Archive for February 9th, 2012

Can We Trust The Market To Improve Colleges?

February 9th, 2012

By Watson Scott Swail, President & CEO, Educational Policy Institute/EPI International

Last week, I discussed the President’s proposal for cost cutting and keeping colleges on task and on budget. Yesterday, the Senate held a hearing on college affordability that basically showed how the government is handcuffed from finding a way to get colleges in line, fiscally or otherwise.

Senate Democrats and Republicans lined up and basically sound-bited (now a verb in a dictionary near you!) what we expect. Democrats said the government should do whatever they can to make college more affordable (according to Barbara Mikulski, D-MD). Republicans said they should let free markets take care of this (it wouldn’t be so funny if we didn’t know that the Republicans took the Democrats position back in 1998. Now it’s hilarious).

But I was taken by what North Carolina Republican Richard Burr said:

“Higher education is a great example of how the market place works. When tuition gets too expensive, he said, “people choose to go somewhere else.” (

I apologize, but this comment shows either naiveté or gross ignorance. I’m betting both.