Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

A Higher Education Wake-Up Call

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

A Higher Education Wake-Up Call

Article excerpt

Whoever wins the November election has a rough row to hoe where higher education is concerned. A recent report, "Measuring Up 2004: The National Report Card on Higher Education," produced by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, paints a troubling picture (see story, pg. 6). It identifies five ways of measuring higher education efficacy, mad the report's findings are especially cause for concern in the contemporary context of globalization.

According to the chairmen of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, former Govs. James Hunt (N.C.) and Garrey Carruthers (N.M.), "America is underperforming in higher education.

"In the highlighted areas of preparation, participation, affordability, benefits and completion, few states perform in an exemplary manner. Indeed, some states earn failing grades on one or more of the benchmarks. The areas of participation and affordability are especially troubling--19 states have declined on indications of participation, with fewer young people enrolling in education beyond high school in the last decade; similarly, 17 states have declined on affordability indicators, while only two states have improved in that arena. The gap between White student participation and that of African Americans and Latinos has increased."

In too many ways, higher education is a footnote in the battlefield that has become this electoral season. John Kerry and George W. Bush seem more interested in their war records than in fighting the war on illiteracy. While Bush seems especially focused on Swift Boat, not strong education, Kerry seems to have been forced into a place where he is stuck responding instead of setting an agenda. At the same time, if you tease the details of the two platforms, Kerry seems to offer more to students and their families than Bush does. Indeed, part of the higher education report card is predicated on improvements in the K-12 educational arena, and Bush's sole contribution, the No Child Left Behind legislation, has been repudiated by many in his party because of its unfunded mandates and the burden it places on the states. I call the legislation, tongue-in-cheek, "Let Every Child Kiss My Behind," because it shows utter contempt for the actual educational process, a child's ability to learn, with its focus on testing and bureaucracy.

Bush may well have had good intentions when he proposed the NCLB legislation, but his overarching political agenda to cut taxes to benefit the wealthy--ultimately undermines it. The $200 billion he squandered on his foolish search for weapons of mass distraction in Iraq could have been spent funding K-12 education. …

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