Acts 4:13 describes the early disciples, “Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognized them as having been with Jesus.” The ancients understood how blessed is one who finds wisdom, and gains understanding. (Proverbs 3:13) Education assures neither. Wisdom’s the ability to apply learning and knowledge to one’s quotidian life. It’s a rare commodity.
In the U.S. there are nearly 5300 colleges and universities, ranging from beauty schools to private elitist Ivy League universities. In 2019, there were more than 3900 degree granting postsecondary institutions according to U.S News & World Report. It’s big business. In 2020 nearly four million graduated college. Overall the number of higher education and proprietary institutions are on the decline for a variety of reasons, primarily economic and political zealotry. This is particularly true of for-profit institutions.
Small liberal arts colleges depend largely upon student revenues and dwindling funding streams, with few exceptions. Ever escalating tuition has created oppressive shackles on students, and a boon for many colleges where administrations don’t flinch at hiking the cost of entering their not-so-hallowed halls. Stories of parents taking out a second mortgage to send their offspring for an “elite education” are real. As of 2019, student loans became a $1.6 trillion burden. In 2020, Congress urged Biden to issue blanket forgiveness. It doesn’t require a rocket scientist to understand who’ll be on the hook for that bill. In 2010, Congress expanded the Federal Direct Loan program, allowing the government to issue all federal loans using funds from the Treasury Department.
From 2007 to 2013, collective student debt increased by a crushing 144%. Meanwhile, the cost of college doubled in the past two decades and is growing by nearly 7% annually according to The Education Data Initiative. In 2019, the average cost to attend an in-state public institution for one year is over $25,000. Students attending private schools pay nearly twice as much averaging around $55,000 annually. Tuition for a four year public university was $243 annually in 1960.
Once upon a time Harvard was, early in the 17th century, a beacon of light for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s original motto was Verita Christo et Ecclesia. “Truth for Christ and the Church.” Later it was changed to a secularly safe “Veritas.” After abolishing mandatory chapels in the 1880’s, it remained culturally Protestant until the 20th century. After WW2, its admission policy focused on students with “more diverse backgrounds” as the remaining vestiges of Christ’s presence evanesced. There’s no hint of its early Puritan moorings. Only shadows. In 2021 Harvard’s Endowment soared to $53 billon. Yet their greedy hands extended for student federal aid.
Conveniently, COVID-19 is blamed for many causes that were present before. It actually spawned more on-line watered-down degree programs than ever before. They’re cheaper than traditional programs to administer. Many were in financial straits before China unleashed the virus. Declining enrollment, budget deficits and shrinking endowment were factors in their demise. One elite women’s college, offering degrees in Gender Studies, for a mere $65,000 a year, touted a for-credit course to study the cultural influence of Miley Cyrus. A Harvard trained lawyer, one notably undergoing scrutiny before the Senate, for the land’s highest court vacancy is unable to define what constitutes a female, on the flimsy grounds that she isn’t a biologist. High school biology taught most of us about chromosomes.
In its 37th year, U.S. News & World Report Best College rankings, assesses nearly 1500 bachelor’s degree granting institutions, using 17 metrics of academic quality. If one was to wade into the weeds, like institution graduation rates and retention, faculty resources, giving and more, one may unearth a missing metric that has escaped their scrutiny. Is there any common sense found on campus? Democrat Socialist AOC to attend private elite Boston University, majoring in economics, doled out over $70,000 annual tuition. In a 2018 conference call, she identified the branches of government as, “the three chambers of Congress: the presidency, the senate and the house.” Is a rebate in order?
This feckless federal government has a huge stake in this education hustle. It spends nearly $165 billion annually on higher ed grants, loans and tax credits, while states spend $74 billion in direct appropriations. Historian Victor Davis Hanson asked a common sense question, “What do campus micro-aggressions, safe spaces, trigger warnings, speech codes and censorship have to do with higher learning?” Like we, Hanson complains that American higher education wants it both ways. They expect unquestioned subsidized public support, but also want to operate in a way contrary to how many Americans do.
Today’s woke campuses decide what “settled science” will be. Tenured faculty seek to indoctrinate fertile minds with certain preconceived political agendas, and attempt to blur the clear meaning of our Constitution, implying we’re too dumb or unsophisticated to understand that sacred document. It was crafted for a sixth grade reading level to comprehend. Comprehension isn’t the problem.
Institutions lost their way, no longer teaching the inductive method of study, according to Hanson. Evidence is made to fit these unquestioned assumptions that leave most students bankrupt of common sense and legitimate intellectual curiosity. The cost of this indoctrination is nearly incalculable. It comes at the expense of formerly taught traditional mastery of foreign languages, great works of literature, philosophical history, grammar and composition, our Christian heritage, Foundational underpinnings, and the Socratic method.
It’s utterly apparent to most employers and common sense adults that a bachelor’s degree’s no longer proof of a well-rounded education. In fact, four years of educational schizophrenia is inimical to the common sense citizen. Elitist claim they should be free to form their own curricula, and enjoy faculty tenure, but fail to be concerned how much they charge, and establish radical protocols than run contrary to the U.S. and most state Constitutions. Absent robust scrutiny of universities and colleges, especially at the state level, they will continue to obfuscate their mission that’s too easily sidelined by monetary greed, raw power and woke faculty.
Trustees insist the public subsidize their strange rituals by making endowments tax-exempt. If a private college wants to offer degrees in gender studies, or basket weaving 101, do so with their own coffers, not our tax dollars. Sensing this void as an opportunity, private vocational and trade schools are proliferating the American landscape, reaffirming that a welder adds more to the economy than gender studies or CRT. We understand the mischief starts earlier in K-12. The Sunshine State has passed legislation to shine a light with the Academic Transparency Act, thumbing its nose at the nation’s teachers unions, siding with parents and the public, exposing hidden curriculum agendas.
Let’s demand a return to common sense once again in education by supporting institutions that advance one’s values. Once upon a time, hard sciences and professional studies were relatively immune from political or social tampering. However, that’s no longer true. With the advent of the Wuhan virus, medical protocol and research were hijacked by Progressive Far Left politics. Unsurprisingly, they’re emboldened to declare that mathematic’s absolutes are racist in nature.
This current state of chaos poses an existential question, “From where shall the answer to these vexing questions come?” It won’t come from the elitist drone of obsolescent knee jerk responses, and rehashing hackneyed phrases. Most likely, it will emanate from a remote log cabin in Montana, or grass roots liberty minded groups in Wyoming, standing for virtuous liberty under God. Many are happy to be accused of “having been with Jesus.” What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s firstname.lastname@example.org