As someone who works in the for-profit higher education, I am often dismayed at what happens in my little corner of the economy. I think our industry emerged in an economic culture that was far too unregulated and far too greedy. I think we need more regulation and I think that our industry doesn’t need to be so narrowly focused on short-term profits. We share all the problems of modern U.S. capitalism, in other words.
I am also often dismayed at the way problems in the for-profit sector seem to be used as cover for the more profound problems in the public sector. These problems are dwarfed by the exploitation of adjunct labor, bloated administrative salaries, the weakening of tenure, the corruptions of big college sports, and the rise of student debt, to name only a few, that have characterized the public sector for the last three or four decades.
These problems in the public sector are more profound because they set the standard for the culture at large. For-profit schools will come and go– that’s the nature of a market– but without a democratic, service oriented public university system we might not have a democracy or a functioning economy at all. I think, too, that the for-profit sector will not flourish without profound reform in the public sector.