Not Much of a Debate

by George Leef

Here is a piece entitled “New York Public Policy Think Tank Zeroes in on Debate Over Dwindling Resources in Higher Education.” The think tank is the Century Foundation, long a cheerleader for the higher-ed establishment. The trouble is that its event included no one who argues that we have oversold higher education and further expansion will waste more resources.

Apparently, the closest this event came to debate was to mention the book I recently reviewed, In the Basement of the Ivory Tower. The anonymous author was not there to defend himself, and the book was dismissed by one participant on trivial grounds.

Naturally, the defenders of the status quo, including Richard Kahlenberg, made the worn-out arguments about the supposed earnings premium for college graduates and that people with college degrees have had a lower unemployment rate in recent years. If everyone had a college degree, would unemployment be zero? Will college graduates who can barely read and write earn that big bonus while they wait on tables or take tickets in a theater? Kahlenberg is oblivious to the argument that you need to look at the margin, not at statistical averages.

If the Century Fund people acknowledge that there is a debate over higher education, why put on an event with only one side?