Phi Beta Cons

Our Way or the Highway

Sometimes it’s hard to know who is more arrogant—university faculty who “know it all” or government appointees who do the same. Today, the winner is a federal appointee. Jamienne S. Studley is outgoing deputy secretary of education, and had a major role in developing the College Scorecard system.

Interviewed by InsideHigher Ed, she was asked:

And do you think this administration has acted too much like it has the answers?

She replied:

It’s our job to have the objectives and the goals that we want. And to leave as much room for the how as is possible, navigating our statutes. But also especially whether people step up. … The more we can say we all need to get to this level of rigor, or we need to get to campus community life that is safe for everybody who is there, the less we have to prescribe.

. . .

Arne Duncan [put] emphasis on humility and that the field knows better how to do what they came to do. But they need to do it within the framework and both targets and constraints that we set to make sure that it’s within bounds….

If that sounds like bureaucratese, let me highlight: First, “it’s our job to have the objectives we want.” While there is some room for colleges and universities to figure out “how” to achieve those objectives, “they need to do it within the framework and both targets and constraints that we set….” 

More succinctly, it’s “our way or the highway.”

Jane S. Shaw — Jane S. Shaw retired as president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in 2015. Before joining the Pope Center in 2006, Shaw spent 22 years in ...

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