In “What's Really New about the Neoliberal University? The Business of American Education Has Always Been Business,” Ellie Shermer does us all a favor by confirming rather decisively that a Golden Age of mid-twentieth-century public universities was indeed a fiction, even on the core ground of funding. While post–World War II higher education has been widely faulted for its excruciatingly slow inclusion of students of color, and even slower progress in the faculty, Shermer points out that the money was lousy too. On the federal level, a divided Congress beholden to Dixiecrats never did fund colleges and universities directly, and certainly not on a level that would allow equal treatment of students at what we now call minority-serving institutions. It focused more on disguising support for students of color than on actually supporting them. When tuition hikes and student debt became national political problems around 2010, policy-makers were building not...

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