Even just two years ago, a majority of United States citizens largely agreed that higher education leads to a better nation. But in 2017, the country is divided not just on political agendas, but major divisions have been drawn on everything from media to colleges and universities.
A Pew Research Center survey published on Monday revealed that citizens have grown distant in their support of secondary education since the 2016 presidential election. During the campaign season, a majority of Democratic and Republican Americans agreed that the nation’s universities served as a benefit for this country. In 2015 54% of Republicans said: “colleges and universities had a positive impact on the way things were going in the country.” Now 58% of Republicans are sharing just the opposite view, that higher institutions negatively impact the state of the union.
This shift may have to do with what leading Republicans said regarding former President Obama’s student loan protections and his administration’s push for college affordability. Jeb Bush said during the election, “We don’t need the federal government to be involved in this, because when they do we create a $1.2 trillion debt.”
“We need to get back to training people in this country to do the jobs of the 21st century,” Marco Rubio said, as he reaffirmed the Republican Party’s push for labor-skilled work and less federal involvement in college education. Rubio continued, “Why, for the life of me, I do not understand why did we stop doing vocational education in America—people that can work with their hands, people you can train to do this work while they’re still in high school, so they can graduate ready to go work.”
Democrats have a completely different perspective. 72% say universities have a positive effect on our country. That number has not varied significantly over the last few years. The Republican percentage has shifted by 21 percentage points.
Republicans have also increasingly become opposed to the media, with 85% of those surveyed saying the country’s press has a negative impact. Only 68% said the same thing in 2010.
It’s easy to see this response stemming from President Trump’s ongoing criticism of the press as “fake news.”
What do you think about the recent shift in Republicans regarding higher education as a negative force in our country? In the video below, Peter Thiel shares his perspective on how the culture should feel about colleges and the media.