Posts by Richard Vedder
October 18, 2011, 12:40 PM ET
July 29, 2011, 05:10 PM ET
October 15, 2010, 11:42 AM ET
October 1, 2010, 01:45 PM ET
September 24, 2010, 10:59 AM ET
Does much learning occur at the University of Michigan, Colorado College, or the University of Texas at San Antonio? Do students at Duke University fare better in the job market than their counterparts at Northwestern or Cornell? There are so many important questions like these regarding higher education for which we do not have answers, and colleges have generally resisted providing that information in a uniform matter that would allow comparisons of performance at colleges and universities by consumers, funders, and taxpayers generally.
I have a modest proposal of three ways that we could get immensely important information that would make for more informed customers and donors, stimulate healthy competition between schools, and promote greater concern for undergraduate education by the schools themselves, particularly the national research universities. Moreover, these proposals are...Read More
September 16, 2010, 12:17 PM ET
I believe the following stylized facts are roughly correct.
1. American K-12 students perform in a mediocre fashion on international standardized tests, and other data likewise suggest that the academic performance of American students is disappointingly modest.
2. Following from the first point, poor K-12 academic preparation is a significant reason why colleges need remedial education programs, and why they have high drop-out rates.
3. Great teaching leads to better results than mediocre teaching.
4. Most K-12 teachers have studied extensively in colleges of education.
5. Teachers who do not come from a college of education background do as least as well, and often better, than those with certification gained by taking education college courses. Programs relying on non-education-college-trained personnel like Teach for America are highly successful.
6. Standards in American...Read More
September 8, 2010, 10:16 AM ET
Two decades ago, give or take a few years, a spate of books highly critical of higher education appeared: Charles Sykes' ProfScam, Thomas Sowell's Inside Higher Education, Martin Anderson's Imposters in the Temple, and Allan Bloom's best selling The Closing of the American Mind are four examples. These books were critical of the unproductive use of time and resources of faculty, on the alleged political bias of the academy, of the failure to teach important verities about life itself.
In spite of all of this, nothing really changed. The points Sykes made over 20 years ago hold more or less the same today, for example. While the academic muckrakers of the late 20th century had little impact, the muckrakers of the early part of the same century like Upton Sinclair (The Jungle) or Ida Tarbell (History of the Standard Oil Company) measurably impacted policies relating to food, health and...Read More
August 30, 2010, 04:00 PM ET
I have read and heard some commentators say that the Obama Administration is at war with for-profit private higher education. While in general agreeing with that I would amend that statement to say that the Obama administration has had several battles with the for-profits as part of a bigger war against capitalism.
In my view, the president is basically a socialist—a person who craves collectivist, government solutions to problems, and is deeply distrustful of private enterprise. Thus the government has taken control of iconic private automobile and financial-service companies, has viciously attacked Wall Street greed, has tried to manipulate more than ever the private use of money and credit, is favoring a huge increase in taxes on capital gains, etc. I am among those who believe that the current anemic recovery directly reflects the fear that businesses have of Obama, and their...Read More
August 24, 2010, 11:35 AM ET
The line from the King James Version of the Lord's Prayer came to me as I contemplated college-debt issues of some importance this week.
First, there is the sad story of "Ethan Haines." Ethan allegedly was a law school graduate who mounted a large student debt (over $150,000) while in school, and now cannot get a decent job. In protest, "he" started a hunger strike, referenced in today's USA Today. It turns out that Ethan Haines is really Zenovia Evans. There has been some deception associated with this story, whose full accuracy I cannot now attest. Nonetheless, the issue of mounting debt is a huge one that needs the attention that "Ethan" and others are calling to it.
Moreover, the problem is not confined to those attending professional schools. I have a recent graduate that I taught who has a debt that is probably three times his current earnings—meaning it probably takes at least...Read More
August 13, 2010, 11:52 AM ET
Easily (by a factor of two) the most commented piece in this blog series of the Chronicle is my "Student Evaluations, Grade Inflation, and Declining Student Effort" entry. Now, new and better evidence has emerged that, if anything, strengthens my initial convictions.
Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks are both University of California professors (different campuses) who have delved deeply into various surveys of student time use, and have related that data to other research that plausibly could explain the very real and substantial decline in the work effort of students. While some of their research is coming out in prestigious academic journals (the Review of Economics and Statistics and Economic Inquiry), the findings are nicely encapsulated in a short study done for the American Enterprise Institute. See "Leisure College, USA: The Decline in Student Study Time" available on the AEI web...Read More