On Tuesday at its national convention, the Republican party adopted its official platform for higher education. The platform calls for a return to “basics” with a focus on programs that are directly tied to employment opportunities. The platform states that expanding technical institutions and the online for-profit sector will put pressure on four-year institutions and lower the cost of degrees.
Sound familiar? The Corbett Administration has been using this rhetoric for two budget cycles. And I think we all suspect that Corbett’s Postsecondary Education Advisory Panel will adopt some of the GOP platform and make similar policy recommendations when it issues its report in November.
Of course, the Republican platform doesn’t just look at broad federal policies. It also calls on the states to ensure that public university campuses are free from ideological (read: liberal) bias, stating that “…in state institutions the trustees have a responsibility to the public to ensure that their enormous investment is not abused for political indoctrination.”
It also advocates for moving away from the existing federal student loan system and increasing private sector financing for students.
The GOP’s platform also calls for “consumer choice” in both K-12 public education and health care.
It even blames unions for perceived out-of-control state spending: “A few states and their political subdivisions are currently in dire fiscal situations, largely because of their spending, debt and failure to rein in public employee unions.” Several speakers at the convention, including Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, got standing ovations for their stance against public sector unions.
We’re likely to see more of this rhetoric in the coming months, from both the national party and state leaders. APSCUF will continue to fight these unreasonable and ill-informed attacks on higher education and labor organizations.