Higher Education Reform-Carolina Style

educationAround here, we are fond of saying, “Things that can’t go on: won’t”. In many ways, this is one of them.

A right-leaning public policy foundation is making waves in North Carolina’s public university system. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on how the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy is getting traction among the state’s Republican political leadership. The Center, the Chronicle tells us, aims to “[make] public colleges more accountable to the public, by holding them to their ‘chief goals of scholarly inquiry and responsible teaching’” and many believe its stances have influenced legislative proposals as well as the Board of Governors of the state’s university system, largely appointed by the GOP. More:

Jenna A. Robinson, the center’s president, calls the organization a watchdog for a university system that has become too expensive for many students because of ballooning administrative costs.

The center’s critics, however, see its influence as distorting the view of higher education in the state […]The center promotes “a very narrow, archaic view of what a university should be,” said James C. Moeser, who served as chancellor of the flagship campus from 2000 to 2008. “They’ve strongly influenced the direction of the Republican Party in the state. Most faculty are terrified of them.”

The Center’s work and influence can be seen as part of a trend: red states are beginning to lean forward on their skis in dealing with universities—institutions that have historically been bastions of Democratic and left-wing ideas.

Red Higher Ed Reforms Put Pressure on Carolina Blue – The American Interest.

One has to be careful here, this type of thing can easily slip (especially for conservatives) into anti-intellectualism. But it also is true that intellectualism is not the same thing as radical leftism, nor is toeing the party line.

John Adams famously said, “There are two types of education… One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live.” In many ways, I think we have over the years conflated them. one doesn’t, after all, need a degree in Transgressive Gender Studies to be the receptionist at XYZ Corporation. Yet many most companies require a degree these days simply to hire one. Why?

I think it is a practical requirement, initiated simply because the average secondary school graduate can no longer be expected to be able to read, write, and do arithmetic reliably. And so to meet their requirements, they raised the entry standards, simply because our public schools have failed to provide employable graduates. That comes simply under that iron law, “One must do what one must do.”

But that is not the mission (or shouldn’t be) of the university. John Adams also said,“I must study Politics and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematics and Philosophy.” In other words, the university is there to teach us to think and to study, with a knowledge base, on the underlying issues of the day, and yes, pure science and philosophy. In practical terms, the leaders of society; the teachers, the preachers, the engineers, the doctors, the military officers, and so on. The guy (or girl) answering the phone, no so much.

The other thing is that a university should teach one to learn, and keep on learning. Anybody that thinks learning ends with your degree is simply delusional. And here, I’m an example. I figured out in my sophomore year that I had little or no desire to spend the rest of my career in an office, or teaching formally, for that matter, and so I went to work. I’ve never regretted that decision, nor have I ever quit learning. And now my friends number amongst them, several with PhDs from some of the best university’s on earth, who treat me as an equal, because I have somewhat that same level of knowledge, although I think I likely have some serious holes (and likely always will), although I’m slowly working on it.

Much of the problem is not with the universities, we have corrupted their mission to do the job that our primary and secondary schools have failed (and are failing) to do. In large measure. the universities will fix themselves when they are required again to do what they are designed to do, instead of being remedial high schools.

And I suspect, in large measure, the financial problems will also be cured when a university degree is an honor to be earned rather than a requirement to be employed. Tenure, is, of course, a silly idea, designed to allow people to be lazy and not do their job effectively, and needs abolishing at all levels.

The financial problems of going to college will disappear when one is again required to use one’s own resources to go, so that it is one’s rational self-interest to get a useful education instead of all the silly majors that one can have today-that allow one to get a job at MacDonald’s


About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

4 Responses to Higher Education Reform-Carolina Style

  1. the unit says:

    NEO: New Age Ann Landers. 🙂
    “Things that can’t go on: won’t”. Won’t: Sex into one’s seventies (well for most). Microwave popcorn? Oh Yes! (that a ususal expression by a partner years and years ago, also documented by Cosmopolitian, for the what it’s worth department again. Good popcorn, of course.)

    Liked by 1 person

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