The Washington Monthly

An independent monthly magazine devoted to politics, government, culture, and the media in America, from a progressive perspective. Publishes investigative and opinion-based feature articles by notable authors, short news items, humorous sidebars, and boo

Articles from Vol. 42, No. 9-10, September-October

America's Best Community Colleges: What Fifty Little-Known Two-Year Schools Can Teach the Rest of American Higher Education
On July 14, 2009, President Obama stood on an outdoor stage at Macomb Community College in suburban Detroit. In the crowd below local dignitaries mingled with students and former autoworkers. Obama had campaigned at Macomb during the presidential election...
America's Best Master's Universities and Baccalaureate Colleges
In 1852, four French Marianist missionaries arrived by stagecoach in San Antonio, Texas, and founded a school called the St. Mary's Institute, hoping to "regenerate the people" through education. The school, now St. Mary's University, has been steadfastly...
A Note on Methodology: 4-Year Colleges and Universities
There are two primary goals to our methodology. First, we considered no single category to be more important than any other. Second, the final rankings needed to reflect excellence across the full breadth of our measures, rather than reward an exceptionally...
A Note on Methodology: Community Colleges
The Washington Monthly ranking of America's best community colleges is based on two sources of information: the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) and graduation rates published by the U.S. Department of Education. The CCSSE...
Campus Tours Go Disney: The Traditional College Visit Has Gotten More Interesting. and More Manipulative
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Jeff Kallay digs the Magic Kingdom. Growing up near Orlando, he spent many sunny days at Walt Disney World, riding the Space Mountain roller coaster and splashing in swimming pools. On "Senior Nite" in high school, he danced...
College Dropout Factories: The American Higher Education System Shunts Striving Low-Income Students into a Class of Schools Invisible to the Elite. the Only Thing These Schools Do Well Is Drive Their Students to Quit
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] It was money--or the lack of it--that determined where Nestor Curiel chose to go to college. The third of six children in an immigrant Mexican family, Nestor grew up in Blue Island, a gritty working-class suburb near Chicago's...
Introduction: A Different Kind of College Ranking
It wasn't long ago that the colleges annually anointed as "America's Best" by U.S. News & World Report--Harvard, Princeton, and Yale--served as fertile breeding grounds for future masters of the financial universe. History majors from New Haven...
Schools for Scandal
It's in the nature of social progress that conditions which today strike us as obviously morally outrageous--that women were not allowed to vote or blacks to be served at restaurants--were once considered the natural order of things. Three decades...
Shakespeare with Power Tools: How a Humble Trade School Became the Best Community College in America
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Hector Caballero Jr., husband and father of two, spent a decade working at Walgreens before he was finally ready for college. In 2007, he enrolled at a local four year university near his home in St. Paul, Minnesota, to study...
The Mayo Clinic of Higher Ed: Has Minnesota Found the Cure for Spiraling College Costs?
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] On a cold Friday afternoon in February, Chelsea Griffin walked through the fading winter light of downtown Rochester, Minnesota, past old-style restaurants and stores filled with balloons and flowers, into the marble-clad...
The Prestige Racket: How Schools like George Washington University Learned to Offer Timex Educations at Rolex Prices
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] In the summer of 1961, a twenty-two-year-old college graduate from rural Nevada packed up his young family and moved to Washington, D.C. He took a job working nights as a U.S. Capitol policeman while by day he studied for...
Tilting at Windmills
The next best thing is terrible I say much that is critical of Obama in this column, as I have in other recent columns. I should make clear, however, that I consider him light-years better than George W. Bush or indeed than any Republican candidate...
Unnatural Selection: How a Politically Rigged Economic System Has Been Sold to Americans as a Force of Nature
Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson Simon & Schuster, 368 pp. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] In their very influential 2006 book, Off Center,...