The education racket…

Yes, teachers and professors should be paid well, if they are good, but otherwise the system stinks!

By Jack E. Lohman

Our economy depends on education, as bad as it is. College budgets are easily driven up by unjustified salaries and building expansions, and even mandated classes that aren’t needed (my favorite is “liberal arts”).

We need “good” education in the health, manufacturing and technology fields, and we should quit spending money like it’s going out of style (like this $76.8 million athletic shindig at University of Wisconsin-Madison).

Let’s cut to the chase.

College tuition should be zero…

… though perhaps a token repayment on graduation could be fairly finagled. But getting into college should be weighted not by your parent’s wealth, but by the student’s intelligence and entry exams and grades in high school. I want my doctor to be smart first, and if he happens to be also be rich, that’s secondary.

Some kids really want to attend and can’t, and some don’t want to but are pressured to. So we as a nation educate a bunch of disinterested students and exclude kids who would be great.

Oh, that’s socialism???

So what? We should have more of it, at least in certain areas (like health care and education). And we have socialized police and fire and defense and K-8 schooling. Socialized health care and education has worked quite well in Sweden and other countries, though our conflicted politicians tend to avoid successes elsewhere.

Clearly, bureaucrats running education needs some intelligent handling, if that’s at all possible.

For the “people” it is great, but for ideologues and corrupt politicians it sucks. Campaign cash from teacher unions and even CEOs that prefer a dumbed-down work force that must compete with smarter countries paves the way.

So here we have it: *IF* politicians were not on everybody else’s payroll, what decisions would they be making for our country’s best interest? We’ll never correct top 1% greed, but we CAN correct political corruption. Even China has a decent start.

7 Responses to The education racket…

  1. GreggP says:

    Oh come on, Jack…

    I didn’t receive a “liberal arts” degree (mine was engineering related), but i can certainly see the value in one. Most of the people I know that take part in the creative side of product development have a liberal arts degree. At the UW-Madison, the Computer Science, Physics, Biology and Mathematics departments are all under the School of Letters & Science. And I thought everyone getting a degree within L&S was getting a “liberal arts” degree. Here’s an argument for the benefits of a liberal arts education (I’m sure you can find thousands more):

    As far as the $76.8 million athletic shindig – “we” didn’t pay for it, unless we purchased a ticket to an athletic event or provided a donation directly to the athletic department. The UW-Madison Athletic Dept. does not receive any financial support from the State of Wisconsin or the UW System. It is financed entirely from ticket sales and donations from supporters. That includes the building of Athletic Dept. facilities. As for all the other schools in the UW System, their athletics are all funded by the UW System and the State of Wis.

    Other than that… I agree with much of what you said ;-).

    • I’ll give you that in some cases the liberal arts classes are handy, but those don’t need to be taxpayer-paid. And I’m pleased to hear that taxpayers are not picking up the $76M. But is this center needed, and should the school use the dollars more wisely? Like, for reducing tuition?

  2. GreggP says:

    State tax support for UW System schools has dropped dramatically in the last year. I’m sure you know that…

    Maybe an argument could be made for focusing the UW System academics to more vocational oriented programs, but do we really want that? I know many engineering and science (and agriculture) students who felt they really benefited by taking liberal arts courses, which exposed them to literature, art, poetry, music, etc. These experiences made them better engineers and scientists, not to mention more well rounded, creative people.

    As for the athletic facility… As you probably know, there’s a lot of money in Division I football and basketball (and Hockey here at UW-Madison). Winning teams seem to generate the most money, both from ticket sales, and donations. There’s also the revenue from participating in post season tournaments. To field the best teams, you need the top athletes. So you have to appeal to the recruits with a complete package of great coaches, facilities, academic program, etc.

    It would be interesting to speculate on what would happen if money were removed from college athletics. For example, limit coaching and athletic department administrative salaries to an amount closer to an associate professor (I’m guessing around $80-90K). Assistant coaches would be paid considerably less. If overall operating budgets and facility requirements were more modest then maybe donations beyond the needs of athletics could be directed toward academics. I’m referring to a radical decrease in funding for college athletics.

    Another approach would be to pay the athletes who participate in income generating sports and stop pretending that college football, basketball and hockey at the Division I level are amateur sports. Heck, for many of these athletes, their focus is their sport and they dream to play professionally. A football player at UW-Madison, is basically like a minor league athlete without pay. Some will make it to the next level, some not. Maybe they all deserve to get paid something to compensate for their hard work and the risks to injury. Considering how much money is at play with college sports, I think there’s a lot of hypocrisy when it comes to the whole professional vs. amateur debate.

    I’m not sure how the majority of alumni and college sports fans would feel about this. I certainly have mixed feelings (and I’m a former Division I athlete). All the non-income sports, like track and field, swimming and diving, crew, wrestling, most woman’s sports, etc. are currently funded at UW-Madison by the revenue from the income sports and direct donations.

  3. GreggP says:

    I’d be interested in learning what academic disciplines are included at the college/university level in countries that provide free public education for college students. I wonder if that includes liberal arts students.

    Anyhow, I favor extending our public education system from K-12 to K – college. And if that works well, we should consider including students who enroll in graduate programs like medical school.

    • Thanks Gregg. And though your arguments are sound for the preservation of Liberal Arts, my only argument is that they should not be included in the “taxpayer-paid” portion of a socialized education system.