The New Limits of Education Policy

The New Limits of Education Policy

Avoiding a Tragedy of the Commons

Roger Benjamin

Using a political economy framework to analyze the current problems facing US postsecondary education, The New Limits of Education Policy tackles the questions surrounding the future of higher education. The study provides an explanation of why improvement of teaching and learning is not a high priority for the stakeholders involved. Roger Benjamin explains why heightened recognition by the State of the importance of human capital in the knowledge economy will create the external conditions that will, in turn, create the need for an altered incentive system for these stakeholders. He goes on to make a case for additional positive incentives that would reward behavior that improves teaching and learning.

Chapter 3: The New Limits of Education Policy: The Quality of Undergraduate Education

Roger Benjamin

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics, education, education policy, politics and public policy, education policy, social policy and sociology, education policy


INTRODUCTION Human capital, the education, skills and knowledge of a society’s population, is now regarded as the key to economic and social development; it is the principal resource for any society.28 Educational institutions are the principal formal venue for human capital development. However, while national leaders understand the critical importance of human capital, they have not translated this understanding into educational policy that increases the effectiveness and efficiency of educational institutions at all levels. Over the next few decades this situation will change. Education policy will come to be seen as central in the nation state’s arsenal of tools to guarantee national security and advance all dimensions of social and economic development. As part of the strengthened role of education policy, assessment will become an important part of undergraduate education, the capstone of the K-16 education system. However, for this assessment to be meaningful, it must be focus on the higher order skills that are necessary to human capital in the Knowledge Economy. A NEW CENTRAL ROLE FOR THE STATE: PRESERVING AND IMPROVING HUMAN CAPITAL The primary role of the State is to provide national security for its citizens. In the industrial era of development the national security focus included protection of national geographic boundaries, natural resources, and economic institutions that made up the economy.29 Today, protecting and enhancing human capital is increasingly becoming part of providing national security for citizens. Since the K-16 education system is the formal venue for preservation and enhancement of human capital, education policy should...

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