College Profs are a Clear and Present Danger to American democracy

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anonymous_coward
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Ruski #1: How do we destroy

Ruski #1: How do we destroy America?
Ruski #2: Convince stupid tools that secondary education is evil conspiracy!
Both: hahahah

mainemom
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So Jonathan Haidt and the

So Jonathan Haidt and the 1800 academics who have joined his Heterodox Academy project are stupid tools, hoodwinked by Russians.

Ugenetoo
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"We do not have to invade the

"We do not have to invade the United States.
We will destroy you from within."

Nikita Khrushchev

A REAL ruskie

Economike
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anon -

anon -

In another thread, we considered whether secondary education added value. Or, if so, how?

It's a question undeserving of ridicule.

anonymous_coward
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Caplan didn't insist that

Caplan didn't insist that secondary education provided no value.

He was just pointing out that a large chunk of the salary premium was attributable to signalling.

That doesn't mean that you literally learn nothing in college, and to promote this idea is incredibly corrosive to the country.

Economike
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Well, OK, anon. That Russian

Well, OK, anon. That Russian joke was a joke, after all. Not to be taken literally.

And you're correct that Caplan doesn't posit that secondary education doesn't add any value at all. However, he does think that buying a diploma adds more value than taking classes.

I'm wearing my contrarian hat today. Suppose I believe that most people learn very little - and little of anything useful - in college. Is that an incredible corrosive idea?

anonymous_coward
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Ok so let's get rid of

Ok so let's get rid of college. Just send blue collar workers to trade schools.

But, why stop there? Let's get rid of high school, too. And junior high school.

For that matter, why even bother learning to read? You can just be trained with videos.

Why don't we just divide people based on their elementary school test scores into two groups? One group learns to read, gets higher education, (becomes economists, possibly:)) and the other learns to work in factories.

Obviously I'm taking this to its absurd extreme. But I for one believe that the strength of the economy lies in its human capital. And while it may be a "waste" to learn something other than what you do on a daily basis, if there's one thing we've learned, it's that the job you do today is very likely to be gone tomorrow, and having general skills (like say, writing, or being able to work abstract ideas) matters.

Look, if you don't believe that you learn anything in school, there's not a lot of arguments I can make that will change your mind (if I've learned anything, it's that people rarely change their minds on AMG). (And, I'm not taking the binary stance that *everyone* should go to graduate school.)

I just think we should consider human capital the most important asset we have, and anything we can do to invest in that is crucial. An entire faction of a party deciding that that investment is bad - that's a huge problem.

Economike
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I wrote, Suppose I believe

I wrote, Suppose I believe that most people learn very little - and little of anything useful - in college.

I expressed myself imprecisely. Of course, people learn in college. My thesis (and Caplan's, insofar as I understand him) is that college is a wasteful (both in time and money) means of acquiring knowledge.

As a hypothetical, if we compare the results of college attendance with a policy of locking eighteen-to-twenty-one year-olds in closets for two-hundred days per year, it's a slam-dunk that the learning results from college will be superior. But that's not the only possible choice.

Ok so let's get rid of college.

OK, as a fantasy hypothetical, let's get rid of college: . everyone wakes up tomorrow morning to find that all colleges - bricks and mortar and jobs for professors (not, I add, the professors themselves) - have vanished. Further, eveyone has selective amnesia for the notion that "college" is a beneficial occupation for young adults. What happens next?

I'd expect that people quickly would improvise substitute means of learning that might - or might not - resemble the system of higher education we currently take for granted. To some degree, the new educational order would not be subject to the familiar constraints of alma mater snobbery, diplomas written in Latin, subjects designed to signal bien pensant status, and other forms of signalling unrelated to educational attainment..

But I for one believe that the strength of the economy lies in its human capital. And while it may be a "waste" to learn something other than what you do on a daily basis, if there's one thing we've learned, it's that the job you do today is very likely to be gone tomorrow, and having general skills (like say, writing, or being able to work abstract ideas) matters..

I'm not arguing for "practical" or "vocational" training, or for any sort of planned program. I heartily agree that general skills - literacy, numeracy, reasoning - are vitally important.

. .

Toolsmith
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I just advocate making it

I just advocate making it what it is supposed to be.

  1. Education, not indoctrination.
  2. Exposure to new ideas, not wallowing in the echo chamber of the professor's "progressive" mind.
  3. Exposure to and tolerance of ideas which might be very different or even offensive, not censorship of any ideas outside one's own world view.
  4. Development of citizenship and familiarity with legal institutions, not acclimation to totalitarian ideals and politically correct but viciously unfair and unjust pseudo-legal institutions.
  5. Encouragement of individual and creative thinking, not the hive mind.

If the institutions are unable or unwilling, then learning must be done elsewhere. Home schooling, if necessary, and new institutions. Whatever works. We need REAL education, not the fakery now in place.

As it stands, much of public education is indoctrination. The difference from the indoctrination systems of the past is that the student has to pay for it all, after having been given virtually no skills with which to earn a living. And that is deeply unfair.

Melvin Udall
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Good thoughts, T.

Good thoughts, T.

AC: I just think we should consider human capital the most important asset we have, and anything we can do to invest in that is crucial. An entire faction of a party deciding that that investment is bad - that's a huge problem.

It seems to me that the meaning of "we" in the highlighted words is crucial here. Are you a "free college" advocate?

Toolsmith
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AC: "An entire faction of a

AC: "An entire faction of a party deciding that that investment is bad - that's a huge problem."

If it only benefits one party... they should pay for it. If I'm expected to chip in, I want it to serve everyone.

anonymous_coward
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@Melvin: "It seems to me that

@Melvin: "It seems to me that the meaning of "we" in the highlighted words is crucial here. Are you a "free college" advocate?"

Absolutely not. Real economic forces still exist in the world, and subsidizing 4 year schools would just result in schools being incentivized to do strange things to win over students.

Also, we already have a very inexpensive system to provide higher education - the community college system. In a Bernie-free-college-for-all world, what place to community colleges play? They already compete on price and location - if a 4 year school is free, why would you ever go to a 2 year school first?

anonymous_coward
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@Toolsmith: "Education, not

@Toolsmith: "Education, not indoctrination."

That is fine - despite what the mainstream conservative media tells you, there are conservative schools, and plenty of conservative people that go to college.

Economike
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An entire faction of a party

An entire faction of a party deciding that such investment is bad...

Just a thought offered in clarification:

Investment in higher learning does not necessarily require the financial intermediation of a government.

anonymous_coward
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@Economike: "Investment in

@Economike: "Investment in higher learning does not necessarily require the financial intermediation of a government."

I meant that there is a current narrative in the populist-conservative movement that anything college-related is *bad*.

Economike
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Thanks for the clarification,

Thanks for the clarification, anon.

I haven't seen that narrative expressed in such emphatic terms - college, bad - but I sympathize with many who believe that academia - in contrast to community and vocational education - is elitist and alien to them.

Of course, college faculties have been predominately liberal for generations. Lately, though, or so it seems from numerous reports, college campuses have turned illiberal with suppression of freedom of speech and thought.

Toolsmith
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Classical Liberalism died...

Classical Liberalism died... and was replaced by Socialism/Communism in the guise of "Progressivism".

Even back in the early 80s, it was obvious that many college professors were communists. Odd that they are so well paid. Is it elitist guilt driving them to embrace communism?

Melvin Udall
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https://www.nas.org/articles
anonymous_coward
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@Economike: "Thanks for the

@Economike: "Thanks for the clarification, anon.

I haven't seen that narrative expressed in such emphatic terms - college, bad - but I sympathize with many who believe that academia - in contrast to community and vocational education - is elitist and alien to them."

Yeah, I totally get that, and they're not wrong, the elitism is real. But, baby/bathwater.

mainemom
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In our egalitarian intent to

In our egalitarian intent to make university attainable for all, we made at least one tactical error.

We let the money flow to the schools either directly or through student aid, but we didn't make the institutions have any skin in the game.
Oh sure we added all kinds of reporting and compliance and so forth, but all that did was grow the administration and put upward pressure on tuition.

Student aid should have an element of skin in the game for the colleges who accept it. For instance:
Fail out or withdraw after a term, and your school takes at least some of the hit on the loan you have to repay. Default after leaving school, and the institution forfeits some of the money they got from your loan. This will change behavior on the part of the institutions. Pay close attention to kids with loans; provide help if they're struggling; counsel them away from programs they're not suited for (or don't accept them in the first place); nudge them toward programs that will make them employable, with the ability to pay back the loans; strive to keep college affordable instead of letting costs float upward with the rising tide of free money pouring in.

anonymous_coward
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@mainemom: "Student aid

@mainemom: "Student aid should have an element of skin in the game for the colleges who accept it. For instance:
Fail out or withdraw after a term, and your school takes at least some of the hit on the loan you have to repay. Default after leaving school, and the institution forfeits some of the money they got from your loan. This will change behavior on the part of the institutions. Pay close attention to kids with loans; provide help if they're struggling; counsel them away from programs they're not suited for (or don't accept them in the first place); nudge them toward programs that will make them employable, with the ability to pay back the loans; strive to keep college affordable instead of letting costs float upward with the rising tide of free money pouring in."

I like where you're going but things like that tend to encourage gaming the system.

If you penalize a school for a student that drops out, the school will automatically reject anyone that poses the threat of not finishing (single mother trying to go back to school? REJECTED. Come from a lower socioeconomic class? REJECTED.)

Or, once a student has been accepted, never give them a grade lower than C-. Skipped 90% of your classes to stay home and take bong rips? Congratulations, you've earned a C-.

I'd prefer a more free market solution - mandate transparency (how much it actually costs, what is the average price paid, what is the dropout rate for various GPA/SAT score brackets), and then let the consumers decide.

In any event, to me, focusing on college is the wrong thing (one reason I thought Bernie's free-college-for-all was stupid). By the time you hit 18, you're fate in college is more or less set.

There are exceptions, of course, examples of people who failed in high school but suddenly found their way and aced college.

But the vast majority of people who suck in high school will simply not make it in college.

My list of radical non-starter changes (I guarantee nobody agrees with all of these):
1) Year round school - summer vacation becomes a month instead of 3 months, spread the difference around the other holidays
2) Eliminate teachers unions, and allow schools to pay whatever they want to teachers, and fire them whenever they want (as it is in the private sector)
3) Increase overall school spending
4) Mandatory cuts in sports programs (you don't need to spend a ton of money to stay in shape. And most of the money gets funneled to football anyway, so it only benefits a small minority of athletes.)
5) With 2), you run the risk of rich public schools stealing all of the good teachers (as mainemom pointed out). Since most schools are funded by property taxes, the wealthier cities have more money to spend on the best teachers, which in turn increases their desirability, increasing the property values, etc. To combat this, you assess a "luxury tax" (similar to sports teams). If a school has a per student income above some amount, it will be assessed an increasing tax which is redistributed to the all other schools on a per student basis.

Economike
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Without reservation, I vote

Without reservation, I vote for 1, 2, and 4. Great post.

Economike
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If you penalize a school for

If you penalize a school for a student that drops out, the school will automatically reject anyone that poses the threat of not finishing (single mother trying to go back to school? REJECTED. Come from a lower socioeconomic class? REJECTED.)

Excellent point about gaming the system. (Also applies to managed health insurance plans that reward subscriber health.)

If a school has a per student income above some amount, it will be assessed an increasing tax which is redistributed to the all other schools on a per student basis.

If we're thinking about gaming the system, can anyone see any possibilities here?

anonymous_coward
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@Economike: "If a school has

@Economike: "If a school has a per student income above some amount, it will be assessed an increasing tax which is redistributed to the all other schools on a per student basis.

If we're thinking about gaming the system, can anyone see any possibilities here?"

So the model here is professional sports leagues. The gaming there typically happens because of draft picks, which obviously doesn't apply here.

If the redistribution happens equally (i.e. $/student regardless of wealth, test scores, etc.) then you can reduce the games by quite a bit. Obviously there's always room for some games (bake sales instead of property tax increases; funding the town library instead of the school library; you'd also have to figure out where bond money falls (maybe amortize over the life of the bond - not sure about that one)).

Toolsmith
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And it continues to get worse

And it continues to get worse...

https://patriotpost.us/articles/56116-no-conservative-or-republican-prof...

So, in order to get an education, a student is required to immerse themselves in an environment where any ideas other than those politically approved by the far left are viciously ridiculed. That price was too high in the 1980s. I can't imagine how bad it is now.

mainemom
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If the redistribution happens

If the redistribution happens equally

Won't make a difference until the children themselves are redistributed, and we'll never stand for that.
See the Gilded Age thread to understand why I say that.

Economike
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If redistribution ...........

If redistribution ..............

Exactly.

The implication of Bryan Caplan's research suggesting that public education has no effect is this:

Children of educated parents are educated children. Children of less educated parents are less educated children.

Sixteen years in public schools does not change this result.

Redistributed funding will have near-zero effect.

Bruce Libby
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"Or, once a student has been

"Or, once a student has been accepted, never give them a grade lower than C-. Skipped 90% of your classes to stay home and take bong rips? Congratulations, you've earned a C-."

Not new idea. Tried and proved during late 60's and 70's to relieve college professors conscience about failing and student being drafted !

Melvin Udall
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Yes, it's obvious. Reducing

Yes, it's obvious. Reducing and/or eliminating expectations and standards has been a major advance in our societal norms.

Just look at all the things that have gotten better because of it.

Green-ee
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It is hard to understand why

It is hard to understand why academia embraces socialism - which requires stupid people to support and maintain (socialism only guarantees that everyone will be equally miserable, and people favoring a system that never delivers what it promises to deliver can't be that perceptive). There's not a whole lot of thinking going on.

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