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 11: A Different Scenario: The Possible Effects of Internet-based Education Solutions on Post-Secondary 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


106 It’s all over for bricks-and-mortar colleges just like buggy whips and spats, and, more recently, travel agents and stockbrokers; technology will replace them, except for the very few who insist on traditional, outmoded methods. (Sam Rainey, response in Gross, 2010) INTRODUCTION The arguments in this study have been based on the assumption that existing post-secondary institutions and practices are the basis for the significant reform needed to deal with the common pool problem and Baumol’s cost disease issue. Reform may well take place in a number of ways discussed in the previous chapters. One can see examples of the reform movement in course design, assessment, cost savings and a variety of efforts to increase access, retention and graduation rates. But these changes may still be at the margin, falling short of the total redesign needed. A recent paper (Brewer and Tierney, 2010) argues that a changed environment comprised of demographic increases in underrepresented groups (Hispanics and African-Americans), declining fiscal support from states, and pressures from online for-profit competitors creates the need for fundamental change in the traditional higher education sector. The problem is that the traditional higher education sector is slow to accept innovation. Federal and state mechanisms, including research funding formulas, direct institutional subsidies, and student financial aid reinforce the status quo. Accreditation agencies and higher education membership associations exist to preserve the status quo. Brewer and Tierney recommend that colleges and universities and the post-secondary education sector as a whole become much more active, with a purposeful...

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