Arne Duncan, Accreditation, and “Barking Watchdogs”


Yesterday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered a “major” address on higher education.  As Inside Higher Ed’s account put it, his call for “a greater focus on student outcomes at colleges was an effort to pivot away from discussions that he said are focused too narrowly on the burden of student loan debt.”  Duncan argues: “Student debt is a burden for too many students, but most ultimately repay their loans, and for those who get their degree, college is an excellent investment. By some estimates, a bachelor’s degree increases lifetime earnings on average by about a million dollars.  The degree students truly can’t afford is the one they don’t complete, or that employers don’t value.”

In essence, Duncan’s remarks represent both a callous dismissal of the skyrocketing cost of higher education for students, especially minority and working class students, whose debt sometimes approaches a new kind of indentured servitude, as…

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