Sunday, May 04, 2014
A Different Approach to Class-Based Affirmative Action
I’m thinking, let’s start with parity. Let the accessible colleges have the funding to make themselves worthier of the students who need them. If that’s not enough, then we can have that discussion. But until then, we’ll be stuck arguing in circles.
I'll even go so far as to accept two tiers of funding (lower division and upper division) as long as it is done equitably, say treating an expensive program like AS nursing as if it was upper division. It just makes no sense for them to get so much more money than we do when we use full time faculty to teach calculus and chemistry (including some labs) and half of our freshmen composition classes, and they use mostly adjuncts to teach the same classes.
The critical flaw in this though is that it would require more public funding of education (because the R-1 flagship universities are not just going to lay down and take a gigantic spending cut.) It's not a bad idea but it is pretty much DOA in the current climate.
In my opinion/observation, no amount of funding will do this. What makes Harvard and Yale good is that everyone on the Supreme Court attended them. What makes a school "good" (for the portion of the population that cares deeply about selective colleges) is the value of its network and its credential; those disconnect from cost or academic quality well before you get to "highly selective."
In other words, you can probably learn as much at U-Mass as at Harvard, but in NYC or DC, the Harvard degree will get you a lot of openings that the U-Mass degree won't.
When 40% of recent college grads have taken jobs that need no college education, and 20% of recent college grads can find only part-time work (recent BLS stats), the risk/reward assessment of higher education for prospective students changes. Isn't higher ed already past the tipping point? If higher ed doesn't reliably enhance career outcomes, public funding should be going down, not up, correct?
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