Low Cost and High Quality – One without the other is meaningless

NOTE – This piece has been updated to remove a sentence in which I attributed ideas to Goldrick-Rab which she doesn’t hold. I regret the error.

Yesterday I wrote a new piece for CNN, offering my take on the expanding debate about the cost of college.

Today, Bernie Sanders is going to file a 70 billion $ bill in the Senate to offer free public education to all Americans. That will be the latest move by Democrats to make the cost of college one of their issues. I expect to see Sanders debate Clinton (and whoever else) on debt-free vs free college. That’s a good debate to have as the plans are different. I trust Sara Goldrick-Rab, who I quote in the piece, that we need to make sure to concentrate resources on those who need it most.

My mantra – Without investment in high quality education, lowering costs won’t help those most in need.

I hope that the cost of college becomes a major political issue. But let’s remember that low cost must be paired with high quality. High quality means providing good jobs for the people asked to prepare students for good jobs of their own. It means building educational structures with lots of face time, individualized education, and support systems for those new to learning. Otherwise, we can cut costs down to nothing, but we won’t help the people most in need. To fix higher ed, the focus on savings must be accompanied by a massive public reinvestment in teaching and advising.

I’d like to ask for your help in making sure that when politicians start talking about cost, we ask them – who will be doing the teaching? Who will be doing the advising? Who will make sure that vulnerable students don’t fall through the cracks?

Let’s get to work.

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