Meanwhile, the nationwide state defunding crisis in higher education had reached a perilous point, and some public colleges and universities were facing closure or dramatic permanent reductions in programs, faculty, and staff. This student debt crisis has been a major topic of discussion in regard to public higher education now for decades, although authors find too little discussion of its real causes-especially the defunding of higher education by conservative, mostly white, state legislators. As the authors begin to unravel the history of reduced state funding, they also chart the evolution of changing perspectives on the role of public higher education that has fundamentally reshaped the funding equation. In this light, authors first examine the central theme emerging during the post-World War II period: the relationship of higher education to expanded US democracy and, thus, to the common good.