Tag Archives: Grants

Ideas for higher education reform from a disillusioned professor

We need to reform higher education
We need to reform higher education

A friend of mine who is a full professor sent me this article from the radically leftist site Vox. I was so surprised to find that I agreed with the author – a university professor  – pretty much across the board. See what you think of some of his points about how higher education needs to be reformed, and then I’ll comment at the end.

He complains about the university bureacracy and the office politics, then says this:

I realized not even students were too invested. When my best friend visited my campus to give a talk, he observed one of my lectures. I’ve got many shortcomings as an academic, but lecturing isn’t one of them. I’ve been on TV, radio, podcasts — you name it. By professor standards, which admittedly aren’t that high, I could rock the mic. But while my friend sat there, semi-engrossed in the lecture, he found himself increasingly distracted by the student in front of him.  That student, who like all in-state students was paying $50 per lecture to hear me talk, was watching season one of Breaking Bad. In a class with no attendance grade, where the lectures were at least halfway decent, he was watching Breaking Bad.

Later during that same visit, my friend asked me, in total sincerity, “Why aren’t you doing something meaningful with your life?”

“This is important,” I insisted. But there was no passion behind my words. I was a priest who had lost his faith, performing the sacraments without any sense of their importance.

So why are there so many students who have no interest in university who nevertheless attend in order to get the credential? After all, university is very expensive.

Here is his explanation:

As recently as a year ago, I remained willing to work inside that fractured system of pay-to-play higher education. If students wanted to take out federal loans to buy degrees, who was I to stop them? Let the chips fall where they may; graduate them all and let the invisible hand sort them out.

But that system is unsustainable. Liberal arts programs, and the humanities in particular, have become a place to warehouse students seeking generic bachelor’s degrees not out of any particular interest in the field, but in order to receive raises at work or improve their position in a crowded job market.

Once upon a time, in a postwar America starved for middle managers who could file TPS reports, relying on the BA as an assurance of quality, proof of the ability to follow orders and complete tasks, made perfect sense. But in today’s world of service workers and coders and freelancers struggling to brand themselves, wasting four years sitting in classes like mine makes no economic sense for the country or for the students — particularly when they’re borrowing money to do so.

See, this is not going to make any sense to my readers who have STEM degrees or vocational training. When STEM or vocational training students are in class, we learn, because we expect to have to do the job shortly after. We were not preparing for easy “talking” jobs, we were preparing for “doing” jobs. We were there to learn how to do something for money, not to have fun. We were there to learn how to produce value for customers, not to be indoctrinated by liberal professors holding red marking pens. Many liberal arts students are not there to learn to do a job, they are there to get a credential. In fact, many of the graduates of liberal arts programs these days have to be retrained by their employers.

The author of the Vox article has a solution:

Our federally backed approach to subsidizing higher education through low-interest loans has created perverse incentives with disastrous consequences. This system must be reformed.

When I started out, I believed that government regulation could solve every problem with relatively simple intervention. But after four years of wading though this morass, I’m convinced these solutions should be reevaluated constantly. If they’re not achieving their objectives, or if they’re producing too much waste in the process, they ought to be scrapped. We can start with federal funding for higher education.

The quickest and most painful solution to the crisis would involve greatly reducing the amount of money that students can borrow to attend college. Such reductions could be phased in over a span of years to alleviate their harshness, but the goal would remain the same: to force underperforming private and public universities out of business. For-profit universities — notorious for their lack of anything resembling good academic intention — should be barred altogether from accessing these programs; let them charge only what consumers in a genuinely free market can afford to pay for their questionable services.

Without the carrot of easy access to student loans, enrollments would shrink. Universities would be forced to compete on a cost-per-student basis, and those students still paying to attend college would likely focus their studies on subjects with an immediate return on investment. Lower tuition costs, perhaps dramatically lower at some institutions, would still enable impoverished students eligible for Pell Grant assistance to attend college.  Vocational education programs, which would likely expand in the wake of such a massive adjustment, would offer inexpensive skills training for others. The liberal arts wouldn’t necessarily die out — they’d remain on the Ivy League prix-fixe menu, to be sure, and curious minds of all sorts would continue to seek them out — but they’d no longer serve as a final destination for unenthusiastic credential seekers.

I agree with this idea, in fact I blogged about it before. This is the right solution to the problem. The problem of higher education costing too much will be solved when we stop attaching taxpayer money to students and urging them to attend university. If they want to get a job, then they should be trained to do a job. Only the students who are really interested in liberal arts should be there, and they should have to weigh the costs against the benefits. Maybe we should be taking the student loan decisions out of the hands of the government, and back in the hands of bankers who actually expect the money to be paid back. Or maybe we should give a tax credit to private sector businesses who agree to stake a student through his education, in exchange for working for them for some period after graduation. Anything is better than the mess we have now.

Planned Parenthood loses fight for $397,000 in taxpayer-funding

Good news from Life News.

The Planned Parenthood abortion business has lost its battle to keep a $397,000 taxpayer-funded contract in Memphis, Tennessee after pro-life advocates contacted members of the county commission requesting that the grant be given to someone else.

Shelby County Health Department director Yvonne Madlock had announced in September that , after significant lobbying from pro-life advocates, Christ Community Health Services would receive the $397,000 contract with the county for family planning rather than Planned Parenthood. Then, in a 6-4 party-line vote, the Shelby County Commission decided to postpone its decision and allow Planned Parenthood more time to make its case that it should continue receiving the tax money.

Now, the Shelby County Commission voted 9-4 on Monday to give Christ Community Health Services the family planning contract instead of renewing it with Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region. However, the Memphis Commercial newspaper reportsthat the abortion business has a pending bid protest with the county government.

[…]The money comes from the Title X family planning grants states are given by the federal government and Davidson County, the location of Nashville, made the decision earlier this year to move the recipient of its funding elsewhere from the Planned Parenthood abortion business. Because Shelby County was the lone holdout, pro-life advocates focused their efforts on persuading the county government to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

So, it sounds like things are not quite settled yet. But still – good news so far.

Related posts

New House GOP bill de-funds Planned Parenthood

Rep. Denny Rehnberg
Rep. Denny Rehnberg

Story from Life News.


The battle over yanking federal taxpayer funding of the Planned Parenthood abortion business is back in Congress as House Republicans have unveiled new legislation attempting to remove its Title X funding.

Republicans tried earlier this year to de-fund Planned Parenthood but Obama refused overtures from pro-life Speaker John Boehner to do so when Republicans and Democrats were working on ironing out legislation to fund the federal government. Obama eventually agreed to a compromise that allowed both the House and Senate to vote on a stand-alone bill de-funding Planned Parenthood and, while House Republicans approved their measure, Senate Democrats defeated it in the upper chamber.

[…]Now, Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana, the chairman of the House Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee has introduced new legislation to fund the federal government that prohibits any funds going to Planned Parenthood unless the organization stops doing abortions.

“This bill is the result of the cumulative effort of members of the Subcommittee, and Americans I heard from at 81 listening sessions and in countless meetings in Washington and in Montana.  Now, it’s posted online for the only test that matters, and that’s the approval of the American people,” Rehberg said.

Naturally, the head abortionist is outraged – someone is taking away her dollars!

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards issued a statement last week condemning the legislation.

“Eliminating funding for the Title X family planning program and prohibiting Planned Parenthood from providing preventive health care through federal programs will result in millions of women across the country losing access to basic primary and preventive health care,” Richards said.

The new bill also came under attack from both pro-abortion organizations and pro-abortion lawmakers.

“Another health-related provision prohibits any funding under the bill from going to any Planned Parenthood affiliate unless the organization promises not to perform abortions with non-federal funds,” Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, a pro-abortion Connecticut Democrat and a member of the subcommittee, groused. “The main effect would probably be to prohibit Medicaid patients from choosing to receive services such as contraception and cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood clinics.”

I listed Planned Parenthood AND the Democrats as being interested in the dollars. It’s a vicious circle. Planned Parenthood gets the dollars to kill the babies, and then they make campaign contributions to the Democrats who give them the taxpayer money. It’s all about the money. They kill babies for money. It’s a big business, and we subsidize it with our taxes.

Hon. Maurice Vellacott
Hon. Maurice Vellacott

And even in Canada, some Canadian conservatives are trying to push to de-fund Planned Parenthood.


Two more Tory MPs are taking swipes at the International Planned Parenthood Foundation.

One claims the group conned the government when it applied for and got a federal grant of $6 million over three years.

Another is linking it to the sinister and long-discredited science of eugenics.

Saskatchewan MP Maurice Vellacott says the federation was deceitful in claiming that the money would only go to countries where abortion is illegal.

Alberta MP Leon Benoit wants to condemn the foundation over an award named for Margaret Sanger.

Sanger was a pioneer in planned parenthood who embraced a type of eugenics.

Saskatoon MP Brad Trost started the ball rolling earlier this week with a web post condemning the decision to fund the international family-planning group.

While the Prime Minister’s Office is adamant that abortion is not an issue for the Conservative government, it still seems to be a touchy subject for backbenchers.

The Planned Parenthood grant is a case in point.

Trost said in his web post that the government’s claim that the money would be used in countries that bar abortion is “hair-splitting.”

Vellacott said the federation is “trying to dupe” the government over abortion.

“Even in those countries where abortion is technically illegal, it’s naive to think that Canadian tax dollars are not being used to promote abortion,” he said in a news release.

Maurice Vellacott is my favorite Canadian MP. He is the Canadian-equivalent to Iain Duncan-Smith in the UK. And don’t think these guys aren’t good on fiscal issues – they are. They just are also good at social issues, which should go together anyway.

Related posts on Planned Parenthood

Guttmacher Institute: states enact record number of abortion restrictions

Enacted Abortion Restrictions By Year
Enacted Abortion Restrictions By Year

Great news from the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion think tank. (H/T John from Truth in Religion & Politics)


In the first six months of 2011, states enacted 162 new provisions related to reproductive health and rights. Fully 49% of these new laws seek to restrict access to abortion services, a sharp increase from 2010, when 26% of new laws restricted abortion. The 80 abortion restrictions enacted this year are more than double the previous record of 34 abortion restrictions enacted in 2005—and more than triple the 23 enacted in 2010. All of these new provisions were enacted in just 19 states.

The post breaks down the pro-life measures by category:

  • Counseling and waiting periods
  • Gestational bans
  • “Heartbeat” bill
  • Banning abortion coverage in new insurance exchanges
  • Medication abortion
  • Cuts to abortion subsidies

All of these bills were supported by Republicans, and opposed by Democrats.

Elections have consequences. We elected a massive number of Republicans in 2010, and now we are seeing the results of that effort. I could not be more proud of the Republicans who voted in these measures to protect the unborn.

Related posts

Obama administration threatens Indiana for defunding Planned Parenthood

From Life Site News.


The Obama administration is not happy with Indiana for being the first state to defund Planned Parenthood. According to reports, the administration is considering taking away the state’s Medicaid money in retaliation.

Pro-life Gov. Mitch Daniels recently signed into law a measure that bars state agencies from entering into contracts with abortion providers, aside from hospitals. The law also bans abortion past 20 weeks gestation, with an exception for the life or physical health of the mother.

The law effectively cuts Planned Parenthood off from approximately $3 million in state family planning funds, unless the state organization divides into separate independent affiliates that have nothing to do financially with abortion-providing affiliates.

The New York Times reports that federal officials are considering withholding some or all of the state’s Medicaid money in order to pressure the state to allow the nation’s largest abortion provider to tap into family planning funds.

The Times reports that the administration has 90 days to take action.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a statement approved by the White House: “Federal law prohibits federal Medicaid dollars from being spent on abortion services. Medicaid does not allow states to stop beneficiaries from getting care they need — like cancer screenings and preventive care — because their provider offers certain other services. We are reviewing this particular situation and situations in other states.”

Marcus J. Barlow, representing the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, pointed out to the Times, however, that the state was not cutting off funds for family planning services. “It’s a change in providers,” he explained, observing that clients of Planned Parenthood could go to other non-abortion providing clinics for those services.

Bioethicist Wesley J. Smith posed the question on his blog: “Is PP so important to Obama that he and his HHS Secretary are willing to materially hurt poor people by cutting off Medicaid funding to try and leverage restored funding for PP?”

“So long as those services are available, what business is it to the Feds which facilities provide them? Or, are we to believe that PP has a right to receive public money?” he said.

Well, the other service providers didn’t donate massive amounts of money to the Demcorat Party, like Planned Parenthood did. (See below) Some people who claim to be pro-life voted for Barack Obama, and I think those people really need to reconsider the facts. The Democrats are a pro-abortion party.

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