Education

Colleges or Ruling-Class Collaborators?

Admissions bribery? The real problem with higher education is far deeper than that.

Arnold Ahlert · Mar. 18, 2019

“Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits.” —Angelo Codevilla, “America’s Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution,” 2010

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.” —Hillary Clinton, 2016

“In the largest known college admissions scandal in U.S. history, federal prosecutors on Tuesday said a California company made about $25 million by charging parents to secure spots for their children in elite schools, including Georgetown, Stanford and Yale, by cheating the admissions process.” —Reuters, March 14, 2019

Two words in Reuters’ description of the Operation Varsity Blues criminal probe stand out: “known” and “scandal.” Americans have long known that virtually the entire college admissions process is a sham. There have always been positions reserved for children of previous graduates, those who shower their alma maters with generous donations, the athletically gifted who also generate millions of dollars in revenue, and a number of other less-qualified students whose racial or sexual orientation is trumpeted as a university’s commitment to “diversity.” What makes this current endeavor undertaken by CEOs, Hollywood stars, and Wall Street millionaires a scandal is the likelihood that these ruling-class mandarins are as upset with being singled out as they are with being caught.

After all, as columnist (and Yale graduate) Kyle Smith asserts, “Let’s not think of Felicity Huffman et al. as unusual. Everybody with the means to steer their kids into top-drawer colleges is thinking about how to game the system. This is because an elite-college degree isn’t an instrument or a tool; it doesn’t have to lead to anything. It’s a status symbol in itself. Yale is Louis Vuitton is Piaget is Mercedes.”

No, Mr. Smith, not everyone with means is trying to game the system. There are millions of decent Americans who play by the rules, and don’t succumb to the siren song of ill-gotten status symbols.

Moreover, the biggest takeaway from this exposé isn’t that ruling-class members have been revealed for the status-mongers they’ve always been. It’s that those who run America’s universities — universities teeming with grade inflation, worthless majors, and tuition costs that have skyrocketed to the point where student loan debt is now $1.56 trillion — have been exposed for who they truly are: morally bankrupt elitists, enabling a morally bankrupt, self-perpetuating elitist system.

“These institutions of higher learning have spent the last several decades promulgating complicated and specious theories about inherited guilt and privilege on the basis of immutable characteristics such as gender and ethnicity, all the while fueling themselves on the real privilege of wealth and celebrity,” writes columnist Ed Morrissey. “If that’s not a blatant corruption of their core mission to educate, then nothing can be called corrupt.”

Is education still their core mission? “Since the 1970s, it has been virtually impossible to flunk out of American colleges,” Codevilla explains. “And it is an open secret that ‘the best’ colleges require the least work and give out the highest grade point averages. No, our ruling class recruits and renews itself not through meritocracy but rather by taking into itself people whose most prominent feature is their commitment to fit in.”

Genuine education is about the dissemination of core principles vital to the understanding and preservation of our constitutional republic, the free and open exchange of competing ideas, and learning how, not what, to think.

Fitting in is all about kowtowing to the prevailing ideology. Since the 1970s, the number of college administrators has soared by 369%, and if Americans don’t quite understand the implications, a story about Harvard Business School is indicative: They’ve hired an Associate Director for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging “to improve the environment surrounding equity and inclusion at the school,” according to the Harvard Crimson.

Equity and inclusion? Ideological enforcement is more like it.

Besides, given that particular school’s record with Asian students, that position isn’t working as advertised.

Such contemptible nonsense is only part of the picture. In 2013, the Obama administration proposed a ratings system whereby colleges would be required to reveal student graduation rates, the level of debt they’ve accumulated and what they earn after graduating. The idea was aimed at finding out if colleges — some with costs exceeding $60,000 per year — were worth the money. “The college presidents were appalled,” The New York Times reported, citing a number of college officials who believed the effort was “uncharacteristically clueless,” “quite wrongheaded,” or “oversimplified to the point that it actually misleads.”

Many things are misleading. Transparency and accountability are not.

Columnist Heather Mac Donald also champions transparency, asserting that universities “should adopt a transparent, purely merit-based admissions system based on quantified tests of academic preparedness.”

Unfortunately, it may be little more than rearranging Titanic deck chairs.

That’s because the real problem is that while universities perpetuate an odious ruling class status quo utterly inimical to millions of Americans, those same Americans have been thoroughly conditioned to believe their children are doomed without a college degree, because college graduates earn more than those with a high-school education.

Yet where do the proverbial lines cross? Higher earnings require specific majors and often more advanced degrees — which feed the massive student debt load that seriously impedes graduates’ ability to own homes and start a business and/or family. Non-graduates? Approximately 40% of students do not graduate within six years — and have the debt without the higher wages to mitigate it.

In the meantime, colleges can raise costs with impunity, because all student-loan defaults are ultimately borne by taxpayers. Thus, the contemptible status quo perseveres. One in which ordinary American are viewed by the self-professed “best and brightest” as “retrograde, racist, and dysfunctional unless properly constrained,” as Codevilla puts it.

In 2016, “unconstrained,” “deplorable” Americans elected a non-politician to the Oval Office. The elitist backlash has been tremendous, led by the very same ruling class as desperate to preserve their political status quo as the educational one that perpetuates it.

And why not? The Left has always sought power by any means necessary. But the American Right enabled them when they unconditionally surrendered America’s entire education system to the leftist/elitist agenda. And now, 50 years later, legions of socialist/Marxist foot soldiers produced by that surrender sense their Liberty-crushing “moment” is at hand.

Fix colleges? Better to render them as irrelevant as possible. Compete against them with wholly accountable institutions for millions of students who prefer developing skill sets to polishing social justice warrior résumés. Less expensive institutions, unburdened by the administrative dead weight colleges have embraced.

A heavy lift? Undoubtedly. But the status quo of ongoing cultural degradation, crushing debt, and contempt for national sovereignty that defines the elitist agenda — along with the cultivated polarization used to maintain it — is unsustainable.

Education is the ultimate battleground for the nation’s soul. And it’s time the American Right deprived the leftist-dominated elitist class of their ideological fiefdoms, disguised as institutions of higher learning.

The nation’s survival depends on it.

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