The SOTU and Bipartisanship

Critics of the President’s State of the Union address noted it did little to promote bipartisanship. Yet, it has already stimulated bipartisan agreement on one of the President’s education proposals. In the State of the Union, President Obama proposed free community college: “I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost … Continue reading The SOTU and Bipartisanship

The Other 99 Percent

Graduation is upon us. Many of my students are graduating with higher student loan debt than they would have imagined and limited job prospects. A few weeks back when I discussed future plans with several graduating seniors, there was a sense of dismay and a sense that the odds were against them given the poor … Continue reading The Other 99 Percent

The Problem of Education

The OECD has released the latest results from PISA (Program for International Student Assessment).  The key findings regarding US educational performance are not encouraging. Of the 34 OECD countries, the US ranks 26th in mathematics, 17th in reading, and 21st in science. The results in mathematics are of particular concern. As the OECD notes: Just … Continue reading The Problem of Education

GWU Admissions and the Economics of Higher Ed

Jordan Weissmann at The Atlantic has a story on the revelations that George Washington University rejected applicants on the grounds that they would have required financial aid. Apparently the university had advertised itself as "need-blind" in its admissions policies, but in fact the admissions office ended up rejecting marginal needy applicants in favor of marginal … Continue reading GWU Admissions and the Economics of Higher Ed

Adjunct Professors and the Modern Guild

An article on the plight of adjunct professors in higher education, "Labor of Love or Cheap Labor? The Plight of Adjunct Professors," was brought to my attention by its author, Celine James. Ms. James kindly asked me for my thoughts about her article. I thought Pileus readers might be interested in what I sent her. … Continue reading Adjunct Professors and the Modern Guild

Income Inequality Doesn’t Matter

Roger Koppl argues this week at ThinkMarkets that “Income inequality matters.” He thinks it matters so much that he says it twice. He believes “Austrian,” pro-market, economic liberals should be speaking up more on this “central issue.” I think Koppl could not be more wrong. The issue deserves all the inattention we can muster for … Continue reading Income Inequality Doesn’t Matter

First they came for the political scientists…

Yesterday the Senate approved a continuing resolution. One of the casualties was NSF funding for political science, at least political science that cannot be certified "as promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States." The amendment was proposed by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) who questioned whether public financing of political science research … Continue reading First they came for the political scientists…

*Reason* on the Higher Ed Bubble

Reason has a symposium on the future of higher education in its latest issue. For my money, the best contribution comes from editor Nick Gillespie, who sounds remarkably Oakeshottian in this passage: The real existential threat to higher ed comes from folks who conceive of college as a sort of high-end vocational-tech program. Right-leaning … Continue reading *Reason* on the Higher Ed Bubble

The University RIP? Continued

There have been a few posting of late on the future of higher education. Jason has provided a series of interesting posts on whether it still makes sense to get a PhD (see here and here).  I provided a few posts on the challenges posed by online courses, particularly MOOCs (massive open online courses) that … Continue reading The University RIP? Continued

The University System, RIP?

There were a few posts earlier in the week on graduate school, started by Jason Sorens sage advice. I continued the conversation by noting the challenge posed by free online courses.The new issue of The American Interest includes a fascinating piece by Nathan Harden entitled “The End of the University as We Know It.” Harden … Continue reading The University System, RIP?

Don’t Go to Grad School—Additional

I appreciate Jason’s post. I have been giving the same advice to my students for some time (although few listen, alas). I can usually draw on whatever search we are conducting and give them a sense of the numbers. This year, for example, we had a tenure track search. Number of applicants: 188 Number of … Continue reading Don’t Go to Grad School—Additional

Don’t Go to Grad School

It's that time of year again: sending in the last of the grad-school reference letters. Over time, my answers to students who request grad school reference letters, particularly for PhD programs, have become more and more emphatic: don't do it. It doesn't matter how smart you are, or how good your grades have been. The … Continue reading Don’t Go to Grad School

Romney, School Choice, and Market Failure

The NYT has an interesting article on Romney’s embrace of school choice, a move that counters the federalization of education and the kinds of accountability that were reinforced by the Bush administration. As the Times notes:  Specifically, Mr. Romney proposed to change federal payments made to schools with large numbers of poor and disabled students … Continue reading Romney, School Choice, and Market Failure

NH Legislature Passes School Choice by Veto-Proof Majority

The New Hampshire House and Senate have overwhelmingly approved a bill that would give businesses tax credits for contributing to scholarship funds, which could make payments on behalf of students attending private schools. Even if the governor vetoes, the bill should pass into law. According to the Ruger-Sorens database of state policies, New Hampshire will … Continue reading NH Legislature Passes School Choice by Veto-Proof Majority

Saturday Afternoon Bemusement

Tyler Cowen makes the case that a large, inefficient public sector can be a good thing: we should not be trying to squeeze the entire economy into the shoebox of the dynamic but risky “Economy I.” For public choice reasons, as well understood by Karl Polanyi (an underrated public choice theorist if there ever was … Continue reading Saturday Afternoon Bemusement

The Costs of Higher Education

The President has decided that now is the time to confront the growing cost of higher education.  As the NYT notes: President Obama is proposing a financial aid overhaul that for the first time would tie colleges’ eligibility for campus-based aid programs — Perkins loans, work-study jobs and supplemental grants for low-income students — to the institutions’ … Continue reading The Costs of Higher Education

Character and Dignity in the Wild World of High School Football Recruiting

It looks as though the Yuri Wright affair may finally now, mercifully, be over. Yuri Wright is a senior in high school; but not just any student at not just any high school: he was a nationally recruited cornerback at football powerhouse Don Bosco in New Jersey---or at least he was until recently, when Bosco expelled him. … Continue reading Character and Dignity in the Wild World of High School Football Recruiting

Popping the Education Bubble?

It is easy, all too easy, to make sport at the expense of the Wall Street "occupiers." They are overeducated, whiney, and spoiled, they have no coherent plans, objections, or complaints, and on top of everything they are coarse, ill-mannered, and uncouth. Welcome to many college campuses across the country. But two recent articles make me … Continue reading Popping the Education Bubble?

A Good Sign for Public Education?

The Daily Caller reported recently that a high school in Medina, Ohio has begun charging parents fairly hefty fees for various of the activities and extras that it offers, even for seemingly basic courses like Spanish I and Earth Science. Parents are upset, of course, believing that since they are already paying taxes they shouldn't … Continue reading A Good Sign for Public Education?

Bootleggers, Baptists and the Badger State

Many of you recognize the term “bootlegger-Baptist coalition,” first introduced by Bruce Yandle in Regulation (1983). The bootleggers essentially secure transfers under the moral legitimacy provided by the Baptists (the metaphor refers to the common interest of Baptists and bootleggers in securing regulation of alcohol sales). For those of you who have not encountered this … Continue reading Bootleggers, Baptists and the Badger State

A College Degree in Every Pot

As one plank in his "winning the future" program, President Obama called recently for more Americans to get college degrees. People with college degrees, the President reminded us, make more money over their lifetimes than people who do not. That is true, but of course by itself it does not mean that the college degree … Continue reading A College Degree in Every Pot

The Coming School Choice Moment?

In my Introduction to Political Philosophy class semester, I gave an essay final examination in which students had the option to answer this question: "Using one of the moral or political philosophies we have studied, defend a moral position on one of the following contemporary political issues: school vouchers, immigration restrictions, interrogational torture, or affirmative … Continue reading The Coming School Choice Moment?

Plagiarism and Essay Mills: An Experiment

Dan Ariely describes an experiment in which he and colleague solicited essays from four websites dedicated to helping students cheat, paying between $150 and $216 for each. The essays were for a hypothetical social psychology class. All four essays were terrible -- real F-quality material even if the student weren't caught. Richly, two of the … Continue reading Plagiarism and Essay Mills: An Experiment