Today they announced the Rhodes scholarships. I always peruse these since one of my close friends in undergrad, Peter Bednekoff, was a Rhodes scholar and got his DPhil. I’ll never forget when our Rhodes recruiter faculty member did a very short interview with me….”Oh, you’re married? Not eligible.” I wouldn’t have been selected anyway. The vast majority of those who are come from a handful of elite private universities. And, Tulsa was one of the rare local/regional liberal arts colleges to field someone who made it. Fewer still are Rhodes scholars who came from State universities, and almost none have come from regional state universities like my own humble school (though there is one from Youngstown State this year).
Excellence is what the super rich want to keep the middle classes and even lower upper classes from attaining. They want to make sure that elite education is only available for their own children, and want to make sure that their spawn don’t have to compete with dirty immigrants, the children of schoolteachers, and other people of low station. People forget that there was no semblence of meritocracy until the late 1970s. Before then, you got into Harvard or Princeton or Yale based on your family ties. Sure, you had to graduate from a “prestigious” high school. But you could have damn near failed out like W Bush and they’d still take you. Now, schools have to justify their admissions, and pools of applicants are teaming with honest to fuck smart kids.
No worries. As long as you make sure little rich Buffy and Miff are at least adequate—1200 SAT or whatever that amounts to these days with the new bullshit scoring—the “elite” universities will simply price out the middle and lower-upper class competition! They’ve simply raised tuition to levels where even highly compensated parents will encourage little Hillary to go to Bullshit State instead of Stanford.
A local acquaintance of mine exemplifies this perfectly. Both parents have stable professional jobs giving them over $200k income per year. Their smart kid got into Northwestern or Wash U or Duke. Because of their income, they didn’t get squat for financial aid, and since they’ve been “keeping up with the Joneses” they don’t have much savings—not that you can fault someone for not having a quarter million dollars stashed away for each of your three kids or something……End result, of course, the kid goes to Bullshit State. As long as BSU remains ok, she may do just fine. Maybe even just as fine as if she had gone to Duke….but probably not. And, of course, she’ll never marry some person from a wealthy family who she met in college.
One of the most disturbing things about contemporary politics is the lack of focus on what higher education should be. It isn’t job training. It isn’t just a credential. It should be education. That goes without saying for the elite. They do not have adjuncts (well, there is the “College of Fellows” but those people are top PhD’s from top universities who want to hang in Boston). They are encouraged to learn and to study broadly across a range of academic fields, and none of those fields are going to be eliminated or truncated or only staffed by an adjunct with minimal qualifications. But, downstream, nothing is bad enough. No, the Plebians can have MOOC courses and take all of their exams online with no quality control on content, no professors in charge, no interactions in the classroom, and no discernment as to whether students have even done the work they supposedly turned in. That this model has been an abject failure in the for-profit education sector does not seem to have curbed the enthusiasm of politicians and university administrators.
Hillary Clinton recently opined that she didn’t think that taxpayers should pay for Donald Trump’s daughter to go to college (we aren’t, she doesn’t….). But, yes, we should. Hillary’s self-righteous indignation reveals her elitist orientation–she thinks that real education should just be for the rich, and that they should pay for it privately. If you can’t afford Yale, you shouldn’t go. If you can afford Yale, your kid shouldn’t be at Iowa. But that is bullshit. If Trump’s kid can get into college it should be free, and she should have to compete with everyone else for which university she is allowed to attend. No quotas limiting poor kids or what amount to academic poll taxes–which make middle class and even lower upper class people discourage their children from attending elite universities because they can’t afford the exorbitant tuition.
As someone who has worked in education for nearly 30 years, I’m deeply troubled that the supposedly liberal “front-runner” Hillary Clinton is completely on board with the corporatist model of “education reform” which basically turns our public institutions into for-profit pig farms for asshole sleazebags who suck off the tit of the state. Hillary’s husband has even taken $16.5 million in the last few years from one of the for-profit parasitic “education” firms he’s hooked up with. According the Bloomberg:
“In 2014, Bill Clinton made $9 million off of paid speeches and $6.4 million in consulting fees. Of that, $4.3 million came from Laureate (a parasitic education for-profit) and another $2.1 million from GEMS Education, a Dubai-based company that runs preschool and K-12 programs (an even worse parasitic for-profit). He made less from those two gigs in previous years – $5.6 million in 2013 and $4.7 million in 2012. In 2011, the former president was paid $2.5 million by Laureate, $500,000 by GEMS and $100,000 by Teneo Holdings, a firm co-founded by former Clinton aide Doug Band.”
The real reason why Hillary hates public education (which she has never used) is that she truly believes that real education is for the rich, and that the poor folk should have job training and telecourses from a junior college. If you can’t afford Wellesley, then you are not a Wellesley woman. Here, have some MOOC cake….