Friday, May 13, 2016

Education Disfigured by Controlling Interests in a Dying Empire

Universities get into partnerships with banks, credit unions, insurance companies, non-bank lenders, and other vendors in the private financial sector, commonly to minimize certain administrative overhead by outsourcing operations like "processing financial aid refund payments" (4), managing student loan services, and other business processesThrough these contractual agreements, their partnering financial firms become unrivaled providers of banking products on campus. 

Campus transforms into a competition-free environment where it's in the interest of the financial-collegiate partnership to limit the students' awareness of other less expensive options. Questionable fees and policies adhering to these financial products are disguised in marketing ploys as options of wisdom and convenience. 

"A checking account is a convenient and a wonderful introduction to independence ... a checking account can help create a good financial foundation for the rest of your life." (0) 

Nation wide drops in state funding situate colleges to increasingly rely on tuition and other sources of private capital. Raising tuition transfers the burden of monetary decline onto the students. Achieving new watermarks of profit and maintaining lucrative relationships float to the top of schools' priorities as they take on "a culture of service to the student as a client". (3   

The evolving strategies employed by firms to continue to attract students reflect the changing nature of these arrangements. On the liquid wheels of revenue-sharing agreements, schools are being mobilized to augment further debt by "nudging" students "toward a specific account option", (eventually) provoking the mandate of legislation regulating this and other similarly motivated activities. (7

In the mean time, the off-campus world experiences rising pressures to attend college. President Obama introduced The American Graduation Initiative, and later, The College Completion Toolkit, along with "a table of 'state targets'—the total number of college graduates that each state would need to achieve to be on target to meet the 2020 national goal." A sudden well-spring of college completion initiatives are in bloom across the US as governors are tasked with the responsibility of maximizing the annual amount of college graduations achieved in their states. (2) 

Universities and other organizations are responding to this call-to-action, sharing the ambition "to significantly increase the number of adults in the United States who have earned a postsecondary credential". (2) As more people are finding their access to a college education, its being stripped of its value, morphing into an expensive pedagogic facade through the gradual inevitability of privatization

"Opponents of privatization claim that it distorts and subverts the core mission of a college or university, which is to seek truth and generate new knowledge, unfettered by the need for commercial application or external justification, and to preserve and transmit both these truths and society’s underlying cultural heritage."(3)

Delineating these circumstances as confined to college-level education is a misguided perception: since earlier this century, grades K-12 have seen aggressive reforms (1,7,8) that enforce "relentless testing, charter schools, closing of 'failing' public schools, mass firing of teachers, and widespread standardization" (1). These reforms similarly impose "factory model management ... for the scalability and efficiency of 'the system'" (7).  

The culmination of these factors take the form of an inescapable misinformation vector nearly covering the full extent of [a single person's] institutional education. At the college level, this vector is founded on "mandatory" courses entrenched into general curriculum (ie.: philosophy, ethics, and economics), designed to deliver an "abstract, idealized model" of the world while deflecting conveyance of a true "understanding of real world developments". This is a mass distribution of an amoral and callous "intelligence", easily perverted by "a grave absence of a historical perspective" (5).  

"If we boycott various periods of history, the origins of the new cultures which succeeded them cannot be explained." (6)

In The Fate of EmpiresSir John Glubb identifies an astonishingly repetitive pattern of "development and decline" over "many successive empires covering some 3,000 years". Through this paradigm, the American empire has certainly survived the ages of Pioneering, Conquest and Commerce, to realize its ages of Affluence and of Intellect. Prior to Affluence, earlier values of "glory and honour were the principal objects of ambition". Through the age of Affluence, Glubb asserts that the "voice of duty" is silenced as "the desire to make money seems to gain hold of the public".  

He goes on to explain that "education undergoes the same gradual transformation": colleges abandon practices that produce "brave patriots ready to serve their countrywhile "parents and students alike seek the educational qualifications which will command the highest salaries". (6

To view all moving pieces of our modern puzzle in this historical framework, its important to remember that massive education funding cuts are introduced at the same level of government where the foghorn [to exceedingly arouse state-level college attendance] is sounding. Furthermore, foundations that provide backing to this agenda include the the Lumina Foundation for Education, "a foundation whose assets derive from the student loan industry" (1). 

The cyclic humor of this relationship portrayal is more than a coincidence. What we have here is not just financial wolves taking advantage of an economic contraction: we are witnessing the residues of unscrupulous bonds fashioned between public policy and private interests

Grades K-12 merely hosted the starting point of a "long range, coordinated effort" (3) to arrive at current conditions. After cultivating regulatory influence at earlier academic levels, those private interests have finally "focused on colleges and universities" (1). After all, producing an entire society of debt-entrapped and professionally preoccupied literates is heavily demanding of power, patience, and a very lengthy commitment. 

A decaying empire's contemporary holders of authority fearfully anticipate the encroaching discordance of society.    
These private interests shake hands with schools, law makers, media channels, and other avenues of control to suppress (or at least, delay) the inevitable redistribution of resources and power. 

In phases of its demise, an empire demonstrates a "tendency to philanthropy" (toward minorities and the disadvantaged). At this phase of its shelf life, the Roman Empire provided easy access to education, equal citizenship, and participation in prestigious political positions. 

This bears spectacular resemblance to our federally mandated, institution-driven campaign for "increasing student success and educational attainment" (2). Toted as a movement of generosity, this education-based agenda is a sign of the American corporate capitalist empire's looming deterioration. 


(0)  Discover Bank, Member FDIC    


  1. "What we have here is not just financial wolves taking advantage of an economic contraction: we are witnessing the residues of unscrupulous bonds fashioned between public policy and private interests." #truth

    I'll be one of the few parents saying "I hope my kid DOESN'T go to college!"

    Please write more articles like this one, very enlightening.

  2. My reaction is, "Yes, that seems about right." First off, as much as I love the idea as educated masses, I know college isn't for everyone. Skilled crafts people are needed and we still need people to perform services related to maintenance and goods.

    Secondly, as much as I love benevolent government, forcing education benchmarks is a terrible idea. Think about standardized testing and the effect it has on the education system. It forces schools to teach the test or lose funds, thus narrowing the scope of early education.

    The fact college is being toted as the way to a better life is nuts because everyone now starts deep in the negative financially. In fact, other than the pervading self-doubt, I know my chief reason for not going for my master's yet is I don't want more debt.