Calling Out the Professoriate
(Inside Higher Ed)
(Inside Higher Ed)
Author of the 1988 book Profscam, conservative talk radio host Charles Sykes, discusses his new book that again takes on higher education.
Q. The book calls for a shrinking of overall college enrollment. Why? And aren't there downsides to rolling back the access gains of recent decades, which women, minority groups and low-income students largely drove?
A. We should make access to higher education as open as possible. But the reality is that the “college for all” mantra is a delusion that sets too many students up to fail. Far too many students enter college without adequate academic preparation; far too many end up dropping out. The real irony here is that the students who are most likely to be hurt by the higher education complex’s indifference to undergraduate teaching are precisely those vulnerable student groups who need more attention.
Of the 1.8 million students assessed for college readiness in 2014, ACT found that only 26 percent met college-ready benchmarks in all four subjects (English, reading, math and science). Charles Murray notes that an SAT score of 1180 will give a college freshman about a 65 percent chance of maintaining a 2.7 grade point average. But that is a score only about one in 10 18-year-olds could achieve. “So,” writes Murray, “even though college has been dumbed down, it is still too intellectually demanding for a large majority of students.” Even so, in recent decades, 30 percent of students with C grades in high school and 15 percent with grade point average of C-minus or lower have been admitted into four-year colleges. That has consequences both for the students and for the institutions, which often have to adjust their standards to the new demographic realities….
Over the years conservative talk show hosts, and I’m certainly one of them, we’ve done a remarkable job of challenging and attacking the mainstream media. But perhaps what we did was also the destroy any sense of a standard. Where do you go to have any sense of the truth? You have Donald Trump come along and the man says things that are demonstrably untrue on a daily basis. My experience has been look, we live in an era when every drunk at the end of the bar has a Twitter account and maybe has a blog and when you try to point out “this is not true, this is a lie” and then you cite the Washington Post or the New York Times, their response is “oh that’s the mainstream media.” So we’ve done such a good job of discrediting them that there’s almost no place to go to be able to fact check....