This week in the Huffington Post, Barbara Ehrenreich writes about the lack of value of a college degree. Yes, I know, this is the same Barabara Ehrenreich of Nickel and Dimed and who helped found (with SEIU) United Professionals, a quasi-union in order to help out white collar workers who have been downsized or can't find jobs. Unfortunately, while she talks about college grads in her "manifesto", she apparently believes that Higher Education is "a scam."
Chiding MIT for releasing the Dean of Admissions, Ehrenreich writes:
Can you be fired for doing a great job, year after year, and in fact becoming nationally known for your insight and performance? Yes, as in the case of Marilee Jones, who was the dean of admissions at MIT until her dismissal last week, when it was discovered that she had lied about her academic credentials 28 years ago.
And, the great insight learned from this action is that, "But in the last three decades the percentage of jobs requiring at least some college has doubled, which means that employers are going along with the college racket." She also goes on to say that she believes that most employers want college-educated students for one of two reasons: 1) Because they know how to conform or 2) they are in debt up to their ears and, therefore, become subservient employees unwilling to risk being unemployed.
What is even more depressing is the comments after the article. These are people who read the Huffington Post who are vehemently against colleges and believe them to be a racket as well. One notable post reads:
Nice post. 'Bout time.
My experience with Ivy League is that if you actually used your mind, i.e. challenged the tenured professor and the carefully crafted conclusions (history) then you would receive a grade reduction; regardless of how well argued your case.
I don't care if we launch Free Exchange on Campus, or FACE, or any number of other initiatives. The true NeoCons have done such a good job destroying the American academy with an "employment focused" and "market based" attitude with the complicity of the current American academics who refuse to enter into "political" discussions because it might "taint" their research. If this is what readers of the Huffington Post believe, then we are doomed.
I would also guess that most of them don't know that more and more of our teaching is being done by contingent labor. Employees who can be hired and fired at will, who keep their office hours in their cars, and can't take the time to remember their students' names because they have a thousand of them. Until we are successful at getting the Ehrenreichs and Huffinton Post readers of the world to understand where the American academy has changed, then we are going to be woefully unsuccessful in front of our own legislators.