Phi Beta Cons

Testifying to Higher Education Decline

Nicholas Kristof recently wrote that the flaccid American education system is drastically weakening the nation, in contrast to the vigorous Chinese system. A professor, Evelyne Tropper, has sent me her response to Kristof (posted at the New York Times blogsite, login needed). Her personal experience of higher education decline is alarming:

I completely agree with you that we have wasted our most important resource – people – as opposed to China. The education system in the

U.S. falls way behind China, Japan, Germany, France, just to name a few.

In fact, we rank 29th in the world in the quality of our education.


I have been a professor in the U.S. and Canada, and I have worked in the Computer Science industry for 35 years. I was appalled by my last teaching job where:


1. Tenured professors had degrees from a different field, did not keep up with advances in the field over the last thirty years and did no research.


2. They gave students assignments which were mostly done and where some of the blanks had to be filled.


3. Students who obtained 6% or 16% on the final could pass because they did (?) their assignments.


4. Students had been pushed through primary and secondary school and did not know the bases of Mathematics or English required to succeed in college.


5. They continued to be pushed through to a college degree to face a very competitive job market with no preparation. Many end up in jobs unrelated to their degree, which is a sham.


6. The administration goes along with it as long as no union rule was violated and they continue to get funding from the state.

The next generation is being trained to get everything handed to them with no effort, no motivation, no expectation and no initiative. If we continue to make a joke out of education, permit anything as long as people are willing to pay for a degree with no content, we are doomed to lose our standing as a world power within one generation.