Labor – Management Culture Clash

Labor and management are not simply adversaries at the negotiating table; they represent two very different cultures, if not social classes.

College Education Economics: Is A Degree Worth It?

Apparently, some economists are arguing that we’re sending too many people to college.   A piece by Jacques Steinberg for the May 14 NYT, “Plan B: Skip College,” outlines the argument. A small but influential group of economists and educators is pushing another pathway: for some students, no college at all. It’s time, they say, to […]

Whites 5 Times Richer Than Blacks

After reading a Guardian story is headined “A $95,000 question: why are whites five times richer than blacks in the US?” I still don’t know. A typical white family is now five times richer than its African-American counterpart of the same class, according to a report released today by Brandeis University in Massachusetts. White families […]

Elena Kagan College Years: Who Cares?

Earlier in the week, we were treated to a discussion about Elena Kagan’s 1981 senior thesis at Princeton, “To the Final Conflict: Socialism in New York City, 1900-1933.”  In a Newsweek Web Exclusive, we learned that, despite some sympathy for the broad goals of the movement, Kagan isn’t a socialist and is both philosophically and […]

Organization Kids

In his most recent column, David Brooks laments the rise of Organization Kids, of whom he suggests Elena Kagan is an archetype: Kagan has many friends along the Acela corridor, thanks to her time at Hunter College High School, Princeton, Harvard and in Democratic administrations. So far, I haven’t met anybody who is not an […]

Unpaid Interns Exploited?

Every couple of years, it seems, the news media discover that many companies are using unpaid interns — mostly college students — to do real work. And that this is technically against the law!  Well, we’re in such a phase right now and, interestingly, the Obama administration is paying attention. John Stossel weighed in a […]

Do-It-Yourself Virtual Universities?

Anya Kamentz has written a new book titled DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education.  She gives us a taste of the argument in a piece for TAP: Since 2001, a growing movement — from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, and hundreds of other universities worldwide to insurgent bloggers and […]

Does Bill Gates Hate White People?

Microsoft gazillionaire-turned-philanthropist Bill Gates has apparently decided to award Gates Millennium Scholarships only to Americans of  non-European descent.  He did so back in January but the word is just slowly getting around. Brian Garst observes, “Now, he is free to direct that his money be spent however he pleases.  The rest of us, likewise, are […]


A while back, Bryan Caplan observed, Colleges care about applicants’ extracurricular activities.  Employers don’t.  What’s going on?  I’m tempted to just repeat my adage that, “Non-profits are crazy,” but even non-profit employers don’t seem very concerned about how you spend your spare time. He asked for theories and Tyler Cowen offers one: Colleges want to […]

What’s a University, Anyway?

The juxtaposition of two stories this morning both amused and bemused me. First, the state of New York has forced Donald Trump to change the name of Trump University on account of it not being, you know, a university. In a strongly worded letter obtained by the Daily News, the state Education Department slammed the […]

Tennessee Ousts Grad Student Over Driving Conviction

The University of Tennessee is holding a 60-year-old graduate student in academic limbo over a reckless driving incident that occurred hundreds of miles away from campus. Even at 60 years old Suzanne Glen is a fighter. She fought through an agonizing childhood disease that resulted in the loss of her colon, divorce, the loss of […]

College Sports a Money Loser?

With those megabillion dollar television contracts for football and men’s basketball, top tier universities are making a mint off their sports programs, right?   Well, according to USA Today, that’s true for an ever smaller number of schools. The nation’s highest-profile college athletic programs drew a greater percentage of their revenue from student fees and their […]

Grade Inflation in Education Colleges

It’s common knowledge that “grade inflation,” the lowering of standards that leads to ever-higher student grades for the same performance, is rampant.  Matthew Denhart and Christopher Matgouranis note that, “It has been estimated that there has been at least a 0.1 percent increase in average student GPA in every decade since the 1950s. In 1991, […]

Weather To Go To College

Whether it’s owing to the clever title or the quirkiness of his research question, Inside Higher Ed today points me to Uri Simonsohn‘s piece for The Economic Journal, “Weather To Go To College.” No, the title isn’t a misprint: Does current utility bias predictions of future utility for high stakes decisions? Here I provide field […]

PhD its Own Reward

TAS’ Matt Feeney has a longish post refuting the “PhD Trap” meme.    The short version of the latter is that completing a PhD requires sacrifice of a lot of time, money, and energy and it’s likely to be wasted when you fail to land a tenure-track job teaching college.   The short version of Feeney’s retort […]

Education and Employment

The BLS has compiled some data showing, not surprisingly, that unemployment is negatively correlated with educational attainment.  Here‘s a nifty graph: Matt Yglesias suggests, “[I]f someone you know is considering dropping out of high school, you ought to do everything possible to convince him or her to reconsider. Even in non-recession times, the labor market […]

Amy Bishop’s Politics

Glenn Reynolds, Stacy McCain, Jim Hoft, Lonely Conservative and others continue to point to rather thin evidence that UAH mass murderer Amy Bishop was a “socialist.”  She went to Harvard after all.  And one kid on a prof rating website called her one.   QED! As I’ve previously noted, her politics seem rather irrelevant.  Certainly, […]

College Education: You Don’t Get What You Pay For

King Banaian studies the most recent literature and finds that students are leaving college with record debt levels and that, paradoxically, those attending more selective institutions not only get far more for their money but pay less. Because students are now willing and able to select higher education in a national rather than regional market, […]

American Opportunity Myths

Isabel Sawhill and Ron Haskins have written a piece for Brookings titled “Five Myths About Our Land of Opportunity.”  None of it’s new to those who’ve paid much attention to these things in recent years. What’s interesting, though, is the seeming contradiction in Myths 1 and 4. 1. Americans enjoy more economic opportunity than people […]

College Students Better Than Professors Think?

Gary Lewandowski and David Strohmetz, psychology professors at Monmouth University, argue at Inside Higher Ed that college professors have unrealistic expectations of their students.  They begin poorly, with several paragraphs of the “both professors and students have shortcomings” variety.  But they eventually hit on an essential truth: We run the risk of using our own […]

College Sports Scandal Blame Games

Margaret Soltan is no fan of college sports and her diatribes on the subject can be condescending and annoying.  But she makes a good point here about the fact that those who enable cheating never seem to get much attention: Everybody notices the crooked defiant coach, the hapless sputtering president, the anonymous guys on the […]

77% Oklahoma High School Students Can’t Name 1st President?

A recent survey of Oklahoma public high school students found that the overwhelming majority can’t answer even simple questions about U.S. government and history. A thousand students were given 10 questions drawn from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services item bank. Candidates for U.S. citizenship must answer six questions correctly in order to become citizens. […]

Midnight College

Boston’s Bunker Hill Community College is experimenting with midnight classes.  Wick Sloane, who teaches a full class from 11:45 pm to 2:45 am, explains: Two thirds of my class this morning enrolled at midnight because all the day, evening and weekend sections were full. The rest have night jobs, most of them at hospitals, and […]

Obama’s Education Speech

Matt Yglesias takes mock exception to President Obama’s assertion to our nation’s schoolchildren that “You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.” He notes that, “My father dropped out of tenth grade and has had a […]

College Rankings

Washington Monthly has put out its annual answer to the US News college rankings, even going so far as to launch a new blog devoted to the subject. Steve Benen highlights some of the findings: * Only one of the U.S. News top ten universities — Stanford — makes the Washington Monthly‘s top ten, while […]

Yes We Cannabis

Lisa Jack, who snapped this picture of Barack Obama in 1980 while they were students at Occidental College, is a wee bit irritated that NORML repurposed it to create this poster: Fair use satire? Or theft of intellectual property? I’m not an attorney and intellectual property law is particularly complicated.  NORML is engaging in political […]

Meritocracy’s Limits

America may be the land of opportunity but it helps to have a head start in the rat race.

Ricks: Close Service Academies, War Colleges

Thomas Ricks believes that we should shutter West Point and the other service academies because they’re expensive and, as far as he can tell, they produce no better officers than ROTC.  Plus, their instructors don’t have PhDs, making them essentially junior colleges. The first of these assertions is thinly sourced but worth exploring.   The second, […]

Robert Reich: It’s a Depression

Robert Reich points out that, if we make up a new way of counting unemployment, we’ve got a lot of unemployment: The March employment numbers, out this morning, are bleak: 8.5 percent of Americans officially unemployed, 663,000 more jobs lost. But if you include people who are out of work and have given up trying […]

Academic Hiring: Year of No Jobs

For years, there’s been talk of a wave of Baby Boomer faculty retirements that would finally break the logjam that has made it difficult for newly minted PhDs to find jobs. The waiting continues: Fulltime faculty jobs have not been easy to come by in recent decades, but this year the new crop of Ph.D. […]

Working Hard – Or Hardly Working?

Matt Yglesias challenges Lisa Schiffren‘s assertion that “The doctors, lawyers, engineers, executives, serious small-business owners, top salespeople, and other professionals and entrepreneurs who make this country run work considerably harder than pretty much anyone else (including most of the chattering class, and all politicians).” Matt counters, reasonably enough, that guys who move furniture for a […]

Cramming for Exams Not Working Hard

Joining the College grading expectations debate a little late, Alan Jacobs makes a point most of us glossed over entirely:  even if we decide that it matters how hard the students worked matters, how would we measure that? Monitoring students on webcams to see how much time they spend writing, or with their noses in […]

College Grading: An ‘A’ for Effort?

College students increasingly expect to be rewarded for trying hard, Max Roosevelt claims in NYT: “Many students come in with the conviction that they’ve worked hard and deserve a higher mark,” Professor Grossman said. “Some assert that they have never gotten a grade as low as this before.” He attributes those complaints to his students’ […]

Cultural Literacy

Stacy McCain decries America’s “cultural illiteracy” and bemoans the fact that kids today may be smart but they’re ignorant. [H]ow many know enough French — or enough European history — to know who Clemenceau was, or what he meant? The Tiger might as well have never lived, so far as the average college student is […]

Why Do College Textbooks Cost So Much?

Andrew Gelman wonders about the mystery of $150 textbooks. [I]t’s commonplace for students to pay well over $100 for introductory textbooks. […]It just mystifies me that, in all these different fields, it’s considered acceptable to charge $150 for a textbook. I’d think that all you need is one cartel-breaker in each field and all the […]

Dr. Jill Biden

Why does the Second Lady insist on using the title “Dr.”

Paying Popular Professors More

Texas A&M is going to pay $10,000 bonuses to professors who get good student evaluations, Inside Higher Ed reports, to the consternation of those who think students are poor judges of professors. The reason for passing on a chance at $10,000 is that many professors are frustrated by the way the money is being distributed: […]

Grade Inflation or Smarter Students?

Harry Brighouse expounds on the novel argument that maybe what we’ve dubbeed “grade inflation” is really a legitimate response to increased quality of work from the students rather than a lowering of standards on the part of the professors. Could the students really be more talented? Well, think about the Ivy League schools, which while […]

Is the B.A. Just B.S?

Charles Murray, he of Bell Curve fame/infamy, argues that a system where everyone is expected to get a four year college degree to get a decent job is silly.  I agree.  I find this description amusing: First, we will set up a single goal to represent educational success, which will take four years to achieve […]

Obama Electoral Lead Widens as National Lead Shrinks

Radley Balko notes a “strange dichotomy” in the election polls:  Obama’s lead in the national head-to-head polls is narrowing at the same time his Electoral College numbers based on state-by-state polls is widening. Sure enough, that’s the case.   Here’s the RealClearPolitics snapshot: Here’s the current Electoral College map from, which has the race at […]

No Beer, No Civilization (Updated)

George Will has been at the top of the pundit game for so long that you’d think he’d have joined a sizable number of his peers in seemingly dusting off one of their stock columns every week. Not so. Will’s latest installment is on the virtues of beer. “The search for unpolluted drinking water is […]

Educating the Masses

Clive Crook contends that, “Broadly speaking, educational quality has topped out – and on at least one measure, it is actually deteriorating. In 2006, Americans aged 55-59 collectively possessed more masters degrees, professional degrees and doctorates than Americans aged 30-34.”  Arnold Kling fears that this is just a caste system at work, observing, “I don’t […]

By Any Other Name…

Jonah Goldberg has sparked a minor blogospheric furor for a recent column in which he castigated Barack Obama, John McCain, and others for promoting a compulsory national service program, which he compared to slavery. There’s a weird irony at work when Sen. Barack Obama, the black presidential candidate who will allegedly scrub the stain of […]

Appalachian Election?

Steve Tuttle takes to the pages of Newsweek to proclaim the ascendency of Appalachia as the decider of the next president. “Hick.” “Hillbilly.” “Redneck.” “Inbred.” “Cracker.” “Ridge Runner.” I heard and self-effacingly used them all when I left the mountains of Appalachia to attend college in the great metropolis of Williamsburg, Va., in the ’80s. […]

Dumbing the Presidency

David Broder uses Elvin Lm’s book The Anti-Intellectual Presidency to argue not only that presidential speeches have steadily dumbed down over the years, which we might have guessed, but that this dumbs down public policy, too. In what must have been a heroic effort, he applied standard techniques of content analysis to state papers of […]

Why ‘Child Care Professionals’ Make Low Wages

Ezra Klein awards Snark of the Day honors to Megan Carpentier‘s stunning discovery that babysitters don’t earn a lot of money. Child care professionals are responsible for the health, well-being and development of the fruit of other women’s loins (not mine!) But in exchange for that, the median average salary in 2006 was $17,160. The […]

No Reset Button in Foreign Policy

Nick Gvosdev, the outgoing Editor of The National Interest and soon-to-be professor at the Naval War College makes a point that can’t be emphasized enough: “[T]here is no ‘reset’ button in U.S. foreign policy. . . . [N]o matter who the next president is, there are challenges to be faced that will require adaption to […]

Obama Has Huge Lead in Another Poll

Barack Obama has a 12-point lead in the latest Bloomberg/LAT poll, giving those of us who thought the 15-point lead in last week’s Newsweek poll was an outlier some pause. In a two-man race between the major-party candidates, registered voters chose Obama over McCain by 49% to 37% in the national poll, conducted Thursday through […]

Obama and Hidden Racism

Mike Tomasky believes that, despite the fact that three-quarters of black Americans are middle class and that “[m]ore black and white people go to college together and work together than in probably any other racially mixed society in the world,” he thinks we’re essentially a segregated society. I haven’t been able to find any numbers […]

George Carlin Dies at 71

George Carlin, a comedian known for his combination of raunchy language and intellectual humor, died of heart failure last evening. He was 71. Carlin was an interesting guy, combining brilliant observational humor with political activism. Like too many comics in the HBO era, though, it often seemed that he was vulgar and outrageous simply because […]

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