Class War

The Pell grant, once the cornerstone of student aid, has plummeted from covering seventy-two percent of the cost of college to just thirty-two, tuition increases have skyrocketed into the double-digits as states balance their budgets by slashing higher education funding, two-thirds of students are taking out mortgage-sized loans to pay for college, sending the average borrower nearly twenty-five thousand dollars in debt at graduation, and, as with the rest of America, students continue to struggle in one of the worst job markets on record.

Education is a Right: A Different Kind of March Madness

I keep thinking about the sort of rhetorical age or moment we are living through, and I have to say it often leaves me feeling disappointed and more than a little bitter, especially when it comes to public discourse. Even National Public Radio is declining so rapidly that I wonder if I might finally give up on it. NPR’s lack of ambition and creativity when it comes to funding has turned it into another commercial medium rather than a public medium. It’s not just commercials, it’s commercials with periodic episodes of whiny begging.

What really gets my goat, though, is the way so much of the media– NPR included– panders to the worst sort of right-wing nonsense. They just don’t seem to want to do the work to find legitimate conservative critics, I think, so they simply take the easy way out and allow the nuttiest of the right wing to use the public air ways to say almost anything. I keep wondering if these mainstream journalist types have lost all judgment or if they are simply so desperately afraid of loosing their audience and so their meal ticket that they will try anything.

Meanwhile, while they dutifully repeat the Republican claim that health care reform is apocalyptic, they miss stories that have real substance and importance. There’s the long list of attacks on higher education listed by Education is a Right, to start, and an even longer list of attacks on public education financing (including in my own town, Charleston, Illinois) and on the teaching of history, as represented by the right wing nuts in Texas. And, of course, they are not covering the students who want to resist, either. Omission is as bad as commission.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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