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Monday, August 18, 2008

Why Go To College? Why Go To Night School?

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you are aware that I am highly skeptical of the American higher education system. At best, it is a terribly inefficient cash grab by institutions who claim to be serving the public. At worse, it is a rigorous form of social apartheid which feeds on the fears of the elites and their desires to guarantee success for their progeny.

Either way, we can blow up this system at any point and I would not shed tear one for any tenured professor.

The Wall Street Journal, which I rode over the coals a couple of weeks ago, contains a piece by Charles Murray which I couldn't agree with more.

Imagine that America had no system of post-secondary education, and you were a member of a task force assigned to create one from scratch. One of your colleagues submits this proposal:

First, we will set up a single goal to represent educational success, which will take four years to achieve no matter what is being taught. We will attach an economic reward to it that seldom has anything to do with what has been learned. We will urge large numbers of people who do not possess adequate ability to try to achieve the goal, wait until they have spent a lot of time and money, and then deny it to them. We will stigmatize everyone who doesn't meet the goal. We will call the goal a "BA."

You would conclude that your colleague was cruel, not to say insane. But that's the system we have in place.

Fantastic! Murray calls for a series of certification tests as a means for institutions to identify appropriate candidates, modeled on the CPA. I concur. I distinctly recall my state certification test for teaching. The test was such an absolute joke- a fact that indicted not only the state Board of Ed but the schools who provide Illinois with teachers.

To paraphrase Will Hunting, Americans spend billions of dollars collecting initials after their names which could be had for hundreds of dollars in late fines at the public library in a more perfect world.

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