Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why Remedial Students Should Leave College

By Professor Doom

A new year begins, and that means a new semester begins. As always an avalanche of new students comes onto campus, and is funneled into remedial courses. So, again, I’ll write an essay, hoping against hope that the one pebble I toss will actually affect the avalanche.

Now, I’ve already addressed that remedial students should just leave college. More than that, I’ve said that such students should just read the books and study on their own, rather than pay full college price for sub-college material.

“But that’s not fair to the students that had sucky schools and sucky teachers!” cries those in defense of remedial students. There’s truth to this, but, alas, the current situation isn’t fair, and it won’t be fair any time soon.

 For thousands of years, the primary, best, way for a human being to learn a skill has been to stand next to a knowledgeable human being and pay attention while the knowledgeable demonstrate the skill. Personal attention is the best way to learn something new. It would be fair for those in bad situations to get the best possible choice for education.

The best choice is just not an option in higher education. I wish it were, because when I tutor 1 on 1, I often make real progress with a student (for much less than college tuition, and for more money for myself; it’s a real sign how broken the system is that both student and teacher are better off if there’s no school involved). A distant, but still viable, second to learning from another human being is to learn from a book. I know, it’s hard to learn from a book, but ultimately in higher education, learning from books is how it’s done.

Is it unfair for our weakest students to learn the second-best way? Absolutely.  Nevertheless, this is the only way that makes sense right now. Here are some numbers to reinforce why in higher education today, the best choice for a remedial student is to open up the book on his own time, and study:


This number represents the typical amount of experience your remedial teacher will have, if you go to university. See, administrators have figured out the easy way to increase their own salaries is to cut costs by forcing incoming graduate students to teach these courses. English is often not the first language of new graduate students, and they have little experience teaching the material they haven’t seen in ten years, anyway. You might as well read the book.


This number represents the amount of actual mathematics knowledge your teacher will have, if you go to community college. See, in community college, administrators hire Education majors to teach; even a Math Education major might not have taken a math course since the 10th grade. The only thing these guys know how to do is go very, very, slow, and eliminate as much course material as possible. You won’t be prepared for college courses this way, and if you don’t read the book and learn on your own, you’ll be destroyed when you get to any real college courses.


This is the number of hours you might be forced to spend alone at the computer every week. The most successful program for teaching remedial students makes them go and sit in front of a computer, which tracks how much time the student spends studying like this. To pass the course, the student must spend three hours a week practicing, to the satisfaction of the computer. You’re paying real money to have a computer stare at you while you study? Just read the book, honest, there’s no reason to shovel thousands of bucks into tuition for this.


This is the enrollment for an entry-level mathematics course, one section, at a nearby university. Yes, 200 students in a class. Hey, you can only cut pay so much, past that you double the class size…then double it again…then double it again. If each student requires 5 minutes a week of effort by the teacher, that’s about 16 hours a week. That doesn’t sound bad? Well, faculty teach four courses at a time, and there’s more to it than just answering questions…you may as well read the book on your own time, because there’s just no reason to expect even 5 minutes a week of personal attention.


This is very high end pay that an adjunct might receive for teaching an entry level course. Isn’t it bizarre that tuition skyrockets every year when overhead is so minimal?  An adjunct could literally be in a course with two hundred students, representing a quarter of a million dollars of tuition, and only get a couple thousand bucks for it, no benefits or anything else. In much the way that people should avoid buying products from those brutal Asian clothing mills, a remedial student really should just crack open the book instead of support borderline slave labor.


This is the chance a remedial student will manage to get a 2 year degree, even if he’s allowed 3 years to get it. Sure, it happens, but ultimately the very few who succeed are those that are able to read a book all alone. Why wait 3 years to figure that out? Find out now if you can read a book all by yourself…if you can’t, college isn’t for you.

“…a course whose purpose was to teach teachers how to teach mathematics using teaching kits that made it possible to teach math without actually knowing it. My suggestion that they should teach the prospective teachers math was voted down,…”

Another faculty member trying to slow down what’s going on in education. Seriously, why would anyone pay for this?

For the most part, I’m preaching to the choir with these essays. The bulk of college students are remedial students, and will never come here and read the truth of what’s going on in higher education, will never realize how screwed they are until they’re deep in debt. All they know is what the college administrators tell them—“take our courses and then you’ll get piles of moolah for a magic rainbow job.”

That’s a shame, because the numbers make it very clear that, at the bare minimum, a remedial student would do himself far more good by reading the course textbook on his own time, rather than signing up for stupid expensive oversize classes led by an inexperienced teacher, possibly one with very limited knowledge.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Worst of Diversity

By Professor Doom

     It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and I’m just not up for listing more of the obvious fixes to higher education that are necessary. It’s the time of year for stories.

     When I first decided to go into academia, decades ago, I was warned by the knowledgeable to be wary of PC (“What’s that?” I asked, being so ignorant, and this was well before "PC" stood for “personal computer”). Political correctness was establishing a stranglehold on campuses, and I was told not to get in the way. It was fairly good advice, although truth be told, most of it was just run-of-the-mill idiocy, which is why I’ve avoided talking about it in the blog. One has to pick battles, after all, and amidst the quintessential fraud and corruption that defines higher education today, simple idiocy just isn’t worth the effort.

     That said, it’s the time of year for stories, and so allow me to share my worst experience with the consequences political correctness. While it is the worst, it was a mere two years ago (almost to the day), so I make no assertion that this comes from a relatively ignorant past, even as I make apologies for it being the absolute worst I can come up with (the second worst isn’t too far distant, however), and so one shouldn’t take this as typical diversity sludge.

     The faculty were gathered, as it was so often the case, for a mandatory meeting, for a Diversity Training workshop. The speaker was highly esteemed, being a head of some diversity-type department (I’ll avoid naming names here), from some place up north, with over 20 years in diversity-type education, and, of course, a Ph. D. (in the subject of African History, if I recall correctly).

    He began his talk with a question:

“When were there no more European Wars in North America?”

     I’m no historian, but I responded with a cautious “1776”, supposing that with the Declaration of Independence, it would be problematic to define the wars in North America as “European.” I was wrong, and he was quick to inform me:

“No. There were never any wars between the European powers in North America.”

    I really feel that in a room full of educated people, this sort of claim would cause a small riot, if not laughter at the very least. Believing I misunderstood, I responded “Not even between France and England?” Again, my claim was wrong, although I sure seemed to remember an altercation or two.

“France and England didn’t have any wars in North America. Do you know why? Because they united to keep the black man down.”

     One faculty responded with a feeble “I don’t agree,” but I felt the need to inform the supposedly knowledgeable speaker that George Washington’s early military career was working for the British, against the French—I’m no historian, but I know a little (and, apparently, more than the many Educationists I was working with). The esteemed speaker would have none of it, merely repeating himself with emphasis:

“France and England didn’t have any wars in North America because when they got here, they united to keep the black man down. This was how they solved the problems of war, and managed to not bring the European wars to the New World.”

     While through experience I’ve learned not to pay much attention to Diversity nonsense, I actually took a whole page of notes of his gibberish—the mind has a hard time remembering gibberish with precision, and I wanted to be sure that I recalled what he said in detail. For the most part, his grasp of history was simply demented, but I trust the above gives the basic gist of it. His talk wandered, however, to the topic of education in America, and he loudly proclaimed:

 “The US Education system is the best in the world,”

     Again, I was confused at what he could possibly mean, since there is no positive standard by which the US students come out ahead, relative to basically anywhere else in the industrialized world. He explained further:

“It is the best because we have 36,000 institutions.”

     Naturally, I asked him if by “best” he meant “largest”, but nope, he honestly thought the US system is superior to the rest of the world, because size means greatness. This at least explained why he managed to achieve high rank, since administrators also believe “quality” and “size” are equal concepts. The rest of his speech on this topic was the usual “vision for excellence” pablum that make Educationists and fools nod their heads in agreement, so I was fanned by nodding heads for a while.

      At long last, he came to talking about diversity, but it was still mostly the victim-speak that isn’t particularly helpful. He then quoted someone-or-other….

     “Diversity without equity is meaningless.”

     I started paying attention again, since this is actually a relevant truth: equity, fairness, is the important thing. Not diversity. Apparently someone told him it was an important quote, but he didn’t understand it:

     “[The quote] means the most important thing the US needs is diversity at all levels.”

     All I could do was write down; if I didn’t have it written down in my own hand, I wouldn’t believe anyone could have such confusion of ideas. This alleged scholar then wandered back to history:

    “Memphis, in North Africa, is the oldest city in the world,” 

     I again foolishly chose to interrupt him, to mention that Sumeria predates Memphis by 1,000 years. Now, I’ll grant archeologists probably have a few things wrong, and I’ve an open mind to alternative interpretations of historical evidence…but there was no evidence provided, he simply repeated himself, doubling down with, and I’m going to break this next quote down into pieces because it’s such a train wreck:

  “When Alexander the Great captured Alexandria,”

     Again, I’m no historian, but I know a thing or two. Alexander the Great was a bit of a megalomaniac, and named many cities after himself…he did this naming after he did the conquering, of course. So, I was confused when the esteemed department head said this. Again the historical evidence says Alexandria wasn’t much before Alexander came there, but this scholar had more to say…

   “When Alexander the Great captured Alexandria, it was called Memphis at the time,”

     This, of course, added more momentary confusion, since “the” Alexandria is located some distance from Memphis. Memphis, incidentally, was something of a holy city in its day, and you really, really, can’t move holy ground (not to mention, the stone temples are really tough to move). But the train wreck continues:

     “When Alexander the Great captured Alexandria, it was called Memphis at the time, he found the Great Library there,”

     Again, the historical evidence makes it pretty clear the Great Library was founded after the city (and likely, well after Alexander’s death)…historians can be wrong, but a claim like this requires evidence, and none beyond confident bluster was provided. I again point out I was very lonely in what was supposed to be a room full of scholars. The train wreck continued:

     “When Alexander the Great captured Alexandria, it was called Memphis at the time, he found the Great Library there, and took the knowledge back to Greece, to form the foundations of Western Civilization.”

    I was in the front row, with what I’m certain was a look of bewildered confusion on my face. I looked around the room, to see mostly nods of agreement. There’s considerable evidence that the Great Library sought texts FROM Greece, rather than the other way around.

    Now that he finished the train wreck, I paused from my copying it down. Again, I called him on what he said, making certain that he really was claiming Alexander the Great captured Alexandria. Yes, that’s what he meant, and he doubled down again by repeating Alexandria used to be called Memphis. Truly, he was impervious to input.

     After he gave his “lesson” on history, he asked us:
 “How many of you were familiar with this chronology?” 

    Nobody indicated familiarity, which under the circumstances, was understandable. I had to admit, I wasn’t, but I’m also not intimately familiar with other fictional timelines, like the Star Wars or Lord of the Rings histories, either. Again, he provided no evidence; one other faculty asked if there was a book on this, which the scholar cited. To my own shame, I haven’t tracked down the book so I could see with my own eyes that this sort of stuff is passed off as fact.

     The speaker then wandered back into victim-speak, spewing just pure silliness. For what it’s worth, my ancestry doesn’t go anywhere near Sumeria and not much near Greece (but I’m quite willing to accept that the evidence says Plato was from Greece, not Memphis, and that the wheel came from Sumeria, again not Memphis)…my own ancestors were likely conquered and enslaved by the ancient Romans. Stuff happens. By the time the speaker finished up with:

 “Hitler only persecuted the Jews because there were no black people in Germany,”

      I was covering my mouth with both hands, and yes, I was sitting in the front row. There was no reason to point out that Hitler wrote a well known book on the subject, listing his issues. Again, I admit ignorance of much of the book, but I’m pretty sure “skin not dark enough” wasn’t one of his problems with Jews (to be clear, I’m simply addressing contents, or lack therof). Perhaps I’m wrong on this, however.

      Still, it really highlights how little control faculty, real scholars, have over higher education, that someone could spout such unsubstantiated and highly questionable “information” and become head of a department with a successful career in academia. I’m all for overthrowing invalid orthodoxy…but I feel it should be done in a more civilized way than simply shouting down and ignoring other points of view.

     After the talk, one of the more spineless of the sycophants rushed up to shake the speaker's hand.

     For the most part in my blog, I’ve focused on what the corruption of higher education has done to mathematics, and so I include this story both to amuse, and to remind the gentle reader, that the entirety of the system has been devastated. It took nearly thirty years, but I still feel it can be fixed in far less time. I feel the need to point out: the cost for learning this diversity stuff in a college classroom is the same as the cost for learning about advanced calculus, or chemistry, or sexual deviancy. I also want to point out that I was warned for my lack of collegiality during this talk (but keeping my mouth shut was so hard, I really admire the lack of fortitude of my associates in being able to nod their heads in agreement to this stuff).

     Happy holidays, all.

(sorry, having a devil of a time getting the computer to accept spacing between paragraphs)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Sorry about the slowdown, wayyyy too much going on at home to get any writing done. But, next post will be a treat, discussing the worst diversity training I was exposed to.

Best wishes to all!

Friday, December 20, 2013

End the Remedial Education Scam


By Professor Doom



Student: “I didn’t do the homework because I don’t have the book. The loan checks haven’t come in yet.”

Me: “No problem. Take out your phone, and take a picture of the relevant pages from my textbook.”

--I often get students so unwilling to risk anything on their education that they won’t buy the textbook until they get the money for it handed to them first. It’s possible they just don’t have the money, but they commonly have the money for very expensive cell phones and service, not to mention cars and insurance. These complaints can go on for weeks into the semester, until the checks arrive. Then the complaints, and some of my students, disappear. Admin gets their cut first, so doesn’t really care, as long as they don’t have to field complaints from uppity faculty trying to do an honest job.


     So last time I gave the primary reason for no longer giving college loan money for remedial students: college loans should be for college work. That’s probably not obvious enough for college administration, so allow me to present other reasons we need to stop this.

     Remedial coursework is something that most every college-age student has already seen, and ignored, half a dozen times or more in public school. Having already demonstrated an unwillingness to learn the material, the burden should be on the student to show he’s had a change of heart. This is also material that has already been paid for, at great expense, in the secondary (and often primary) school system through taxes. There’s no reason the taxpayers need to pay for it twice or more accurately “half a dozen plus one” times, in the case of students that failed to learn in the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades before going on to college. This material is what a child can learn with a little help, and an adult not wanting to pay for coursework can easily go to the library and read, if he was serious, or go to private tutoring services if he needs to. A serious student without a learning disability can usually pick up this material in a matter of weeks, not months, while a non-serious student will never do so, despite the passing grade administration forces faculty to give them. The learning disabled shouldn’t be afflicted with a lifetime of debt in any event.


     “I dropped out of college with $10,000 in loans. I haven’t been able to make but a few payments in the last ten years. Now I owe almost $30,000. Even if I start making payments, which I can’t, it’ll take another ten years to pay it off. I have to go back to college, get a degree and get me a good job. I’ll pass developmental math this time. I have to.”

--A student does the math. Almost. PT Barnum was amazed at the number of people, after being tricked by The Great Egress sign, would pay admission AGAIN just to come back in and complain to him about it. Some percentage of them probably got fooled by The Great Egress sign again on their way out.


     Finally, this material isn’t “higher” education, and so it’s very questionable that a student should be charged as much for it as for any college course. Unfortunately, a loan makes the price much more than just the base cost. If the course is paid for via loan money, the student is actually paying more like three times as much over the decades it takes to pay it back, for material that should be cheaper to learn. Again, integrity is an issue here. It’s simply wrong to do this to those least able to understand how they’re being triple-charged on an already inflated price.

      College administrators will screech how this would be denying those most in need of improvement, but the intellectual honesty of such complaints can be easily exposed: administrators that honestly feel this way should be welcome to donate their salaries, reducing them to say, adjunct levels, with the money going to remedial students as a grant towards their remedial education. If a significant number of administrators do this, then this point of view will be re-opened. I’ll happily teach extra remedial courses for minimal pro-rated pay based on administrators sacrificing all but $15,000 a year or so of their salary and benefits. Working for people with this kind of integrity and dedication to education (i.e., the people that should be running higher education, unlike today) would motivate me to do the same.

     I know, fat chance of that. Now, I’m not the first to notice, and complain, that all we’re doing with our resources is trying to cram remedial knowledge into people that have no interest in learning. Administration knows that scam has to end soon, and is already working to change the scam so that these suckers will have even less chance of escaping the trap.

     Luckily, my fixes have already put up a roadblock to typical administrative chicanery, but we’ll cover that soon.












Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Remediation Should Be For The Serious, And Not A Joke


By Professor Doom


Student: “I get a gun. I get a knife. I don’t know why she gotta come on up here and beef with me and my daughter. I didn’t ask her husband to get me pregnant, that just happened…”

--overheard cell phone conversation. I often have parents and their adult-ish children taking my classes concurrently, or nearly so.


     There was a time when entrance examinations could literally keep a student out of college, instead of merely placing them in ever lower levels of “developmental” courses. I believe in open admission, that everyone who wants to learn should be allowed the opportunity to do so.

     I also believe this should be done with integrity. Those entrance exams weren’t a completely arbitrary barrier.


Student: “Bitch, I’m up here learning.”

--hastily ended phone call on campus.


      Far too many people are coming to campus with no prior inclination towards learning, no current inclination towards learning, and no future inclination towards learning. They put nothing into learning. These people come to class and expect…something in addition to the check, and administrators lean heavily on faculty to provide it.

Faculty: “I know the course is bullshit, and the students are just here for the checks. I need the money, and if I taught a real course administration would fire me.”

--really, there needs to be a way to stop this. Every department has faculty saying this.

     It’s offensive to say the only reason these people are on campus is the free money, so let’s charitably assume that the money isn’t the reason these non-learners are swarming onto campus. Great. Get rid of the money. Stop loaning money to remedial students. Again, this sounds like a terribly mean thing to do, and so again, I present arguments for what should be obvious.

     Before I begin, I want to emphasize: I’m not an elitist. I understand some people grew up in places with terrible schools, or had terrible upbringing. But realize that the skills in remedial classes do not require the efforts of a trained professional to teach. They do not require a high tech lab. They do not require expensive software. We’re talking skills like writing in complete sentences, or being able to add fractions…stuff young teenagers can do, and that any normal human being that puts real effort into it can accomplish if he wanted to. A century ago, people gained these skills without being trained by professional educators in schools. Homeschooled students have little trouble gaining these skills.

There’s just no reason a person should sign up for a lifetime of debt to learn the basics.


Administrator: “You need better retention. These students can be anything they want to be. And you’re standing in their way.”

Me: “Suppose I want to be a professional race horse jockey. Are you sure that all I need is money to pay you?”

--The look of confusion on the administrator’s face was priceless. For the reader’s benefit, I’m 6’ 2”, and 240 lbs, over twice the acceptable weight for a jockey…it doesn’t matter how good the retention at Race Horse Jockey School is, the school would be acting without integrity if they accepted me as a student and talked me into taking on vast quantities of debt while telling me about the money I’d make as a professional jockey.


      So here comes another amazing idea: no college student loan money for non-college coursework. Remedial students, for the most part, do ridiculously poorly in college, with over 90% of them failing to get a 2 year degree in 3 years, and a majority never getting a degree at any point. It is simply vicious and cruel (and not acting with integrity) to lure these people onto campus and entrap them into a lifetime of debt. If they’re serious about learning, let them pay for those one or two classes with their own money before moving on to college level material. I emphasize again: these students already had the opportunity to learn this material many times in the public schools. Providing the information “for free” has demonstrably not worked.

      I’ve seen for myself that students care a whole lot more about what they buy when they pay for it with their own money. Give them the opportunity to care about what they’re doing, the chance to show they care and the challenge to develop the self-reliant skills necessary to learning, rather than slap them with a ton of debt and no chance to learn an important life skill (work hard and pay for the things you want) as well as academic skills.

     I’ve shown before that at a typical community college, most of the coursework is at the high school level or lower. That’s what most of the “student loan money” is going for. How did nobody notice that most of “college loan money” was spent on non-college coursework? I have no idea, but that’s my next “brilliant” idea: let college loan money only be for college courses.

     There are a few more reasons to shut down the remedial course gravy train, but I’ll address them next time.









Saturday, December 14, 2013

Save Higher Education: Toss the Cheaters

(sorry about the slowdown, I've had the flu)

By Professor Doom


Faculty: “Of the thirty students in the course, only 4 actually submitted their own work. The rest...didn’t even realize I can tell where they got their code from.”

Administrator: “If you do not pass at least 15 students in this course, we’ll have to shut the program down, and we won’t need your position anymore.”

--Computer science faculty explaining to me why he was polishing his resume…not that he could afford to leave that very semester.

     Last time around I touched on the possibility that accredited institutions distinguish themselves by removing cheaters from college courses. Administrators encourage cheating, at least indirectly by letting cheaters evaluate professors (and in turn using those evaluations to influence a professor’s job), but keeping cheaters isn’t merely enhancing retention—the only thing an administrator cares about—it’s hurting all the other students who are legitimately trying to get an education. Encouraging cheating in higher education is as insane as a merchant going out of his way to have shoplifters in his store…it’s just bad business.


“The Dean’s office and my chair ‘expressed their appreciation’ for me chasing such cases (in December), but six months later, when I received my annual evaluation, my yearly salary increase was the lowest ever, and significantly lower than inflation, as my ‘teaching evaluations took a hit this year.’”

--NYU Professor explaining how catching cheaters lowered his evaluations, hurting himself in the process. Poor guy thought that once he acquired tenure, he’d able to catch cheaters without penalty. Over the course of the rest of his career, catching cheaters just for one semester might cost him $50,000 or more. That he waited until after tenure to try such a boneheaded move shows that he had gotten the memo from administration earlier: do not catch cheaters.


      Seriously, “This institution expels cheaters” needs to be fundamental to accreditation. Expulsion, from a class, for a semester, or from the institution, used to be a real risk of being caught cheating, but now there are no risks. Administrative encouragement of cheating is a huge factor in the atmosphere on campus today, where the majority—the majority!—of students admit to cheating at some point in their career, and where most every attempt to catch cheaters in a course does so in abundance. Not banishing cheaters means they stay in the class, able to exert power over the faculty with the student evaluation.  The cheater’s “honest” evaluation of the teacher would be suspect in any thinking person’s eyes, albeit not those of an administrator, who bases so much of a faculty member’s career on evaluations.

     Administrators don’t want cheaters caught or penalized, much less expelled, because it cuts into retention rates, but this typically narrow and shortsighted view needs to be discouraged, above and beyond the stomach-churning fact that administrators penalize faculty for catching cheaters, for trying to have integrity in the institution. An institution that graduates cheaters doesn’t just do the cheater a favor, it detracts from the value of the degrees granted to the honest students. Over time, the institution becomes something of a joke, although in that time the administrator has moved up and on as a result of his great success at “leadership” of an institution with many dishonest graduates.


     This is what has happened to a large extent with online degrees, where any non-administrator can see the potential for cheating, a potential that has been realized to a great extent. Online degrees, even from accredited online institutions that have been around for a decade or more, are still basically worthless pieces of paper, useful only to those that already have a position along with accommodating managers (or administrators) who know not to look too closely at the source of the degree (often because they have such degrees themselves). This near worthlessness is what all college degrees, not just online degrees, are turning into, and shutting down the cheating window would go a long way to preserving some prestigious value to a degree.

In 2007, half of the second-year class at the Indiana University School of Dentistry allegedly used information that other students obtained through hacking to pass an exam,

--Yes, half the class. It’s that ridiculous. If half the people going for medical degrees, a profession with some reputation for integrity, are cheating, how many psych majors do you think are cheating?

     A student caught cheating should be removed from the course, and probably expelled. It’s that simple. There are few places in this country that are more than an hour’s drive from multiple institutions of higher learning, being expelled from one institution is not a life-destroying event, the cheater can just go elsewhere. For those few students that do only have one choice and can’t afford to be expelled, they still have the option of, well, not cheating in the first place.

Student: “This is for Skippy!”  *pow*

--a student with psychological problems got excited at a charity event and punched me full in the face. I saw no reason for disciplinary action, and after well over six years of full time enrollment the student did manage to get his worthless 2 year degree.


     While this might give too much power to faculty to get rid of students they just don’t like, in all honesty I’ve never seen a professor accuse a student of cheating out of malice. This just isn’t a concern, although perhaps it’s possible a professor could be wrong. There are already procedures in place for students that feel they’ve been wrongly accused of cheating. These procedures are not much used now since faculty are penalized for finding cheaters, but this relic from a bygone era can easily return, to protect that rare possibility of harming an innocent. This is a risk higher education should be willing to take, for the sake of the millions of people that are definitely being harmed by the “open cheating” atmosphere of today, if not for the sake of the reputation of higher education, which is in real danger of being destroyed by administrative policies.

Tutors for the basketball team at the University of Minnesota admitted they had written hundreds of papers for players.

--I really should talk about the corruption of college sports…but it’s just too easy a target. Do you really think the professors of these basketball players really believed the papers were legit?


     Now, I’ll grant you, at first, these policies could flush half the students out of higher education (and cause real problems for athletic programs, but the athletes there should just have special programs, or just be enrolled for Education degrees). That dental school above was no aberration, it’s quite common, when faculty check, to find half of the students in a course are cheating in some fashion. Faculty are strongly discouraged from checking.


     If an institution can quickly and easily lose accreditation by allowing cheaters to graduate, administrators might rethink their position on cheating. This idea might sound draconian, but higher education, in its current form, is in great danger of vanishing. The tolerance and encouragement of cheating, far more than the student loan scam, can lead to the annihilation of the higher education system that’s been core to Western Civilization for centuries.

    Allow me to reinforce this point.

     The “drastic action” of having some integrity is required because the world is changing. Free universities and the content of high quality courses are available to anyone with an internet connection. It’s only a matter of time until the knowledge of most all degree programs, identical in every way to what is offered at a “traditional institution,” is available online for free. 


     I grant that this knowledge has been in books, and thus relatively free, for many decades now, but now we have a corrupted accreditation system providing cover for a corrupted higher education system…it’s impossible to tell if a degree-holder actually has this knowledge.

     Which of the following sounds like a more likely candidate for a degree-requiring position: someone that paid $50,000 for a degree at an institution where he could easily have cheated his way through the entire program, or someone who shows up with a flash drive, containing examples of all the work he did and skills he learned pursuing the same degree at a free university? Both candidates could be lying and know nothing, but the second at least wasn’t stupid enough to waste $50,000 for a slip of paper that means nothing. Employers are already smart enough to think that through for online degrees, and students will figure it out eventually.

    If “traditional” institutions don’t do something, soon, to establish that they’re offering something more than a piece of paper, that they’re willing to honestly certify some legitimacy to what they’re doing, they’ll be history. It’s simply a matter of time before employers realize that traditional schools no more legitimately train students than online schools, accredited or not.


The suit claims a Zicklin administrator made professors allegedly pad grades for about 15 students in order to keep $45,000 to $75,000 tuition checks coming into the school.

--I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: retention is everything to administrators. There is no other concern.

      It’s a sign of how far institutions have fallen, how minimal the integrity, that I feel the need to present pages of arguments for “get rid of cheaters.” A generation or two ago, it was understood that penalties for cheating were severe and now, students literally complain when they’re caught cheating, since they know administrators will rush to help them.

     So that’s the next fix: “This institution does not tolerate cheating” needs to be core to accreditation, and even if it isn’t there, it needs to be core to any institution of higher education. Otherwise, higher education in its current form is doomed. Granted, I’m a bit biased in thinking the system of higher education of the 14th century to about 1990 is worth having again…but it still seems far superior to the primarily corrupt and fraudulent system of today.