Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Fragments

Actual dinner conversation:

TW: So-and-so is dumb as a rock.

TG: Rocks aren’t dumb!

TB: Yeah! Rocks tell scientists lots of interesting facts.


A counselor on campus mentioned today that she’s working with several homeless students, including a few who have young children. As she detailed some of the ways they cope -- you really don’t want to know -- I realized again that I could never be a counselor. How anyone could do that job without succumbing to depression is beyond me. And there’s something profoundly, deeply wrong with a country that will spend hundreds of billions on wars of choice while relegating single mothers with young children to sleeping in tents on the edge of town.


This story is sooooo true. To my mind, the obvious medium-term solution to the dilemmas of reallocating within a college is to reallocate beween colleges. Let college A have a healthy theatre program and college B have a healthy engineering program, instead of asking each to sustain both on insufficient resources. It’s politically radioactive, but it’s the truth. Getting there from here is the tricky part. Of course, we could always tap into the aforementioned hundreds of billions, but that doesn’t seem to be working...


The Boy was mad that his copy of the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book didn’t arrive until Thursday, since some of his friends got it on Tuesday. Apparently, most of the kids in his class read the series, and several brought in their copies on Wednesday to show them off. After his copy arrived, TB devoured it immediately. It pleases me to no end that the hot ticket in the fourth grade is a book.


I read somewhere that one of out every ten undergrads in the US attends a for-profit college or university. IHE noted recently that last year, half of all the new hires in higher education were at for-profits. I’m glad to see them finally drawing some meaningful scrutiny, but I’m concerned that much of the discussion has thus far missed the point. They’re growing because they can; public higher ed is cutting because it has to. As long as those remain true, I can predict with some confidence the direction of the trendline.


What would happen if the “gainful employment” rule were applied to graduate programs in liberal arts fields?