As a retired teacher, who experienced a variety of working situations, from very good to unbelievably bad, I developed some ideas about how to both reform the delivered product to American citizens, and how to reduce that cost.
Let’s start with the level that is perhaps the most debased from what any sane person would choose to fund through their taxes. The university or college level (including 2-year, 4-year, and graduate/professional levels).
If a student is not capable of functioning at a college level in basic introductory courses, that student must be referred to a tech/community college (generally 2-year, few frills), for evaluation and remediation. The cost of any coursework would be paid by the district that gave that student a diploma without requiring that student to be actually ready for college. That student would qualify for another whack at the ACT upon satisfactory completion of those remedial classes. Presumably, they would score higher on that try.
Assuming that the student qualifies for normal freshman placement in classes, EVERY student must take the same core coursework in English, Math, and Science. Electives will be left up to the individual student. Failure to pass the core classes will result in reduction of money received from the government, whether grants or loans. Students may attend a summer school session to make up for any deficiencies (yes, they will need to pass exams to move to the next round of school without penalty). They can either pay for the summer school themselves, or scrounge for a scholarship (this would be a great place for those NGOs that want everyone to go to college to put some money where their mouth is).
Financial aid would be based on monetary return. If you choose a field that’s filled with opportunities for employment, you get more money. Higher grades? You get more money. Use CLEP to reduce the time in school? More money. Work-study? More money.
In other words, we (the taxpayer) help those that help themselves.
That aid, for tuition, is based on actual costs – up to a point. If students go to schools that are pricier, they can only get an amount up to 2-3 times the cost of the average public university in that state. Any addition to their loans/grants will by on a 1:1 ratio of money provided by the public to money provided by private sources, including scholarships, grants, and loans. Colleges will be expected to pay at least 1/2 that money from their endowments, up to a total of 10% of the total endowed funds. Will that reduce the endowment? I certainly hope so. Many of them could easily fund ALL students attending without cutting into their principal.
Money provided by the government for housing will be the same throughout the state, equal to the average cost of rental housing in that city for a 1-bedroom apartment.
The above means that colleges with lavish amenities will have to pay for them, without expecting the students to kick in the cost.
Would that kill the private university? No, but it would definitely lead them to stop their building frenzy, and stop treating students like entitled lords of the manor.
As for classes:
- All syllabuses are public.
- All materials used in class must be posted – not only texts, but readings, videos, and guest speakers.
- No credit given for partisan activity by the students.
- Political affiliations and political donations must not reach a lopsided level. If a department is overly on one side or another, that is prima facie evidence that hiring and selection decisions have become politicized. Department budgets will be cut 10% each year, until the balance approaches a level more in line with the state average.
That won’t stop the problems, but it will help keep the citizens from financing the damage.
Any other suggestions? Put them in the comments.