The stream of books stating that the Higher Education Emperor in America is wearing no clothes has to be upsetting those who keep saying that our higher education system is “the envy of the world” but needs more money to stay that way. Last year, Prof. Jackson Toby wrote The Lowering of Higher Education in America (which I reviewed here) and recently Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus weighed in with their largely critical book Higher Education? (I’ll write about that book soon.)
Now comes The Five-Year Party by Craig Brandon, reviewed in today’s Wall Street Journal by Melanie Kirkpatrick. Brandon says that many of our colleges and universities are “education-free zones.” They keep enrollments high with a dumbed-down curriculum, inflated grades, and lots of campus fun. According to the review, one of the book’s main villains is “a new breed of college administrators” who have “more in common with Gordon Gekko than Aristotle.” The world of higher ed, mostly non-profit and until recently awash in funds, has spawned a host of good-paying jobs that don’t entail much if any actual education.
Higher education’s image is on a collusion course with reality.