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Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Poetry in Motion



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Who says the liberal arts are impotent in today’s high-tech world when a governor may have risked his future political career appointing a poet laureate whom the literary community would not accept? North Carolina’s chief of state found out, and fast, that his selection of a female state worker who had not earned her spurs was a bad move.

Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican elected in the historical 2012 GOP sweep of both Houses of the Legislature, has been the target of the Democrat-biased Raleigh daily since the took office. Naturally, the Raleigh News & Observer gleefully stoked the controversy by publishing dozens of letters lambasting McCrory for bypassing the traditional process that sought input from the North Carolina Arts Council. The paper threw kerosene on the conflagration by sponsoring a contest calling for poems from readers criticizing the governor for his uninformed choice and low-brow tendencies. 

Valerie Macon, whose oeuvre comprises two self-published and jejeune commentaries on social issues, resigned as poet laureate in a matter of days under pressure from the outraged poets, writers, and arts advocates. Medicare funding, teacher pay and the Common Core receded from the headlines to make way for an issue no one saw coming. The frustrated governor proceeded to make things worse by criticizing the literary and arts community for pointing out to him there is more to poetry than merely possessing a social conscience.

This episode makes it clear there is an unwritten, unspoken, intangible perception that a liberal arts background defines who is a leader and who is a technician. Or, to be precise, between an “educated” person and someone simply trained to perform a function. Governor McCrory demonstrated that deep inside voters prefer statesmen to proles with pedicures, a distinction the public couldn’t quite figure out about the governor–until now. McCrory, who has been mentioned as a possible GOP presidential contender, has been exposed as a Philistine over a decision he thought was trivial in his quotidian worldview.

He found out the hard way that poets are people, too.

 

 

Paul Ryan Joins Call for Accreditation Reform



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Reform-minded lawmakers and policy wonks from both parties have started to take up the mantle of higher ed reform. Yesterday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) addressed the topic in his speech at the American Enterprise Institute accompanying the release of the House Budget Committee’s new report, “Expanding Opportunity in America.”

In his talk, Ryan tackled an issue that was once unheard of outside a tiny circle of higher ed reformers: breaking up the college accreditation monopoly. “We need to give students more options—in other words, we need accreditation reform,” Ryan proclaimed.

The Budget Committee even cited ACTA’s work on the subject, quoting from our 2007 report on accreditation reform:

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni sums up, “If the accrediting process were applied to automobile inspection, cars would ‘pass’ as long as they had tires, doors, and an engine—without anyone ever turning the key to see if the car actually operated.” Not only does the current accreditation process fail to truly access quality, its emphasis on high cost inputs makes it more difficult for fledgling institutions to get off the ground, shielding established schools from competition.

Over at our blog, ACTA discusses the importance of the mainstreaming of accreditation reform. With more and more friendly voices in Congress, the end of the college accreditation cartel finally seems in sight.

 

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More Brilliant Ideas from the Ivory Tower



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Have you been wondering what academics are doing these days? A professor at New York University, Matthew Liao, has been trying to use biotechnology to reduce the human “footprint” in order to curb global warming.

He has a couple of ideas—one is to create “a pill that would trigger nausea if [people] ingest meat, which would lead to a long-term aversion to meat,” writes Molly Wharton elsewhere on the NRO site. Why do we need this? Because 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from cultivating livestock.

If the pill doesn’t work, perhaps a patch that “make its user sick if he or she tries to eat a juicy burger” could be tried.

But the problem isn’t just that we eat too much meat; we’re also too big. Dr. Liao suggests using gene imprinting or hormones to reduce our height by 15 centimeters or so.

No, this is not the Onion. At least I don’t think so. He told this to the Atlantic and the BBC.

Now the kicker: Professor Liao is director of bioethics at NYU. If you were wondering what bioethics is all about, apparently it is about changing people so they do what the nanny-state-turned-into-a-totalitarian-state thinks they ought to do.

Langbert on Deresiewicz on the Ivy League



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I recently noted the New Republic article by William Deresiewicz that usefully pans the education that students receive at our purportedly “elite” colleges and universities. In this blog post, Brooklyn College professor Mitchell Langbert digs more deeply into that piece, arguing that while it is true that elite colleges do not ensure a solid education, it doesn’t follow that it is better at non-elite ones.

In another Deresiewicz piece that will be the subject of a forthcoming article of my own, he claims that “the college ideal” is under vicious attack by “powerful forces” but the truth is the matter is that the college ideal has withered at most colleges and has been doing so for quite a long time. Those few students who are interested in that ideal have to look hard to find it.

Shining Sunlight on College Sports



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College athletics have come under fire, and the powerful NCAA in particular. From its treatment of college athletes to its failure to investigate cheating in a timely manner, there is mounting concern about the association from all corners. College sports have, in recent years, grown considerably as an industry. Who exactly is reaping the fruits of this expansion, and how is money spent? A bill introduced by U.S. Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) intends to make following the money a lot easier.

The Standardization of Collegiate Oversight of Revenues and Expenditures, or SCORE Act, focuses on transparency. The bill calls for the reporting of key financial information from schools, conferences, and the NCAA and goes on to list numerous financial line-items to include, from team uniforms to grants in aid to athletes.

This bill warrants close consideration. As the cost of college continues to rise, it’s important that students (and their parents) have an understanding of schools’ financial priorities “Whatever we think, we need better information,” Price pointed out to the Durham Herald-Sun. “Fragmented information risks misinformation.”

A big part of the problem with college sports is that the oversight of trustees is often co-opted by administrators, namely college presidents.  Indeed, many colleges now spend six times as much on athletics per athlete as they spend on academics per student.

The NCAA already collects and stores most of the data the law would require, making it easy to implement. Rep. Price’s bill wouldn’t require additional reporting by schools themselves, merely that the NCAA’s data be made public.

An increase in transparency is certainly in order. Only when armed with this information can all those concerned make the case that schools should refocus financial priorities on education and use sports revenues in a way that supports the entire campus community. 

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Affirmative Action in Film?



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The reductive kind of “diversity” practiced by the university today, by gender, race, and other factors, is not only a destructive policy in itself but seems to produce a reductive way of thinking about everything. So I thought when I read an excerpt from Katie Pavlich’s new book, Assault and Flattery: The Truth about the Left and Their War on Women. Pavlich’s purpose is not only to combat the Democratic claim that Republicans are conducting a “war on women,” but, as the subtitle indicates, to turn the accusation against the accusers. In a section excerpted in the Sunday New York Post, she rightly points out how Hollywood, a bastion of the Democratic Left, treats women unfairly and even abusively. She cites, for example, Tinseltown’s staunch support of a known child molester, Roman Polanski, and its disregard of his victim.

Some of her evidence for the Hollywood Left’s depredations against women, however, is more questionable and sounds very much like that offered by supporters of affirmative action. “A 2011 study by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University,” Pavlich writes, “showed women are grossly underrepresented (although slowly increasing in representation) on the silver screen.” Lauzen’s research reveals that “In 2011, females remained dramatically under-represented as characters in film when compared with their representation of the US population,” and the figures were only somewhat better in 2013.

Since, barring some dystopian apocalypse, the female proportion of the population will always hover around fifty percent, does that mean that half of all characters in films must be female forever and ever? Or that for every war movie featuring mainly men there must be a film about a sorority? This kind of bean counting, as President Clinton once called it (when it suited him), is not a good way to judge the value of art, although, admittedly, the Left started it and continues to press it in many areas, and it may give us some gratification to see their own tables turned on them.

Pavlich continues, “A ratings system known as the Bechdel test takes a look at how women are portrayed in film. In order to pass the test, a film must accomplish three things: 1.It has to have at least two named women in it; 2.Those two named women must talk to each other and 3.Those two named women must talk to each other about something other than a man.”

Pavlich reports that all the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings films failed the Bechdel test, while Hunger Games: Catching Fire passed.

But the Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings series are expansive, imaginative, and inspiring films while The Hunger Games presents an immature view of life saturated in sullen hatred and adolescent resentment.

Beyond even bean counting, the kind of schematism represented in the Bechdel Test is likewise not a good way to judge the value of art. Such approaches bind us to a single strand of our identity and prevent us from seeing the larger human picture in which we all belong. It stands to reason that the Iliad and the myriad war tales that have followed it will have more “male” characters, as will most adventure and fantasy films, but they can be meaningful for women as well as men if they arise from a genuine and well executed vision of truth, and an understanding of the genuine diversity of human experience.

Athletics: Let’s Get Serious (Or Can We?)



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Do we have to accept the status quo in college sports? Today’s status quo is to provide scholarships to academically unqualified students and support them with heavy-handed tutoring, easy majors, and even “no show” classes to keep them eligible. Yet many fail to graduate or graduate with meaningless degrees.

Jenna A. Robinson has combed through three documents that attempt to address those problems. They are the Knight Commission report of 2010, the 2013 Hunter Rawlings panel report on UNC-Chapel Hill, and the standing recommendations of the Drake Group, a national association of faculty trying to change college athletics.

The pickings for genuine reform are slim, but Robinson dissects the proposals: the pointless, the promising, and the should-be-tried. As for the last category, they would improve the situation but, as she points out, “universities must find the political will to implement them.”

Elite Colleges Are Not Really So Great



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The key assumption made by people who insist on “affirmative action” (i.e. college admissions preferences for certain groups) is that getting into an elite institution is so good for “underrepresented” students that officials should bend their standards severely to admit them. Going to an “elite” college means getting an “elite” education, which will enable to poor and minorities to leap ahead, thus making the US a more “socially just” nation. Right?

For years, a number of contributors on this blog have argued that there isn’t necessarily anything great about going to an elite school. They are not necessarily ideal or even good learning environments. In this New Republic piece, William Deresiewicz argues strongly that parents should not send their children to Ivy League or other prestigious schools if they want them to get a solid education.

In a forthcoming Pope Center piece, I will joust with Deresiewicz over an irascible Chronicle Review piece he wrote last month, in which he slashed away at the motives of higher education critics and reformers. His NR piece, however, makes a very important point that will put him on the enemies list of affirmative action proponents.

Graduation Plan B



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If you’ve followed higher education policies recently, you probably recognize the term “completion agenda.” It stems from the fact that many students enter college with the goal of graduating—but they never do.

Only about 56 percent of those who enter college to get a bachelor’s degree obtain a diploma within six years. For community college, the statistics are worse. Only about 29 percent of students starting in community college get an associate’s degree in three years.

Policy-makers have latched on to the figures, starting with the 2006 Department of Education report. That Spellings Commission report highlighted low graduation rates and began to push for “student learning outcomes.” As a 2011 article from the American Council on Education said, “Almost every other new initiative, research report, or news story on students and higher education somehow relates to graduation rates.”

So now we have many efforts to get students to complete their college or at least get some kind of degree. That brings us to “reverse transfer.”

It got a big boost in 2012 when a group of private foundations such as the Lumina Foundation provided seed money. It’s simple—if students started at a community college, transferred to a four-year school but never graduated, they may be eligible for a community college (associate’s) degree.

So in about 15 states, officials are trying to find those students to determine if they have already taken enough credit hours to have achieved the equivalent of an associate’s degree. If so, they will be able to get one.

And now, as Harry Painter discusses, reverse transfer is getting a push by U.S. senators for a national program.  He points out that if it’s such a good idea it will spread from state to state and really does not need federal intervention.

Big Bucks for Hillary’s Talk at UCLA -- Not Popular



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Last spring, Hillary Clinton was paid $300,000 for giving a talk at UCLA. As we read here, the Daily Bruin subsequently did an online poll to see what students thought about that expenditure. A substantial plurality (48 percent) agreed that “large sums are inappropriate and demonstrate poor prioritizing on the part of the university and the Luskin lecture series.” Another 27 percent thought it unfortunate that such a large sum had been spent but thought that UCLA might not be able to get “the same level of notable speakers” without paying so much. (Hillary and many other “notable”speakers give pat speeches that are about as enlightening as elevator music, so what’s the big deal about bringing them to campus at great expense?) Finally, 21 percent of respondents said that it was worth the money.

I think it illustrates the point that Henry Manne recently made in this Pope Center piece that non-profit managers just take their profits through their spending choices. They aren’t allowed to pocket excess revenues, so they spend the money on things they like, such as opportunities to rub elbows with famous political figures.

This kind of thing is terribly widespread. Several years ago, East Carolina history professor Tony Papalas wrote this piece about the absurd talk Gloria Steinem gave on campus, for $10,000. Intellectual content less than zero, but she pocketed a hefty check. Tony later told me that there had been an effort to get Al Gore to speak, but that his price tag (as I recall, $175,000 plus a personal jet to transport the former veep to and from the Greenville, NC campus) was too high. At least sometimes, college presidents can say “no.”

Who’s Supervising the Gatekeepers?



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Writing at See Thru Edu, my colleague Jay Schalin critiques regional accreditation agencies and offers a sound alternative to those “fiefdoms unto themselves” and “cartel-like” institutions:

[The] best accreditors of all would be private lenders. After all, they absolutely need to discover whether they are lending money to students attending a credible school or a fraudulent diploma mill, since their borrowers’ ability to pay depends in a great deal on their educations or vocational training. Their profits, and therefore their jobs, depend on it. 

Schalin also criticizes the U.S. News & World Report rankings, writing that they “[favor] inputs and image over outcomes and rigor.” I saw the deleterious effects of those rankings at my law school alma mater, the University of Baltimore School of Law. During my 2L year, I discovered that UB Law and a dozen or so other schools had fudged post-graduation job placement rates, an illicit tactic that can be used to climb the rankings. The intense pressure to attract students and artificially gain prestige via the ranking system had put schools like mine in a “damned if we do, damned if we don’t” situation and may have caused some schools to fraudulently entice prospective students.

Click here to read Schalin’s piece in its entirety.

Another For-Profit Gets Shaky



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I really did not expect private for-profit schools to falter so quickly. The latest school to be in trouble is Anthem Education, which, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, will be closing two of its three Missouri locations. While the school, which has 34 locations around the country, did not confirm the closures, it conceded that it is going through tough financial times. It has filed notice of probable layoffs in several states.

This is the second major for-profit school to get into  trouble recently. Corinthian Colleges, one of the largest with more than 100 campuses, is closing all its colleges. While U.S. senator Tom Harkin conducted a two-year campaign against for-profits, Corinthian’s problem stemmed specifically from investigations by the U.S. Department of Education of alleged false and misleading practices.

Anthem, one of the schools targeted by Harkin, has seen a severe drop in enrollment. Harkin’s report said that its numbers fell from 21,696 in 2006 to 12,792 in 2010.

I thought that for-profits would be more nimble than this. I thought that they could cut their costs in response to declines in demand. But I seem to have been wrong.

Ironically, Inside Higher Education reported the news about Anthem the same day that it reported on a talk by Bill Gates, whose foundation has spent half a billion dollars trying to reform higher education. Gates praised for-profit schools for their student support systems. IHE quoted Gates as saying, “For-profits know within 10 minutes when a student hasn’t gone to class so they can figure out why.”

But these days they don’t have so many students to worry about.

Farewell to KC Johnson’s Great Durham-in-Wonderland Blog



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Brooklyn College history professor KC Johnson took an interest in the Duke lacrosse case in 2006 following the outrageous “sentence first, trial afterwards” behavior of many members of the Duke faculty. He began to look into the case and found much to write about, so he started a blog called Durham-in-Wonderland. He exposed a great deal of the ugliness surrounding the case. Quite recently, he exposed the deceptions in William Cohan’s lame attempt to rehabilitate Mike Nifong and suggest that the Duke players really must have been guilty. Now, he is closing the blog and  his final post  is well worth reading for all it tells us about the prevailing mindset in higher education.

Bravo for an enormous amount of work, motivated by nothing except the desire to see an injustice exposed.

AASCU Comes Out Swinging Against “Pay It Forward”



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Last year, there was a lot of talk about the “Pay it Forward” concept of higher ed financing, under which students would pay no tuition while in school, but later repay the state based on their income. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities has just released a paper that’s very critical of the idea. The author of the paper, Thomas Harnisch, does a good job of explaining why this concept won’t have the lovely, egalitarian consequences that leftists envision, but he also makes what I think is a questionable claim that there are “right-wing” supporters who “believe that the policy change could introduce market dynamics into college financing and ultimately eliminate taxpayer subsidies….”

I don’t know of anyone who got enthusiastic over “pay it forward” for that reason. Harnish adverts to Milton Friedman’s 1955 paper on education in which he suggested that government might front students who wanted to pursue useful training programs and later collect the money back, but that is quite far from the financing scheme that the “pay it forward” enthusiasts have in mind for college in 2014. Friedman did not argue that his plan would eventually eliminate government support for higher ed, but only that it might alleviate a market imperfection. Later in his career, Friedman backed away from that idea. In 2003, he confided to Rich Vedder in an email that he thought a much better case could be made for taxing colleges than subsidizing student enrollments.

Wooing Women to STEM



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A New York Times blogger, Claire Cain Miller, recently praised Carnegie Mellon, Harvey Mudd College, and the University of Washington for increasing the percentage of women in computer science (and, in the case of Harvey Mudd, engineering).

I worry about the effort. Why is it so important to woo women? Aren’t they able to decide for themselves what they want to do? And is computer science really a good place to find high-paying jobs?

In any case, the things these schools are doing to attract women in to “STEM” ranged from the obvious to the dubious.

  • Harvey Mudd put  more pictures of women in its brochures and bought in more women to guide campus tours.
  • Carnegie Mellon created a mentoring program and stopped requiring programming experience to enter the program.
  • The University of Washington revised its introductory course to focus on “creative and real-world applications.” (That’s the dubious one to me.)

Miller turned up an interesting statistic. Many “experts” lament the fact that only 18 percent of computer science graduates are women. In 1985 the figure was 37 percent. Do women know something that the experts don’t?

Foresighted or Blind-sided?



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It will take years before a consensus emerges over whether there is or isn’t a shortage of STEM graduates. But opinion is beginning to shift to skepticism as labor market information fails to show tight markets except in a few specialized fields.

Is one university, Campbell, in North Carolina out-of-step? It’s starting an engineering program in the middle of North Carolina, not far from Research Triangle Park and in the shadow of two prestigious engineering programs—Duke’s and NC State’s. Jesse Saffron investigates the reasons why.

Is “Strict Scrutiny” Such an Elusive Concept?



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In its Fisher v. Texas decision, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the Fifth Circuit, instructing it to employ the standard of strict scrutiny (as opposed to lazy deference) to the University of Texas’ racial preference system. The Fifth Circuit reheard the arguments and earlier this week released a 2-1 decision in favor of the university. But was there any strict scrutiny? Evidently not. The two judges in the majority bought the university’s claim that it needs to have “critical masses” of students from “underrepresented minority groups” in order for all students to enjoy the supposed educational gains that only arise under those conditions. The majority paid no attention to the arguments that preferences have some serious costs, which should figure in strict scrutiny analysis.

In today’s Pope Center piece, Jennifer Gratz examines the Fifth Circuit’s decision and finds it weak and evasive (as did the dissenter, Judge Emilio Garza).

So the case continues. The ideal outcome would be for the Supreme Court to cut the Gordian Knot and clearly rule against the use of racial preferences.

Thoughts on the Fifth Circuit’s Fisher Remand



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Jane Shaw has kindly invited comments on yesterday’s decision by the Fifth Circuit panel in the Fisher v. University of Texas remand, so here are a few.
First, the majority opinion apparently believes that it is all right to engage in racial discrimination in order to achieve the educational benefits that accrue from having a critical mass of this or that racial group.  Yet the precise nature of the “educational benefits” at the University of Texas are never defined, nor is the term “critical mass.”  And how, in particular, can a court ensure that there is the “narrow tailoring” that Justice Kennedy demanded in this case – that, specifically, there are no race-neutral ways of achieving the relevant educational benefits – when these terms are undefined?  As a practical matter, it seems that the framework erected by the Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger is not working very well.
Second, the reason that racial preferences are being used in addition to the Top Ten Percent Plan is that the TTPP admits the “wrong kind” of blacks/Latinos – that is, they are lower class instead of upper class.  But surely some blacks/Latinos of the “right kind” are admitted under the TTPP, and surely some of the blacks/Latinos admitted under holistic review are of the “wrong kind.”  Yet the University seems confident that it can predict that the random interracial conversations occurring on campus will be improved by drawing more from this pool of blacks/Latinos versus that pool of blacks/Latinos – so confident, in fact, that it is willing to overlay racial preferences on top of the TTPP.  
And this takes us back to my first point:  Precisely what “educational benefits” from these conversations are heightened not only by having different amounts of melanin, but different incomes within a melanin group?
It is quite true that one cannot assume that all African Americans and all Latinos think alike or have the same backgrounds.  But that is precisely why all stereotyping, preference, and discrimination based on race should be rejected.

Reading The Race Card



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I read 30 years ago in the Chronicle of Higher Education that in 90% of PhD programs in US universities, there were no black candidates. I was reminded of this statistic listening to a report on National Public Radio in mid-July, concerning the decision by Washington & Lee University to remove Confederate battle flags from the school’s chapel.

What caught my attention was the following statement by W&L president Ken Ruscio: “Total American minority population is, on the undergraduate side, about a little over 11 percent. The total American minority on the law side is 16.6 percent. Within that group, African American students are, on the undergraduate side, a little under 3 percent, and at law, about 8 percent.”

After grappling with Ruscio’s syntax, the net-net appears to be that three percent of undergraduates and eight percent of law students are black. Thus, despite the usual minority outreach efforts, the number actually enrolled as undergraduates and law students is quite low compared to the percentage of blacks in Virginia (and nationally).

This sounds odd in the context that affirmative action to alter the public school system to raise black performance  has been in place over 40 years, including  forced busing, less challenging curriculum, counseling and tutoring Yet black percentages in higher education have hardly budged.

There is an apparently unbridgeable gap between black and white learning achievement in early education that carries the argument to a place few want to venture. But at the college and post-graduate level, the statistical reality needs to be confronted.

The problem may not be due to racism or black failure but to the shrill demands of white liberals and black activists: The reality is there just aren’t enough blacks to fill the spaces in higher education they demand. The same is true for society where the paucity of black professionals is blamed on racism by whites.  

Recognition of this reality would relieve tension in race relations and stop the endless cycle of black leaders falsely accusing  white society for  failing to end racism and discrimination -  to them the reason for low performance compared to whites and Asians.

The statistics say otherwise. Actually, praise is due to white society for its historically unprecedented willingness to change society as recompense for past discrimination. Yet, white liberals and black activists have created an industry of laying the problems of black achievement  at the altar of institutional racism. This “white guilt” argument is tiresome and damaging. Wrong-footed efforts to solve a faux problem is creating a permanent mediocrity in higher education and society.

Examples  of the decline of academic standards to pay extortion to minorities for their failure has become systemic in colleges and universities. Recent events at the University of Wisconsin (discussed here) epitomize the irreversible implementation of the  race-based annihilation of academic standards.

But if  you look at the numbers instead of listening to the propaganda, the black community would not be suffering from lowering self-esteem and blameless whites should be released from accusations of racism and the drive to alter standards downward. Both black and white citizens have been hoodwinked by activists who are never satisfied with realistic progress, only theoretical utopian outcomes beyond human accomplishment.

This seemingly never-ending impasse occupies a large amount of civic attention. The Obama administration is dedicated to combating racism, and the mainstream media  report on racism as arguably the most important issue on the domestic political agenda. The truth is that racism is not the underlying problem dividing America. It’s the fanciful goals dreamed up by the white Left that blacks cannot attain in numbers to suit them.

Here’s why. If we round off the total population of the U.S. at 300 million, and accept that ten percent of the total achieve advanced degrees, that adds up to 30 million. The black population of the country is 11.6 percent. Round that figure to 10 percent and you are left with 30 million total blacks. Take 10 percent of that number–as  we did with the total population that received advanced degrees–and you come up with 3 million. It becomes obvious that the problem of too few blacks in the top professions is not caused by racism but by statistical reality.

Taking into account that 1.6 million blacks are enrolled or have achieved advanced degrees, then black success in higher education is worth celebrating. Yet the race war that should not be continues to divide the nation.
 

Let Student Loans be Discharged in Bankruptcy?



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There is a good case to be made for it. Ike Brannon of the George W. Bush Institute (he’s no left-winger) argues in favor in this Weekly Standard article.

But it isn’t just a boo-hoo, let’s help suffering kids piece. Brannon would change the law so that if a student declares bankruptcy to escape from his loans, the school or schools that “educated” him would have to take over the payments. That would radically change the incentives, both of colleges and students. Colleges would have to contemplate the risk of admitting disengaged, ill-prepared students. They’d also have a strong incentive to raise academic standards so that students couldn’t just coast through. Students would have an incentive to show that they are serious about education and would benefit from college.

Any politicians with the guts to propose this?

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