Monday, September 20, 2010


Ever notice that every year in the past two or so decades tuition at public and private colleges rise at an annual rate higher than the national cost of living? I was pleased to read a recent national opinion article (whose name I unfortunately forget) describing the reasons for this, namely, the three a's: athletics, administration, amenities (which apply too to many high schools).

Too many colleges arbitrarily have doubled the number of players on their sports teams, increasing the need for more equipment and more coaches, increasing the number of their games and fancy travel arrangements, plush stadiums, etc. The number of administrators and staff persons at many colleges now match the number of instructors. Almost every "need" of students for their "self-image and happiness" now has to be met with some special program and staff. And "the manner of living to which the students have been accustomed" has to be met in the form of, e.g., effete cafeteria food such as sushi and wild nuts, niches or small rooms with cots in hallways for students to nap between classes, etc. All of this greatly increases cost and spending without having any direct, substantial, positive affect on students' learning, while at the same time diverting money from the hiring of more competent instructors and providing them with needed classroom supplies.

Meanwhile, as studies over the past decades consistently show, typical high-school or college graduates today have less general knowledge and poorer vocabulary and communication skills than their parents and grandparents of yesteryear. (I'm reminded of the latest college at which I taught: in one week I saw three separate students, who were tweeting on their electronic playmates, walk face-first right into posts.)

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