Thursday, May 24, 2007

The College Credentialing Fraud Revisted

By Richard Vedder

A growing number of people are asking, "Why go to college?" The costs are soaring. The one thing that leads people to go, of course, is that college graduates earn by far bigger bucks than non-graduates. Nonetheless, we have James Altucher of the Financial Times saying college is a waste of time. We learn that the Dean of Admissions at MIT was fired because she lied about being a college grad --an embarrassment, showing how a leading administer of a top school could function beautifully for decades without a college diploma. On the left, Barbara Ehrenrich asks "What good are educational credentials anyway?"

Another very accomplished and bright non-college graduate, James Taranto, one of my very favorite Wall Street Journal journalists, has taken up a cause we have long championed: the unintended consequences of the 1971 Duke v. Griggs Power decision in giving colleges more clout as a credentialing force, by forbidding alternative ways of testing potential employees to determine future success.

With the help of Fred Fransen, who distributes grants for a small number of prominent philanthropists, my colleague Bryan O'Keefe is doing a more extensive investigation of the Griggs decision, and, if the findings confirm my suspicions, we plan to carry the research even one step further. We have a situation where employers cannot test for aptitude, but colleges can -- and they use this advantage to make a college-education a more mandatory requirement for good employment, even when the skills learned in college are tangential to the needs of the job.

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