Education

"Free college isn’t the solution: How the push for 'college for all' sets up students to fail"

So true.

The problem with the “free college” idea is, however, not merely financial. It also reinforces the myth that college is appropriate or even possible for all students. That myth already has destructive consequences for both the quality of higher education and for some of the students caught up in what has become a multi-billion dollar hoax.

As unrealistic as it is, the idea that everyone should attend college has been embraced by Americans. By 1992, 95 percent of high school seniors said they planned to go on to college — even though half of them lacked even basic 9th grade math and verbal skills. These aspirations, however, had dramatic real-world consequences: In 1979 fewer than half of high school graduates enrolled in college. By 2012, that number had soared to more than two-thirds, and even with the dumbed-down curricula and inflated grades, many of them would have a rude encounter with reality.


"Here’s how homeschooling is changing in America"

Three useful things to know:

. . . 1.5 million children were homeschooled in the United States in 2007. This is up significantly from 1.1 million children in 2003 and 850,000 children in 1999. . . . 

. . . sociologists Philip Q. Yang and Nihan Kayaardi argue that the homeschool population does not significantly differ from the general U.S. population. Put another way, it is not really possible to assume anything about the religious beliefs, political affiliations or financial status of homeschooling families anymore. . . . 

So, what are the reasons behind this expansion of the homeschool movement? My research shows that this has been fueled, at least in part, by changes in the public school system. For example, changes in technology have brought about the rise of online charter schools, which utilize remote online instruction to serve their students.


"The Dumbing Down of College Curriculums"

This is the same old, same old, but it is still quite discouraging.

Most seniors were unable to identify the Magna Carta, Reconstruction, or the Missouri Compromise; they were “clearly unfamiliar” with Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment,” and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.”

These concerns now seem almost—quaint. The fact that college students had huge gaps in their knowledge was old news by the early 1990s. But today the question is no longer whether students have learned specific bodies of knowledge; it is whether they are learning anything at all.


Two fine pieces on the state of the humanities in higher education

"Why College Kids Are Avoiding the Study of Literature". (Link goes to a couple of brief excerpts because the piece now seems to be behind a paywall.)

"Exercises in Unreality: The Decline in Teaching Western Civilization".

Now, it should seem a matter of course to say that if you do not know who Michael Faraday and William Harvey are you have no business setting yourself up as a judge of a course in the history of science. It is fascinating that that same ignorance does not prevent people from judging, with loud effusions of righteousness, a course in the development of Western civilization. The reason is not that they believe our course is wrongly taught. They believe it is wrong to teach it at all.


"The NAACP’s ill-conceived opposition to charter schools"

My, oh my, read this from the Washington Post(!) editorial board:

But rather than impose artificial limits, the response should be to fix such problems as lax authorization standards or unfair discipline practices while replicating the successes. Schools that fail to educate students — be they charter or traditional — should be shuttered. We urge NAACP leadership to put the interests of African American children ahead of the interests of political allies who help finance the group’s activities — and veto this ill-conceived resolution.