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Books or Bombs?

This article originally appeared in Inside Higher Education and is reprinted with permission from the op-ed author. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

September 2 marked the anniversary of the National Defense Education Act, the law signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958 to vastly expand funding for colleges and universities. The country has been the better for it ever since. Eisenhower famously warned about the military-industrial complex and how every dollar spent on a bomber could have been spent on a school.

Today, Americans realize the futility of spending $2 trillion over 20 years fighting a lost war in Afghanistan. What would the world look like if that money had been spent on education in that country and in ours? Now is the time for every college in the country to fight hard for the next massive investment in higher education. Quite simply, they should lobby for our future.

Unfortunately, higher education institutions have historically played defense when it comes to advocating for their own interests. For the past four years, colleges have spent lots of time and money responding to chaotic Trump-era proposals on immigration, free speech on campus, graduate student taxes, Title IX changes and restrictions on research. In most states, funding to higher education is much lower today than it was 20 years ago.

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