“White House pivots to accountability and outcomes,” reads the distressing headline on Arne Duncan’s call “for colleges to be held more accountable for graduating students with high-quality degrees that lead to good jobs.”
Misdiagnosing the disease and misprescribing the cure, Duncan’s “pivot” is a classic example of the deceitful rhetorical misdirection implicit in that word. You “pivot” when you want to change the subject or avoid uncomfortable conversations, as Duncan does here in “seeking to reframe higher education discussions around student outcomes rather than student debt.” This is a response, the article suggests, to pressure from student groups (like the Corinthian debt strikers) and presidential candidates, which presumably means Bernie Sanders. Duncan “pivots” to “accountability” and market-driven “outcomes,” and away from the less market-friendly problem of tuition and debt.
So: less debt relief for students, more bureaucratic oversight and expense for faculty, more economic pressure on students.