Phi Beta Cons

Oh, But There Is a Debate Over That!

Inside Higher Ed ran a story yesterday on a recent AEI conference where the subject was the “completion agenda.” That is, do we really need to get lots more young people into and through college as Obama says we should?

After the presentation of a paper by Arthur Hauptman that was skeptical, Lumina Foundation’s Dewayne Matthews commented that “there’s no real debate here that more people need college degrees.” Sorry, but there is a great debate over that, and apparently Lumina continues to shut its ears to it. Are the people at Lumina not aware of the great numbers of college graduates who have college credentials but find themselves working in mundane jobs that most high-school students could do? Are they unaware that by turning higher ed into a mass-consumption product, we have managed to drive academic standards down to almost nothing? Are they not aware that other nations that have heavily promoted higher education as an economic “engine” have managed only to create throngs of under-employed graduates, for example Britain and China?

Just as with the notion that there are “educational benefits” from “diversity,” the idea that America needs to process more people through college seems impervious to evidence and logic.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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