Rosenberg: Why butts-in-jobs thinking is wrong

Macalester College President Brian Rosenberg writes in The Huffington Post why he disagrees with North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory's recent remarks on how he's drafting legislation to change higher-education funding.

In essence, the Republican governor said he wants college funding “not based upon how many butts in seats but how many of those butts can get jobs.”

Mac's Rosenberg responds:

Governor McCrory's remarks are based on the following unsubstantiated assumptions: that public education has as its sole purpose in a democracy the preparation for a job; that one can predict based upon a student's area of study the employability and career path of that student; that one can know today where the jobs will be in 10 or 20 years; that the skills most necessary for the generation of economic success and strong civil society in the 21st century are only taught in certain fields, which can be identified in advance and therefore appropriately funded by legislators; that the current public investment in an institution like the University of North Carolina is, in its present form, a bad one. This is not an exhaustive list, but it will do.

Here is what the evidence actually suggests about these assumptions: they are, in order, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. On the plus side, they are simple, easy to communicate, and able to get a large number of people riled up.

Read his essay here.

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