Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Pasquale: The New York Times’ Curious War On Traditional Higher Education

Frank Pasquale (Maryland), The New York Times’ Curious War on Traditional Higher Education:

It’s a strange position for America’s “paper of record” to take. Despite its largely traditionally-college-educated readership, the New York Times is constantly publishing articles attacking the value of university degrees. Tom Friedman dismisses them as expensive merit “badges” oft-unrelated to the exact qualifications needed for jobs. The ubiquitous Tyler Cowen blasts ed sector costs and inefficiencies, despite international acclaim for US universities. The author of The End of College has had a high-profile platform at the Times‘s Upshot blog.

All three men tend to characterize traditional college degrees as mere signals, barely (if at all) related to the actual skills, habits, and qualities of mind and character that lead to successful, fulfilling lives. I’ve never seen them grapple with the extensive empirical literature on why education increases earnings. Nor do they tend to respond much to the hard data that their colleague David Leonhardt provides on the costs and benefits of college.

Sadly, there’s just too much money in education disruption narratives for the Times‘s most prominent writers to give up on them.

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), Unpacking "Over-Education" Claims

Legal Education | Permalink


Maybe those at the NY Times aren't a stupid as you're suggesting. Get others not to go to college, particularly not to the elite ones, and more advantages lie with those who do, meaning themselves and their children.

It's the same reason I suspect that the multi-generation 'old money' privileged want universities to keep out highly qualified Asians and admit far less qualified other minorities. Fewer Asians mean less competition in the job market for their kids. More of those less qualified other minorities, means less competition in the later job market for their kids.

And the clincher is that, given that sort of mindset, it's all the better if those other minorities get useless ethnic studies degrees or don't graduate at all. That explains the lack of alarm over those other minorities not benefiting from their admission.

Put another way, those inequalities and their many failings are features not bugs.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Jun 17, 2015 12:59:43 PM