| February 2, 2012

Ed in the sand

I’ve written before about the defenders of the status quo in common education. Hopelessly stuck in the last century, they seem to think “you’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma.”

Unfortunately, this appears to be a problem in higher education as well. In his most recent column in The Journal Record, law professor Andrew Spiropoulos, who serves as OCPA’s Milton Friedman Distinguished Fellow, points out that

over the past year, leaders of the national and state conservative public policy communities have articulated serious and well-researched critiques of our system of public and private higher education, demonstrating that spending and tuition have dramatically escalated while measurable student achievement has remained flat or even declined. The publication of the landmark academic study Academically Adrift, empirically documenting that students only show marginal improvement in their intellectual skills after attending college, has forced all of us in the business to re-examine what we do. …

[D]ata released by the Oklahoma State Regents of Higher Education revealed that Oklahoma’s regional universities—meaning every four-year institution except the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University—have a six-year graduate rate of 37.1 percent, meaning that a substantial majority of their graduates do not succeed in reaching their academic goals. Since 2004, this rate declined despite the fact that revenues and expenses per student in Oklahoma institutions of higher education rose about 20 percent from 2003 to 2009.

You could not construct a better case or scenario for reform of our system of higher education. And what do our leaders say? We are doing just great.

But of course, we’re not doing just great, as OCPA and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity have pointed out.

The signs are everywhere that change is coming to higher education. When a tenured Stanford professor resigns in order to start an online university, and when Higher Education Bubble has its own Wikipedia entry, you know something is afoot. Taxpayers deserve better than a continuing defense of the statist quo.

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