[Update, April 20th: For my efforts to improve the state of higher education and my attempt to engage in open, intellectually honest dialogue on F2CO I was Twitter-blocked by Sara Goldrick-Rab.]
[Update, April 25th: In my attempts to provide analysis of the F2CO plan across various comment forums and have critical questions about F2CO answered by Sara Goldrick-Rab she has publicly (on Twitter) called me a "goofy guy," "unstable or otherwise not ok," and "laughable" - though she admits on Twitter to not having read the PSA proposal or the critical analysis offered below. This is unacceptable, shameful behaviour from a publicly paid academic.]
F2CO is not a disruptive innovation, but a sustaining one. That is, it maintains institutions, the per student aid and the appropriations funding they receive for operations, capital expansion, etc. This means there is no cost reduction - beyond the yet to be determined reduction in administration and bureaucracy of the first two years due to universalization. Further if as F2CO expects enrollment and persistence do go up then even more public funding would be required (pg.25), while the plan ignores the expense of repairing the existing infrastructure which has been severely neglected by institutions as part of their desperate strategic response to reduced public funding.
The plan also fails to introduce new money for per student funding - though it clearly asks for an increase in public funding. With undetermined savings in for first two years, no plan for new funding, required expansion of staff/space and a severe neglect in necessary infrastructure repairs, it is not clear how F2CO will deal with increases in enrollment and persistence rates that, as Goldrick-Rab notes, will result in declining per student funding over time. [I will show how PSA reduces costs, introduces new money (without asking for it from the public) and either avoids the need for repairs or provides the money necessary to carry them out (without asking for it form the public).]
Further, relying on the institutional model F2CO is inflexible where market demand expands or contracts (in terms of either volume or diversity). [PSA is a flexible model with respect to market demand.]
Finally, F2CO is not a comprehensive reform of higher education. For instance, though it is not an aim of F2CO the plan does not address other ills of higher education such as faculty labour exploitation – though it seems to rely on and expand the status quo - which obviously affects the quality of education students receive, especially those Goldrick-Rab describes as “expensive to serve low-income and marginalized.” F2CO is explicit in its concern for the quality of education students receive, but cannot hope to achieve this aim without addressing the serious labour problem in higher education – from TAs/RAs to adjuncts. [PSA tackles these ills head on and so is a more comprehensive proposal.]
[Update May 3rd: In an interview with Frederica Freyberg of Wisconsin Public Television at 2:12 SGR is asked about increases in enrollment and her response is that it would be irresponsible not to consider the capacity of the institutional model to accommodate the inevitable increase in enrollment. She says there, "is a lot of capacity already in the public sector right now...many of our institutions have unfilled seats..."
She should inform the state of California of this, which last year had over 500,000 students who could otherwise attend college on waiting lists to do so because there is not the capacity in the that state's institutions to accommodate them. If the capacity exists - and this necessarily includes essential infrastructure repairs and faculty that actually provide the education - then I should like to see her evidence of this.]
[Update May 3rd: In an interview with Frederica Freyberg of Wisconsin Public Television at 6:15 SGR is asked what the response from the various levels of government has been to the F2CO proposal. Her response is that she has heard, "primarily from policy-makers at the local and state levels," and they are "afraid that they can't wait for the federal government here and they would like to find ways to begin moving forward at their own level...[but] they will not be able to cover the living expenses...[and conversations at the federal level] allow [F2CO] to be a possibility in say the next 10-20 years."
The trouble with F2CO is that it endorses the continued use of the expensive institutional model for higher education. The appropriations necessary for operations, repairs and expansion of the universities and colleges of this model prohibit states from initiating action on their own to introduce free higher education independently of federal funding. PSA does not have this impediment since it does not require these institutions to provide higher education and so reduces the total cost by 50-75%, making independent state action a real possibility - and not in 10-20 years once the federal government is (perhaps) coaxed on board.]