MFA writing programs are constantly discussed but have yet to be analyzed in an original way that reveals just why they attract so many. I have more to say than I'm going to here and now and defer. In a recent blog, poet Alfred Corn came as close as I've read, by assessing his time as a teacher. He doesn't condemn or defend, and ends his essay, which you can read in full here http://alfredcornsweblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/teaching-writing.html, in understated conscience. He's one of the few teachers to be frank about student loans. From Alfred Corn:
"On the most general level, I don’t question that writing courses help class members be better readers, and I wish that more people realized the value thereof. Being the chief isn't the only worthwhile goal in life: being a member of the tribe is a noble and honorable estate. It also seems likely that most MFA candidates will acquire the habit of reading new works of imaginative literature as these appear, a solid cultural value. (It would be interesting to know what percentage of the readership for contemporary literature is made up of former writing students.) But the tuition costs and resulting debts began to climb to terrifying levels, at least in some universities. So conscience was eased when I gave up regular teaching. I do occasional workshops, where the tuition isn’t stratospherically high, and that satisfies my wish to work at the classroom context. Sometimes people seem shocked when I say that all I do is write. But writing is (and in truth, always was) a full-time occupation."