The democratization of American higher education was one of the vibrant, if hard-won, victories of the 20th century in the United States. Thanks especially to public colleges and universities (including community colleges), but also due to civil rights legislation and its acceleration of desegregation and co-education, increased access to private education beyond the wealthy, and other related factors, America grudgingly stumbled into an era where pretty much everyone could access some form of affordable and high quality education. Access was never equal. Inequities remained severe across class, racial, and other divides. But higher education did shift from a habit largely left to the elite to a widely recognized common good. How else were we to build an informed citizenry to build a more just and humane world?
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