[Update a while later]
Roger Kimball notes another similarity with housing:
As I wrote in a piece for The New Criterion a few years ago,
“Many parents are alarmed, rightly so, at the spectacle of their children going off to college one year and coming back the next having jettisoned every moral, religious, social, and political scruple that they had been brought up to believe. Why should parents fund the moral de-civilization of their children at the hands of tenured antinomians? Why should alumni generously support an alma mater whose political and educational principles nourish a world view that is not simply different from but diametrically opposed to the one they endorse? Why should trustees preside over an institution whose faculty systematically repudiates the pedagogical mission they, as trustees, have committed themselves to uphold?”
Just imagine the sorts of sub-literate, ideologically charged nonsense that Women’s Studies debtor was battened on in her classes! The Australian philosopher David Stove, commenting on the Faculty of Arts at Sydney University, formulated a diagnosis that applies to the teaching of the humanities of most Western universities: It is, Stove wrote, a “disaster-area, and not of the merely passive kind, like a bombed building, or an area that has been flooded. It is the active kind, like a badly-leaking nuclear reactor, or an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle.”
There are incipient signs that a Great Recoiling from this intellectual disaster is beginning to form. It will be greatly aided by the economic disaster in which the institutional life of universities is embedded. “Why,” hard-working parents will ask themselves, “does it cost more than $50,000 a year to send Johnny to college.” Leave aside the question of what it is that Johnny is and isn’t learning in those ivy-covered walls. Why does his four-year furlough from the real world cost so much? One reason, of course, is that Johnny, assuming his parents are paying full freight, is paying not only for his own tuition: he is also helping to foot the bill for Ahmed, Juan, and Harriet down the hall. Colleges routinely boast about their generous financial aid packages, how they provide assistance for some large percentage of students, etc. What they don’t mention is the fact that parents who scrimp and save to come up with the tuition are in effect subsidizing the others. How do you suppose Johnny’s parents feel about that?
Honk if I’m paying your kid’s tuition.