Author: George Leef

George Leef is Director of Research for the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

The Last-Ditch Battle to Protect Racial Preferences in California

California voters made racial preferences illegal by passing Proposition 209 in 1996, but many university officials have ignored the law, especially at the state’s top law schools. Among such officials, it is a deeply ingrained belief that social justice demands measures to close statistical gaps between “underrepresented” groups (particularly blacks and Hispanics) and “overrepresented” groups […]

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This University Is Going to Pay Big Money for Ignoring a Student’s Rights

James Madison University, a public university in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, is probably not a school you would think of as one where rampaging ideology against male students would lead to a huge legal fight. But that’s what happened a few years ago. Now, a student who was wrongfully punished is on the verge of collecting almost […]

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Wake Forest University- Reynolda Hall

An Anti-Koch Rampage at Wake Forest

Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC is a selective school with a faculty that has a considerable number of, to use Roger Kimball’s phrase, tenured radicals. Just about two hours to the east in Raleigh is Wake Tech Community College, a typically unpretentious school offering lots of “practical” education. Recent events at the two schools […]

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NYU Professor Sides with “Snowflakes” Against Free Speech

Many leftist academics have denounced the recent spate of riots and shouting down of non-progressive speakers on college campuses – and good for them – but you knew that there were others who were glad to see students fighting back against such supposedly dangerous people as Charles Murray. One of them has put his thoughts […]

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Enough of the College-for-Everyone Agenda

Every so often, someone in the higher ed establishment does a bit of cheerleading for the team –proclaim that college degrees are so beneficial that the country should try to put far more young people through college. The most venerable such effort is a report that the College Board puts out every three years entitled […]

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College Faculties, Heavily Tilted Toward the Left, Shun Diverse Viewpoints

A paper recently published in Econ Journal Watch, “Faculty Voter Registration in Economics, History, Journalism, Law, and Psychology,” shows what almost everyone believes to be true – that college faculties in the social sciences are predominantly left of center. More than that, it shows that this is truer in some fields and geographic regions than […]

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Top College Endowments Are Political Targets Now

One of the pillars of our education establishment, The Education Trust, recently published a report meant to pressure colleges and universities with large endowments into spending more of their earnings on one of its pet causes – very low or even free tuition for students from poorer families. The study, “A Glimpse Inside the Coffers: […]

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The Remarkably Feeble Fisher Opinion

After the death of Justice Scalia, most people who have been following the protracted Fisher v. University of Texas case (myself included) expected that the Court would let the university’s racial preference system stand. It did that in a 4-3 decision released on June 23. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Ginsburg, […]

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Profs Go to the Mattresses Against Israel

Decades ago, American professors largely stuck to teaching their subjects and kept their political passions separate from their academic work. Read, for example, Alan Kors’ account of a graduate school experience of his, where a decidedly leftist professor rebuked the class for just writing what they thought he wanted to hear and assigned the students […]

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Jane Mayer Peddles Her “Sky is Falling!” Story

Jane Mayer is a writer for The New Yorker who knows her audience. It consists mostly of elitist progressives who like reading that their enlightened transformation of America is imperiled by greedy conservative villains. She has written many articles and most recently, a book entitled Dark Money on that theme. The February 26, 2016 issue […]

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college student

 How MOOCs Foil Distraction

By George Leef: With the surge in online education over the past few years, one course at the University of California has been exceptional. “Learning How to Learn” with an enrollment of 1,192,697 since it was initially offered last year, is the world’s most popular online course, according to The New York Times, narrowly beating […]

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Why Get-Tough Accreditors Make Classes More Fun and Less Demanding

America’s higher education system works like this. The government dangles lots of easy-to-get money for college in front of every high-school graduate, nearly all of whom have heard repeatedly that a college degree is essential for a decent life. Without “higher education,” their lives will be nothing but low-paid drudgery. Salvation lies in enrolling in […]

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Appalachian State Takes Diversity Groveling to a New Low

College officials usually wait until there has been some “crisis” – most often imaginary, based on a hoax or misapprehension – before they introduce new measures meant to “improve diversity” on campus. At Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, however, the administration recently introduced a new “bias incident response team” (BIRT) as a way to […]

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A Lame Defense of Trigger Warnings and Micro-Aggression Mania

Many American campuses are caught up in a great new utopian project – protecting students from speech, writings, images, or anything else that they might find upsetting. Because of the spreading mania for trigger warnings and “protecting” students from micro-aggressions, schools are moving away from their focus on education – which, after all, almost inevitably […]

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We Have Too Many Colleges, So Cut Federal Funding

We have clearly oversold higher education. Through subsidies and political hype, we have prodded huge numbers of students to flock into colleges and universities. Naturally, those institutions also expanded in number and in the volume of students. Now that it is becoming evident that a college degree isn’t necessarily a good investment and for many […]

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Student Ratings Bait Profs Into Lowering Standards

In the fall of 1980,  towards the end of my first semester of college teaching, I received a memo saying that on the last day of class I was to hand out the course evaluation forms for students to complete and return. A few weeks later, the packet of forms they had filled out was […]

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The Severely Biased New Prof at Boston University

Fresh off completing her doctorate at the University of Michigan, Saida Grundy has landed a job on Boston University’s faculty – Assistant Professor of Sociology and African-American Studies. What can B.U. students anticipate from her? Editors at the site SoCawledge dug into Grundy’s thinking and found a lot of tweets that resemble those of Steven […]

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NOT IN AN ELITE COLLEGE? NO WORRIES!

Frank Bruni is a New York Times columnist who has figured out something important – many Americans are completely caught up in the costly, pointless, and often damaging obsession with getting their children into our supposedly elite colleges and universities.  His new book, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, is his effort at […]

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Student Debt Harms the Economy, but is Only a Symptom

These days, Americans are talking a lot about underinflated footballs and overinflated student debt loads. In the latter camp you’ll find the president of Purdue University (and former governor of Indiana) Mitch Daniels. On January 28, he contributed an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled “How Student Debt Harms the Economy.” Daniels points […]

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A Ridiculous ‘Triple-dog-dare’ to Peter Thiel

Defenders of the higher education establishment often show little understanding of the arguments critics make. As a recent example, I give you this December 22 Washington Post piece by Tufts University professor Daniel Drezner, “I’d like to take this opportunity to triple-dog-dare Peter Thiel.” Thiel is the super-wealthy guy who has been funding sharp and […]

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The University of Michigan Vindicates Chris Rock

One of the most revealing statements of 2014 was made by comedian Chris Rock, who told interviewer Frank Rich that he no longer appears on college campuses because “everything offends students these days.” (Read about that here.) In case you think Rock was exaggerating, a recent incident at the University of Michigan shows how correct […]

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Another Myth about “Diversity” Crumbles

Once the Supreme Court (actually, only Justice Powell’s pivotal opinion) said in the Bakke case that programs to increase student “diversity” could be justified if they brought about educational benefits, the higher education establishment began a frantic quest for such evidence. For example, the University of Michigan, needing something that would look sufficiently expert to […]

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The “Gainful Employment” Rule is Sheer Folly

Since the UNC athletic/academic scandal has faded, the hottest topic in the realm of higher education has been the so-called “gainful employment” regulations released by the Department of Education at the end of October. An avalanche of articles have been written exploring the issue involved, namely the large percentage of students who graduate from occupational […]

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Can Psychology Help in Admitting the Best Students?

Put yourself in the shoes of the admissions director at a selective, highly respected college with a narrow academic focus – science, math, and engineering. How could you improve the likelihood that the students you’ll offer admission to will be the best of the many who applied? You already look at SAT and ACT scores, […]

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The Canary in the Law School Coal Mine?

Coal miners used to bring a canary down into the mine to warn them when the air was becoming too dangerous. If the canary went limp, it was time to get out. For the last several years, conditions for American law schools have been getting progressively more dangerous, as students respond to the realities of […]

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Making a Bigger Mess of Student Loans

The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy Federal student aid programs abound in examples that demonstrate a point economists often make: government policies almost always have undesirable consequences that weren’t anticipated, or if they were didn’t matter much to the politicians. At the time they were begun, during President Johnson’s “Great Society” years […]

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English Departments See Iceberg Ahead, Keep to Course

Last month, the Modern Language Association (MLA) issued the report of its Task Force on Doctoral Study in Modern Language and Literature.  The crucial word in the report is “unsustainable.” The authors recognize that the old model of luring students into doctoral programs, keeping them at work on degrees for up to a decade, and then […]

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Good Data Not Good for Bad Colleges

More often than one might think, Americans on the “Right” agree with Americans on the “Left” when it comes to higher education. A few years ago, the Pope Center hosted an event that brought together three critics from each wing of the political spectrum to explore the intersection of their views. I suspect that there will be […]

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A Fair and Balanced View of For-Profit Colleges – in the New York Times

When you stop and think, it’s unfair to the many writers at the New York Times who produce columns that don’t have an ideological edge, to tar them with the brush that is rightly applied to its overwhelmingly unfair and unbalanced editorial pages. Just because the most conspicuous part of a newspaper is terribly slanted […]

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The College Diploma Can’t Be Fixed

Several years ago, I attended a Liberty Fund conference where one of the readings was Edward Chase Kirkland’s Dream and Thought in the Business Community. What I remember most from the book is that many of the great business leaders of the late-1800s not only regarded college education as unnecessary for anyone who was looking […]

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