Mike Coffman questions the value of liberal-arts majors, Joe Miklosi pounces
Update below: The time has come to question whether many liberal arts degrees are really worth it. So says Representative Mike Coffman in a recent newsletter, in which he also admits to regretting his own political science major and notes that he probably would've been better off primarily studying business.
Coffman's opponent Joe Miklosi is now jumping on these comments, portraying them as preposterous statements broadly attacking higher education.
Here are some excerpts, from Coffman's newsletter, which was sent out August 31 and was recently brought to our attention (the full letter is below):
When I meet with young people, who are just out of college, attending these fairs, I always ask them what they majored in. Far too often, it is a four-year degree that doesn't give them the technical skills that directly leads them to employment. Now, they not only can't find a job from their four-year degree, but often burdened with debt from their student loans.
I think it is time to question whether a significant number of the majors taught at undergraduate institutions are a good investment. This relates to the taxpayers, who subsidize the cost of higher education by either bearing part of the cost at public institutions, or by subsidizing loan programs at private ones. Graduates, with liberal arts degrees, often find entry level jobs that are little better than what they would have gotten had they never attended college in the first place.
A section at the end of this letter adds the following about Coffman's background:
I graduated from the University of Colorado, in 1979, with a BA in Political Science. No doubt, I would have been better off had I majored in Business and taken courses in Political Science as electives.
Debates about student loans and access to higher education have gotten a platform in the presidential race. Unemployment is also a major talking point nationally, and in this newsletter, Coffman seems to imply that many college students are graduating jobless in large part because of their impractical liberal-arts majors.
This topic is now causing some back-and-forth between the two candidates, who are battling to represent Colorado's sixth district, a redistricted area that now includes parts of Aurora.
Ryan Hobart, a spokesman for Miklosi, Coffman's Democratic challenger, sent us this statement in response to the newsletter:
Making these drastic cuts to state and federal support for higher education would have a damaging effect on Colorado's economic growth. Mike Coffman also supports the radical Ryan budget, which would cut Pell Grants, allow student loan interest rates to double and end Medicare as we know it -- all while keeping taxpayer giveaways to Big Oil and companies that ship jobs overseas. This is just another example of why his agenda of promoting reckless cuts that put the burden on the backs of students and seniors is too extreme for Colorado.
Following up on the phone, Hobart tells us that the Miklosi campaign was very surprised by the sentiments expressed in the newsletter.
"This was a fairly unexpected, unprovoked statement from him," Hobart says. "It seems like a very drastic suggestion."
Continue reading for additional statements from a Coffman spokesman clarifying the message of the newsletter.