Phi Beta Cons

Words as Weapons

It’s a sleepy day in early August. Nothing should be happening in the world of higher education. Even college presidents are supposed to be taking their vacations. But here I am, looking at the usual sources (Chronicle of Higher Education, InsideHigherEd), and just today I find news about three newly released reports:

  • Sallie Mae and Gallup jointly report on the sources of funds for college (parents pay 37 percent of the total).

  • The Education Trust issued two reports on how to close the achievement gap between minorities and others.

  • And then there was last week’s report by the American Bar Association condemning the U. S. News rankings.

These aren’t just statements; they are long, deliberately crafted papers. And they have been coming out fast and furiously for weeks now. There’s the risibly confused Georgetown University “Help Wanted” report  (which George Leef blasted last week), and the thought-provoking Espenshade/Radford study (beautifully interpreted by Russell Nieli). Oh, and just about everybody has been fascinated with the Leisure College, USA study showing that college students don’t spend much time hitting the books.

Report after report. Words following upon words. In the dog days of August. I have to conclude two things: A lot of people are interested in higher education. That’s the good news. Second, higher education is a battlefield, and its tactical weapons are words — words gathered together in multiple pages, round after round of reports.

Someone is always out to win a battle and words are the weapons. Whatever happened to actions?

Jane S. Shaw — Jane 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 ...

Most Popular

White House

For Democrats, the Party’s Over

If the Democrats are really tempted by impeachment, bring it on. Since the day after the 2016 election they have been threatening this, placing their chips on the Russian-collusion fantasy and then on the phantasmagoric charade of obstruction of justice. The attorney general accurately gave the ingredients of the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Worst Cover-Up of All Time

President Donald Trump may be guilty of many things, but a cover-up in the Mueller probe isn’t one of them. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, attempting to appease forces in the Democratic party eager for impeachment, is accusing him of one, with all the familiar Watergate connotations. The charge is strange, ... Read More
PC Culture

TV Before PC

Affixing one’s glance to the rear-view mirror is usually as ill-advised as staring at one’s own reflection. Still, what a delight it was on Wednesday to see a fresh rendition of “Those Were the Days,” from All in the Family, a show I haven’t watched for nearly 40 years. This time it was Woody Harrelson ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Democrats’ Other Class War

There is a class war going on inside the Democratic party. Consider these two cris de couer: Writing in the New York Times under the headline “America’s Cities Are Unlivable — Blame Wealthy Liberals,” Farhad Manjoo argues that rich progressives have, through their political domination of cities such as ... Read More
Culture

The Deepfake of Nancy Pelosi

You’ve almost made it to a three-day weekend! Making the click-through worthwhile: A quick note about how National Review needs your help, concerns about “deepfakes” of Nancy Pelosi, one of the most cringe-inducing radio interviews of all time, some news about where to find me and the book in the near ... Read More