The whole in-state tuition business is compelling because it sits right on the intersection of the two least sane areas of current U.S. public policy: the education madness, and the immigration lunacy.
On the first, I am in the middle of reviewing two books for that well-known conservative magazine A.N. Other. The books are (1) Andrew Ferguson’s Crazy U, and (2) In the Basement of the Ivory Tower by “Professor X.” Andrew needs no introduction if you read much conservative commentary; “Professor X” is the chap who caused a stir with a 2008 article in The Atlantic arguing that: “The idea that a university education is for everyone is a destructive myth.”
My review will appear in the fullness of time, but I recommend both books for a view of the college fetish from two quite different perspectives. They’ll sit well on your Education bookshelf along with Charles Murray’s Real Education and Bob Weissberg’s Bad Students, Not Bad Schools. There is a lot of good sense being written about education recently, if you take the trouble to seek it out.
So far none of that good sense has made much of a dent in the “educational romanticism” (Murray’s phrase) that dominates public policy and most discussions of education, including most discussions on the right. Shafts of light may be breaking through the clouds, though. It is encouraging to see that the No Child Left Behind law — the legislative apotheosis of cuckoo educational romanticism — is self-destructing on schedule as those of us who mocked it from the start said it would, and even as the Obama administration struggles to preserve the law’s craziest aspects.
And here, in this in-state tuition topic, this iceberg of folly is colliding with the Titanic of immigration romanticism. “No spectacle is nobler than a blaze,” said Dr. Johnson. The sight of education romantics and immigration romantics clutching madly at each other in the dark icy water isn’t exactly noble, but for us of the I-told-you-so persuasion, it has its satisfactions.
Here was last week’s Radio Derb on Perry’s “have a heart” comment. As I say elsewhere in the broadcast, here’s one Republican for whom the bloom is fast coming off this Texas rose.
And what is it with all this romanticism, anyway? Listening to public discourse, I sometimes get the impression I’m drowning in treacle. Why don’t we just run Oprah for President and have done with it?