Profs blame higher ed budget cuts on 'white resentment'

Two American professors, Barrett Taylor and Brendan Cantwell, co-authored a piece with University of North Texas undergraduate students Kimberly Watts and Olivia Wood, arguing that “white resentment” is behind the decrease in public trust in higher education and overall funding drawbacks.

Their article, titled “Partisanship, White Racial Resentment, and State Support for Higher Education,” claims that partisan attitudes toward racial representation in higher education may “shape state government support for colleges and universities.”

The professors accuse Republicans of “hyper-partisanship” and characterize them as part of a party that finds it “difficult to forge compromise.” 

“Republican officials may be more skeptical of higher education funding when the presumed beneficiaries of government spending are racially diverse, and more sympathetic to government expenditures when the presumed beneficiaries are white,” the academics write, adding that “racism and white privilege characterize American higher education.”

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The professors attempt to make a correlation between partisanship and higher education cuts, but end up blaming white Republican voters in the process.  The professors refer to “the racial backlash model,” which they say “assumes that party ideology interacts with white resentment to produce policy outcomes.”

“Republicans have low levels of trust in higher education (Johnson & Peifer, 2017) and often view it as removed from the realities of everyday life,” the professors state. “For Republicans, that frame appears to include declining trust in higher education and a willingness to use nonpartisan institutions such as higher education to marshal negative partisan sentiments.”

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The authors characterize higher education as a “target” for Republicans “because any step toward greater racial equality stirs white racial resentment,” and assert that “Republican mistrust of higher education” lessens “when the beneficiaries of higher education are more likely to be white.”

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