robertogreco + costs   21

The story of college — Medium
[Wayback: ]

"We are left with a situation in which institutions that were originally created to perpetuate the reign of an inherited, moneyed elite, and to train that elite to be civic leaders, are now facing the burden of incredible expectations. We expect our colleges, at this point, to essentially create a healthy labor market. With the demise of the middle class uneducated lifestyle, thanks to deliberate policy choices to crush unions and globalize labor markets, colleges are now expected to train an ever-growing population of students adequately to ensure them good jobs. Meanwhile, the madcap race to compete in the Resort-Hotel-Plus-Classes vision of higher education has resulted in an increasing reliance on exploited adjunct labor, the demise of the professoriate, the rise of sky-high tuitions and attendant debt loads, and more and more deserved public scrutiny.

In other words, America’s conservative, corporatist turn has led to declining per-capita state funding for universities thanks to austerity politics, the demise of unions as upwards pressure on wages, a shredded social safety net for those who struggle, and spiraling inequality that sees more and more of the economic pie eaten by a tiny elite. College still makes sense for graduates, as they continue to enjoy significant premiums in wages and unemployment over those without college educations. But the race to credentialize puts enormous pressure on high school students to attend the most selective institutions, erodes the value of the bachelor’s degree itself and compels many to pursue graduate degrees in law or business or medicine, and perhaps even perpetuates inequality rather than reducing it. After all, even with all of the expansion, only about 40% of working Americans has a college degree. It is unclear if the economic advantage they enjoy will survive with further expansion, given that skilled labor is subject to basic forces of supply and demand.

We’re left in a situation where everyone agrees that something has gone badly wrong, but no one is quite sure what alternatives to pursue. Many, such as myself, believe that too many people are being pushed into colleges where they are unlikely to succeed, but there is little in the way of alternative plans for mass prosperity. Arguments to increase the number of students attending trade schools are intuitively satisfying but lack evidentiary support. Arguments for sending more and more students into STEM fields are directly contradicted by available evidence. Arguments for mass online education cannot provide evidence that such systems can actually provide a quality education, particularly for the most at-risk students, and omit the social and networking functions that are an important aspect of college success. Average people can’t afford the rising cost of college thanks to enormous income inequality and stagnant wages, but neither can they afford not to go to school.

Colleges and universities deserve harsh criticism and badly need reform. The rise in administrative and amenity spending is suicidal; the use of exploited labor, unconscionable. Tuition rates must continue to slow, as they recently have. But ultimately, the problem is with our economy writ large. The pressures that colleges are under stem from the demise of broadly-shared prosperity. Without returning a substantial portion of the income growth for the top 10%, 5%, and 1% to the median American, there is likely no alternative to mass debt and economic stagnation. Proposals for free tuition and broad student loan forgiveness are a good start. But ultimately, our problems with higher education can only be solved through redistributive economic reform."
freddiedeboer  highered  highereducation  2015  history  policy  administrativebloat  economics  gender  race  colleges  universities  politics  inequality  labor  costs  education  stagnation  ronaldreagan  anationatrisk  wages  employment  unemployment  tuition  unions  us 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Administrators Ate My Tuition by Benjamin Ginsberg | The Washington Monthly
[See also: ]

"Forty years ago, America’s colleges employed more professors than administrators. The efforts of 446,830 professors were supported by 268,952 administrators and staffers. Over the past four decades, though, the number of full-time professors or “full-time equivalents”—that is, slots filled by two or more part-time faculty members whose combined hours equal those of a full-timer—increased slightly more than 50 percent. That percentage is comparable to the growth in student enrollments during the same time period. But the number of administrators and administrative staffers employed by those schools increased by an astonishing 85 percent and 240 percent, respectively."

"If you have any remaining doubt about where colleges and universities have been spending their increasing tuition and other revenues, consider this: between 1947 and 1995 (the last year for which the relevant data was published), administrative costs increased from barely 9 percent to nearly 15 percent of college and university budgets. More recent data, though not strictly comparable, follows a similar pattern. During this same time period, stated in constant dollars, overall university spending increased 148 percent. Instructional spending increased only 128 percent, 20 points less than the overall rate of spending increase. Administrative spending, though, increased by a whopping 235 percent.

"The number of administrators and staffers on university campuses has increased so rapidly in recent years that often there is not enough work to keep all of them busy. To fill their time, administrators engage in a number of make-work activities. This includes endless rounds of meetings, mostly with other administrators, often consisting of reports from and plans for other meetings. For example, at a recent “president’s staff meeting” at an Ohio community college, eleven of the eighteen agenda items discussed by administrators involved plans for future meetings or discussions of other recently held meetings. At a gathering of the “Process Management Steering Committee” of a Midwestern community college, virtually the entire meeting was devoted to planning subsequent meetings by process management teams, including the “search committee training team,” the “faculty advising and mentoring team,” and the “culture team,” which was said to be meeting with “renewed energy.” The culture team was apparently also close to making a recommendation on the composition of a “Culture Committee.” Since culture is a notoriously abstruse issue, this committee may need to meet for years, if not decades, to unravel its complexities."

"The expansion of college and university administration has not been coupled with the development of adequate mechanisms of oversight and supervision, particularly for senior managers. University boards, which technically oversee the administrations, are generally not well prepared for the task. One recent study found that 40 percent of university trustees said they were not prepared for the job and 42 percent indicated that they spent less than five hours a month on board business. Many trustees serve because of loyalty to their school and say they have “faith” in its administration. They do not go out of their way to look for problems, and administrators are generally able to satisfy trustees with the rosy pictures of college life presented at weekend board meetings."

"The priorities of the hyper-administrative university emerge most clearly during times of economic crisis, when managers are forced to make choices among spending options. Thanks to the sharp economic downturn that followed America’s 2008 financial crisis, almost every institution, even Harvard, America’s wealthiest school, has been compelled to make substantial cuts in its expenditures. What cuts did university administrations choose to make during these hard times?

A tiny number of schools took the opportunity to confront years of administrative and staff bloat and moved to cut costs by shedding unneeded administrators and their brigades of staffers. The most notable example is the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, which in February 2009 addressed a $100 million budget deficit by eliminating fifteen “leadership positions,” along with 450 staff jobs, among other cuts. The dean also emphasized that faculty would not be affected by the planned budget cuts. Chicago’s message was clear: administrators and staffers were less important than teaching, research, and—since this involved a medical school—patient care; if the budget had to be cut, it would be done by thinning the school’s administrative ranks, not by reducing its core efforts.

Unfortunately, few if any other colleges and universities copied the Chicago model. Facing budgetary problems, many schools eliminated academic programs and announced across-the-board salary and hiring freezes, which meant that vacant staff and faculty positions, including the positions of many adjunct professors, would remain unfilled until the severity of the crisis eased."

"On any given campus, the only institution with the actual power to halt the onward march of the all-administrative university is the board of trustees or regents— which, as we’ve seen, tend to be unprepared or disinclined to make waves. But they need to do so if their institutions are to be saved from sinking into the expanding swamp of administrative mediocrity.

To begin with, trustees interested in trimming administrative fat should compare their own school’s ratio of managers and staffers per hundred students to the national mean, which is currently an already inflated nine for private schools and eight for public colleges. If the national mean is nine administrators per hundred students at private colleges, why does Vanderbilt need sixty-four? Why does Rochester need forty and Johns Hopkins thirty-one? Management-minded administrators claim to believe in benchmarking, so they should not object to being benchmarked in this way.

The right kind of media coverage would embolden boards to ask the right questions. In particular, the various publications that rate and rank colleges—U.S. News is the most influential—should take account of administrative bloat in their ratings. After all, a high administrator-to-student ratio means that the school is diverting funds from academic programs to support an overgrown bureaucracy. I am certain that if Vanderbilt or Duke or Hopkins or Rochester or Emory or any of the other most administratively top-heavy schools lost a few notches in the U.S. News rankings because of their particularly egregious administrative bloat, their boards would be forced to act.

But given the general fattening of administrative ranks in recent years, even schools with average administrator-to-student ratios could stand to see major cuts in their administrative staffs and budgets. This could help not only to fill budget holes but, more importantly, to begin a healthy shift in the balance of bureaucratic power within universities. A 10 percent cut in the staff and management ranks would save millions of dollars but would have no effect whatsoever on the operations of most campuses. The deanlets would never be missed; their absence from campus would go unnoticed. A 20 percent or larger cut would begin to be noticed and would have the beneficial effect of substantially reducing administrative power and the ongoing diversion of scarce funds into unproductive channels.

With fewer deanlets to command, senior administrators would be compelled to turn once again to the faculty for administrative support. Such a change would result in better programs and less unchecked power for presidents and provosts. Faculty who work part-time or for part of their careers as administrators tend to ask questions, use judgment, and interfere with arbitrary presidential and provostial decision making. Senior full-time administrators might resent the interference, but the university would benefit from the result. Moreover, with fewer administrators to pay and send to conferences and retreats, more resources might be available for educational programs and student support, the actual items for which parents, donors, and funding agencies think they are paying."
highered  highereducation  education  academia  administration  money  costs  tuition  administrativebloat 
march 2015 by robertogreco
21 graphs that show America’s health-care prices are ludicrous [Chile is pricey too.]
"This is the fundamental fact of American health care: We pay much, much more than other countries do for the exact same things. For a detailed explanation of why, see this article [ ]. But this post isn’t about the why. It’s about the prices, and the graphs."
us  health  healthcare  costs  money  business  economics  2013  chile  medicine 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Finland and education export: IKEA of schools? ~ Stephen's Web
"Could Finland export the Ikea of schools? They certainly have the branding and marketing set, as years of international studies have placed their system at the top. But what would they export? "Penttilä's idea is to start-up a network of Finnish International Schools around the world that would loosely follow the Finnish school curriculum (an alternative to the IB system)." OK. But, "People - most of them with children - considered the idea feasible. However, people were concern could they actually afford the school with teachers who are paid Finnish salaries." See, there's the rub. People who want a Finnish education would have to place the same priority on education that Finland does. But what potential importers of Finnish education are ready to do that?"
finland  education  schools  export  costs  money  us  salaries  teaching  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
The Way We Live Now - Home-Schooling for the Techno-Literate - ["Here is the kind of literacy that we tried to impart:…"]
"Every new tech will bite back. The more powerful its gifts, the more powerfully it can be abused. Look for its costs. • Technologies improve so fast you should postpone getting anything you need until last second. Get comfortable w/ fact that anything you buy is already obsolete. • Before you can master device, program or invention, it will be superseded; you will always be beginner. Get good at it. • Be suspicious of any tech that requires walls. If you can fix, modify or hack it, that is a good sign. • The proper response to a stupid tech is to make a better one, just as proper response to stupid idea is not to outlaw it but to replace it w/ better idea. • Every tech is biased by its embedded defaults: what does it assume? • Nobody has any idea of what a new invention will really be good for…crucial question: what happens when everyone has one? • The older the tech, the more likely it will continue to be useful. • Find minimum amount of tech that will maximize your options."
teaching  parenting  literacy  learning  education  technology  kevinkelly  glvo  tcsnmy  obsolescence  homeschool  schools  criticalthinking  utility  unschooling  lcproject  abuse  costs  hackability  modification  fixability  invention  homework  stress  self-directedlearning  autodidacts  learningtolearn  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Economic View - Why Free Parking Comes at a Price -
"In his book, Professor Shoup estimated that the value of the free-parking subsidy to cars was at least $127 billion in 2002, and possibly much more.<br />
<br />
PERHAPS most important, if we’re going to wean ourselves away from excess use of fossil fuels, we need to remove current subsidies to energy-unfriendly ways of life. Imposing a cap-and-trade system or a direct carbon tax doesn’t seem politically acceptable right now. But we can start on alternative paths that may take us far.<br />
<br />
Imposing higher fees for parking may make further changes more palatable by helping to promote higher residential density and support for mass transit.<br />
<br />
As Professor Shoup puts it: “Who pays for free parking? Everyone but the motorist.”"
parking  cities  urban  transport  economics  environment  transportation  density  costs  subsidies  cars  driving  us  tylercowen  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
How much does college cost, and why?
"It would not be hard at all to make higher education completely free in the USA. It accounts for not quite 2% of GDP. The personal share, about 1% of GDP, is a third of the income of the richest 10,000 households in the U.S., or three months of Pentagon spending. It’s less than four months of what we waste on administrative costs by not having a single-payer health care finance system. But introduce such a proposal into an election campaign and you would be regarded as suicidally insane."
colleges  universius  costs  policy  politics  economwealth  education 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Columnist - California Death Spiral -
"So California’s woes show that conservative prescriptions for health reform just won’t work.
politics  economics  paulkrugman  california  healthcare  insurance  consumers  health  reform  costs 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Bob Samuels: Why Tuition Always Goes Up at American Universities
"perverse incentive system at research unis also trickles down to other schools, & 1 of reasons for this application of research priorities at non-research institutions is that so many of professors & administrators are trained at doctoral research universities...once research becomes the priority at a college/university, the cost of administration & facilities skyrockets & this increase in bureaucracy & buildings is paid by undergraduate student tuition & state & fed taxes. Undergraduate students & parents are therefore paying for replacement of teaching w/ research & admin & what makes this situation even more appalling is that these institutions still claim that they are providing a public good & mission is to serve community. However, point here is not to say parents & tax payers should not support university research or that university research is not important; rather, people should know what they are paying for & false statistics allow for a lot of hiding & mismanagement."
colleges  universities  costs  money  education  highereducation  undergraduate  2010  inflation  research  administration  us  broken 
february 2010 by robertogreco
NGM Blog Central - The Cost of Care - National Geographic Magazine -
"The United States spends more on medical care per person than any country, yet life expectancy is shorter than in most other developed nations and many developing ones. Lack of health insurance is a factor in life span and contributes to an estimated 45,000 deaths a year. Why the high cost? The U.S. has a fee-for-service system—paying medical providers piecemeal for appointments, surgery, and the like. That can lead to unneeded treatment that doesn’t reliably improve a patient’s health. Says Gerard Anderson, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who studies health insurance worldwide, “More care does not necessarily mean better care.”"
politics  visualization  health  infographics  healthcare  insurance  graphic  infographic  us  cost  costs  reform  spending  via:kottke 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Healthcare Blue Book
"The Healthcare Blue Book is a free consumer guide to help you determine fair prices in your area for healthcare services. If you pay for your own healthcare, have a high deductible or need a service your insurance does not fully cover, we can help. The Blue Book will help you find fair prices for surgery, hospital stays, doctor visits, medical tests and much more."
healthcare  medicine  shopping  consumer  comparison  money  health  budget  insurance  costs  pricing  medical  dental 
august 2009 by robertogreco
Worldchanging: Bright Green: Free Parking Isn't Free
"parking spaces can cost between $10,000 and $50,000 – typically more than the cost of the car that occupies it. High parking requirements can raise the price of homes and apartments by $50,000 to $100,000, a serious challenge to affordability." Not enough people complain about subsidized parking, not nearly as many as those that oppose subsidized mass transit, and thus we live in the cities that result.
transportation  cost  urbanplanning  urban  urbanism  price  subsidies  parking  policy  transit  cars  economics  planning  cities  zoning  development  society  environment  sustainability  regulation  sprawl  costs  us 
august 2009 by robertogreco
Is College Worth It? - John Lounsbury -- Seeking Alpha [commentary on and summary of:]
"My father asked me why I wanted to go to college. My answer, essentially, was that I wanted to make money. His rejoinder was that I did not have a valid reason. Making money was not a good reason to go to college, he told me."..."thought provoking statements from the article: *Degrees are poor proof of learning. *Literacy levels among college graduates, the commission noted, fell sharply over the 12 years ending in 2003. *The system must change before students are made poorer, society grows less equal, the bright are left ignorant & "college" comes to mean a 4-year pajama party intruded upon by the occasional group discussion on gender studies. *The four-year college degree has come to cost too much and prove too little. It's now a bad deal for the average student, family, employer, professor and taxpayer. *bright citizens spend their lives not knowing the things they ought to know, because they've been granted liberal-arts degrees for something far short of a liberal-arts education."
colleges  universities  money  costs  learning  effectiveness  education  alternative  liberalarts 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Education - Pharmer's Market: The Cost of Producing "Successful" Students
"Our education systems, seeking efficiency through standardization and conformity end up creating students who, just like their agricultural counterparts, are no longer well-adapted to their environment. Michael Pollan reminds us that, "Most of the efficiencies in an industrial system are achieved through simplification: doing lots of the same thing over and over." Like corn planted in a monoculture, removed from the diversity that protects it, or cattle fed an unnatural diet of corn, students today are fed a standardized diet of procedures and reproducible facts. This educational monoculture does nothing to nourish minds that have evolved to seek diversity, novelty and stimulation."
education  politics  teaching  standardization  curiosity  repetition  culture  society  schools  schooling  michaelpollan  schooliness  reform  change  efficiency  production  equity  diversity  community  costs  business  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  lcproject  standards  industrial  monoculture  billfarren 
june 2009 by robertogreco
How Safeway Is Cutting Health-Care Costs -
"Safeway's plan capitalizes on 2 key insights gained in 2005. The 1st is that 70% of all health-care costs are the direct result of behavior. The 2nd, which is well understood by providers of health care, is that 74% of all costs are confined to 4 chronic conditions (cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity). Furthermore, 80% of cardiovascular disease & diabetes is preventable, 60% of cancers are preventable & more than 90% of obesity is preventable...As with most employers, Safeway's employees pay a portion of their own health care through premiums, co-pays & deductibles. The big difference between Safeway & most employers is that we have pronounced differences in premiums that reflect each covered member's behaviors. Our plan utilizes a provision in the 1996 Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act that permits employers to differentiate premiums based on behaviors. Currently we are focused on tobacco usage, healthy weight, blood pressure & cholesterol levels."
via:kottke  healthcare  insurance  costs  us  policy  incentives  obesity  politics  economics  health  money  safeway 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Annals of Medicine: The Cost Conundrum: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker
"Somewhere in the United States at this moment, a patient with chest pain, or a tumor, or a cough is seeing a doctor. And the damning question we have to ask is whether the doctor is set up to meet the needs of the patient, first and foremost, or to maximize revenue.
us  economics  health  healthcare  healthinsurance  insurance  incentives  medicine  business  policy  reform  government  finance  accountability  costs  politics  society  atulgawande 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Going Postal: The Imminent Death of the U.S. Postal Service? - Georg Jensen - The American Interest Magazine
"Just as General Motors has in effect subsidized Big Oil by continuing to build gas-guzzlers in recent years, so has the USPS continued to subsidize Big Mail by shaping its operations to encourage what it now calls, revealingly, "standard mail" -- that is, advertising junk mail. Most American citizens are blissfully unaware of the degree to which USPS subsidizes U.S. businesses by means of the fees it collects from ordinary postal customers. For example, if you wish to mail someone a large envelope weighing three ounces, you'll pay $1.17 in postage. A business can bulk-mail a three-ounce catalog of the same size for as little as $0.14."
usps  government  sustainability  economics  advertising  politics  policy  mail  costs  marketing  consumer  postalservice 
april 2009 by robertogreco
Randoseru [cross-post here:]
"When I first started to follow Japanese culture, I saw these bags in anime, manga, J Dorama and in magazines. I then came over to Japan and started to wonder why all the kids had one and why there were all the same shape n size. These bags are known as "Randoseru" [ランドセル] which is the Japanese pronunciation of the Dutch word "Ransel" meaning "Backpack" and are used by elementary school children in Japan. They were first introduced into Japan as a backpack for commissioned officers in the imperial army during the Meiji period. The Randoseru was then introduced into governmental schools as the standard commuting bag. A randoseru is a compulsory school item that ones grandparents usually buy for their grandchildren and usually cost 2 kidneys and a bladder - take this one for example - 57,750 yen! The most expensive randoseru that I've been able to find online costs 165,900 yen from Rakuten."
randoseru  education  japan  culture  money  costs  schools  schooling 
february 2009 by robertogreco
The Other Half of "Artists Ship"
One of the differences between big companies and startups is that big companies tend to have developed procedures to protect themselves against mistakes. A startup walks like a toddler, bashing into things and falling over all the time. A big company is more deliberate. The gradual accumulation of checks in an organization is a kind of learning, based on disasters that have happened to it or others like it. ... Whenever someone in an organization proposes to add a new check, they should have to explain not just the benefit but the cost. No matter how bad a job they did of analyzing it, this meta-check would at least remind everyone there had to be a cost, and send them looking for it."
paulgraham  innovation  management  leadership  tcsnmy  costs  startups  government  programming  business  economics  art  pricing  strategy  administration  software 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Housing + Transportation : Center for Neighborhood Technology
"Planners, lenders, & most consumers traditionally measure housing affordability as 30 percent or less of income. [this index] takes into account not just cost of housing, but also intrinsic value of place, as quantified through transportation costs"
housing  realestate  sprawl  transit  transportation  travel  urban  urbanism  maps  mapping  money  community  visualization  costs  affordability  sustainability  demographics  urbanplanning  statistics  suburbs  calculator  economics  planning  geography  gis  data 
april 2008 by robertogreco
NussbaumOnDesign One Laptop Per Child Has It's First Test. Result? It Has A Long Way To Go. - BusinessWeek
"Then there is the cost. I personally hadn't added up all the money that goes into the $100" laptop. What, in fact, is the true bottom line cost of the OLPC? Will governments that accept the OLPC subsidize the operating cost--electricity, repairs, etc.?"
olpc  nigeria  africa  laptops  children  costs  money  government 
december 2007 by robertogreco

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