Students Are Not Customers

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Betsy DeVos and the GOP more generally say that we need to treat students like customers. Three responses.

1) What’s so great about being a customer if you’re not a billionaire?

2) The student’s relationship to their educational institutions and the people who work there cannot be characterized as simply transactional.

3) When students are treated as customers, as Tressie McMillan Cottom show in Lower Ed, the extractive nature of the industry doesn’t serve them well.

Also I wrote the first draft in an airport lobby:

“Education can be an engine of social change, a vehicle toward equality. McMillan Cottom makes it clear, though, that the wrong framing, policies, and financial models can turn education into an engine for inequality. To me, DeVos’ false insistence on “choice” and on students as “customers” drives us toward the latter outcome. As a billionaire, she’s going to fly in a private plane or at least in first class. As a white, cis-male, middle class professor and writer, I get a cramped middle seat in the back. More vulnerable Americans, meanwhile, will be left behind entirely on the ground.”

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