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Delivering Educational Products: The Job Formerly Known as Teaching

Hi, I’m Robert Jensen, a provider of educational products to consumers at the University of Texas at Austin.

I used to introduce myself as a UT professor, but that was before I attended a Texas Public Policy Foundation session last week offering more exciting “breakthrough solutions” to the problems of higher education.

At that session in a downtown Austin hotel, I learned that these very real problems—escalating costs and questionable quality of undergraduate instruction—can be solved in the “free market.” You know, the free market, that magical mechanism that gave us the housing bubble/credit derivative scam/financial meltdown. The free market that has produced growing inequality in the United States and around the world. That good old free market.

The solutions offered by representatives of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity in the morning’s first session focused on ending public subsidies for higher education and treating it like any other business. These insights come on the heels of the much-hyped “seven breakthrough solutions” that TPPF has been pushing. (Read about them here, and for a satirical treatment, watch this.

Not surprisingly, both panelists spoke in the language of the market, turning education into a commodity. Panel moderator William Murchison, a conservative syndicated columnist, chimed in during the discussion, referring to “consumers of the educational product.”

I think that means students.

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