Really! And here they are, according to yesterday’s Washington Post: “1. Measure student learning | 2. End merit aid | 3. Three-year degrees | 4. Core curriculum | 5. More homework | 6. Encourage completion | 7. Cap athletic subsidies | 8. Rethink remediation.” You can read the article soup-to-nuts as I did by starting here, if you like. There are some good ideas in there, but all together they’re kind of a nightmare jello mashup of epic proportions.
Here are my responses in brief to all of these suggestions:
- Because standardized high-stakes testing has worked so brilliantly at the K-12 level? Let’s just strangle this one in its crib unless and until we get some evidence that more testing = more education.
- Sounds great! But it’s never going to happen. Merit aid is the fruit of the perfect marriage of plutocracy and meritocracy that characterizes American higher education, and the kinds of institutions that offer substantial merit aid have plenty of coin to throw around and plenty of other students lining up to pay the (resulting) inflated tuition price. As it turns out, if you’re the graduate of an elite institution, you can actually eat prestige!
- I think there’s room for 3-year degrees, but the examples here are just degree speed-up programs that rely on AP credit and summer courses. These are 4-year degrees earned in 3 years, and that’s something students can do already. They don’t need some dumb committee and the marketing department to come up with the plan–they can just talk to their advisors.
- Why not? But it’s going to cost money to staff all of those core humanities and science classes, and it will be impossible to put a quality core knowledge program into a 3-year degree program.
- Absolutely! Bring it. (Mind you, this might interfere mightily with idea #3! And like #4, it’s going to cost money!)
- As though colleges and universities don’t encourage completion? We’re speaking here of good-faith public and private non-profit colleges and universities, of course. For-profit unis are just instruments for sucking up public dollars and discarding the students they “educate.” So, yeah: bring it.
- Hellz to the yes, babies! Make all sports self-funded club sports. Let the men’s basketball team sell danishes and coffee outside the Dean’s office on winter mornings just like the German club if they need gas money to get to their next game.
- This appears to apply more to community colleges, so I have no basis for an opinion on remediation. However, I am highly skeptical that students who need remediation will be well served by computer modules instead of contact with live human instructors. (That’s just my guess!)
I’d like to add a #9 of my own here: Government reinvestment in higher education. We used to understand that this was a matter of national security as well as of national pride. No one has ever pointed convincingly to any disadvantages of having a better-educated citizenry or workforce. How about let’s make a collective commitment for state and federal education funding at responsible and appropriate levels given the excellent work that universities do and given how much individual states and the federal government lean on these engines of innovation and job creation?
Why wasn’t that idea number f^(king one? (And where are the nutritious recipes?) Do any of you have direct experience of knowledge of any attempts at implementing these ideas? Inquiring minds want to know!