Anne, Charles, and George rightfully inveigh against the “gutting” and “softening” of the second draft of the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education.
But this draft’s regrettable dropping of focus on declining undergraduate education should not surprise us. There are too many higher education insiders serving on the commission, and it is not in their self-interest to demand serious curricular reform and an end to grade inflation as well as to show open-mindedness to innovative means for delivering higher education.
These insiders are now flexing their muscle in behalf of the status quo and emasculating the report in the name of seeking consensus – which I believe is what commission member Richard Vedder meant when he commented that “as we move to maximize support within the commission, we run the risk of making it more of a pablum, inoffensive document that says relatively little.”
Thus it’s the commission itself that ought to be gutted and re-constituted with members with (pardon the expression) real guts. Barring that, it is likely that this entire exercise will in the end do little or nothing to ameliorate higher education.