In recent weeks, perhaps one of the most popular topics, not only in the US but also outside of it, has been predictions about the solutions to the problems that the new US president will face once he takes office. Moreover, in addition to the “challenges of other states,” which the current US political elite classifies as a bloc of “adversaries“ (i.e. China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, some Latin American countries), noted such problems as climate change, migration, terrorism, the need to urgently address the crisis of national health care and education.
At first glance, addressing the unprecedented damage to nearly 300,000 American lives that the policies of the current American elite have already caused by the collapse of the national health care system and deaths from the coronavirus should certainly be a major focus of the new White House administration. Assuming, of course, that it wants to demonstrate to its people and to the world a genuine concern for the population of its own country.
Against this background, as well as the pervasive media censorship, massive election fraud, and the pretentious hypocrisy of American society, epitomized by the mayor of Minneapolis, who weeps over the golden coffin of the black drug addict and rapist George Floyd, declared a saint of the religion of multiculturalism, the educational problems of the United States may seem less significant to some. However, it should be perfectly clear to any sane person what the destruction of the educational system in the leading state of the planet, which the whole modern civilization is focused on, means.
The past authority of the US education system has long provided students with quality training, as well as high prospects for employment and rapid career advancement later in life. The American education system is recognized around the world, and US universities are consistently at the top of the world rankings, which annually select the best universities in the world. A set of diverse educational institutions that provide differentiated training for pupils and students according to their age, their abilities in various subjects and disciplines, and with a consistent focus on the educational objectives set represent the basis of education in this country. The US educational structure includes both public and private schools at various levels, where students (or their parents) are free to determine the most appropriate educational format to meet their educational needs.
In the 1950s, the GI Bill (Soldiers’ Bill of Rights) and the availability (and sometimes free access) of universities caused a dramatic increase in the number of college students in the United States. In the 1960s, this growth continued, making universities centers of intense public debate and active civic participation in the issues of that time. During that period, colleges had excellent professors, students had access to a full variety of subjects and opportunities for a broad education, and the humanities were at the center of education. But at the same time, there was also social and political unrest and a growing number of citizens who participated in the expression of public discontent. These were speeches against the Vietnam War, racism, the destruction of working conditions in a growing corporate culture, against misogyny, against homophobia. And it was on college campuses that well-educated, intellectually prepared young people with a rebellious spirit gathered, leaving an indelible memory of themselves not only in US history but also well beyond.
But, of course, this did not please the eager US financial elite, who would have been more than happy to close all the schools in the country to get rid of the rebellion and freedom that was brewing in them. But, realizing how such an “undemocratic move“ could affect the mood of Americans, the elite took a different path: political persecution of the McCarthyists and the gradual destruction of the foundations of the American educational system. A clear step in this direction was the elimination of funding for public higher education, followed by the deprofessionalization and impoverishment of professors, which the US media began to write more and more about. Then the tactic of simplifying and destroying the quality of education became dominant, so that students stopped learning to think, to question, to justify. Instead, students were taught obedience.
University administrators began to create a cumbersome system of rules by which each applicant was evaluated: if they were white, they had one point system; if they were Hispanic, another; if they were African-American or of Indian descent, a third. Such a system in itself creates a lot of room for manipulation, which many actively use. For example, there is the well-known scandalous story of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who became the Democratic presidential candidate in the last election: Warren went to the University of Houston Law School, posing as a Native American descendant, and she was later able to get a professorship at Harvard based on just the “Native American quota.”
It is not surprising, therefore, that American universities have lost their monopoly on the preservation and reproduction of scientific knowledge. It is not for nothing that America’s largest corporations like Apple, Google, and IBM no longer pay attention to an employee’s degree — all that matters to them is their qualifications and knowledge.
American journalist and educator Masha Gessen recently shared her feelings about the frustrations of American society in The New Yorker. Fox News also writes about financial problems in the field of American education, stressing that in the US the state helps the rich universities, not the poor young people.
The cost of a university education in the United States has long been appalling: a year of study costs tens of thousands of dollars. But in a time of coronavirus crisis, students, many of whom are taking out huge loans to pay for their studies, wonder: how can Zoom classes cost $70,000 a year?
The public revelation of a grand fraud scheme to enroll students in elite colleges is shocking to Americans. Even universities from the association of America’s oldest universities, the so-called “Ivy League,” were involved.
Accusations of racism, declining quality, radical liberal student actions and strikes, censorship of all dissenting voices, etc. — such a cluster of problems could indeed bury the status of a US university education. And so it is quite possible that within a few years, American universities may become a defunct institution, both academically and educationally.
Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.