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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Greed At School

On today's show (I was driving down to Hanscom AFB) Rush Limbaugh was talking about "the greed of big education".  He noted that 36 University Presidents are making a million dollars or more each year.  This fits in with an early morning [Lowell] Sun headline on former UMass President Jack Wilson receiving $425Gs while on a year long sabbatical.

People are talking about the education bubble, like they used to talk about the tulip bubble or the housing bubble.  Experience shows that all bubbles burst.  Here is one commentAnd another.

As Rush asks, where is OWS on this?  And the Democrats?

At least people of a certain age can still get Continuing Educations Courses at UMass Lowell for $30, plus books—as long as the class isn't on-line.  A "color of money" issue.  I mentioned this "color of money" dodge to the Chancellor one Sunday morning.  That was right before he moved to Andover.  I haven't seen him in the neighborhood since.

Regards  —  Cliff


Anonymous said...

It is all about rewards and power politics......and you get more of what you reward. The argument for paying BIG money to presidents of BIG universities is that their range of responsibility is great because of the size and diversity of their organization. Same argument posed by Big Corporations for the salaries paid out to the Big C's in each; CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, etc..

But I also find it wryly interesting that the folks who manage and AF Wing, or numbered AF, or even a MAJCOM get paid far less than most mid size corporate leaders....let alone the biggies. And yet, the range and depth of responsibility for a Wing Commander exceeds that of their so-called civilian counterparts by a quantum leap.

Oh. I forgot. AF leaders are performing "public service" and their reward is knowing that they have served their country. Not quite as important as running BoA, Lockheed Martin, UMass, MBTA, or the like. And FAR LESS important than being a member of the House of Representatives or a Senator.

I say "important" because the whole argument for Big Money salaries is the equation to the importance of the position. Less salary.....less importance.

Gee...I guess defense of our country isn't THAT important.

Jack Mitchell said...

I only loosely associate you with the right wingnuttery that I see swirling the bowl. Mostly, I consider your interest in the bogus memes and narratives as an intellectual exercise, as if you are testing them for soundness. One thing that is consistent in your view, has been this challenge to the educational paradigm. It manifests itself primarily in your ribbing of the Ivy League Schools, as you champion the bona fides of the Land Grant Schools.

It's all good, imo.

This diary is in keeping in your discontent with what you loosely label as the 'Educational Industrial Complex.' But, I have to throw a flag on the play. here were have Pater Freestater, NH House Speaker Bill O'Brien:
"Not only does throwing more and more taxpayer money at funding college education cause more problems than it solves, it inaccurately signals that college attendance is the only route for success in life,"

I don’t believe in a ‘one size fits all’ in preparing our young Americans to become vibrant elements in our economy. The community colleges, military, trade apprenticeship & technical colleges are just fine for many, as they grow. And we, as Americans should consider funding these ‘alternatives.’ My concern is in the tone, in superposition, with a modern day Republican penchant for ‘know nothingness.’ A trend that is so alarming, that Bully O’Brien’s assertion can be plausibly viewed as a giant scoff, ”You don’t need no stinkin’ college!” Like it is so much, quiche.

Add in the constant whining about how higher education is a bastion of liberal group think by overwhelmed conservatives and you'll find a crumb trail pointing towards mass ignorance. (The Southern faith based folks will have no problemo with kids not learning the teachings of that Darwin heretic.)

This is a dangerous trend.

Anonymous said...

You lost validity by pointing to a politician of any stripe. Politicians are by their very nature out of touch ideologues and elitists who are convinced that everything they say is anointed word from on high. OBrien is no better or no worse than his Democratic predecessor....and will not be any better in whoever pays their way into the job down the road.

The issues are real.....but the solutions aren't. As I said, its about rewarding things...and you get more of what you reward. It would be incredibly interesting to know the political affiliations of the top 20 university presidents and the top 100 corporation CEO's. They are the ones who "fight to continue the dream."

I agree with the statement Obrien makes. College isn't for everyone....and shouldn't be. It is a waste of resources and encourages the "teaching" of subject matter than has little to do with anything practical. The most useless degree and most massive waste of money in America is the liberal arts degree.

As one who has taught at the university level, I can assure you that what was once principled and ultimately useful has been dumbed down today to make it more "marketable" and "understandable" such that even the technical degrees are of marginal utility in the real world.

Jack Mitchell said...

"The most useless degree and most massive waste of money in America is the liberal arts degree."

How "1984." Let's make human widgets!

C R Krieger said...

Actually, I thought the most useless, after an MBA from that college in the south end of the County, was a marketing degrees, at least based on the number of waitstaff I have encountered with said degree.

Jack is correct about the idea that we all could benefit from some liberal arts classes—English, history, sociology, philosophy, economics (but not too much sociology).

The NH speaker is on to something, but his articulation and execution leave a lot to be desired.  The cost of education has gone up much faster than the general rate of inflation.  Actual teaching folks make up only half the staff, an unfortunate ratio.  Only the Army has a worse tooth to tail ratio.

Cutting the education budget without a plan is bad government.  Mr O'Brien seems to think that thinking is someone else's job.

We do need to put more value on skills that are more manual, more "hands on" so to speak.  But, your average plumber would benefit from a literature course or a history course, just like the rest of us.

Regards  —  Cliff