Friday, September 18, 2009

Obama-Care: A New Paradigm for Public Policy

Obama-Care portends a new paradigm for public policy. President Obama promises that any health care bill he signs into law will improve access, cut costs, and increase results. This means providing health coverage for tens of millions of uninsured, reducing the share of national income spent on health care, and improve "life quality indicators."

How would Obama-Care apply to tertiary education, which depends heavily on government funding for research, faculty, and student support?

First, professors would be judged on "research quality indicators" of their government-funded work. They would be expected to improve research output with smaller budgets.

Second, universities, especially elite "ivies," would be expected to educate more poor, lower-middle class, and less prepared students, thus extending brand-name education to those currently excluded, at less cost. Universities offering "gold-plated" education to a few would be taxed to support the many at less costly institutions to spread the benefits of higher education.

Third, universities would be judged on "educational quality indicators," for example, graduation rates. Roughly half of those enrolling in four-year tertiary institutions fail to graduate. Unless that ratio increases, government funding would be reduced. To insure that grades are not inflated and graduation criteria lowered, a national educational clearing house would establish universal standards of objective tests to insure quality.

Extending the paradigm of Obama-Care to higher education means more educated students, more productive research, and taxpayer savings. This is a winning recipe and ought to be endorsed by those supporting Obama-Care. To dream.

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