Reforming Higher Ed Goes beyond Free Speech and Loan Forgiveness
Innovation is in order, and leaders like Ben Sasse are well-poised to carry that out.
Ben Sasse’s late 2022 announcement that he was leaving the Senate to become president of the University of Florida presented an opportunity to have a far-reaching conversation about American post-secondary education. Sasse’s atypical background for a leader of a major public university—national public official, management consultant, Ph.D. historian, small-college president, right-of-center politics—could’ve catalyzed discussions about countless reform subjects. Unfortunately, much of the reporting and commentary centered on what his Senate departure said about Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and Washington, D.C. Follow- up coverage largely focused on subsequent student protests and demands.
The episode was a microcosm of the dysfunction of public discourse today. So many issues are begging for serious deliberation and concerted action, but instead we see them as battles. To the extent we discuss public policy or institutional reform, we tend to reduce a complex subject to its most radioactive elements so it holds our attention.
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Andy Smarick is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Follow him on Twitter here.
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