Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Attack on the BA, Part 1

by Andrew Gillen

Some nice folks over at Cato have put together a fascinating collection of writings under the heading "Is College Worth It?" The writings are so interesting and informative that we've decided to highlight each of them.

Up first is Charles Murray, whose essay is titled Down with the Four-Year College Degree! Murray:
...the BA degree is the work of the devil. It wreaks harm on a majority of young people, is grotesquely inefficient as a source of information for employers, and is implicated in the emergence of a class-riven America...

imagine that you have been made a member of a task force to design America’s post-secondary education system from scratch. One of your colleagues submits this proposal:

First, we will set up a single goal to represent educational success, which will take four years to achieve no matter what is being taught. We will attach an economic reward to it that often has nothing to do with what has been learned. We will urge large numbers of people who do not possess adequate ability to try to achieve the goal, wait until they have spent a lot of time and money, and then deny it to them. We will stigmatize everyone who doesn’t meet the goal. We will call the goal a “BA.”

You would conclude that your colleague was cruel, not to say insane. But that’s the system we have....

The much more certain implication of the BA is that its possessors have a certain amount of raw intellectual ability that the employer may be able to exploit after the proper job training...

about a third of all those who entered college hoping for a BA leave without one...
Up next, the first response by Pedro Carneiro.

1 comment:

capeman said...

From his article, Murray apparently thinks that 4 years is way too long to get a science or engineering B.S.

This just shows how out of touch with reality he is. Many science majors are now taking 5 years because there's so much to take these days.

I suppose he could say that the major has a year of fluffy non-science courses. But the professional societies are emphatic that they want science majors to have a modicum of liberal arts studies.

Murray also keeps harping on accounting, as if one can learn what it takes to become a CPA with a year or two of courses at a community college.

Maybe he should open an advanced accouting book and see what is involved in it these days.

Anyone who has followed the current world financial crisis knows that there are some very arcane matters, involving accounting, that are involved in the crisis and on which there is not a consensus.

I used to respect Murrary, but he is simply becoming an embarrassment to himself and the conservative/libertarian movement.