Monday, October 1, 2012

The Insanity Test: Does US Education Pass?

by Margaret Curtis, PhD

Why does insanity in higher education shock anybody? The James Holmes story offers a single case, but the Fiscal Times piles on the evidence with “10 Public Colleges with Insanely Luxurious Dorms.”

These schools include University of Michigan-North Quadrangle Residential and Academic Complex, Georgia State University-University Commons, University of Cincinnati-Campus Recreation Center Housing, and seven more demonstrations of a national obsession with extravagant wealth.   

Amenities at Penn State University's Eastview Terrace complex include the following:
“This complex offers upperclassmen fully furnished single rooms with private bathrooms. Rooms are wired for TV cable, with dozens of popular channels and Internet access; there are also refrigerators and microwaves. All of the buildings have mail pickup and delivery."

Where are the editorials complaining that the public cannot afford such lavish accommodations for students taking their lessons at the public trough? This article mentions students jumping and down with glee, but what about parents jumping up and down with exasperation?

Is a college education supposed to place the student in an expensive hotel? Is s/he blessed automatically with TV channels, upon registration? What does any of this costly apparatus have to do with learning subjects requiring long hours NOT watching TV, but studying in a library or working in a laboratory?

As the US continues to fight its way out of recession, such lavish expenditures should grate on the nation’s conscience. They should not appear as bragging. They should not be attracting students or parents who complain about the staggering costs of higher education.

As for mail pickup and delivery, running back and forth to a mail-room hurts no one. In fact, it provides a promising preventive against obesity. Sitting or lying on a couch watching TV accomplishes the opposite. Overall, conditioning students to believe they should be treated like monarchs wherever they go gives the lie to democracy.

How can students appreciate the real amenities of life if they never experience the drudgery of earning and paying for them? Where do American students rank in math and reading skills among their international competition? What is more insane here—unaffordable luxuries or complaints about problems with economical solutions?   
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