Class Warfare: Higher Education Is About to Become the Next Political Battlefield

By: Bruce Gyory
– City & State
For decades, both nationally and here in New York, elected officials focused on higher education policies when they were thinking about their legacies, from former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Higher Education Act to a grant program championed by U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell. But in terms of brass-tacks politics, few believed that election outcomes hinged on higher education policy. Reflecting this conventional wisdom, in Albany during the 1980s and ‘90s, lobbyists and advocates for higher education referred to themselves as “the wallflowers.”
 
Yet as columnist David Leonhardt wrote in The New York Times last month, public colleges and universities serve as a critically important stepping stone for lower-income students. “Over the last several years, however, most states have cut their spending on higher education, some drastically,” Leonhardt notes. “Many public universities have responded by enrolling fewer poor and middle-class students – and replacing them with affluent students who can afford the tuition.”
 

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