By Benjamin Franklin
This column gives education leaders the opportunity to discuss higher education issues. For more information contact Jenny Faubert at 920-264-0199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Franklin here!
One of the problems we had in the colonies was the monopolization of trade by the Crown. Through the use of taxes, tariffs, and regulation, King George and his cronies sought to control commerce and prevent our colonists from making a living. The Bostonians revolted and decided to dress up as natives and demonstrated civil disobedience, with the now famous, tossing of tea into the Boston Harbor.
In today’s American higher education community, there is a similar monopoly over higher education.
Large government owned institutions unfairly compete with private enterprise or private community based educational institutions. The universities have become powerful political forces that are immune to criticism, efficiency, and effectiveness.
The government has decided that these institutions are above criticism or even certain laws. For example, the University of North Carolina carried on a degree mill, which conferred credit to students who never went to class. This lasted almost 16 years. Did they lose their accreditation? Did they lose their Title IV funding? Did they pay back the millions of dollars illegally distributed? The University of Central Florida spent $99 million on construction projects unauthorized by the state. Did they lose the recognition by the department of education for administrative incapability? There are many examples of public institutions failing to meet standards or regulations, with little or no action taken against them. They are not only too big to fail, but they also are not allowed to fail.
A monopoly is defined as: “The exclusive possession or control of the supply of, or trade in a commodity or service.” The state universities and the community colleges clearly meet this definition and provide an unfair advantage over the private and for-profit educational community. Even though I started a career school in 1741, when there were no public educational offerings, I see today a system of unfair competition and unfettered abuse by the government, which makes basic operations for private institutions difficult, if not impossible to achieve. When higher education was only for the privileged and few professions required a college degree, private education flourished as the wealthy were able to choose schools that met their specific needs.
Today, our complex society requires significant post-secondary education, and the state universities, with their huge subsidies and under market tuition, are forcing many century old institutions to close their doors.
Even worse, these union dominated, money-hungry public institutions have created a hostile environment supported by their publicly elected owners to force for-profit and family owned (like mine) schools (businesses) to close, and often precipitously, by rabid regulators (like King George’s redcoats). While I admit there were some Charlatans who should have been placed in pillory stocks in front of city hall, the actions of the states and the federal government demonstrated the anti-competitive feelings and protection in their dominance.
Private education is an important and critical resource in our country. Instead of competing with it, our government should be protecting it.