I have to start out with a kind of disclaimer: Marc Bousquet is a friend of mine and he wrote a positive review of my book (it’s on the cover). Even if he hadn’t, though, I think I would still welcome his recent commentary, “Fix Nonprofit Higher Ed First,” for its refreshing reality-based argument about for-profit and non-profit higher education. The for-profit make a too convenient target.
Personally, I think that for rhetorical reasons he overstates the ills of the for-profits (where I work); not all schools are the same, and we do some things just as well as the non-profits. But he’s right to make the obvious point that the non-profit sector is much larger, and so much guiltier. Too often the focus on the non-profits works as a smoke screen for some ugly practices.
In any case, all of higher education needs labor and regulatory reform, not simply the for-profit sector. I’ve certain witnessed my share of what Bousquet calls “slapdash, harebrained systems of hiring and evaluation by administrators.” And it seems obvious that in a democratic society so heavily dependent on technology that higher education should be free. It’s just common sense.