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Book Title: Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream|
The author of the book: Suzanne Mettler
ISBN 13: 9781306433457
Format files: PDF, Epub, DOCx, TXT
The size of the: 790 KB
Edition: Basic Books (AZ)
Date of issue: March 31st 2014
Reader ratings: 6.3
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Read full description of the books Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream:
Forprofit colleges are harming every single citizen in America, and although politicians are aware of the damage it is doing to this country, they still fail to take any serious action. Suzanne Mettler looks at these flaws in our education system at the postsecondary level in her book, Degrees of Inequality. While many educational reformers tend to look at the inequality in education at the primary and secondary level, Suzanne Mettler points out the inequalities that exist at the postsecondary level by closely examining the costs of college. These costs place many disadvantaged students from achieving the same level of education as wealthy Americans, an issue portrayed in Waiting for Superman as well. The book Degrees of Inequality by Suzanne Mettler is a dry and often slow read, but it effectively proves, with thorough research, a strong thesis: inequality in the postsecondary level of education exists and forprofit schools are harming America without any effective political legislative stopping them.
In Degrees of Inequality, Suzanne Mettler argues that the postsecondary education system in America is flawed and prevents many disadvantaged students from being able to obtain a college degree. These issues start with the government and its refusal to increase aid for disadvantaged students. The value of Pell Grants have depreciated as inflation continues to grow and colleges raise the price of tuition. There has been little increase in the amount of money Pell Grants give to students since the program was established in 1972. The Obama administration has fought to “increase Pell grants...annually at the rates derived from the Consumer Price Index (CPI)” and “make Pell grants an entitlement...so that any student who met the eligibility criteria so that any student would receive a full grant” (147) but to little avail as many sweeping education reforms had to become more moderate in order to pass with Obamacare to avoid a filibuster. The average costs to attend a public four year institution has increased over time and is not affordable to many. Today, it costs “29% of income...for those in the middle income quintile” and “for those in the lowest income quintile...114% of income” (121) to attend a public four year institution. As a result, a quality education is only available to the rich, an idea also portrayed in Waiting For Superman. As the author explains it, “‘public' education has become, in reality, increasingly ‘private’ in its actual funding” (122). This is also true at the primary and secondary education level; public schools in less wealthy neighborhoods aren’t receiving as much aid, putting these schools behind other wealthier public schools. A quality postsecondary education is difficult to obtain due to the failures of the government, an intriguing argument presented throughout the book that provokes the reader.
Suzanne Mettler launches a full on attack, demonizing for-profit schools as degree factories only worried about making money. A for-profit school is a university or college that does not invest profits back into the school. Examples would include the University of Phoenix, Universal Technical Institute, and DeVry University. These schools “earned between 60.8 and 85.9 percent of their total revenues in 2010 from Title IV of the Higher Education Act, meaning predominantly student loans and Pell Grants” (168). The majority of large forprofit colleges have around 35% of their students repaying student loans, and “39 percent (of students) defaulted compared to 10 percent of those in the public and nonprofit sectors” (96) leaving the government to pay for the loans to the schools. This directly affects citizens who must pay, in taxes, for the defaulted loans and the financial aid funding these institutions. These taxes add up to tens of millions of dollars that American ￼citizens must pay annually. Suzanne Mettler dedicates a large portion of the book to explaining how “the political relationships that have developed between public officials and the industry have promoted...extensive profits for company owners and shareholders, at the expense of students and taxpayers” (109). Like Waiting For Superman, the politics behind education are constant throughout. The author effectively shows how such injustices to the American public can continue without any intervention from the government. Just like teacher labor unions, the for-profit colleges spend a large amount of time and money lobbying against regulations that could harm their institutions and profits in the case of for-profit colleges. For-profit colleges are still able to be funded by the government and indirectly, taxpayers, by winning the support of politicians from lobbying. The in-depth look at politics may turn some readers away from the book and the overall message, but it is very intriguing for those who are interested in politics.
Degrees of Inequality by Suzanne Mettler is a slow read, but the information and knowledge gained from this book are well worth the challenge. The book reads as an academic study as Mettler elects to prove her arguments through stats and charts rather than personal stories. It would have been very simple for the author to find a deeply indebted low income graduate from a for-profit university to show that for-profits are making money off their students, but instead, the author writes the book as if it’s a thesis paper. Waiting For Superman proved how effective a story behind a message can be, especially regarding social reform. I could not recommend this book to any normal person; it takes a great deal of patience and interest in politics to be able to finish and fully appreciate the insightful and well-researched book that is Degrees of Inequality by Suzanne Mettler. ~ Student: Cameron P.
Read information about the authorSuzanne Mettler is the Clinton Rossiter Professor of American Institutions in the Government Department at Cornell University. Her research and teaching interests include public policy (including social welfare, tax, health, and education policies), American political development, political behavior and civic engagement, and inequality.
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