Lion of the Blogosphere

How to destroy the power of universities

Coming up with a collection of policy proposals that I’ve previously blogged about.

1. Abolish degrees as much as possible. People should attend college to learn, and they should stay as long as they feel they need to, although federal student aid should stop after a certain number of years.

It should be illegal to discriminate against someone because they don’t have a degree, just as it’s illegal to discriminate against people based on race, sex, etc. Technically this is already the law because the Supreme Court in Griggs v. Duke Power Company (1971) held that it was illegal for Duke Power Company to make a high school degree a requirement for getting a job. The Supreme Court wrote, “History is filled with examples of men and women who rendered highly effective performance without the conventional badges of accomplishment in terms of certificates, diplomas, or degrees.”

But this aspect of Griggs has been ignored, so Congress must pass a law stating explicitly that it’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of degrees.

2. The government should not provide any direct or indirect aid (as in student grants or loans) to any university that has exclusive admissions. When an institution has more applicants than they have room for, they must use a lottery system.

3. Federal student aid should be contingent on proof of successful learning. After taking a course, a student must pass a national test demonstrating knowledge in order to qualify for additional student aid for more education. Of course we need to make sure the tests are administered securely so that test takers don’t cheat on them.

I favor increased federal grants for students who can score high enough on the tests of knowledge so that education is available for all who can demonstrate that they are able to learn. Up to a point. We don’t want people to be students for their entire lives, they have to be cut off at some point.

Job applicants should be allowed, and encouraged, to use the scores on these federal tests as proof of their value to prospective employers, and employers may require test scores to be submitted. Legal safe harbors should be created so that employers can make employment decisions based on these test scores without fear of legal liability. And it should be illegal to favor an job applicant because of the where they took classes (which favors the rich and connected), the only thing that should matter is actual demonstrations of learning such as the score on the national test.

4. Eliminate degree requirements for fields like law and engineering and public accounting. For critical occupations like medicine, where doctors need hands-on training, we need to make some allowances. But doctors should go straight into medicine and not spend four years studying something else before they are allowed to start learning how to be doctors.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

Posted in Education

53 Responses

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  1. Shorten the number of years for undergraduate from 4 years to 3 years. No reason to spend 4 years in college. UK and UK based university systems do this w/o drawbacks.

    Require college foundations spend down at least 5% of their total wealth each year.

    Jimi

    March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

    • It’s 3 years in Israel for most majors.

      Yakov

      March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

  2. ‘3. Federal student aid should be contingent on proof of successful learning.’

    This is how it was back in the USSR. This is very simple for anyone with half a brain.

    Otherwise interesting ideas.

    Yakov

    March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

  3. The current degree system has its roots in the medieval guild system. (Guild is collegium in Latin from where we get the word college.). A bachelor was an apprentice. Each local guild of teachers would set their own criteria for how long a batchelor had to serve before he could become a “Master of (Liberal) Arts” and eligible to teach. IIRC it is still the case in Oxford and Cambridge that you automatically get a Masters degree a few years after graduating with a bachelors degree as long as you keep paying your dues to your college. Doctor (from the word doctrine) was an advanced certification granted by the Church for certain professions mainly theology and law. Some ancient universities had faculties of medicine but until recently most medical professionals weren’t doctors. In fact they were typically barbers or just self-taught. Most professors in other subjects weren’t doctors either.

    It was not until the late 19th century first in Germany then in the English world that the concept of Doctor of Natural Philosophy (Ph. D) requiring original research arose. And it was much later than that a Ph.D became an entry-level requirement for becoming an academic.

    The only reason Universities keep up this rigmarole is inertia and $$$$. I say tear it all down and build something more suitable for today.

    Lionel of the Richiesphere

    March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

  4. Too many people going to college, picking too many dumb majors.

    1) Restrict majors by number of graduates each per major – so only the top people get into each major… ie 1000 seniors graduating, only 100 compsci majors allowed. So more demand to get into compsci – only the best get in.

    Same with arts, economics, sociology…

    2) Make it Darwinism, if you your GPA falls to a certain amount after 1.5 years (in a 3 year university), you have to take 1 year break.. and then have to take a test to come back after the 1 year break. Otherwise you are out !!!!

    3) Make vocation school a credible alternative
    4) Make an exit exam for each major that is national. Ie, the harvard Compsci major has to take the same compsci test at end of graduation as the Stony Brook compsci grad. Apples to apples. 100 – 200 questions.

    5) That same exit test can be provided to people who don’t go to college as well but take some online certification course. So employees can judge themselves the talent pool out there for non-college graduates. I’m not sure how relevant this is for non-stem majors, but I’m sure its plausible for arts, history, economics, philosphy. etc…

    6) Get rid of third tier colleges.,, how many colleges do we have in the US? 2,000? 4000? Cut that number by 50% or more. Make 2 or 3 public universities in the major states, and perhaps 1 in the smaller states (wyoming, alaska) as premier well funded institutions. Get rid of crap majors in those premier universities (afro studies, hispanics studies).

    7) Get rid of crappy non-renvenue generating sports. Make them intramural. No need to send the fencing team across the state Waste of money!!!

    8) Get rid of wasteful administrative costs..
    9 Get rid of wasteful infrastructure. Do we need luxury gyms for athletes?

    uman

    March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

    • “Get rid of this, get rid of this, get rid of the other thing…”

      Nothing will be gotten rid of. We, the people, need to stop doing it.

      We need to tell our kids that we won’t foot the bill for them to spend four years in a cesspool of pseudo-eduaction and cultural rot.

      We need to tell our kids that any and all bill-footing is contingent on keeping a 2.5 GPA.

      We need to stop making trades out to be something for losers, and we need to reaffirm the dignity of honest labor.

      We need to stop supporting the indentured servitude which calls itself “college athletics.”

      We need to stop sending young people to substandard universities.

      We are the ones we’ve been looking for.

      njguy73

      March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

  5. Ted Kaczynski was right. The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.

    My 2¢

    March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

  6. “Up to a point. We don’t want people to be students for their entire lives, they have to be cut off at some point.”

    Why? What if that is how they self-actualize? Are we not in a post scarcity economy after all?

    beancrusher

    March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

    • Forever students eventually turn into college professors.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

      • Forever students hardly ever turn into college professors. The odds of getting a job as a professor are extraordinarily slim, especially tenure track.

        Return of Shawn

        March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

      • Lion is like Trump: directionally correct. Few of these people become tenure track professors, but there are also jobs for: part time lecturers, community college instructors, teachers at for-profit ‘colleges’, grant writers, etc. Less and less teaching of college courses is done tenure track professors, and there’s a whole eco-system of not-so-great para-academic jobs (along with a separate group of over-paid university administration jobs which go to a different group of people).

        MoreSigmasThanYou

        March 29, 2019 at EDT am

  7. Produce movies that show that college/university sucks and is no fun for…anyone. Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds and so on must have influenced a few million minds of teens who otherwise would have been satisfied with a trade school education. And yes, this is a policy proposal, not something to be done deviously.

    Booger

    March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

  8. And still, certain elites will find a way to create other status signals in order to give power and wealth to whoever they want at a certain point in time. There will still be a Harvard and Pen State, it will just happen in a different way.

    Learning without tests or degrees is the classic approach in the traditional Jewish Yeshiva, people know who is smart and who has knowledge by interacting with them and by their publications, basically a natural reputation system. If people appreciate your knowledge and follow you and use your books then you are an important Rabbi. There are tests though for official roles, for example to become a judge in a religious court.

    Regarding test for knowledge, that might work in the first stages of studying but after that research and creativity starts to kick in and those things can’t be measured by tests, you will need some other criteria to assess who is going to be a good researcher.

    Hashed

    March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

    • So would you get rid of the SAT since it’s designed to measure general academic ability not knowledge in any specific subject?

      pumpkinperson

      March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

  9. President Nixon knew the truth about HBD and IQ testing way back in 1971.

    Date: October 7, 1971

    Time: 10:32 am – 10:58 am

    Recording Location: White House, Oval Office

    The President talked with Daniel P. Moynihan, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy

    Oswald Spengler

    March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

    • Damn! We need another President like Nixon.

      Also, see how much smarter Nixon is compared to Trump. You can’t imagine Trump having this conversation.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

      • Trump’s heart is in the right place and he often intuitively comes to the right conclusions on many issues. Also, you’re correct that Trump simply doesn’t have the intellectual firepower or wide-ranging curiosity that Nixon possessed. (I have read that Nixon’s IQ was estimated somewhere in the 130-140 range.)

        However, Trump has one key advantage over Nixon. Both Nixon and Trump were considered prole upstart outsiders by the liberal elite of their respective times. NIxon really cared a lot about the liberal press thought of him and nursed a lifelong grudge against the elite, which ultimately led to his undoing. Trump on the other hand, utterly disdains the leftist press and the elite and and is indifferent to what they think of him.

        Oswald Spengler

        March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

      • Did he say around minute 16-18 that Jewish detracts to Caucasian ? (Just after speaking of blacks).

        And the idea that HBD is a truth not worthy of being told is dubious ….

        Else he sounds very bright (like a 140 IQ person) . He gets driven a bit too much by his own words. He must have had some mild mental issue.

        Bruno

        March 29, 2019 at EDT am

      • Nixon took us off he gold standard and plunged the US into the system of economic instability we have today.

        No, we don’t need another Nixon because he was too busy listening to over-credentialed fools.

        map

        March 29, 2019 at EDT am

      • Nixon might have gotten in touch with you to discuss one of your posts – he did that kind of thing. A BigLaw partner in SF, who wrote a foreign policy piece in the WSJ while at Yale, tells about being awakened at midnight in the law dorm. He picks up the phone and hears, “Hello, this is Richard Nixon,” wanting to discuss foreign policy.

        Vipltd

        March 29, 2019 at EDT pm

      • “I have read that Nixon’s IQ was estimated somewhere in the 130-140 range”

        A little OT, but notwithstanding our tendency to call politicians idiots, is a 130-140 IQ unusual for a politician at that level?

        TWBC

        March 29, 2019 at EDT pm

      • @ Oswald Spengler

        You have a very superficial view of American history. Nixon was backed by Skull and Bones his entire career. The deep state has killed at least US two presidents likely three if you include Lincoln but McKinley and JFK for sure. They’ve removed others from power like Nixon but that was mostly because he had to go down for the team. The Watergate break in was about covering up evidence of the JFK/RFK murders. The whole Catholic vs Protestant conflict was very real in those days even in elite circles.

        Trump was the establishment’s favorite son for years/decades as well. He was even bailed out by the Rothschilds during his money troubles which literally saved him from going under. The core of the Anglo-American establishment are the Rothschild family as well as Skull and Bones.

        redarmyvodka

        March 31, 2019 at EDT am

    • “President Nixon knew the truth about HBD and IQ testing way back in 1971.”

      Of course he knew it. And most of those who deny it know it, too. They’re not denying it because they don’t know the truth. They’re denying it because they don’t want it to be true.

      destructure

      March 29, 2019 at EDT am

      • Nearly all liberals today have drunk the Kool-Aid.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        March 29, 2019 at EDT am

      • You need a post on kool-aid drinkers.

        destructure

        March 29, 2019 at EDT am

  10. Shut down 75% of the colleges and universities in the US ***on the spot***. While in the short run unemployment will go up significantly with all the employees being canned, in the long run there will be immense economic benefits.

    Peter

    ironrailsironweights

    March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

  11. Whatever policies get put into place, there is one thing we must not compromise on, and that is the MLS. Just because a librarian’s job is no more cognitively challenging than the one the 16 year old has at Best Buy selling cell phones, we must keep that requirement at all costs!

    Return of Shawn

    March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

  12. Pardon the interruption, but there’s a video out that could win the election for Trump. 85-year old abortion protestor being stomped outside SF planned parenthood. You techies better distribute it before it disappears.

    Stay Down Old Man

    March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

  13. NO COLLUSION.

    gothamette

    March 28, 2019 at EDT pm

    • Ha! My wife and I have been randomly saying that to each other all week.

      “Want another cup of coffee?”

      “No collusion!”

      Mike Street Station

      March 31, 2019 at EDT am

      • In my crowd, it’s replaced MAGA.

        Say it loud:

        NO COLLUSION.

        gothamette

        March 31, 2019 at EDT am

  14. “History is filled with examples of men and women who rendered highly effective performance without the conventional badges of accomplishment in terms of certificates, diplomas, or degrees.”

    Maybe, but there is a much more substantive history of the opposite, which is why the badges exist.

    Curle

    March 29, 2019 at EDT am

  15. The Italian university system, despite being very far from perfect, has a lot of very interesting features. I give you a quick run down:

    1 – 99% of the universities are public – they are financed by a state contribution equal to roughly 0,4% of GDP and a student tax usually around 1000 USD a year. Some universities specialised in research and engineering are also able to monetise patents and research

    2 – For a certain faculties there is a closed number with strict admission tests (e.g. medicine, architecture, schooling), but restrictions to entrance can be applied by individual universities as they deem fit

    3 – There is no set “length” of a degree, you are required to complete a certain number of exams to graduate, you can do it in 1 year or in 8 years as long as you pay taxes – a large number of people work full time jobs while they study at university.

    4 – In the vast majority of universities there are no campus, facilities or other “useless” expensive amenities (with the exception of technical degrees where labs and facilities are required). There are classrooms and professors, that is about it. You attendance is voluntary and you are only required to pass the final exams to complete a class. If you are already an expert in a field you can graduate with ease just by doing the exams without even seeing the inside of a classroom. Quite a large number of professors are part timers that teach for a limited amount of time while they still work – they decide to become professors out of interest, need for extra money, prestige, etc

    5 – Degrees are specialised – you do not chose what you study – you pick your field and you do all the exams that are required in that specific field, there are some elective classes only toward the end of the degree. If you find out you do not like the particular field you chose and you want to change, your own problem, start again from scratch

    6 – Universities have no power, only reputation to be easy or tough. If you go to study law in Bologna, everyone knows it is easy so you will be required to graduate with top marks to be considered in a law firm; if you go to Padua (drop out rate close to 90%), just managing to graduate makes you more than fitting for a top notch firm.

    7 – All university degrees are equal to apply for a job in the public sector (and usually large corporations) if such degree is required; the selection will be made by entry test and interviews.

    8 – Exams are extremely tough. There is no multiple choice questions: all written exams require you to write extensively (in pen an paper) and the majority of courses require lengthy oral examinations. There are frequent cases of people dropping a degree because they cannot pass a specific exam and there is nothing they can do about it.

    9 – There is no Gaussian curves or other funky valuation methodologies – you know, you pass, the performance of your class is irrelevant.

    10 – The usual set up for a university is a 3 + 2 year (equivalent to bachelor + master of science in US) classes for a total of 35 to 40 exams in the first part (again there is no set time limit) and about 20-25 in the second. The MSc is usually a deep dive on a certain field that was studies during the bachelor, but it is not needed to be considered “graduate”

    11 – there is no life coaching, safety space, inclusive features bullshit. You are on your own. If you make it or not depends solely on your commitment, discipline and IQ.

    In conclusion, for a large part, Italian university is cheap, tough and rustic. Most of the people do not make it to the end simply because they are not fit to be university graduate.

    Of course what I have outlined here are the general principles. The overall system has been weakening significantly in the last decade, the main reasons are the following:

    A – There is a proliferation of useless degrees (e.g. political science, psychology, journalism) that attract people normally unfit to graduate

    B – Universities with a low number of enrollments are dropping exams standards in order to boost the number of students – this practice is virtually destroying the university system in the South of Italy

    C – The quality of the professors is lowering as the most brilliant ones are fleeing to foreign universities where they can receive a much higher pay; in addition, low-achieving professors cannot be fired because they are public employees

    D – Inability to compete internationally (no brand name, limited international network, few world famous professors, weak connections to the corporate world) makes it more attractive for students with high potential to look at universities in different countries.

    Nonetheless if you take the core degrees (medicine, architecture, engineering, economics and accounting, law, mathematics and physics) the quality of the graduates is still extremely high compared to most countries.

    Seingalt

    March 29, 2019 at EDT am

    • America is a country of multi-culti-capitalism and you are comparing it to Italy. Italy doesn’t have legions of Asians, Hispanics, blacks and proles all clamoring for status and money with the White upper classes and elites.

      This is the gist of the issue as to why Meriprolestan is a completely different animal from other Western nations.

      America is a nation of pushy, striving, greedy and aggressive brutes. This isn’t society that focuses on education.

      Ok, what, who's this again?

      March 29, 2019 at EDT am

      • Wanting to better yourself financially is what makes America so great. If u call that “striving and greedy” we need lot more of that.

        mpt

        March 29, 2019 at EDT pm

      • “Wanting to better yourself financially is what makes America so great”

        3rd world primitives come to America to build their net-worth at the backs of taxpayers’ dime either directly from welfare or welfare based jobs (like those of the gov’t). If you call this great, then it’s fine.

        Ok, what, who's this again?

        March 29, 2019 at EDT pm

    • This deluded American has a warped view that American universities are better than European universities and one point she makes is that European universities lack the hedonism which centers around our schools, namely dormitories and sport teams.

      http://www.thecollegesolution.com/european-universities-vs-american-universities-we-win/

      Ok, what, who's this again?

      March 29, 2019 at EDT am

  16. “he sounds very bright (like a 140 IQ person)”

    Nixon was first in his Duke law school class. 140 is a good bet.

    Fussell discusses the pretend college phenomenon in Bad maybe also in Class. He nails it I think. He calls the transformation of business colleges to four years colleges as a means to fish for votes among the not-highest level smarts but socially ambitious crowd. Overnight a bunch of 2 year degree people became college graduates. I get the impression he disliked the students he taught at Rutgers.

    College used to distinguish a very small percent of the population. That distinction had eroded considerably by the end of the 70s when 10 percent of the HS cohort were attending a 4 year. Now were somewhere in the 30% range and the average IQ of graduates has declined commensurately. If you ever find yourself working with the IQ 107-110 graduates of the for-profit college industry with a masters degree and you realize the ‘education’ had no thinking improvement effects and almost no social skills effects, is when you long for a return to the days of Jude the Obscure.

    Curle

    March 29, 2019 at EDT am

    • I didn’t realize that Fussell taught at Rutgers until 1983 when he moved to Penn. I’m sure it was an opportunity for him to observe the difference between prole Rutgers students and upper-middle-class Penn students. (But Class was written while he was at Rutgers.)

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 29, 2019 at EDT am

      • Just look at the better behaved kids of high earning parents being tug around on the Upper East Side and the more rambunctious “prole” kids of Hipster parents being tug around on the Lower East Side often seen playing with NAM kids. This is Manhattan and you get to see the minute behavioral nuances between the White classes. Living in Manhattan as a White person makes you elite relatively comparing to the rest of the country, but still…better educated people with better means are always better.

        Ok, what, who's this again?

        March 29, 2019 at EDT pm

      • Regarding Rutgers, why did a Harvard grad like Obama give a commencement speech at a prole school?

        I could only think of a superiority complex euphoria that one gets by speaking down to proles.

        Ok, what, who's this again?

        March 29, 2019 at EDT pm

      • “Regarding Rutgers, why did a Harvard grad like Obama give a commencement speech at a prole school?”

        Because he’s a politician. People who feel they are to snobby to stand up in front of their lessers and give a speech obviously won’t make it in politics.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        March 29, 2019 at EDT pm

      • Politicians get a good feeling by speaking to their lessers.

        Ok, what, who's this again?

        March 29, 2019 at EDT pm

      • After learning about Fussell and Class on this site or its predecessor I ended up reading Bad, The Great War, Thank God for the Atom Bomb, Doing Battle and his ex-wife’s memoir Kitchen Wars. I recommend them all, particularly Doing Battle which altered the way I view war and WW2. I learned about his Rutgers life from Kitchen Wars, an entertaining memoir.

        Curle

        March 29, 2019 at EDT pm

      • There are still many upper middle class students at a school like Rutgers.

        Jack

        March 30, 2019 at EDT pm

  17. “Liberal Arts” or “Humanities programs should be taken up by PhDs who create learning centers and online schools that are credentialed. This will reduce the Ivory Parasitic Tower’s bloodsucking of money for its administrators and fatty salaries for tenured academics.

    Ok, what, who's this again?

    March 29, 2019 at EDT am

  18. Your idea in an earlier post to start with standardized tests as the only qualification for federal jobs was brilliant. Even if you can’t smash the power of the universities all at once, this would mean that there would always be jobs out there for smart people who didn’t go to college. That begins to break the signaling value of the college degree. Eventually, having a college degree could make it seem like you aren’t smart enough to be confident you could pass the test and get a federal job.

    This could be accomplished with simple legislation. Any state could start with their state employees. A president or governor could try implementing it with an executive order, which would probably fail, but would get people talking about it.

    Blue Tribe Dissident

    March 29, 2019 at EDT pm

  19. Colleges could work just fine if 21 year olds could not get six figure loans for basket weaving majors at expensive colleges.

    Brazilian

    March 30, 2019 at EDT am

  20. 1. Eliminate all federal-government guarantees of student loans. 2. Make all student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy. Problem will then ultimately be solved by the marketplace, after the closure of the vast majority of (purported) tertiary-education facilities.

    tradcon

    March 30, 2019 at EDT pm

    • Banks lending 300k for a NYU Film major or a Sarah Lawrence student would be considered insane to bankers in any other place than the USA. These are loans that clearly wont be repaid. An example of collective insanity.

      Brazilian

      March 30, 2019 at EDT pm

    • Where are the parents when a 19 year old middle class student decides to major in film at Tisch???

      Brazilian

      March 30, 2019 at EDT pm

    • I think the policy way to make federal student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy is for the federal government to stop loaning to individual students and loan the money to colleges and universities, who would then loan out to individual students. THEN, those individual loans could be discharged in a normal bankruptcy although the colleges would still be on the hook to the feds.

      This forces the colleges and universities to be selective about who they loan money to.

      Mike Street Station

      March 31, 2019 at EDT am

    • I completely agree in principle that this would improve things a lot. It has a political problem, which is that it looks like you’re taking something away from the proles and middle class. Rich people would still be able to afford to go to college like they do now.

      also, it doesn’t do anything to address the public bad of education, that it is a positional good that people have to compete for. What would tend to happen is that tuition costs would stabilize at a lower level where it is providing actual value to the student on an individual level. But that would still be quite wasteful from the perspective of the public as a whole.

      Blue Tribe Dissident

      March 31, 2019 at EDT pm


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