good investment.

While many betrayed- and bewildered-feeling students cry “Why me,” a growing number of American pundits are asking “Why us?” Their answers, unfortunately — like their prescriptions — leave out a more amorphous but more important piece of the puzzle than traditional policy studies provide. One key to the disconnect can be found in the assumptions behind Reich’s fear that college will become anything less than broadly appealing.

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