Higher education may sometimes seem like a strange parallel universe to those who live and work in the world of public policy. But this year, the State Policy Network made higher education reform the subject of two sessions at its annual conference. Their message to free-market advocates: initial legislative victories will undermined over the long term if the problems with higher education are not addressed.
In fiscal terms, spending on the public university system eats up as much as 10 percent of the budget in some states and state colleges and universities are as much havens of waste and corruption as any other public institution. Moreover, the issue is not limited to public colleges and universities. Private schools, like Brown University here in Rhode Island, are recipients of public funds as well. Brown most recently received $12 million in grants through the economic stimulus program – more than any other college or university in Rhode Island. Not the least concern is the political bias in college classrooms, which is turning the impressionable young minds of today into the left-wing activists and legislators of tomorrow.