Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream

Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream by Suzanne Mettler

Book Description – Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream

Product Details Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (March 11, 2014) Language: English
ISBN-10: 0465044964
ISBN-13: 978-0465044962
Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches

From Booklist

Cornell University professor Mettler (The Submerged State, 2011) takes on the problems facing U.S. college students, particularly those attending the for-profit, so-called trade schools or career colleges. Attendance in such institutes of higher education, which “exploded nearly tenfold in less than two decades” to more than two million in 2010, has left its primary students, those from less-advantaged backgrounds, swimming in debt and unable to find work. Pell Grants have failed to expand with college costs, and political partisanship has resulted in the government waffling over student-loan debts while bowing to corporate interests. Mettler notes that the moneyed but basically unregulated for-profit schools are financed by American taxpayers through such mediums as the post-9/11 GI Bill and Department of Defense tuition-assistance benefits. As a result, the American dream slips further from the grasp of many, while the U.S. slips in worldwide standing to where 11 other nations currently have passed the U.S. in college-graduation rates. Reform is past due, and Mettler’s well-researched book needs to fall into the hands of those who will read, heed, and rally for change. –Eloise Kinney

Review

Gary Rivlin, New York Times Book Review

“We’re having the wrong conversation about higher education in our country. So argues Suzanne Mettler in her provocative new book…. [A] thoroughly researched argument that leaves one both a little bit smarter about how politics work in this country and also very worried about a college and university system so clearly in crisis.”

Washington Post

“[A] provocative new book…. Mettler argues that this drift in public policy over the past quarter-century — in Washington and in statehouses — has exacerbated gaps between the haves and the have-nots, undermining the ideal of college as an engine of upward social mobility.”

Andrew Delbanco, New York Review of Books

“[A] valuable book…. Mettler tells hair-raising stories about telemarketers who prey on prospective students with misleading promises, and are then rewarded with bonuses or free vacations if they reach enrollment quotas.”

Times Higher Education

“Mettler brings a fresh and original analysis to bear.”

Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“The long-running debate on higher education in America is masterfully served by Cornell political scientist Mettler’s carefully researched study, which roams between history, polemic, and analysis with aplomb while championing the positive legacy of equal opportunity in education.”

Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“Mettler delivers a broadside to for-profit universities and the politics that enrich them. The author spent eight years researching and writing her withering attack, and her data is devastating…. A thorough and deeply troubling analysis of a quiet but ominous threat to democracy.”

Library Journal (Starred Review)

“[A] timely and thorough discussion of unequal access to higher education…. This work is essential for students of programs in higher education policy, government, and political science as well as anyone interested in the current state of higher education.”

Booklist

“Reform is past due, and Mettler’s well-researched book needs to fall into the hands of those who will read, heed, and rally for change.”

Thomas E. Mann, author of It’s Even Worse Than It Looks

“
Degrees of Inequality is a trenchant analysis of how our severely dysfunctional politics has undermined one of the foundational pillars of the American Dream. Mettler powerfully and convincingly demonstrates how partisan polarization and plutocratic biases have shaped higher education policy in recent years and why reform is so urgent. An engaging and essential read for citizens and policymakers alike.”

Thomas B. Edsall, Columbia University, author of The Age of Austerity

“Suzanne Mettler’s
Degrees of Inequality reveals why American higher education is no longer the great equalizer. Instead of providing an avenue to opportunity and advancement, American colleges, especially burgeoning for-profit schools, are contributing to mounting inequality, reinforcing rather than breaking class divisions. The for-profit schools are corrupting the system by syphoning off federal resources and leaving many of the students worse off, burdened by debt and lacking a degree. Mettler’s important book documents the destructive forces in higher education, forces fostered and nurtured by a Congress that has abdicated responsibility to ensure the strength of this country’s most important engine of social mobility.”

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