‘Bound to Have an Impact’ -- Really?
We read here that UMass has a Black German Studies concentration. The program has a “social justice focus” and two doctoral students. The professor behind this says, “White Germans cannot conceive that there could be Germans that are Black and that’s got to change. With the increasing visibility of the field in the U.S., it’s bound to have an impact in Germany.”
I think it’s more likely that the sole impact will be on the UMass budget.
The Pinnacle of Rent-Seeking
In this post, Hans Bader of CEI explains how Georgetown Law School has figured out how to maximize its haul of federal-financial-aid money.
You’ve almost got to admire this. If there were a Hall of Fame for rent-seekers, the bigwigs at Georgetown Law would easily qualify.
No Longer Kept in the Dark?
In spite of a few highly publicized conflicts — a stand-off in Texas and a short-lived cataclysm in Virginia – most university governing boards are all too docile. They are often buried with information supplied by the administration. Jay Schalin suggests one way to correct the “asymmetry of information” balance in North Carolina — let the UNC Board of Governors have its own executive director. The board is a creature of the legislature, but all too often it has allowed the administration it supposedly governs to set the agenda and call the shots. This would be a solid change. And given the political changes in North Carolina (both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion are Republican) it’s not an impossible one.
Journalism Degrees -- A Thing of the Past?
Jenn Kabbany at The College Fix asks if journalism degrees are becoming obsolete.
As you might suspect, professionals in the field and professors in the field differ on that question.
NBER Paper on Effects of Federal Student Aid
A new NBER Working Paper examines the effects of federal student aid. Quoting from the abstract: “We show that private colleges game the federal financial aid system, strategically increasing tuition to increase student aid, and using the proceeds to spend more on educational resources and to compete for high-ability students. Increases in federal aid have modest effects in increasing college attendance, with nearly half of the increased federal aid offset by reduced institutional aid and increased university expenditures.”
Penn State Faculty Rebel Against Busybodyism
Penn State’s Matthew Woessner continues to lead a rebellion against the health-care busybodyism of the university and here is his latest attack.
He has told me that several of his leftist faculty colleagues, who also oppose the university’s invasive new program, are a bit unsettled at having a well-known conservative head the opposition. But what could people who otherwise favor ever-more governmental intrusion in people’s lives say against this? That in this particular instance it has gone too far because they don’t like it?
Disruption Ahead: Competency-Based Education
In this SeeThru.edu post, Jim Windham contemplates the disruption to traditional college programs if competency-based education takes hold.
Colleges often allow students to test out of some courses because they already have the competencies taught; what if life starts letting people test out of college itself?
Student Defends Hillsdale College President Against Allegations of Racism
Members of the Michigan Department of Education are bending over backwards to take offense at comments Hillsdale College president Larry Arnn made recently during a hearing. Meanwhile, Hillsdale student Spencer Amaral has written an article exposing just how ridiculous Arnn’s accusers are:
Arnn presented his argument against state interference in education, and included a story of state officials visiting Hillsdale College in 1998 to inspect the school’s “racial diversity.” Arnn was outraged – as am I – that the state would act in such a blatantly race-based manner…
“To that I told them, we are probably the first college in human history, certainly one of them, founded with a charter that says we will take black and white men and women without any discrimination,” Arnn said.
The committee members immediately took offense at the use of the term “dark ones.” Such stunning adeptness at bending over backwards to find offense in a statement by ignoring the plainly-stated context — which had just been declared literally right in front of them moments before — is truly astonishing, and depicts either a mind-hobbling willful ignorance or a frightful ineptitude of the English language. Never mind that the term was only meant as an ironic slam against the hypocrisy of state officials who preach the virtues of a color-blind society, and then measure students by skin color alone…
Michigan officials aren’t at all, apparently, offended by the idea of a burereaucrat walking around counting up the number of students with “dark” skin or “light” skin or whatever shade. No, to them that’s not racist at all. But it ought to be — and that was Arnn’s point.
Yet somehow using the word “dark” is racist in the minds of the functionaries of the Michigan Department of Education. But my guess is they consider the word racist only if uttered by a wel- known leader of one of the nation’s few politically conservative colleges.
More on this story here.
The Five-Minute University
I just got a copy of a new book entitled Why Public Higher Education Should Be Free by Robert Samuels. Free?
A better idea is Father Guido Sarducci’s Five Minute University, which would cost the student $20.
Hat tip: Tom Bertonneau
NAEP ‘Indefinitely Postpones’ Tests of U.S. History and Civics
Haley Strauss of the Heartland Institute picks up on an important, overlooked development:
The National Assessment of Educational Progress exams in civics, U.S. history, and geography have been indefinitely postponed for fourth and twelfth graders. The Obama administration says this is due to a $6.8 million sequestration budget cut. The three exams will be replaced by a single, new test: Technology and Engineering Literacy.
“Without these tests, advocates for a richer civic education will not have any kind of test to use as leverage to get more civic education in the classrooms,” said John Hale, associate director at the Center for Civic Education.
Hale’s comment is right on for anyone who cares about civic and historical literacy. Strauss later points out that students often do very poorly on these tests — although those results are dispiriting, they can sometimes be used to goad administrators into reform.
The removal of the requirement is a one-two punch: It robs historical-literacy advocates of valuable evidence for our case at the same time that it signals to teachers and administrators that history and civics are just not taken seriously. Almost certainly, this will cause civic and historical education to decay even further than it has.
And that will hurt colleges, too. Already, college graduates demonstrate remarkable ignorance of U.S. history and government. Without up-to-date information on high school graduates’ civic illiteracy, it will be increasingly hard to convince the more than 80 percent of colleges and universities that do not require U.S. history or government to change their ways.
Telling the Truth about ‘Holistic’ Admissions
In yesterday’s Pope Center Clarion Call, I wrote about a recent, surprisingly frank piece in the New York Times in which the author discussed her experience as an applications reader for UC Berkeley. She saw through the deceptive fog of euphemisms (such as “stressors”) to understand that the school uses “holistic” evaluation to get more of the “diverse” students it wants and reject more of the high-ability students it thinks it gets enough of.
Prager U: The American Trinity Second Edition
Dennis Prager hits one out of the park with his newest Prager University course – The American Trinity Second Edition. For this video, Prager has remade one of his original courses into a visually stunning presentation of what it means to be an American.
Have fun showing it to people who fancy themselves world citizens.
What If Colleges Had Some “Skin in the Game”?
That is the question Duke Cheston explores in today’s Pope Center piece. That is to say, how would the incentives of college officials change if they stood to lose some money when students they had admitted with federal loans to help pay for their education (or maybe just their “experience”) later default?
I see this as a second-best solution. The federal government should get out of financing education entirely, but until such time, a rule that put some of the risk on colleges would have salutary effects. For one thing, it would create a new and quantifiable metric for evaluating the performance of college leaders. Governing boards could look at the amount the school had to pay out because of its improvident admission of poor students and/or its failure to give them a serious education. The change in incentives from processing through as many students as possible to considering whether individuals would pose a financial risk to the school could be dramatic.
Cal State Student Steals Identities to Win Election
Mike Tremoglie writes here about an interesting case — a Cal State student who wanted to be elected student body president so badly that he stole the computer identities of hundreds of fellow students to cast their votes. Fortunately, he got caught.
The Diversity Crowd Won’t Like This
Yesterday’s New York Times includes a surprising piece entitled “Confessions of an Application Reader.” It’s by a woman who spent a year reading applications for UC Berkeley’s engineering school. Instead of singing the praises of the school’s “holistic” evaluation methods, she found it to be “fundamentally uneven” and “confusingly subjective.” She admits to getting tired of reading what seemed to be professionally written essays and those filled with tales of woe.
When her evaluations didn’t suit the officials, she was told to adjust her rankings, which strongly suggests that they were more interested in getting certain percentages of students from various groups than in getting the best prospective engineers.
Humanities and the Sciences
Students of science ought to learn something about the humanities, argued Troy Camplin in a Pope Center piece we published several months ago. In today’s piece, he argues the opposite — that students of the humanities will be able to better comprehend the world and hence their chosen specialties if they understand some science. In a nutshell, the idea that it’s good to have a well-rounded education is not just a slogan; it’s true.
Income-Contingent Student Lending: Not a Good Idea
The idea that students’ repayments to state or federal governments for supplying them with the money for college should depend on how much they earn after graduation has been hot recently. I don’t think it’s a good idea, though, and argue against it here.
2+2 = The Founding Fathers Were Racists
A new book entitled Rethinking Mathematics aims to help teachers incorporate left-wing political ideology into their math lessons. In one example, the book suggests presenting math poblems that involve calculating how many of America’s founding fathers owned slaves.
And in another chapter:
Geometry teacher Andrew Brantlinger chronicles how he turned an ordinary lesson about calculating the area of a circle into an analysis of the South Central Los Angeles community that rioted after the 1992 “Rodney King” verdict.
During Brantlinger’s lesson, students learned that in 1992, South Central L.A. had no movie theaters or community centers, but it had 640 liquor stores. That led one student to conclude, “All they want them to do is drink.”
Apparently, in some quarters, teaching kids to add sums is less important than teaching them to multiply their racial grievances.
You can read more about Rethinking Mathematics here.
Fighting College Fraud
It’s that time of year again: college ranking season.
Last week, Forbes and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity released their annual ranking of America’s best colleges. But what was most notable wasn’t what colleges made the list—it was those that were conspicuously missing.
Claremont McKenna, Emory, Bucknell, and Iona were all absent from the ranking. Why? Because they had all been falsifying the data they reported to the Department of Education and others.
At Forbes.com, Abram Brown explained:
Claremont McKenna isn’t the only top college that lied. Bucknell University doctored SAT results from 2006 to 2012; Emory University provided numbers for admitted students rather than enrolled ones for more than a decade; and Iona College lied about acceptance and graduation rates, SAT scores and alumni giving for nine years starting in 2002. . . . As a penalty for their dishonesty . . . we are removing the four institutions from our list of the country’s best schools for two years.
It is only natural that, when high-stakes rankings depend on self-reported data, the pressure to cheat will be immense. That’s why ACTA’s independent study of core curricula relies on the kind of assessment schools cannot easily game.
Ultimately, we need to replace our broken accreditation system with a requirement that colleges provide the public with independently certified annual data on a variety of outcome measures. If schools cook the books, their access to federal funds should be cut off.
It is hard enough for parents and students to get the information they need to make informed choices about a college education. We don’t need dishonest college administrators making it any harder.
Penn State Goes Big Brother on Health Issues
Penn State isn’t even over its last embarrassment and now it has unleashed an authoritarian decree regarding its employees and their medical information. The foremost opponent of this initiative (Penn State’s Sam Adams, so to speak) is Professor Matthew Woessner, who has written an open letter calling for university employees to engage in some civil disobedience.