Polemics & Exchanges

On Education Reform

I agree with much of the premise of Clay Reynolds’ piece “The Real Crisis of Higher Education” in the February issue (Vital Signs): Certainly, as he indicates, education at all levels in the United States is failing.  High schools no longer prepare students for life and work but “to take standardized tests” for advanced learning.

However, his solution to improve the quality of our colleges seems to be to throw more money at public institutions of “higher” learning.  This approach has not had any success at the primary or secondary level, and I have no confidence that it would fare any better at the college level.  The fact that, “Even today, a B.A. is not necessary for someone to be a contributing, well-informed, responsible member of society,” means that we should be concentrating on better secondary education and increasing the quality, rather than the quantity, of college opportunities.

Those opportunities should be available to those who can afford them, and to those whose abilities and efforts qualify them for genuine scholarships.  As in the efforts to make private- and parochial-school education available to children (in other words, to put competition into the system), provisions for higher learning should largely be a matter of private funding. ...

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