5. Defunding, and Dumbing Down, Higher Education
As the Chronicle of Higher Education notes, Ryan has said little about public state institutions of higher education, other than that “education ought to be governed by state and local boards more ably qualified to determine student need” than at a federal level. Federal student-aid programs would face huge cuts under Ryan’s budget proposal, which would reduce eligibility for federal Pell Grants for low-income students.
Ryan has praised for-profit colleges, overlooking the fact that the very spending cuts he is calling for could be detrimental for such schools, who receive almost 90 percent of their revenue from federal student-aid programs.
Ryan’s record on issues important to colleges and universities reveals that he sees education in distinctly practical terms. Higher education, Ryan seems to think, is about the sort of job training provided by for-profit colleges and not about research and study that can lead to knowledge and innovation. Ryan’s budget would cut spending on programs funding academic research, including the National Institutes of Health.
The arts are an easy thing to toss to the crowd because you can cherry-pick an example of something that was funded by the NEA or NEH that will sound silly to someone, even if it has tremendous value in terms of preserving folklife traditions or ensuring access to arts and culture to rural communities.
Even while Ryan talks the deficit-hawk talk (and Romney has said he would completely cut subsidies for PBS), he nonetheless appears to be one of those conservatives who “enjoy the credit for talking about shrinking government but don’t actually want to be held responsible for taking things away from people, and the arts are a convenient space for them to stake that particular ground.”
Todd Essig of Forbes writes that he was “hoping for some fun grappling with an ‘intellectual’ far-right politician” at the announcement of Ryan as GOP VP candidate. But an inquiry into Ryan’s thinking behind his policy proposals shows this to be marred by “sloppy methods” and “irrationality.” Far from being an intellectual, Ryan is an anti-intellectual as politicians can be.
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