Phi Beta Cons

Still Wide Awake

Arthur Brook’s WSJ analysis of the influence of a college education on political attitudes hardly lays the question to rest. To actually see the size of any net effect one would have to control for income, as well as other possibly relevant variables like ethnicity, which he doesn’t do. (And, in fact, he does largely end up explaining the reported differences as a function of income). What’s more, Republican or Democratic party membership is compatible with a wide range of opinions on specific issues. Many college educated Republicans are, for instance, socially liberal.
It’s rather counterintuitive to believe that all the investment in attitudinal change currently being made by university professors and their administrations goes for naught or is counterproductive. Perhaps that’s true, but I’d need a more sophisticated analysis than that presented by Brooks to be cured of my fretful insomnia.         

Stephen H. Balch was the founding president of the National Association of Scholars. In 2007 he received the National Humanities Medal from President George W. Bush.


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