Sunday, February 26, 2017

Lit. Review #1

Mettler, Suzanne. Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream. New York: Basic , a member of the Perseus Group, 2014. Print

In Degrees of Inequality by Suzanne Mettler, she introduces the book by stating a date (February 18, 2011), and giving the reason as to why that date has significant meaning: Republicans and Democrats were able to show bi-partisanship on the issue of for-profit colleges, and allowing them more funding in order to continue to create inequality through their useless prospects of education in addition to lumping thousands of dollars of debt to millions of for-profit college students all across the country. Although I have only read the first 70 or so pages of the book, the main idea is essentially all in the title. Shortly after World War II, the GI Bill was introduced, followed by the Higher Education Act of 1965 from President Johnson. Both of these legislates ushered in a time of growth and prosperity that was short lived, unfortunately. Beginning with the Presidency of Richard Nixon and continuing strongly with the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, students began to see their federal aid shrink along with rising tuition rates, forcing more and more students to take out federal loans and creating Sallie Mae, a ruthless corporation that thrives off of default student loans and putting students in the most precarious financial situations of their lives. The United States at one time was seen as the college super power of the world, seeing unsubstantiated growth in high school graduates attending college as well receiving four year degrees, with not much in student loans needed. Now, most of the student population in the US needs to take out loans for every semester of schooling. This cycle has spiraled out of control to the point where higher education is giving us less and less returns, and the money we pour into it is getting larger and larger.

Suzanne Mettler is a renown publisher and professor at Cornell Univeristy. She has other books in addition to Degrees of Inequality, one of them being Soldiers to Citizens: The GI Bill and the Making of the Greatest Generation. Clearly, she is extremely knowledgeable about the the makings of higher education not just in our time period, but of time periods well before her time. Her knowing the ins and outs of the GI Bill only makes her case stronger in Degrees of Inequality.

One key concept Mettler speaks about is the policyscape, or the combination of the words "political landscape". She says, "The current policyscape, a political landscape cluttered with policies created in the past and dense with the organizations and industries they have promulgated, has fundamentally changed the task confronting elected officials" (Mettler 41). Essentially, over time, policies have been created to benefit organizations and industries that play to the ear of politics and most likely donate millions of dollars to lobby politicians and have them in their "pockets", to say quite frankly. Over the decades, this has been happening constantly in order to undermine students and higher education legislation.

Another key concept is the rise of plutocracy. She explains, "...lawmakers are responsive to the needs of powerful industries and wealthy households, and less so to those of the vast majority of Americans" (Mettler 45). This concept ties directly into the policyscape. Politicians do whatever they can in order to make the large industries and households better off since those are the establishments channeling millions of dollars into offices, campaigns, and the like. It is closely related to the idea of  "pay-to-play" politics, paying money to your local, state, or federal politicians in order to have them represent a certain idea that you feel would be beneficial to you or your company or your industry. This is happening more and more, and it needs to stop if we, the American people, want any chance of taking back the reigns to higher education for all in this country.

"This helps to explain the altered stance of congressional Republicans beginning in the 1990s, when after decades of skepticism towards student aid, they suddenly found a political opportunity in it--the means to cater to banks and for-profit college that might in turn contribute to their campaigns" (Mettler 47).

"Yet the rise of partisan polarization has undermined the capacity of policymakers to engage in these fundamental tasks. And when lawmakers do legislate, they often cater primarily to powerful monied interests and wealthy households" (Mettler 20).

"Now, more individuals than ever from every income group pursue a college education...Their greates obstacle to completing a four-year degree is not lack of ability or motivation, but insufficient financial support" (Mettler 28).

This book is going to be one of my main sources because of the fact that the book is dedicated to explaining how student loans have gotten out of hand due to politicians catering to the banks and Sallie Mae's of the world. My research is to focus on the predator, and this book is chock full of information for my research.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Three Academic Sources

This seems like it could be a great help in my overall research of the student loan crisis. The article is titled "THE STUDENT LOAN CRISIS: BACKGROUND, MOTIVATIONS OF PARTICIPANTS, AND REGULATORY ISSUES". It speaks about the motives that students have to take loans, why it could be detrimental in the long run, and also has a short tidbit on the motives of banks that could be useful. One of the last paragraphs, titled "Implications", speaks clearly about the possible future of not only students, but this country.,%20ROBERT%20C.&spage=467&pages=467-498&sid=EBSCO:Index%20to%20Legal%20Periodicals%20and%20Books%20%28H.W.%20Wilson%29:99252847

This is yet another article that could be a fantastic fit for my idea. The article is titled "Facing The Student-Debt Crisis: Restoring The Integrity Of The Federal Student Loan Program". The authors, Robert C. Cloud and Richard Fossey, speak in detail about several topics, including the student loan default rate and the for profit sector. I'm sure I could find some great information to use in my final paper to help my argument.,%20Michael&spage=345&pages=345-350&sid=EBSCO:Academic%20Search%20Premier:82459683

Lastly, another great article that could be used. The article is titled "The Student Loan Crisis and the Future of Higher Education". Although it is short, it is full of information that I could find useful, since it hits home with my topic and it speaks about oil prices being a predatory factor in the US economy which could affect student loans and the job market for graduates.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Scouting the Territory

My topic has not changed much. I would still like to research the student loan crisis, but I am going to take Professor's advice and focus on the predator's (Sallie Mae, Banks, Trump University, etc.) rather than the prey, which are students just like myself. The first phrase I typed into google was "student loan crisis", and instantly I found articles from the likes of The Huffington Post, Time, and Forbes all about the student loan crisis. Forbes' article is about the student debt of older students. Time points out that student debt is worse than people think. And THP speaks generally about the topic, and has several articles listed under "Student Loan Crisis". I typed in "Sallie Mae' next, and found yet another article from THP and one from Slate that both talk about Sallie Mae's devious ways. A couple important sources found: 1) An article from 2009 titled "Drowning in Debt: The Emerging Student Loan Crisis" 2) An article from 2013 titled "Disparities in Debt: Parents’ Socioeconomic Resources and Young Adult Student Loan Debt". From the first article, I got more confirmation of the fact that students are being taken advantage of by large corporations and banks. From the second article, although I still have to read the entire article, the basic idea is about what A and H spoke about: parental influence on debt. I see it will also speak about student loan debt in general. 

Possible resources: This article is from THP, and is titled "Student Debt Is Already a Hallmark Issue for 2016". The student loan crisis has already been spiraling out of control for a while now, and 2016 is no different of a year. One of the major hallmark issues for some time to come will be the student loan crisis, and how it will be fixed (hopefully!).
This article is from Time, and is titled "Why the Student Loan Crisis Is Even Worse Than People Think". This article could be very useful. Although it is short, it is sweetly filled with facts about student loans today, the lasting impact it could have on students, and what can be done about it possibly in the future.

I can't say I found any controversy over this topic. The general consensus is that we are certainly in the midst of a student loan crisis, and large corporations like Sallie Mae and banks are the ones to blame.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Project Idea

I've decided I would like to put more research into the student loan crisis afflicting millions of American students. I like to think of students as  "Professional Profit Centers" since these giant corporations like Sallie Mae effectively treat us as profit centers for their own well-being.