JA19 web - Page 4

The State of Education— Good and Bad
James is always gratified to hear from parents and
students who use our annual rankings of Georgia’s colleges and universities as a resource. Obviously, though,
different schools excel in different areas so it’s difficult to
measure and compare institutions with varying areas of
expertise. That’s why we’ve selected our categories in
such a way as to give a broad view of how the state’s colleges, universities and technical colleges measure up in
their respective classifications.
Education is a theme in every James and this issue
highlights three universities in particular: Mercer,
Georgia Southern and Augusta. We also evaluate
Technical College System schools. In this context, read
Rodger Brown’s column spotlighting how the System’s
Quick Start program fosters workforce training. Another
must-read is CEO Gretchen Corbin’s update on the
Georgia Lottery Corp. It’s a model for other lotteries due
to its 25-year record of helping millions of students
receive an education through funding of the popular
HOPE Scholarship and pre-K programs.
Yet while we chronicle a lot of good news and
achievements in Georgia higher education, there’s also
far too much disturbing news of late. Consider:
Rigged admissions. Some affluent parents have been
caught employing bribes to get their kids into top universities. It begs the question: How long and how pervasive
have some college admissions been rigged? Clearly, we
need more whistleblowers to come forward and for guilty
parties to face swift prosecution and tough punishment.
“Adversity” scoring. The College Board, which administers the SAT, now provides “adversity scores” to colleges
evaluating student applications. The scores range from 1
to 100 and any over 50 designates a student as disadvantaged. Why is this important? The Supreme Court could
take on a lawsuit filed against Harvard by AsianAmerican students alleging admissions officers discriminate against them based on race. The students say they
are penalized as a group for high test scores in the effort
to create a “diverse” student body. In this context, The
Wall Street Journal aptly says: “Colleges could then use
the adversity score as a proxy for race since many of the
variables strongly correlate with minority backgrounds.
So they could continue to discriminate discretely without
proof that’s what they are doing since the adversity
scores are calculated by a third-party algorithm. … The
adversity score looks like a way to undermine one of the
last objective measures of academic merit.”
Free speech. A new survey by the Knight Foundation
reveals that 51 percent of college undergraduates surveyed said shouting down a speaker is acceptable
“sometimes” or “always” and 16 percent said violence is
“always” or “sometimes” acceptable. That’s as incredible
as it is disgraceful. With an exception of advocating or
condoning violence, vigorous campus expression of
diverse opinions should be fostered and respected.
Bloated bureaucracy. An analysis by the New England
Center for Investigative Reporting discovered that from
1987 to 2012 the higher education sector added more
than half a million administrators. Their numbers doubled relative to the teaching faculty. What this means is
that the administrative bloat takes money away from the
core teaching mission. One reform to trim the bloat:
Congress should tie federal student loans to the ratio of
administrators to full-time faculty.
College debt, of course, is a crushing burden on
many families. That’s why I recommend to parents and
students interested in affordability comparisons a new
website. HowCollegesSpendMoney.com also can provide
policymakers like the Georgia Board of Regents and college presidents with crucial college spending data
organized on an interactive platform.
A MEA CULPA: We apologize for misspelling the name
of Candice Broce, the governor’s deputy general counsel and communications director, in our May-June
issue. And in our listing of lawyers in the General
Assembly, we inadvertently omitted Rep. Matthew
Wilson and Sen. Harold Jones.
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 9


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