The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them
Few dispute that public colleges are failing to provide the promised education, but the cause is questioned. Author Christopher Newfield contradicts the widespread conventional belief that private sector practices are responsible. In a diatribe that shifts between anger and regret and is generally challenging but always heartfelt, he outlines alternatives. Privatization, Newfield contends in The Great Mistake, is one of the principal culprits for the rise in tuition without the anticipated improvement in a quality public college experience.
He treads the downward path toward failure rather than answer why this is happening, though he certainly offers incontestable reasons. The world has changed: mass education is obsolete, better replaced with an interdisciplinary approach. “We need research learning, it needs it to be individualized, we need it to be free of debt and political restraints, and we need it on an enormous scale.”
Newfield is trying out his ideas on himself and deserves a high grade for doing so. But the book’s impetus is diminished by its length. Too many of us suffer from a short attention span, part of the changed world and its excessive demands on time. Nor can he realistically expect parents and students to absorb all he says in a book directed at educators, education administrators, and those businesses considering donating their two cents to improvement.
John Hopkins University Press
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