Tag Archives: Peter Sacks

Our College Graduation Rate Doesn’t Matter

In his January 29 Forum piece, Peter Sacks says that I engaged in “nitpicking” in a blog post expressing disdain for President Obama’s higher education agenda. He’s free to call my skeptical view about federal initiatives to lower the costs of college whatever he wants. But in my opinion, it is naive to believe politicians (not just Obama) when they claim that they are going to make any good or service less costly. That’s just glittering rhetoric. Mr. Sacks does raise some important issues in his piece, however and I’d like to address them. First, he reiterates the position he took in our Jan. 11 debate, contending that the fact that the U.S. has been “slipping” compared with other countries in college graduation percentages is worrisome. He avers that the nation is losing “billions of dollars in potential economic returns” because lots of young Americans don’t graduate from college. In our debate, I took aim at that notion by citing Professor Alison Wolf’s excellent book Does Education Matter?. In my opening statement, I noted that her book has been ignored by the higher education establishment because her conclusions are uncongenial to the conventional wisdom that the more formal education people have, the better. Her strongly-supported argument is that government “investments” in higher education are neither necessary nor sufficient for a vibrant economy. I encourage Minding the Campus readers to digest Wolf’s book (subtitled Myths about Education and Economic Growth) before they assent to the proposition that we are losing productivity because we don’t have a higher college graduation rate. If you don’t have time for Professor Wolf’s book, however, I’ll explain briefly why our college graduation rate doesn’t matter. The reason is that little of what people need to know for their work careers comes from classroom studies. We have a lot of very successful people in America who didn’t graduate from college. We also have a much larger number of people who have college degrees (sometimes advanced degrees) who nevertheless struggle in low-paying jobs. We know that many who go through college don’t learn much and even if they do, they are apt to discover that the best employment they can find is work that high school students could do. There is no transmission mechanism that causes employers to create more high-paying jobs just because we “produce” more college graduates. I agree with Sacks’ that we need to “reframe the nation’s strategic position,” but disagree on how to go about that. The best strategy for the United States is a great depoliticization. What I mean by that is to lessen or entirely remove politics from a wide range of endeavors – housing, medical care, the allocation of capital, energy, and last but not least, education. Political decision-making tends to be short-sighted and swayed by special interest groups. Policies with concentrated but visible benefits often are enacted even though they create far greater (but often unseen) costs. Limited resources are squandered on projects that people wouldn’t spend their own money on. America’s “competitive advantage” has never been that we put more people through college than other countries. It was that we had less government control over people’s lives and property than other countries.

Are Too Many People Going to College?

These are the opening statements of a luncheon debate co-sponsored by the Manhattan Institute’s Center for the American University and the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.  The debate, held January 11 in New York City, pitted George Leef, research director of the Pope Center, against Peter Sacks, economist and author of Tearing Down the Gates: Confronting the Class Divide in American Education.  The moderator was Howard Husock, Manhattan Institute’s vice president for policy research.

YES–George Leef

In my time this afternoon, I hope to persuade you that the United States has greatly oversold higher education.

We have done that through heavy government subsidies and extravagant rhetoric from both politicians and higher education leaders that created the impression that high-paying jobs were waiting for anyone who completed a college degree.

Just as we caused a destructive, resource-wasting housing bubble by pushing the idea that home ownership was good for almost everyone, so have we caused a resource-wasting higher education bubble.  Large numbers of people have gone to college and obtained degrees costing a great deal of money and time, only to find that there aren’t nearly enough of those good jobs to go around.

The analogy to the housing bubble isn’t perfect, however.  At least the houses that were built were generally of good construction.

In our higher education bubble, many of the educations purchased by students are the equivalent of houses without roofs.  Many Americans today graduate with a college education in name only, having gained little or nothing in useful skills and knowledge.

It’s common in public policy issues for the enthusiasts for some idea to exaggerate the benefits that will supposedly come from their favored policy while underestimating if not entirely overlooking the costs and new problems it will cause.  That was the case with the housing bubble and it’s equally so with our great leap forward to get more and more people through college.

The first benefit of going to college is that it supposedly leads to higher lifetime earnings, since on average, those who have college degrees earn significantly more than do people who don’t.

It is a mistake to assume that just because, on average, people who obtained college degrees in the past have enjoyed higher earnings, individuals who will get college degrees in the future will also enjoy the same “earnings premium.”

We know that many college graduates have to accept jobs that don’t call for any academic preparation whatsoever, and don’t pay more just because the worker happens to have a degree.

Last year, the Center for College Affordability and Productivity released a paper documenting the large percentages of people who have bachelors degrees (or higher) working in jobs that most high schoolers could easily do: customer service reps, cashiers, taxi drivers, and so on.

Quoting from that report.  “More than one third of current working graduates are in jobs that do not require a degree and the proportion appears to be rising rapidly….60 percent of the increased college graduate population between 1992 and 2008 ended up in these lower skill jobs.”

The labor market is glutted with people holding college credentials.  Just because a country “produces” a lot of college grads does not mean there will be commensurate jobs for them.

A second common belief is that it’s advantageous for a country to have a high rate of college completion because it improves economic competitiveness.  Conversely, a country that falls behind in this regard faces a dim economic future.

In an address to Congress in 2009, President Obama latched onto that idea, calling for a national goal of being first in the world in terms of college graduates by 2025.

The trouble with that notion is that there is no necessary connection between a nation’s “educational attainment” level and the vitality of its economy.

In her book Does Education Matter?–Myths about education and economic growth, University of London professor Alison Wolf examined the supposed connection between education and economic growth.  She wrote, “Two naive beliefs have a distorting influence (on public policy) – the belief in a simple, direct relationship between the amount of education in a society and its future growth rate, and the belief that governments can fine-tune education expenditures to maximize that rate of growth. Neither is correct.”

Wolf provided examples of nations that have “invested” heavily in higher education yet have listless economies (such as Egypt) and others that do little to promote higher education yet enjoy very productive and growing economies (such as Switzerland).

Conclusion: putting lots of people through college is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for rapid economic growth.

Now I’ll mention two costs.

One cost of the expansion of college has been a corresponding decline in academic standards.

As college enrollments rose in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, K-12 standards were falling, with the result that an ever-increasing proportion of college students entered with weak academic skills and often an attitude that was indifferent toward learning.

In a 1997 article, Montana State English professor Paul Trout called them “disengaged” students and explained how they put downward pressure on academic rigor and upward pressure on grades – to keep them content and enrolled.

The National Assessment of Adult Literacy provides evidence of falling college standards.  In the 1992 study, only 40 percent of college graduates were assessed as “proficient” in prose literacy; by the 2003 study, that figure had fallen to just 31 percent.

And putting a quantitative peak on the mountain of anecdotal evidence that many students just coast along to their degrees, last year’s book Academically Adrift showed that a large percentage of college students learn essentially nothing.

A second cost is credential inflation.  The more college grads in the labor force, the more employers require job applicants to have college credentials, even for jobs that call for no academic preparation.

James Engell and Anthony Dangerfield wrote in their book Saving Higher Education in the Era of Money, “The United States has become the most rigidly credentialized society in the world.  A BA is required for jobs that by no stretch of imagination require two years of full-time training, let alone four.”

Credential inflation is hard on poor people who are prevented from competing for jobs they could do and hardest of all on poor people who spend money they need for other things on college credentials, only to wind up in low-pay jobs anyway.

I hope you’ll now agree that we’ve oversold college.


NO–Peter Sacks

Are too many people going to college?
This question seems simple but we can look at in through many lenses.  From what or whose perspective are there too many college goers?  From an individual’s point of view at the present time?  From a societal perspective now and in the long run?  From a macroeconomic viewpoint?
First, let me make one thing clear.  It’s argued that a substantial number of college-goers — who should not be going to college — would be better off seeking associate’s degrees or other types of vocational credentials that would help them find good jobs.  This is the updated version of the old, “College isn’t for everyone” argument.
Okay, college isn’t for everyone.  Besides striking me as a bit paternalistic, to make this claim as an argument that too many people are going to college isn’t really an argument at all because nobody would disagree with the claim that college isn’t for everyone.

No, the real argument here is whether we are over-investing in higher education leading to bachelor’s degrees, and if so, how do we legitimately ration higher education opportunity.  How do we decide who “legitimately” deserves this privilege?

From whatever perspective one chooses, there are not too many people going to college.  In fact, the evidence strongly suggests that the United States is under-investing in higher education.  For the sake of economic development alone, there are actually too few people going to college.
Lately, a number of voices have suggested that too many high school graduates are going to college who shouldn’t be going to college.  According to this argument, we are producing more college graduates than what the labor market can accommodate.  The result, it’s claimed, is a flood of college-educated young people working at relatively low-level jobs.
I believe that this argument of too much college-educated labor supply versus demand — an alleged overmatch problem — is not supported by the evidence.
We’ve all heard the stories of the elevator operator with a master’s degree or the waiter with a Ph.D.  But the data suggests these stories are just that, the seemingly frequent, yet incidental, stories which defy our sensibilities about the purpose of higher education and whether it’s worth the cost.  Even on this narrow aspect of the  supply and demand of labor, the evidence suggests that members of the college-educated workforce are either sufficiently educated or in fact undereducated for their jobs.
That is strike one for the too many going to college argument: Given the education and skill requirements of the U.S. economy now and in the future, this country is largely undereducated for the future.  We are producing too few BA degrees and advanced degrees relative to the skill sets employers actually need and will need.
A second aspect of our question today that is largely ignored in the college-no college debate is the macroeconomic value of higher education investments.
In fact, the evidence suggests than public investments in human capital, including higher education, yield long-term economic rates of return that far exceed most standard investments in technology or capital.  Such excess rates of return, above and beyond rates of return in alternative investments, suggest a massive amount of underinvestment in human capital and a dead loss of untold economic returns due to this underinvestment.
That is strike two for the too many going to college argument: Too few people are going to college because current levels of public investment in human capital are woefully insufficient from a macroeconomic perspective.
Finally, there is an even more vital aspect of this debate question that is rarely discussed in conversations on this issue.

To ask whether too many people are going to college begs another question: If too many people are going to college, then who are these people?  How should we as a society ration a more restricted level of educational opportunity?  If we actually did decide as a nation that too many people are going to college, then how should we fix this problem, and what are the far-reaching implications of this fix?  Are too many kids from wealthy families going to college?  Are there too many college-goers enrolled in social work?  Are too many lower middle class kids seeking higher education?  Whom exactly are we encouraging when they should not be encouraged?

While some critics are quick to say that we should reduce the numbers of college-goers, you can be sure that this point of view would rarely apply to their own sons and daughters.
I think most people in this room are smart enough to know that young people born to families of modest incomes and relatively low levels of education — who already bear the brunt of the lack of college access — will also bear the lion’s share of the burden of any policy to roll back education opportunity.
And there you have it: not just fewer people in general going to college but especially fewer people who can least afford to pay for college.

As the chosen ones, however, students from families who have the ability to pay for admissions slots at universities — which, by the way, would dramatically shrink because of dwindling subsidies —  well these chosen few would become our new, self-perpetuating aristocracy.

At the dinner table, equal opportunity means that parents want their children to have opportunities they never had themselves.  After a few generations of striving, grandparents who had attained no more than a high school diploma now have grandchildren who are doctors, professors, and engineers.  Who in this room doesn’t have stories like that in their families?

Those stories should remind us of who we are and how we got here.  We have what we have because of sacrifices — investments in human capital — that past generations made, for us.

As we speak, the American Dream is already on life support.  Adopt the notion that too many people are going to college, and we kill off the Dream for good.

A Response to Peter Sacks

I’d like to respond to Peter Sacks’ critique of my new study. Something that I think is lacking from Sacks’ critique is any sort of acknowledgement of what the paper is about. So, for those that haven’t read it yet, here is the basic story of my report…

Continue reading A Response to Peter Sacks

More College Aid for Low-Income Families, Please

college campus.pngWhen individuals seek higher education, why should all of us have to pay? After all, individuals decide whether to seek a college degree based on their own calculations of expected costs and benefits. That taxpayers must bear the burden of financial aid to these individuals seems unfair.

Given the billions of dollars governments pay individuals to help finance their college expenses, taxpayers must be assured that their investment is not wasted.

In short, we would rather not be sucked dry to pay for C students — whose weak academic preparation makes them unsuited for higher education — just so they can party hard for four or five years.

In a policy paper released this week, Andrew Gillen, the research director at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, says he has the solution to creating rationality in our messy and unaccountable financial aid system.
Continue reading More College Aid for Low-Income Families, Please

A Dubious Move by the University of Texas

If college and university officials finally want to solve
the longstanding problems ofmediocre
retention rates and pitiful graduation rates, then a magic, off-the-shelf
solution awaits them.

It’s called MyEdu, a private company that claims its website
will help colleges solve the problem of disappearing students. How? By
allowing students to see such titillating facts as professors’ official student
evaluations and the grade distributions for courses they teach.

Continue reading A Dubious Move by the University of Texas

Are Student Debt Levels Ridiculous?

Megan McArdle of the Atlantic, with a few strokes of her blog pen, has just solved the problem of too much student debt and the college affordability dilemma — all while ensuring access to higher education for those who truly deserve it. That is, for folks like herself.

First, bowing to the widely circulated claim that student debt levels are out of control, McArdle would severely tighten access to credit markets for students and families. With tightened access to credit, that would force universities to tone down their greediness. As of now, McArdle argues, we should blame the rising costs of higher education on easy loan money, which fills student budgets only to be siphoned off by money-hungry institutions.

Continue reading Are Student Debt Levels Ridiculous?

Does Student Debt Really Matter?

IOU.jpgIn a recent essay in The Atlantic, Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus lament that most students have to take out college loans. They write: “At colleges lacking rich endowments, budgeting is based on turning a generation of young people into debtors.”

While Hacker and Dreifus blame the universities for encouraging students to take on more debt to pay for lavish facilities and other non-educational amenities, others focus on student debt itself as perhaps the key barrier to college facing millions of students from families with low and modest incomes. Indeed, entire organizations have been founded on that very notion, such as the Project On Student Debt.

Analysts who belong to the debt-is-bad school of financial aid policy are correct in noting that student borrowing increased dramatically in the past decade, ballooning 128 percent to more than $96 billion, according to the College Board’s annual survey of financial aid trends. On the other hand, federal grants and institutional grants mitigated the rising student debt. From 2000 to 2010, federal financial aid shot up 136 percent to more than $146 billion; and institutional grants rose 69 percent to more than $33 billion.

Continue reading Does Student Debt Really Matter?

For-Profit v. Non-Profit Colleges–Which Use More Federal Cash?


Are for-profit colleges and universities getting a raw deal from the government compared to their more elitist peers in the private non-profit sector of American higher education?

Vance H. Fried, writing in a recent policy analysis brief published by the libertarian think-tank, the Cato Foundation, argues just that.  Fried is a former private-practice attorney, oil company executive, and investment bankernow a professor of Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University. He targets private non-profit colleges and universities as the beneficiaries of federal largesse, waste and inefficiency. 

“Undergraduate education is a highly profit

Odd Tuition System: Big Sticker Price, Big Discounts

Tuition pricing for college is a strange business, combining a big sticker price (which few people actually pay) with big discounts in the form of institutional grants (which most people should know enough to negotiate).

College pricing is even stranger than the car business. Automobile dealerships aren’t likely to give one customer a sales discount of 50 percent and another customer a discount of 10 percent off the sticker price.  Not so for colleges and universities, where the tuition discounts can differ by tens of thousands of dollars between one student and the next.

Institutions do in fact discriminate on pricing depending on two primary factors that (in theory) determine an “optimal” return to institutional wealth.  Relatively wealthy students who scores off the charts on their SAT’s – thus enhancing the institution’s reputation  if enrolled– will get a tuition break on the basis of “merit.” But this student’s discount for merit is counterbalanced by his or her lack of financial need.  By contrast, high-need students must shine brightly to get admitted, and the university is likely to offer a deep discount to enroll them.

Continue reading Odd Tuition System: Big Sticker Price, Big Discounts

Why College Still Matters

A growing chorus of critics says a college education is finished as the ticket to economic success and a middle-class life.

The economy of the future, these critics suggest, actually requires far fewer college-educated citizens, because the U.S. economy is generating tens of thousands of jobs that require little or no higher education. 

In essence, the critics of American higher education policy are challenging the long-standing belief that all U.S. citizens should have a decent chance to pursue a college degree, regardless of what kind of neighborhood they grow up in, what kind of schools are available to them, or whether their parents have university degrees.

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Rituals Performed for the Elite

The U.S. News & World Report rankings of America’s “best” colleges and universities amount to nothing more than an annual ritual, a predictable coronation of entrenched wealth and power.
Even more importantly, for aspiring students and parents who hope to transcend their present class status, the yearly “guide” serves as the handmaiden to the elite. U.S. News rankings are like a public relations agency, a public persona standing at gates of admission to our “best” colleges, conveniently reminding aspiring Americans of the well-guarded paths to wealth and power.
Does anyone really believe that the students, parents and counselors at elite, mostly private, high schools pay any serious attention to the U.S. News rankings? Of course not. These schools and these families understand deeply how the system works and, especially, how to make the system work for them. They do not need U.S News to tell them which schools matter, and they follow the rankings with bemused disinterest.
That is not to say that the rankings are unimportant to elites. The annual ritual is a vital source of propaganda disguised by a pseudo-scientific calculation reminding our aspiring classes to “get in line and follow the rule” if they want a lottery chance at passing the gates. While the rankings purport to demonstrate to the public what separates good colleges form ordinary ones, the rankings are also the equivalent of the strict school marm, wagging her proverbial index finger at the strivers, the unwashed students and families who seek admission to the elite.
While the aspiring classes slavishly believe in its informative power, the rankings tell us little besides an institution’s wealth and prestige and position in the higher education hierarchy. According to U.S. News’s world view, a college or university is to be judged, not by what they actually do for students during their years on campus, such as how much chemistry, math, sociology and economics students actually learned while there.
Rather, in this upside-down world, colleges are judged by the “quality” of students they enroll. Quality, in essence, is measured by institutional selectivity – the percent of applicants who are accepted for admission. For the bulk of institutions in this universe, the direct correlate of selectivity is the average SAT score of entering freshman. The direct and powerful correlate of individual SAT scores is the cultural, educational and social capital which students acquire from their families. Families pass this human capital from generation to generation, and the so-called meritocracy is more than happy to oblige these privileges.
And so it goes, like a cascading river of wealth and power that obliterates all other considerations that bear on what higher education should mean in a democratic society. If one appreciates the status of inherited privilege, then let’s congratulate U.S. News on a job well done.

When Students Are Rude and Disruptive

male%20funny%20face.jpgWhen Minding the Campus asked me if I would write something about two Canadian engineering professors walking out of class to protest rude and disruptive students in their classrooms, I happily obliged. What harm, I told myself, could there be, after so many years of avoidance, to re-visit this issue?
After all, it has been some 13 years after I wrote Generation X Goes to College: An Eye-Opening Account of Teaching in Postmodern America, about my experiences leaving daily journalism to teach college in the early 1990’s. Disruptive students? Let’s put it this way. I once had a student who sat in the middle of a lecture with a ski mask pulled over his face as I tried to engage the class in the art of essay writing. This being a relatively small class of about 15 students, the ski-mask guy was like a throbbing boil that nobody in the room could ignore, politely pretending that this assault on civility wasn’t really happening. Unlike the Canadian professors, I did not walk out in protest. But looking back, doing so might have been a good idea: let the student’s peers hold him accountable for his disruption and call me when the class is ready to learn.
Ultimately, however, I left the classroom for good. I left teaching — no, I bolted from teaching — as fast as I could run, after enduring culture shock and a mild form of post-traumatic stress disorder, brought on by a system of higher education that treated students as eminently entitled customers and professors as their hand-holding, entertain-at-all-costs servants, whose official job performance rating depended excessively on the opinions of these customers in their anonymous teacher evaluations. Success in the system boiled down to this: I entertain, therefore I am a good teacher.

Continue reading When Students Are Rude and Disruptive

Do Rich, White Protestants Have a Big Edge in Admissions?

Just how much are “legacies” – students with family ties to graduates – granted an edge in admissions to the most elite institutions in the United States?
Until recently, the answer to this question, based on relatively simple analyses of acceptance rates of legacies and non-legacies, had been fairly settled. Legacies, according to the best evidence, have been treated surprisingly well in the cutthroat admissions game, in which the best and brightest are competing for increasingly scarce and valuable terrain in the American meritocracy.
In a sense, the American meritocracy has functioned as it should, producing an increasingly rich vein of highly qualified students, including both legacies and non-legacies alike. Among legacies, families hope to maintain and reproduce family privilege for the next generation and beyond. Among non-legacies, the goal is even loftier: to vault a child into a fundamentally improved social and economic class, which could vastly alter the child’s future opportunities and the economic future of a family’s future generations.

Continue reading Do Rich, White Protestants Have a Big Edge in Admissions?

What Is Texas A&M up to?

image001.gifSomewhere in America the president of a public university is getting hammered by the chairman of the board of regents. The hammerer—let’s say he owns a chain of automobile dealerships – is arguing that the president must get faculty costs under control – or else.

“Admit it, John,” the chairman says to the president. “Your faculty are a bunch of lazy, overpaid whiners. You’ve got six months to figure out a pay-for-performance plan, or start looking for another job.”

A former physicist who understands well the hornets nest he’s about to fall into, our beleaguered university president is left with little choice but to come up with a quick and dirty plan.

“Give me a spreadsheet,” he orders his senior vice president for budget and planning. “I want every faculty member in this system to have a dollar value attached to his or her name, reflecting their net contribution to our bottom line. Then I want a faculty salary schedule to reflect that.”

The president got his spreadsheet. A former physics colleague who was awarded a Nobel Prize some twenty years ago saw his salary slashed in half. Though he’d become a star teacher since his Nobel, his research grants had been dwindling for years. By contrast, there was the recent hire in the Construction Management program. She was a new Ph.D. who was already bringing in tons of industry money for “research.” In contrast to the Nobel Laureate, her salary would shoot up 35 percent. Our university president could think only about what Albert Einstein once said: “Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.”

Continue reading What Is Texas A&M up to?

Don’t Pay Sticker Price, Part 2—the National Universities

Read Part 1 here.
In examining the gulf between sticker price and real cost, let’s consider the top 10 national universities as defined by U.S. News & World Report in its most recent rankings. Using U. S. Department of Education data, I compiled the average net prices that students from different family income groups would pay at the top 10 national universities combined.
Despite total sticker prices averaging more than $50,000 a year at these top 10 universities, net prices range from a low of $4,652, paid by students from poorest family income group, to a high of more than $35,000 paid by students from the richest category of family income.
These averages, however, mask the significant differences in net prices paid by poor and rich students at the individual institution. At Harvard, students from families in all income categories fare significantly better in terms of net price than they might at Harvard’s competitors. Harvard’s poorest students, whose parents earned $30,000 or less, paid net prices averaging just $2,170, significantly less than the average net price charged low-income students at all the Top 10 national universities.

Continue reading Don’t Pay Sticker Price, Part 2—the National Universities

Don’t Pay Sticker Price for College

By Peter Sacks
Jeffrey Selingo, the editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education, should have known better. He told ABC News: “students that maybe 10 or 15 years ago came from families who can easily afford to pay for their son’s or daughter’s education are now being forced to apply for financial aid.” That sounds like an obvious statement on college costs, but it’s wrong. The published prices of higher education are virtually meaningless. The far more important number is net price, which is the cost of attendance (tuition sticker price plus expenses) less federal, state and, especially, institutional grants.
Despite the water-cooler lamentations about the skyrocketing cost of college, both public and private universities have lower net prices today than they did in 1994. And the less money your family makes, the larger the discount is likely to be.
If your annual family income is less than $30,000, you can go to Harvard for $2,170 per year, and to Williams for $1,679. If family income is between $48,001 and $75,000 and you have your eye on Dartmouth, you are eligible for a discount there of almost $44,000 and may pay only $6,565 a year. And some discounts diverge wildly. Even with a discount of nearly $34,000 from sticker price, a Washington University of St. Louis student from an under-$30,000 family would pay more than ten times the amount than a similar student attending Williams.

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Is Academic Freedom In Trouble?

The president of the University of Chicago, Robert J. Zimmer, spoke at Columbia University on October 21st on the topic, “What Is Academic Freedom For?”
Minding the Campus invited several academics and other observers of the campus scene to post brief reactions to President Zimmer’s remarks. The comments are from Peter Sacks, Erin O’Connor and Maurice Black, Adam Kissel, John K. Wilson and Candace de Russy.

Continue reading Is Academic Freedom In Trouble?

Downgrading SATs Makes Sense

Many conservatives are groaning over a major new report from a commission of higher education luminaries calling on colleges to de-emphasize the SAT for college admissions.

The catcalls from the right erupted after the National Association of College Admission Counseling suggested that colleges should rethink their reliance on the SAT for admissions. Wrongheaded, de-evolutionary, politically correct in the extreme, and void of common sense, the critics said the NACAC report is a frontal attack on academic standards and will lead to the ruin of American higher education.

We’ve heard the dire warnings before, countless times. And countless times the cries that the sky is falling have been wrong.

The defense of the SAT as the linchpin of the college admissions process contains at least two major propositions, both of questionable merit.

Continue reading Downgrading SATs Makes Sense