Frustrated by soaring tuition costs, crushing student loan debt and a lack of skilled workers, particularly in science and technology, more and more states have adopted the idea of rewarding public colleges and universities for churning out students educated in fields seen as important to the economy.
When it comes to dividing the pot of money devoted to higher education, at least 15 states offer some type of bonus or premium for certain high-demand degrees, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
But many educators have been incensed not so much by the emphasis on workforce development but by the disdain for the humanities, particularly among Republicans. Several Republicans have portrayed a liberal arts education as an expendable, sometimes frivolous luxury that taxpayers should not be expected to pay for. Democrats have, for the most part, avoided denouncing the humanities, but they have argued that education and training should be better aligned with the job market.