"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Third Assault Wave on Higher Education by NCSL

First came the apocalytic "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" that had all the urgency and factual clout of a Left Behind sequel. That piece of propaganda used pure fear and manipulation to make the case for American universities to be turned in corporate training camps and R & D annexes. Unlike what happened during last generation's K-12 version of this kind of education reform through fear, A Nation at Risk, this time no one paid attention.

Next came the Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education, led by cranky corporationist, Charles Miller. This put-up investigation was intended to intimidate universities into sorting and stacking students into big testing databases, while making the economic hegemony mission for colleges Job 1. What Chuck found out is that his strong-arm tactics that worked so well in the K-12 takeover by efficiency zealots were not so well received by university people accustomed to the type of bullying by political hacks.

So now comes the third wave in the assault against higher education, and this time fear and intimidation have given way to plain old bald-faced lies, delivered by a "blue ribbon" group from within the National Conference of State Legislators:

DENVER — More Americans must finish college if our country is to prosper in the global society, and it's up to state legislators to make that happen. Those are recommendations from the final report of the National Conference of State Legislatures' Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education, released today (more details).

There is a higher education crisis in this country, the report says. The American system is no longer the best in the world. Other countries are outperforming us. At the same time, tuition and fees are skyrocketing and financial aid and loan programs aren't keeping up. As a result, a post-secondary education is not accessible to many Americans. Student are falling through the cracks. Nationally, for every 100 ninth graders who enter high school, only 18 finish college within six years.

The report, Transforming Higher Education: National Imperative—State Responsibility, says state legislators must: be at the center of a nationwide movement to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the current system, determine a public agenda for higher education, set clear goals, and hold institutions accountable. . .

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