A Bastille worth storming

I’m delighted that Barack Obama has taken on the cost of college. It is outrageous, and I’ve long marveled at how Americans meekly accept one tuition increase after another.

We need a revolution in our thinking about higher education, finding alternatives to the traditional college model with a mixture of quality, affordable online courses, like those offered by Western Governors University, the private, not-for-profit online school that this magazine profiled in September, and compressed schedules that allow a student to fulfill degree requirements with considerably less time on campus, and schedules that permit various combinations of work, service, and study. These amount to only the earliest stage of the flood of ideas for reform that are needed. The main thing is that we’ve just got to stop accepting the swollen administrative bureaucracies, the mindless construction of unnecessary buildings, and the empty courses that fill catalogs as they squander money.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Charles Peters

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.