Thoughtful NYT piece cites McCrory’s controversial statements on higher ed

Frank Bruni of the New York Times had a thoughtful column about the future of American higher education over the weekend entitled “Questioning the Mission of College.” It is a balanced piece that explores the debate between those who want public higher education to be about preparing people for employment and those who say that it has to be about more than that.  

In it, Bruni cites Governor McCrory’s controversial — some would say anti-intellectual — comments from earlier this year as exemplifying the new, conservative, “jobs first” point of view. He then goes on:

“How practical versus idealistic should the approach to college be? I’m somewhat torn, and past columns have reflected that. I applaud proposals to give young people better information about how various fields of study match up with the job market and about projected returns on their investments in college. And for students who want college to be an instant pivot into a job with decent pay, a nudge toward certain disciplines makes excellent sense.

But college is about more than that, with less targeted, long-term benefits that aren’t easily captured by metrics. And some of the reforms being promoted right now lose sight of that and threaten to lessen the value of a degree….

Scratch the surface of some of the efforts to reform state universities and you find more than just legitimate qualms about efficiency and demands for accountability. You find the kind of indiscriminate anti-intellectualism and anti-elitism popular among more than a few right-wing conservatives.

It’s worth noting that Governor Perry has dismissed global warming as “one contrived, phony mess” and that many of the voices calling most loudly for change at the University of Texas are from the Tea Party fringe.

In other words there’s some crude, petty politics in all of this. And as we tackle the very real, very important challenge of giving young Americans the best and most useful education possible in an era of dwindling resources, that’s the last thing we need.”

You can read the entire article by clicking here.

 

One Comment

  1. TMiller

    April 22, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I am one of those people that went to college for one thing, and found my career in another (or at least a tangent of my original target).

    I was good with numbers, so I was going to be… a lumberjack!… wait… no, got a bit confused there… an accountant. I attended a small high school with few options for sampling what the world offered. So in college I took some programming classes, and found that I had a bit of competency there, too. But still, after graduation I took a job in the accounting field, eventually shifting to a support position that satisfied the techie part of me. Eventually, I took a job with the company that supplied the accounting software I used in the accounting job, and now I am responsible for that software package.

    For some, college is an advanced vocational school, and that is fine. Many people know what they want to do by the time they leave high school. But for many others they are still growing, and college gives that opportunity to learn about other things as they grow.

    DAG McCrory’s idea of turning state universities into pure vocational schools reeks of the disgusting attitude that people’s only purpose in life is to fit as a cog into the machine of industry. We are more than a simple cog, and for many college is the place to figure out what we will become – and society is better off for that.