Latest posts by Nancy Thorner (see all)
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Education, especially the nature and quality of today’s education from kindergarten through college, will have a profound impact on this nation and its future direction, for the children of today will be our future leaders of tomorrow.
There is a definite need for a higher education reformation, as was the case made by Emina Melonic in her article of June 20, 2019, We Need an Education Reformation, who as a survivor of Bosnian war and its aftermath of refugee camps, migrated to the United States in 1996, becoming an American citizen in 2003.
As Ms. Melonic wrote:
“In the last few years, we have reached an absurd level of human categorization, especially in the matter of gender. This originated in the institutions of higher learning, where the humanities have become completely dehumanized. Perennial questions of good, evil, beauty, and truth are hardly there anymore. Instead, they have been replaced with a relativistic worldview in which everything is fluid and changeable, except the reigning ideology, which (of course), had better be respected. Any vision of classical beauty is erased, and instead, vulgarity reigns supreme.”
Ms. Melonic’s view, as a recent U.S. citizen, is that higher education, once the envy of the world, is now suffering a crisis of confidence and a loss of purpose. Melonic’s thoughts were reinforced and brilliantly expanded upon by Richard K. Vedder who spoke at a Freedom Rising Heartland event at The Heartland Institute on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at its Breitbart Center in Arlington Heights, IL. Dr. Vedder is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Economics at Ohio University, and Founding Director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.
Discussed by Dr. Vedder was his newest book, Restoring the Promise: Higher Education in America, published in May of 2019 by Independent Institute, Oakland, California, which examines the nature of and solutions to such issues as tuition and other costs; public funding and governance; curricula; free speech and academic freedom; political correctness; due process; admissions; student loans; and much more.
Vedder’s suggested reform agenda is equally comprehensive as he urges ending discrimination against for-profit schools; ending grade inflation; ending speech codes and other barriers to academic freedom; ending affirmative action and related diversity programs; ending or revising federal student financial aid; instituting three-year degrees and year-round instruction; and providing earnings data on former students for extended periods after graduation.
Watch here the live stream of Heartland’s event on June 19, 2019, featuring Richard K. Vedder discussing his book.
Dr. Richard K. Vedder speaks
Lennie Jarrett introduced Dr. Vedder. Jarrett is the project manager for the Center for Transforming Education at The Heartland Institute.
Noted below are some of the main points presented by Dr. Vedder to an audience for whom the failing American education system was no stranger, but instead an issue of great and lasting concern for this nation’s future.
America’s colleges and universities are increasing expensive — for more costly that 25 or 50 years ago — causing graduates to defer buying a home, starting a family, saving for retirement, and pursuing the American Dream. Vedder attributed the main factor in the increased cost with misguided government policies, especially federal student financial assistance program that artificially boost demand and enable schools to exploit students through price discrimination.
The saddest truth about higher education is that most college students learn relatively little while in school. Vedder relates how the evidence of Richard Arum and Josipa Roska, after surveying more than 2,300 students on diverse campuses, suggests that students gain little important knowledge, with some exceptions in technical areas such as in engineering, nursing, architecture, or accounting, where colleges teach vocationally useful material. Low levels of learning are not surprising to Vedder, because students spend little time in classrooms or studying — on average less than 390 hours weekly for about 32 weeks a year.
Higher education often confers surprisingly little advantage in the job market, making college a risky investment for many. Vedder cited an October 2018 report by Federal Reserve Bank of New York finding that around 40% of recent college graduates are “underemployed,” filling jobs traditionally filled by high school graduate, such as Uber drivers, baristas, big box store cashiers, and other jobs not requiring a degree. Likewise concerning is that some 40 percent or more of students fail to graduate from college in even six years, although Vedder does believe that going to college is worthwhile financially for many Americans, despite significant risks involved.
College are notoriously inefficient, with few incentives to lower costs or improve quality. As Vedder related, often the incentives they face create perverse outcomes, such as a growing ratio of employees to students over the past half century. Colleges are swarming with administrators — more than faculty. Buildings lie empty much of the year. Professors at even teaching-oriented schools rarely teach even 400 hours a year (equivalent to forty-eight hour days of work), down at least one-third over the past half century.
Academic debate on campus has increasingly yielded to intellectual conformity. As Vedder explained, despite exceptions, many prominent campuses have become bastions of a progressive leftist mono-culture: the faculty espouse overwhelmingly similar views on political and cultural issues, tolerance of alternative viewpoints is stifled, and original research demonstrates that outside speakers also tend to have a strong leftist orientation. Reasoned debate among alternative viewpoints is too often limited.
In Restoring the Promise: Higher Education in America Richard Vedder asks all the right questions. You as parents will have to determine what the right answers are for your children, keeping in mind that college is not the correct option for all children, even as high schools continue to push the mantra that a college education is right for all. Check here to purchase Vedder’s book.
Coming Heartland event
The Heartland Institute’s 13th International Conference on Climate Change will be held on Thursday, July 25, from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, District of Columbia. See here the line-up of speakers and how to register for this outstanding event.
[Originally Published at Illinois Review]