Over the past decade or more, we have seen and heard a lot of duplicitous rhetoric about rhetoric: we have heard politicians speak about the importance of education as they cut the budget and increase class size and slash the jobs of teachers, librarians, social workers, and others. We have learned to live with cognitive dissonance as our “thought leaders” say one thing but mean something else, often the opposite..

Now it is happening to higher education. We hear that U.S. higher education is the best in the world, but the state and federal governments are demanding cuts that will affect the quality of education.

Timothy Pratt writes that “We Are Creating Walmarts of Higher Education.”

He writes:

“Universities in South Dakota, Nebraska, and other states have cut the number of credits students need to graduate. A proposal in Florida would let online courses forgo the usual higher-education accreditation process. A California legislator introduced a measure that would have substituted online courses for some of the brick-and-mortar kind at public universities.

“Some campuses of the University of North Carolina system are mulling getting rid of history, political science, and various others of more than 20 “low productive” programs. The University of Southern Maine may drop physics. And governors in Florida, North Carolina and Wisconsin have questioned whether taxpayers should continue subsidizing public universities for teaching the humanities.

“Under pressure to turn out more students, more quickly and for less money, and to tie graduates’ skills to workforce needs, higher-education institutions and policy makers have been busy reducing the number of required credits, giving credit for life experience, and cutting some courses, while putting others online.”