Daily Archives: October 21, 2010

Higher Education by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus

Higher Education makes many good points, chief amongst them that colleges are charging large amounts of tuition while maintaining bloated administrative staff, coddling professors who teach very little, and exploiting adjuncts and graduate students who teach a lot for little pay.  The authors also suggest that many less-known colleges provide excellent educations, many of them at more reasonable prices compared to the so-called elite colleges. However, whatever sensible advice the book contains is overshadowed by gigantic blind spots. One is tactical. While demonstrating that professors are overpaid (well-paid, maybe, overpaid, maybe we should take a look at Wall Street?), the authors steadfastly refuse to include prep time, grading, and thesis advising in the total of working hours. Anyone who has ever taught anything knows that “platform time” is only the tip of the iceberg — so that $800 per hour rate can be valid! The other blind spot is even more surprising. Did you know that any vocational training, from medical schools to engineering programs, should not belong in universities? It seems that only liberal arts need apply. I beg to differ.

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