The Wilmington StarNews editorial board shows that it operates in an editorial-room bubble—isolated from reality. Once again these people trumpet the historically impractical idea that higher education for North Carolina residents should be “free.”
Free sounds good, but government can’t provide anything at no cost to some without taking wealth from many others—Econ 101—and corrupting the process. No cost to consumers and unlimited spending at public universities cloud an editorial vision seen through their bubble distortion. Editors’ angst about tuition increases that, they say, “continue to price students out of the market.”
If higher Ed was a real “market,” rather than a government subsidized monopoly, customers would have many choices to contract for services they value and pay for them accordingly. There’s a great body of evidence that the more money federal and state governments dump into educational systems the worse they perform in higher levels of learning.
Editorials continue to perpetuate the myth that: “It is in everyone’s best interest…to put a premium on educating any student” with qualifications and desire. That euphemistic “premium” has resulted in unaccountable spending with little transparency through the ivy-covered walls. And how many potential students actually have qualifications and desire to pursue four years of rigorous study in meaningful curricula—and pay for it? A large part of the student body goes deep in debt with little to show for time spent.
But the larger question—also ignored by zealots for Big Ed—is: Do we need more college students?
Much has been analyzed and written about the economic myths, misstatements and misunderstanding related to the “Ivory Tower.” John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation, has a chapter on this in his book: “Investor Politics.” He distinguishes the terms “education” and “training.” We need better trained workers, best provided by private enterprise. But our public schools fail to educate large numbers of students so they can be trainable. (Many scholars suggest core curricula of classic, apolitical English, math, science, history, civics and economics courses necessary to a proper education.)
George Roche, former president of Hillsdale College, wrote an entire book about corruption in the funding of higher education. George Leef, Jay Schalin and other scholarly analysts at the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy have written extensively on wasteful spending and failing scholarship at many of our universities and colleges.
Duke Cheston reported in the November 2012 edition of the Carolina Journal on a forum held last month in New York City titled: “Disruptions in Higher Education.” (link, p.17) Mr. Leef spoke on a panel of scholars about opportunities to create more freedom within our institutions now in the grip of “leftist orientation” and “collectivist ideologies.” In the future students will not be limited to “bundles” of, what I call, fluff and frivolity. They will “shop around for the best courses” and be able to transfer credits more freely. Online education will offer greater flexibility and efficiency in the education process. But the academic royalty will defend their old castles.
Recently Mr. Schalin commented in the Carolina Journal (page 17 in link cited above) about a plan being crafted by the UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions. Schalin believes they will follow past policies based on “misleading data and state beliefs”—ignoring our current economic realities. UNC president Thomas Ross’ agenda comes from academic “experts’” who believe that “we will need more educated people.” Evidence from the real world, however, indicates otherwise.
Schalin writes that “our economy already has achieved sufficiently high levels of educational attainment, and that too much higher education is unfocused and unproductive” (John Hood refers to misguided efforts at our teacher’s colleges as “fuzzy ideas and shoddy research”). But, of course, this reality threatens the pushers of Big Ed–the more student bodies filling up space the better.
We often read of college graduates living at home and working jobs that could be done with a few weeks of training by their employers. That is a tragic waste of human capital and a bad investment from taxpayer’s money.
Meanwhile, President Ross hopes to follow, what Schalin calls “central planning” quotas of students and graduates reminiscent of failed collectivist projects. UNC officials and editors will continue to irresponsibly ignore economic reality—university officials because of self-interest, and editors because of their politics and willful ignorance.Read full article » No Comments »