Two higher education labor groups, discontented with the status quo in higher education, launched a campaign to push for more federal government requirements to hold institutions accountable for student loan debt, post-graduation job prospects, and other similar issues.
The left-wing Roosevelt Institute called this new plan, “A New Deal for Higher Education.” Similar to its namesake, this version would pour millions (if not billions) of federal funding into a specific industry (i.e. higher education) and come with strings attached and promises of reform to the Left’s standards. And, just as with the original New Deal, it will likely fail to significantly revamp or reform the industry it targets and will not resolve higher education’s underlying problems. Some of these problems are academia’s overgrown or bloated bureaucracies, unnecessary federal subsidies, and the declining value of a college degree.
Inside Higher Ed reported that The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) believed that the federal government should force colleges and universities to comply with their one-size-fits-all approach.
Predictably, the groups did not offer any specific policy proposals or details on the phone call, but they said they would go forward with their progressive ideas nonetheless. But some of the proposals could be requirements about administrations detailing their plans to avoid layoffs or how the administration plans to hire for permanent faculty positions. There is also the possibility of reimposing restrictions on for-profit institutions, which the Left accuses of taking advantage of students to rack up higher student loan debt.
The groups were emboldened by First Lady Jill Biden, a former adjunct professor, who had thanked both the National Education Association (NEA) and the AFT last November. Biden reportedly said, “Know this. Joe and I will never forget what you did for us.”
Progressive politicians Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) endorsed the idea of adding more federal requirements related to “ensuring job security, equitable pay and sustainable careers for faculty and staff.”
Free-market reforms have led to innovation, higher productivity, and a better quality of life in other industries in the private sector. This “New Deal” for higher education is likely doomed to fail because it will prop up an insular bureaucracy, without addressing the underlying problems which are crippling the industry.