Time and again I’ve claimed that much of what goes on in our higher education system is fraudulent. I concede that this is just a blog, and I encourage the gentle reader to read all things online with some level of skepticism, to think through the implications and see if the conclusions read online are even reasonable, much less true.
A recent-ish Lew Rockwell column cited some statistics about education where the conclusion of massive fraud becomes quite reasonable. As always, I have some things to add:
The author, much esteemed Walter Williams, begins his discussion with some relevant statistics regarding our public school system:
Only 37 percent of 12th-graders tested proficient or better in reading, and only 25 percent did so in math.
The author breaks things down by race, but I want to focus more on the fraud. The sentence above asserts “proficiency,” that is, high-school level ability in reading or mathematics. Those are some pretty terrible numbers, but let’s reinforce them with another stat:
Nationally, our high school graduation rate is over 80 percent.
The conclusion of fraud at this point is quite reasonable. If only 25 percent of our 12th graders are proficient in math, for example, it is not possible for 80% of our students to graduate under a legitimate system which requires proficiency in the graduates, after all. This is what government has done to our basic education system: corrupted it to the point that a high school diploma is meaningless. In times past (as in, the time of my grandmother), graduating from the 8th grade was considered quite good…but a high school diploma of today is hardly as meaningful as an 8th grade education of a couple generations ago.
It’s grossly dishonest for the education establishment and politicians to boast about unprecedented graduation rates when the high school diplomas, for the most part, do not represent academic achievement. At best, they certify attendance.
I quote the above for future reference, our leaders patting themselves on the back for their “great success” in graduation rates when any casual look at the numbers reveals considerable fraud.
Now let’s get to the fraud in higher education:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of white high school graduates in 2016 enrolled in college, and 58 percent of black high school graduates enrolled in college.
These numbers are broken down by race, but overall nearly 66% of our high school graduates go on to college immediately after graduation. The fraud here is evident: how can it possibly be that 25% of our high school students are ready for college math, but 66% of them are accepted into college?
The answer, of course, is remediation. Wide swaths of our students go into remedial programs. These are dead ends, and around 90% of students going into remedial programs get nothing out of college but expenses, more likely debt, and a big waste of time. Even those who manage to get a degree out of college often get degrees of minimal, if any, value.
It’s a huge waste, and the numbers are self-evident.
One study suggests that more than two-thirds of community college students take at least one remedial course, as do 40 percent of four-year college students.
I don’t know this study, but I’ve shown repeatedly that some 90% of community college work is non-college, often lower than 9th grade material. Students come into college needing considerable remediation, the numbers are very clear here…let’s consider an implication.
We have many students coming onto campus needing remedial work in reading/writing, and mathematics. So they take a remedial English course, and a remedial mathematics course. Fair enough.
But a student needs to be a “full time” student to get that sweet student loan and grant money which flows most prodigiously into administrative pockets. To be full time, a student needs 12 credit hours.
3 credit hours goes to that remedial English.
3 credit hours goes to that remedial mathematics.
The student needs 6 more credit hours…what to do with students not ready for college material? Load up the course catalogue with many bogus courses which, quite obviously, can NOT be college level (because the student is not college level). Thus we have all these silly Gender Studies and Impact of Michael Jackson and Sexual Deviancy courses all over campus. They’re not academic, they’re not educational…they just soak up the money of the hopeless suckers students while they’re on campus.
The situation is, of course, worse in sportsball:
During a recent University of North Carolina scandal, a learning specialist hired to help athletes found that during the period from 2004 to 2012, 60 percent of the 183 members of the football and basketball teams read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. About 10 percent read below a third-grade level. Keep in mind that all of these athletes both graduated from high school and were admitted to college.
Please understand, many of the students coming on to campus aren’t simply “1 semester” behind college material; in fact, only a tiny minority of students are so academically elite. My own eyes from my community college years tells me the bulk are around 8th grade in overall skill level. Many community college campuses have mathematics courses addressing basic addition and subtraction, 3rd grade material…and anyone who bothers to look at the course offerings can see this with their own eyes.
We have fraud here no matter how we look at the situation. It clearly takes 4 years to bring a student from 8th grade to 12th grade. If it didn’t, then our public schools are frauds for taking so long. Yet colleges claim they cover 4 years of education in 4 months all the time. So, are our colleges lying, or our schools? (Warning: trick question!)
Much as our leaders in the public schools boast of their “success” even though it’s obvious fraud, so it is our leaders in higher education also take pride in their bogus success.
I agree with Walter Williams’ conclusion:
I’m not sure about what can be done about education. But the first step toward any solution is for the American people to be aware of academic fraud at every level of education.
If the people only knew about the huge fraud of the community colleges, they would (and should) close them down overnight, and the same can be said of quite a few universities as well.
I can’t claim to know what can be done about our public education system (beyond simply closing it all down), but I suggested a series of solutions for fixing higher education in my book.
But, as Mr. William’s says, first people need to know about the obvious fraud here…