Costly, dysfunctional higher education

After World War II American youth were indoctrinated with the idea that the key to lifelong success was graduating college. That developed into the myth that everyone should go to college. And that convinced most people to support unlimited spending on higher education. The myths, largely unchallenged, grew along with massive expansion of public campuses in every State.

Sports and the assumptions that children were getting “educated” kept alumni, parents—and taxpayers—interested and supportive. It was the perfect storm analogy: a tsunami of funds colliding with a hurricane of propaganda and student bodies—the ships of state cruised into it ignoring the warnings and refusing to verify their positions.

Here in the North Carolina taxpayer-funded $9.5 billion university system administrators refuse to reform components of their dysfunctional operations. Six of the 16 UNC units have six-year graduation rates at or below 50 percent. (Link below)

In my opinion, these schools should be closed or converted to some productive uses, but they are the “third-rail” of higher education—touching them means political death. They are all “historically black” or “minority” schools.

Most public universities admit certain numbers of below standard students with low high school grade point averages and college test scores predicting academic success. They are placed in remedial courses, receive special counseling and other “coddling” in hopes they can survive the academic experience. But these efforts are usually unsuccessful. Worse, the students are victimized by these wrongheaded efforts.

They become resentful when they can’t compete, they take on debt with no payback and they waste their time that could be better spent.

Last year the State General Assembly (NCGA) came up with a plan to help solve this problem and save taxpayers’ money: the North Carolina Guaranteed Admissions Program (NC GAP).

Less competitive students could attend a community college and earn an associate degree. Then they would be guaranteed admission to a university. This would improve graduation rates; reduce student debt; lower the tax burden; and give student graduates better job opportunities.

Sounds like a win-win-win, right? Wrong.

The UNC central administration operatives figured this program would put the historically black colleges in jeopardy for funding, and in other ways “harm” minority students—the political kiss-of-death.—compliments of the self-serving UNC.


About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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