The colleges already have woefully low admission standards. At CUNY community colleges, 80 percent of students need to take remedial classes, while 21 percent of students do at SUNY community colleges. Because Excelsior will funnel students into colleges they may not be prepared to enter, Governor Cuomo will likely only increase the number of students taking remedial courses, not the number of students actually receiving a college education.
New York’s public education is also afflicted with the progressive bureaucracies that are the suppurating wounds of higher education—offices of diversity, offices of civic engagement, offices of sustainability, and the like. Excelsior is as likely to “educate” students in progressive creed as it is to provide them a real education.
Colleges should be made cheaper—and there are a large number of intelligent reform proposals aimed at making that possible. We can (among other possibilities) reduce the accreditation bureaucracies; eliminate the “co-curricular” administrators on campus; allow for-profit colleges to enter the education sector on the same terms as not-for-profit colleges; raise admission standards so that colleges don’t need to waste money on remediation; and require colleges to act as co-guarantors of student loans. Any of these measures would make American college education significantly cheaper—and better too.