I heard on the radio today that some state--maybe Ohio, but I can't really remember--is going to start
imposing more "accountability," on colleges and universities in terms of their graduation rates. And in true government fashion, the way they propose to do that is through . . . wait for it . . . funding!
The words 'government' and 'accountability' should never be used in the same sentence. Hell, those two words should never be used in the same document, because we all know that American government--whether state or federal--has largely lost its sense of true accountability. It therefore seems laughable to me that government officials want to impose accountability on American colleges.
There are very obvious reasons that this is a bad idea. No Child Left Behind essentially plays with funding based on student performance, and that program has done absolutely nothing to help our kids receive better education. In fact, all it has done is it has elevated high-stakes standardized testing to the chief method of assessment in schools across America. The problem with that is that it essentially forces teachers to teach to the test, because if the school "underperforms" then they'll lose funding.
It would be a sad day, indeed, if higher education turned to standardized testing because of the government playing fast and loose with its purse strings, but I don't see that happening. What I'm more afraid of is the inevitable decline of academic standards that will almost assuredly be a result of such idiotic meddling. And of course, it's all in the name of "making sure more students graduate."
You know what I say? I say "fuck 'em."
Yes, that's right. Fuck 'em. I raised two kids while I was in college, and I had to suffer through my marriage falling apart. Despite all of that, I still managed to graduate summa cum laude. I was in the top 5% of my class, and I was voted as best student by my professors in BOTH of my majors (history and political science). I'm a smart guy, but I'm no genius. It really isn't all that hard if you're able to read, write, and express cogent thoughts.
I know for a fact that my alma mater offered free tutoring services to students. I know this because I tutored kids in college writing, history, political science, sociology, geography, and social work. Although my professors had very high standards, they constantly lamented about being brow-beaten by the administration to not be so hard on their students, and for what? All in the name of "making sure more students graduate."
That concept only leads to one thing: lowering standards. Let's face it people: college is not meant for everyone. It's not just another diploma, even though that's what a lot of morons think it is. College is about serious-minded academic pursuit. It's about a student coming to the realization that he or she actually doesn't know anything about anything, and working out a way to become better informed and more developed as a philosophical entity. College is about achieving brilliance, not about meeting the minimum requirements.
"But Jack, given that college costs so much, wouldn't it be good for young adults to know that they're not just taking on a mountain of student debt for nothing? Isn't it a pretty big gamble to pay so much money for something you might fail at?" No, that would not be a good thing.
We're coddling our kids way too much. We're telling them "you can do anything you put your mind to," even though we know it's not actually true. We know we're lying to them. So rather than watch our children come to the discovery that they might, in fact, be total dumbasses, we lower the standards so they don't have to feel like they're not all that smart.
All that does is turn college into a joke; truly just a somewhat more difficult extension of high school. What we need to do is make college harder, and make more kids fail. What we need to do is stop saying that "everyone should go to college," and get back to saying "college is meant for the truly dedicated and the brightest minds."
If we want college degrees to mean something again, if we want our children to receive the best education possible, then we need to stop lowering our standards just so no child has to feel like a dumbass. College needs to be tough again, otherwise in 30 years the country is going to be run by a crop of idiots even dumber than the current lot.