We don't often think of higher education as a political special interest. In an editorial on their new product Atlas, however, the nonprofit think tank New America waxes poetic and economic on the power of institutions of higher education in politics. Atlas divides the US by congressional district and provides a higher education overview of the district: the number of colleges and universities there, those universities' total expenditures, their employees, and their Pell grants. With an aim to understand their economic and political influence, Atlas scrutinizes their dollars. New America describes itself as being dedicated to the "renewal of American politics, prosperity, and purpose in the Digital Age."
In the editorial, New America hypothesizes that those dollars aren't always spent on student interests. For example, the 7,000 institutions of higher education in America employ almost three million people and collectively spend half a trillion dollars per year, but sometimes they hire consultants instead of professors. New America believes that Atlas will provide a basis for the public to know when and how misspending happens.