Friday, March 19, 2010

Links for 3/19/10

Brad DeLong
There is a great tension at the heart of American public higher education. On the one hand, the people who benefit from public and publicly-funded higher education are primarily people who are or will be relatively rich… Publicly-funded higher education is thus, on average, a transfer of wealth from taxpayers in general to the upper-middle class of America today.

On the other hand, the fact that education is as expensive as it is appears to be keeping a great many people from acquiring more… The returns to college are much greater than they were a decade ago? So why aren’t more people attending.

The answer is that lots of people fear college because it is expensive: they would have to go into debt to attend, and they fear to do so.

So our dilemma: if we don’t keep college cheap–and publicly-funded–we find it next to impossible to increase educational opportunity; if we subsidize college with public money, we are transferring from the not-so-rich to the relatively rich.
Tony Judt
On another occasion, a student complained that I “discriminated” against her because she did not offer sexual favors. When the department ombudswoman—a sensible lady of impeccable radical credentials—investigated, it emerged that the complainant resented not being invited to join my seminar: she assumed that women who took part must be getting (and offering) favorable treatment. I explained that it was because they were smarter. The young woman was flabbergasted: the only form of discrimination she could imagine was sexual. It had never occurred to her that I might just be an elitist…
Doug Lederman
the U.S. Education Department and the Department of Health and Human Services have been unable to reach agreement on the former's use of a database managed by the latter that allows student loan guarantee agencies and others to track student loan borrowers who aren't repaying their debt. The forgone revenue from the lack of a "matching agreement" between the two agencies for more than a year now is $1.2 billion…
Scott Jaschik
Those doing the hiring at community colleges were frank that they really need these composition master's programs to work because they aren't content to hire literature doctorates who are applying for composition jobs at community colleges because of the tough job market for new humanities Ph.D.'s.

"We get these cover letters and they are so out of touch with what we need," one community college faculty member said of those seeking to teach writing. "We're looking for someone who has actually been in a community college classroom, and they are writing letters about their dissertations in literature."…

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