Jeffrey Aaron Snyder, in an excellent, if downcast, Boston Review essay on the post-pandemic costs U.S. higher ed:
The coronavirus is taking a sledgehammer to higher education in the United States, shattering the established configurations, norms, and rituals of colleges and universities across the country. Besides overturning the very structure of education virtually overnight, transforming physical classrooms into digital ones, it will also accelerate a number of troubling longer-term trends, including public disinvestment in state colleges and universities, a growing gap between higher ed haves and have-nots, and the migration of courses and degrees online. Anyone who cares about education as an engine of social mobility and a tool to broaden our horizons needs to pay attention.
Snyder’s piece, though, ends in a whimper—with a wan call to articulate higher-ed’s value to anyone who will listen. So Adam Kotsko’s gentle rejoinder, published in the same Boston Review forum, is a welcome addendum:
The idea that college faculty and their allies have somehow failed to “make the case” for the value of their work is one of the hoariest clichés of higher ed commentary—our equivalent to the legendary “since the dawn of time”-style opening for undergraduate papers.
Kotsko wants a much more muscular response to what he characterizes as “systematic campaign of lies” by conservatives and business leaders:
Strong, fully inclusive unions that fight for decent working conditions for the whole faculty are the only viable way to form an independent power base that gives faculty members real leverage over the administration. Given how entrenched the destructive “best practices” are at most existing institutions, though, more radical measures—such as founding new, faculty-run cooperatives—may be more effective.