The Real Threat to Higher Education

by Peter Augustine Lawler

So here’s a bit of a provocation (or rant) by me on the future of higher education.

I’m trying to finish a polemical book on the true diversity of higher education in our country being threatened, most of all, by the universalizing tendency of the middle-class or techno-vocational view of what education is.  But you already knew I thought that.

Let me add one thing:  It’s not true, it seems, that the American system of higher education is the best in the world. That ranking turns out to be based on the unsurpassed excellence of our top research institutions.  The average American kid in college is getting a pretty mediocre education and has learned a lot less than his counterpart in most other sophisticated and prosperous countries.  The truth about our colleges, not surprisingly, isn’t so different from the truth about our high schools.  But on both levels of education, we can still brag about diversity, which furnishes us pockets or niches of excellence.  It’s that diversity and so genuine educational choice that’s under persistent and increasingly less subtle attack.