Updates on Education and Health Care

Two notes looking backward and forward:

Education – I was interested to read today this op-ed in the Washington Post and response by Dean Dad. I found this statement by David C. Levy particularly gauling: “Even in the unlikely event that they devote an equal amount of time to grading and class preparation…” Makes me wonder what kind of a teacher he was. For any dedicated teacher, 15 hours of teaching is going to take at least 15 hours of prep work, not including grading, if done well. And of course, he’s conveniently ignoring all the other work that faculty must put in to make an educational institution work, even setting aside research time.

As usual, I find Dean Dad’s comments more illuminating. He’s absolutely right about the shortcomings in Levy’s piece, particularly the conspicuous absence of adjuncts.

But neither of them faced head-on the issue of subsidizing individual research. Levy suggests (I think correctly) that most educational institutions should be focused on (and therefore primarily paying for) teaching. But he seems to assume that any compensation applied beyond teaching time is merely funding laziness. In fact, it’s largely funding individual research. As I’ve argued before, this subsidy is a significant part of the cost of higher education beyond the community college level. Dean Dad has generally overlooked that factor (perhaps because of his primary experience at teaching-oriented institutions), but I think it is one we have to face more directly in talking about our budgetary priorities going forward. And for the record, I do favor some form of structured research subsidy for some faculty members, but not to the the extent it exists now or on the same terms.


Health Care – Today the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It will be a rather long and complicated process spread over three days of oral arguments (with a decision expected in June). The best overview I have seen is from the Economist. Even if you’re not planning on paying much attention to the arguments, you should read this overview to get a sense of what’s at stake.

I also have a series of health care pieces planned for early April. One of the matters I’ll be addressing is the complicated nature of the tax/penalty system in the ACA, with it’s reliance on the Commerce Clause more than the Tax clause of the Constitution. There again, the Economist piece provides a nice overview.


A quick note on this blog – In another effort at greater consistency, I’ve begun to schedule my posts for every-other day, regardless of when I write them. I also enjoyed writing the series of posts on education and then on the Constitution. You can expect more of those in the future, beginning with health care in April. If there’s anything else you’d like to see at this space, I would be happy to hear about it.

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