The Day – The devaluation of public education has become state policy


From Connecticut and Washington last month, stronger signs emerged that higher education is not worth the expense for many students.

The Connecticut Colleges and Universities System announced that it had just awarded an additional $ 3.6 million to 2,400 community college students to help cover tuition fees, which were broadly defined to include food, shelter and childcare. An additional $ 21 million has already been awarded to students deemed to be in financial difficulty. Federal emergency financial assistance is paying for it.

And President Biden extended his federal student loan repayment freeze until May.

Biden and state college system chairman Terrence Cheng attributed the actions to the hardship caused by the virus outbreak. But it was misleading.

For college loans, debt has been a serious problem for a long time, as many college graduates cannot find jobs paying enough to support themselves in a normal life and pay off their debt.

Likewise, even before the outbreak, the state college system suffered from an alarming drop in enrollment, perhaps because parents and students alike realized that even the cheap education offered by community colleges and regional universities was not always good value for money.

There is now a severe labor shortage in Connecticut and across the country, as millions of people appear to have given up working – or at least given up formally working and paying taxes. Jobs will beg. Many require skills that can be acquired without a college degree or learned on the job.

This does not mean that higher education is unnecessary, but that it is too expensive and that college loans and grants like those given in Connecticut last week are less of a grant to students than to education’s own employees. superior. The constant increase in the cost of higher education is strongly correlated with the increase in the remuneration of college staff and the growth of administrative staff.

Connecticut public college administrators get paid dramatically, and last week, even as CSCU president Cheng bemoaned what he saw as the financial strain on community college students, he declined to suggest d ‘save with his annual salary of $ 360,000.

But then all public education, not just public higher education, has long since become slack, corrupted by prosperity and forgetting that prosperity is not the natural order of things but something that must be constantly earned.

Connecticut is a telling example, with its elementary education long ago eliminating standards of promotion from one grade to the next and embracing social advancement instead.

The system knows very well what it has done. It minimized the annual testing of students from kindergarten to high school and does not provide any measure of student performance after graduation. Instead, the final performance measures are the academic aptitude tests given to all grade one students in high school.

The rationale offered for this is efficiency and to encourage all students to consider university. But the SATs do not provide any measure of academic proficiency at graduation. The last time Connecticut high school students were tested for their skills was in 2013 by the National Educational Progress Assessment. While Connecticut seniors have performed best in the country, half still had no English in high school and two-thirds still lacked math in high school. Recent SAT scores from junior years suggest the same.

Despite this lack of student qualifications, Connecticut is working hard to send everyone to college. Until a few years ago, most freshmen at community colleges and state universities were required to take remedial classes in high school, but the embarrassment of this resulted in the classes being replaced by courses. advice.

Thus, public education has devalued down the path of a simple diploma, providing incentives for failure, not success. If it aimed more at education than at the contentment of employees, parents and students, it would guarantee university admission only to students who mastered high school work. But the system doesn’t want data like that.

So, having abandoned mainstream education, Connecticut’s public schools are dealing with racial propaganda and “social and emotional learning,” for which there will never be troublesome performance measures.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.


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