Look Before You Implement

by Jay Schalin

In a recent post on Commentary, Ursinus political science professor Jonathan Marks raises an important issue: Before reform-minded highe- education observers go overboard praising the latest pedagogical and administrative innovations, it’s best to see how they can and will be implemented. Even a great idea can look really bad until all the bugs have been worked out. Marks likes the potential for “competency-based education,” but wonders if it can be whipped into first-rate operating condition after taking a look at one fumbling attempt by Northern Arizona University to take advantage of the idea. He notes some problems that need to be addressed before competency-based evaluations have real meaning for employers.

Whether those objections can be easily surmounted remains to be seen. Caution is a good thing — aren’t liberals the ones who are always trying to implement some new program before it has been thoroughly vetted (or even read)?