Today's leaders must have spent more time watching Star Trek than they did studying economics. That's the only way I can explain articles like this.
A coalition of education and political leaders wants to improve higher education in Arizona, arguing the state’s poor performance has contributed to the United States’ declining economic power.
Too few of the state’s residents are earning college degrees to keep high-paying jobs here, according to the Coalition for Solutions Through Higher Education. The group cites statistics indicating more high school freshmen drop out than go to college.
But the group has a plan.
The coalition hopes to accomplish such things by raising awareness of the problem. It is holding a series of meetings across the state and hopes to initiate legislative hearings on the issue early next year.
I'm sure the "awareness raising sessions" and "legislative hearings" will lead to a Blue Ribbon Panel and a white paper followed by a five part series in the Republic about how bad Arizona sucks and why we won't be able to compete with the Chinese in a few years because kids in school today will only be qualified to play the banjo.
Maybe I can save the group some time. Do you know why people aren't going to college? Because the very same intellectuals who are now gnashing their teeth...raised tuition so high that many college degrees are no longer economically justifiable.
The chart on the right tracks in state tuition since 1992. I got the data from the the Board of Regent's website and then put it into this graph. (click it to enlarge). Tuition has gone up 300% since 1992. See that big spike where it really started to accelerate? That's when Michael Crow took over ASU and decided it was going to be an A1 super duper research institution.
Shockingly, when the price of an education tripled...fewer people decided to attend college.
There's a word for that type of behavior... "rational." Economists actually assume that people act rationally, but people who grew up watching Star Trek and then went to work for the Government don't understand that incentives matter.
Degrees that once cost $10,000 made sense for an 18 year old who wanted to avoid truck driving school, but Psychology, History, Religious Studies, Political Science, English Lit, and Journalism to name a few have become uneconomic at $30,000.
It makes no sense to incur $30,000 to $50,000 in debt for a degree that has little or no economic value. Sure, a liberal arts education is a great background if you want to attend law school, but ASU accepts 160 of the 3,500 who apply. That's a pretty big gamble if your undergraduate degree is in Film Studies. Do you know how many Cappuccinoes you have to make to pay off a $30,000 debt? So students on the margin have made the rational decision to forgo college.
Now the same group who have priced students out of the market are lamenting that kids aren't attending college and they are going to hold "awareness sessions" to solve the problem.
If you want kids to attend college then you need to back the tuition down to a reasonable level and hire a President who makes $120,000 a year and wants to teach kids.
Or you can pay a University President $750,000 a year to implement his dream of an elite university on a hill. Crank up tuition and cater to the few thousand kids who can afford to attend.
But it's tough to do both...no matter how many awareness sessions you hold
Even Scotty can't change the laws of Economics.