Phi Beta Cons

May I Introduce Myself?

Regular readers are familiar with the principled postings of George Leef of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. I am a colleague of George’s, and he invited me to join him as a blogger. A brief introduction:
My professional life has been divided into three periods — first, as a journalist (culminating in a stint with Business Week, which Steve Lagerfeld once memorialized as the “anti-business” business magazine — sorry about that), then as an editor and writer about free-market approaches to the environment at PERC (the Property and Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Mont.), and now as head of the John W. Pope Center, a North Carolina-based nonprofit institute dedicated to improving higher education.

Although I share many of George’s free-market principles, I’m more of an accommodationist; I tend to promote what I view as realistic choices.

I admire Phi Beta Cons because, unlike many group blogs, it features camaraderie and interplay of comments without descending to mere chatter. The conversation is informed by a serious goal,  fixing  a system riddled with problems. The result is a column nearly perfect balanced by independent thought and interactive engagement.
I would be remiss if my first posting were mostly about me. George, who has left for an educational tour of Crete with his son, has a piece on our site about grade inflation — opposition to it, in fact. In 2004 a Princeton dean put her foot down and told Princeton faculty to limit the percentage of A’s they award.

The policy seems to be working. Princeton students don’t much like it. But if Princeton becomes known as a school that actually demands effort from its elite (and otherwise pampered) students, those students will have an edge in the job market (over their elite and pampered rivals). In our new economy, that edge may be worth a lot.

Jane S. ShawJane 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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