The second draft of the Higher Education Commission’s report takes a softer line with the sensitive people who provide postsecondary education. Inside Higher Ed provides a good run-down here.
The change of tone is regrettable, but what really bothers me is that the report is going to repeat one of the big misconceptions of our time–that we are moving into a “knowledge-driven” economy and therefore Americans need for higher education is greater than ever. Too bad that the commission did not bother to question that bit of conventional wisdom. I have yet to see anyone attempt to prove that the labor market is changing significantly in ways that call for more seat time in classrooms. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not forecast any dramatic change in the general contours of the labor market. Over the next decade, the greatest job growth is expected to occur in areas that do not call for any particular academic credentials.
And even in jobs that rely on technological information, it is by no means clear that putting kids through college is the only or best way to equip them with the skills they need. I wrote about the “everyone should go to college” mistake here.