Higher education is under right-wing attack

Clara Barros/ Staff Writer

Not all wars are loud and bloody. Some are silent.

We can’t see them or smell them, but they’re potentially just as violent.

Right under our noses, college education is being targeted. The right is effectively working to undermine it in several different ways: politically, ideologically and economically.

How are they doing that?

First, they’re systematically curbing the democratization of higher education, preventing tuition and student debt from being lowered.

“We don’t need the federal government to be involved in this,” said former Florida governor Jeb Bush when asked about making college affordable to all.

Of course, a truly accessible, high-quality education — an education that is not only public, but popular — is not in Bush’s interest, or, for that matter, in the interest of any of those who wish to maintain the status-quo.

President Donald Trump himself has said he “love[s] the poorly educated” because they’re “the most loyal people.”

In that sense, high tuitions and exorbitant amounts of student debt aren’t an accident: they’re a project.

Disheartened with the prospects for the future, those students are quickly offered a brilliant alternative: vocational training!

Indeed, so-called “career education” has increased 22 percent in the last decade, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In fact, companies like CVS, Tesla and Volkswagen are now actually partnering up with high schools to offer students job-oriented technical training, letting them skip college and go directly to the labor market.

Other big businesses no longer require college degrees from employees.

It’s a well-thought plan. This way, the private sector forms future job candidates as opposed to critical thinkers, questioners and well-rounded individuals, strengthening the school-to-work pipeline.

Of course, none of that happens without a good dose of university-is-not-for-everyone type of propaganda.

“Is college the right choice for you?” is a question that has become more common, and is obviously not addressed at wealthy and/or highly academic folks.

It specifically targets low-performing, poor students. This trend is fuelled by the right’s spread of anti-intellectualism. With FOX News and conservative leaders continually bashing “the intellectual elite,” it’s no wonder that 58 percent of Republicans believe universities negatively impact the country, as a Pew Research Center study showed.

Such rejection often goes hand-in-hand with the belief that university campuses are “bastions of liberal bias” that “discriminate against conservatives” and “indoctrinate” students.

Ultra-right-wing organization Turning Point USA — who has a huge presence at FIU — is one of the biggest propellers of that narrative.

Not by coincidence, Turning Point’s founder, Charlie Kirk, advocates for the reduction of college time to three years, and defends that student loan interest rates should be based on what you study and how well you did in high school.

Hint: if you’ve had learning difficulties, language barriers or want to pursue less marketable fields — sociology or philosophy, for instance — that’s bad news for your pockets.

And, finally, here’s the icing on the cake: while this happens, the right pushes for privatization, with people like secretary of education Betsy DeVos actively working to dismantle public education in favor of for-profit education.

These people know what they’re doing.

It’s up to us, students and faculty, to protect our rights: let us defend a public and popular university and a society armed with critical thinkers.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash.

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