William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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OH DEAR, OH DEAR, YOU MEAN QUESTIONS ARE BEING ASKED? – AT 10:22 A.M. ET:  We're often told that the education bubble is starting to burst, that parents, students, and employers are asking hard questions about education, especially the value of the "college education," which has become a kind of religious objective.

Fortunately, some political figures are also starting to speak out and ask questions, especially questions directed toward those exalted of all institutions, the universities.  They will undoubtedly be called "anti-intellectual," "right wing," and other curses, but these questions need to be asked.  From the great College Insurrection website:   

Considering the rising unemployment rate for college graduates, this sounds like a very logical and reasonable idea.

Kevin Kiley of Inside Higher Ed displays a bit of snark in the opening of his report.

"Another Liberal Arts Critic

North Carolinians might have seen this coming when they elected Patrick McCrory governor in November. He’s a Republican and the second half of his name is “Rick,” and these days — with Rick Scott in Florida and Rick Perry in Texas — that tends to mean criticism of the liberal arts and flagship universities.

On a national radio program Tuesday morning, McCrory, who goes by Pat, said he would push legislation to base funding for the state’s public colleges and universities on post-graduate employment rather than enrollment.

“I’m looking at legislation right now – in fact, I just instructed my staff yesterday to go ahead and develop legislation – which would change the basic formula in how education money is given out to our universities and our community colleges,” McCrory told radio host Bill Bennett, who was education secretary under President Reagan. “It’s not based on butts in seats but on how many of those butts can get jobs.”

The Republican governor also called into question the value of publicly supporting liberal arts majors after the host made a joke about gender studies courses at UNC-Chapel Hill. “If you want to take gender studies that’s fine, go to a private school and take it,” McCrory told the radio host. “But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.”

COMMENT:  One doesn't have to agree with the governor's ideas to know that he's onto something.  Taxpayers are funding public universities, like the University of North Carolina (UNC), and they have a right to know what they are funding, and the value to the state.  There is no "right" to public funding of colleges.  It is a decision by the public itself, acting through their representatives.

We need a serious discussion about education at all levels.  With private colleges now charging $60,000 a year, don't students and families have a right to ask what they're actually paying for, and its value?

How often have you seen discussions like this in the media?  Not very often, for one of the most corrupt relationships around today is the link between the media and the universities.  It is close, it is incestuous, it is dishonest.  Too many journalists hope someday to be invited to give a commencement address, or to receive an honorary degree.  They don't do tough reporting on colleges and universities, and there is plenty of fodder there.

February 5, 2013