RON HART: Higher cred: Degrees cost more but are worth less

Published: Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 08:16 AM.

It seems to be an American article of faith that one must get as many degrees as possible. Yet few consider that education, due to a lack of competition, cost controls and innovation, no longer represents the value proposition it once did.

Getting a degree is embedded in our national mindset. A 106 year-old Ohio woman just got her high school diploma. Time being of the essence, I really hope her guidance counselor suggested only a two-year college for her.

Having served on the Tennessee State Board of Regents and currently on two college boards, I suggest some simple changes that will help our archaic education system:

Accountability:Since colleges require that students take the SAT or ACT when they apply for admission, they should have to take it when they graduate. Schools go into a tenured tizzy when it is suggested that metrics be applied to the four-plus years they have our kids. Studies have shown students often don’t improve in college. An exit exam also gives us employers a data point against which we can determine what type of kid we are hiring. This would also reveal which colleges (some of them perhaps small and lesser known) are adding the best value to their end product — the student.

Teach or Perish:Stop paying professors to play the “publish or perish” game. Six-figure salaried professors spend inordinate amounts of time writing inane papers on subjects no one cares about that are read only by other professors. This is wasteful folly, elevated in importance each year, with no one examining why.  Just read someone’s dissertation or paper submitted to an academic group ("academic" is the right word since it does not matter). 

Set aside the circular wastefulness of someone submitting for peer review a paper comparing, yet again, the prose of Chaucer to William Faulkner.  Even in supposedly real scientific subjects, the endeavor has become a joke, so much so that the "Bogdanoff Affair" highlighted it with the fake paper “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.

It was a complete hoax, but the paper was submitted, accepted and lauded. They are so divorced from reality that these peer-review eggheads couldn’t tell the difference between a joke and a real paper.

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