All posts by Lee Kottner

Lee Kottner is a New York City writer, activist, and adjunct faculty member who travels 4 hours a day to teach at three universities in the New York Metro Area.

Why Obama’s College Plan Is Doomed to Fail

I’ve been saying for years that American higher education ought to be free, but I’m far from sanguine about President Obama’s college plan.  Here’s why: the plan to offer many students two free years at community college fails to take into account the general state of education in this country, from real costs to college readiness to quality of instruction.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel in The Washington Post has already dealt succinctly with the real cost problems: i.e., that tuition is only a small part of the actual costs of college for most students. College readiness is failing dismally because of our ridiculous emphasis on high-stakes testing and its erosion of critical thought among K-12 students. Student preparation and quality of instruction are the real, deeply intertwined problems here. Free tuition will fix neither of them and might make one worse.

Call It Grade 13

Community college is often the first choice for students who aren’t quite ready for university, a kind of Grade 13. That lack Continue reading Why Obama’s College Plan Is Doomed to Fail

A Nightmare Future of Higher-Ed

A favorite trope of science fiction dystopias is a classroom of students wearing metallic skull caps wired to a blinking, monolithic computer, and staring vacantly into space while the propaganda and “facts” that pass for knowledge and education are downloaded directly into their brains. That scenario may be coming soon to a college campus near you, if in a somewhat more refined manner.

Consider the state of higher education today. Since the late 1970s, the total of poorly paid untenured and contingent faculty has far outstripped the number of tenured faculty on college campuses all over the world and now accounts for roughly 76 % of faculty in U.S. higher education.

Continue reading A Nightmare Future of Higher-Ed