Friday, December 22, 2006

Michigan's New Education Initiative

By Richard Vedder

The ink is hardly dry (figuratively) on the blog I did four days ago on Indiana Governor Mitch Daniel's proposal to privatize the state lottery and use most of the money for college scholarships for good students. Now the Hoosier State's northern neighbor, Michigan, has entered the fray. I learn from a Grand Rapids radio station that Governor Jennifer Granholm is proposing radically expanding an existing scholarship plan. Under the new proposal as I understand it, students who complete two years of postsecondary training will receive %2,000 --even if their academic performance is so-so. If, however, they complete four years of schooling, they will get another $2,000 if their grades have been acceptable. Unlike the current plan, the money will only go to kids going to Michigan schools.

Here we go again. The proposal inflates demand for higher education, which, other things equal, should aggravate the tuition cost explosion. By giving money to millionaire children as well as poor people, it probably is regressive in its impact on income distribution. It proceeds under the dubious assumption that increasing the proportion of kids with a college education will promote economic growth. To be sure, as Governor Granholm argues, states with a high proportion of college graduates tend to have higher economic growth and lower unemployment. But it is also true that much of the higher productivity and income of college grads reflects traits that those persons have that they brought with them when they went to college --higher intelligence, more maturity, better motivation, etc.

Michigan is a state with low economic growth --one of the nation's economic basket cases. It already spends a lot relative to national averages on higher education. It would be better to lower tax burdens, I suspect, then engage in this spending. To be sure, I would rather give money to students rather than institutions, so I applaud the Governor for moving towards voucherization as opposed to institutional support. That is something I have advocated for years. But I am concerned that the increase in third party funds for higher education is likely to aggravate, not reduce, our higher education financial problem. And I am willing to bet Michigan's growth would be greater if the funds were used to reduce taxes that dull worker incentives and the spirit of enterprise.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Michigan... well, read on.

The Dirty Dozen: America’s Most Bizarre and Politically Correct College Courses

Occidental College’s The Phallus ranked the most bizarre class of ’06 -’07

HERNDON, VA – As college costs soar through the roof—averaging above $31,000 a year for tuition, room & board—today’s college students study adultery, the male genital, and Native American feminism. The Dirty Dozen highlights the most bizarre and troubling instances of leftist activism supplanting traditional scholarship in our nation’s colleges and universities.

The growth of these courses gobbles up tons of money and resources and ignores scholarship from conservatives. For instance, books and speeches from the late Milton Friedman and Ambassador Jean Kirkpatrick are rarely studied in the classroom, yet leftist works are prevalent in college classrooms nationwide. Scores of courses were researched from hundreds of the nation’s leading schools. The Dirty Dozen is the worst of the worst. This year, we have also included a dishonorable mentions category—courses that could’ve easily made the list.

When one examines these classes, keep in mind that a recent study found that only one in four Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment, but more than half can name at least two family members of “The Simpsons.” The Washington Post reports that only 31 percent of college grads could read and comprehend complex books, while The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that 40 percent of college students need remedial work in math and English. Are we really putting our educational resources to the best use?

Young America’s Foundation Spokesman Jason Mattera remarks, “The Dirty Dozen demonstrates that professors still have an obsession with dividing people on the basis of their skin color, sexuality, and gender. They also can’t seem to shake off a strong admiration for Karl Marx and his murderous ideology—apparently the 100-plus million totalitarian regimes have murdered over the years is not enough?!”

1. Occidental College’s The Phallus covers a broad study on the relation “between the phallus and the penis, the meaning of the phallus, phallologocentrism, the lesbian phallus, the Jewish phallus, the Latino phallus, and the relation of the phallus and fetishism.”

2. Queer Musicology at the University of California-Los Angeles explores how “sexual difference and complex gender identities in music and among musicians have incited productive consternation” during the 1990s. Music under consideration includes works by Schubert and Holly Near, Britten and Cole Porter, and Pussy Tourette.

3. Amherst College in Massachusetts offers Taking Marx Seriously: “Should Marx be given another chance?” Students in this class are asked to question if Marxism still has “credibility,” while also inquiring if societies can gain new insights by “returning to [Marx’s] texts.” Coming to Marx’s rescue, this course also states that Lenin, Stalin, and Pol Pot misapplied the concepts of Marxism.

4. Students enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania’s Adultery Novel read a series of 19th and 20th century works about “adultery” and watch “several adultery films.” Students apply “various critical approaches in order to place adultery into its aesthetic, social and cultural context, including: sociological descriptions of modernity, Marxist examinations of family as a social and economic institution” and “feminist work on the construction of gender.”

5. Occidental College—making the list twice for the second year in a row—offers Blackness, which elaborates on a “new blackness,” “critical blackness,” “post-blackness,” and an “unforgivable blackness,” which all combine to create a “feminist New Black Man.” [Note: Apparently this class is not available. But not to fear, Occidental is offering the course Stupidity - "Stupidity, which has been evicted from the philosophical premises and dumbed down by psychometric psychology, has returned in the postmodern discourse against Nation, Self, and Truth and makes itself felt in political life ranging from the presidency to Beevis and Butthead. This course examines stupidity." Go figure.]

6. Border Crossings, Borderlands: Transnational Feminist Perspectives on Immigration is University of Washington’s way of exploring the immigration debate. The class allegedly unearths what is “highlighted and concealed in contemporary public debates about U.S. immigration” policy.

7. Whiteness: The Other Side of Racism is Mount Holyoke College’s attempt to analyze race. The class seeks to spark thought on: “What is whiteness?” “How is it related to racism?” “What are the legal frameworks of whiteness?” “How is whiteness enacted in everyday practice?” And how does whiteness impact the “lives of whites and people of color?

8. Native American Feminisms at the University of Michigan looks at the development of “Native feminist thought” and its “relationship both to Native land-based struggles and non-Native feminist movements.”

9. Johns Hopkins University offers Mail Order Brides: Understanding the Philippines in Southeast Asian Context, which is a supposedly deep look into Filipino kinship and gender.

10. Cornell University’s Cyberfeminism investigates “the emergence of cyberfeminism in theory and art in the context of feminism/post feminism and the accelerated technological developments of the last thirty years of the twentieth century.”

11. Duke University’s American Dreams/American Realities course seeks to unearth “such myths as ‘rags to riches,’ ‘beacon to the world,’ and the ‘frontier,’ in defining the American character.”

12. Swarthmore College’s Nonviolent Responses to Terrorism “deconstruct[s] terrorism” and “build[s] on promising nonviolent procedures to combat today’s terrorism.” The “non-violent” struggle Blacks pursued in the 1960s is outlined as a mode for tackling today’s terrorism.


Dishonorable Mentions

• UC-Berkeley’s Sex Change City: Theorizing History in Genderqueer San Francisco explores “implications of U.S. imperialism and colonization for the construction of gender in 19th-century San Francisco’s multicultural, multiracial, and multiethnic” community. The course also covers “contemporary transgender, queer, genderqueer, and post-queer cultural production and politics” and “the regulation of gender-variant practices in public space by San Francisco’s Anglo-European elites.”

• Cornell University’s Sex, Rugs, Salt, & Coal asks students to ponder the questions: Why are “oriental” rugs collector’s items? How did we come to keep salt shakers on our dinner tables? When did coal start replacing wood as a fuel source?

• Hollins University’s Drag: Theories of Transgenderism and Performance analyzes historical, theoretical, and autobiographical perspectives on drag, including transgenderism and performance in non-Western cultures.

• University of Colorado-Boulder’s Introduction to Lesbian, Bisexual, and Gay Literature introduces some of the forms, concerns, and genres of contemporary lesbian, bisexual, and gay writing in English.

• Swarthmore College’s Peace Study in Action partners students with a local “peace” organization “to study its mode of action and develop a document or brief that brings useful peace research to the service of the organization.”

• Swarthmore College’s Renaissance Sexualities explores the homoerotic, chastity and friendship, marriage, adultery, and incest.

• Oberlin College’s first-year seminar, She Works Hard for the Money: Women, Work and the Persistence of Inequality, “tackles” price differences, occupational segregation, comparable worth, and other factors that supposedly uncover institutional discrimination against women.

• Hollins University’s Lesbian Pulp Fiction examines “a literary genre that critics once deemed ‘trash’ and moralists commonly found ‘scandalous,’ but that formed a crucial part in the burgeoning canon of queer literature.”

From: Young America's Foundation

God help our children.

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