Phi Beta Cons

re: Rankings

For reasons Mike Lowrey and I explained in this <a href="

http://www.johnlocke.org/acrobat/pope_articles/collegeranking-inquiry17.pdf”

>paper, the US News ranking system has almost nothing to do with evaluating educational excellence and does more to conceal schools that take academics seriously than to highlight them.
Why regard Harvard as better than GMU at all? True, some nose-in-the-air law

firms wouldn’t even consider hiring a person with such a lowly pedigree as

George Mason, but that doesn’t make Harvard educationally better. GMU

probably has few if any courses taught in the “critical legal theory”

thoughtworld, but that only means that students have more intellectually

serious courses to choose from.
If the college rankings, which are based on inputs rather than results,

disappeared tomorrow, schools would stop trying to make themselves look

better in the criteria which are used to calculate the rankings. The

rankings help US News sell magazines, but they induce schools to manipulate variables that are educationally irrelevant.

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

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