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December 27, 2019 at 7:39 am

Review of Vedder’s Book: ‘Current System Exacerbates Cultural Divide’

Dr. Richard Vedder, portrait

Dr. Richard Vedder

Max Eden of the Manhattan Institute reviews Restoring the Promise: Higher Education in America by Dr. Richard Vedder, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics at Ohio University, in a Claremont Review of Books article headlined “Not Worth It.”

Book cover for Restoring the Promise: Higher Education in AmericaHigher education is perhaps the most regressive government redistribution, providing a benefit primarily to those with the strongest economic prospects. Ever-expanding federal tuition assistance has not increased the share of graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds and, by driving up the sticker price, has almost certainly dissuaded many from even applying. For every $100 in their endowments, colleges dedicate less than $0.67 to lowering tuition for disadvantaged students. Room and board costs have nearly doubled after inflation, undoubtedly in part because students are captive consumers.

Our current system exacerbates the cultural divide: not only do the highly educated increasingly mix only with themselves, but all the while they insist that a bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite for first-class citizenship, reinforcing their privilege even as they bemoan all forms of oppression.

Vedder also recommends that instituting a National Collegiate Exit Exam could provide a better signal to employers about what a student actually knows, and could also serve as a college analogue to a GED, allowing students to demonstrate their knowledge and skill without necessarily having to spend four years accumulating credit hours. No doubt the Left would object that such a test would have a disparate racial impact. But so does the current system—and at far greater cost: barely more than one in five African-American students graduate in four years. As the American Enterprise Institute’s Frederick M. Hess and Grant Addison have suggested in their essay “Busting the College-Industrial Complex,” published earlier this year in National Affairs, employers should be sued under Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971) for the racially disparate impact of requiring a college degree where none is truly needed.

Read the entire review at Claremont Review of Books.

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