Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Post-Secondary PTSD

In a recent op-ed claimed to be signed by the higher-education pooh-bahs in Kentucky public institutions and the Kentucky Council on Post Secondary Education, attention was drawn to higher education's grievous financial short-shrift by government especially since 2008, requiring immediate action. This is true but the only relief being seriously considered is revenue-enhancement via casinos. Notwithstanding high-flown legislative rhetoric earmarking this revenue to education, it will go into the general fund, as it should.

Education professionals—multitudes embarrassingly non-essential/overpaid—seem not to understand that much can be done institutionally to help relieve the problem. Streamlining the system is a must. Liberal Arts is the ideal approach (Western Civilization) but many of its requirements are often unnecessary. An adequate education can be gained in three years for most any field involving technical rather than “artistic” skills and training. Electrical engineers don't need Chaucer or even (gasp) a foreign language. English is already foreign for about half of all college applicants anyway.

Not all high school grads should go to college, as education gurus insist. Entrance requirements should be stiffer, perhaps furnishing more incentive to actually educate students in public schools instead of merely exposing them to social engineers, thus reducing university faculty numbers, saving boatloads of salaries and perks. Notwithstanding the disappearing of unions to gain leverage against employers, skilled workers and even those in manual labor are often well paid...think Toyota, for instance.

The state's eight public universities subsidize their sports programs with a total of almost $50 million a year from their schools' general fund budgets, which largely rely on state tax money and students' tuition and fees, according to the Herald-Leader of 01 April 2012, a scandal of immense proportions. Actually, six of those institutions incur that expense, squandering an average of over $8 million per year each. Scholarship athletes get free rides even if they can't write three consecutive grammatically correct sentences while deserving scholars head for McDonalds or drown themselves in debt.

Whole departments could be dispensed with. There used to be departments of women's studies but now they're called Gender & Women's Studies. This is from the UK web-site: “Spring 2014 Gender and Women's Studies Undergraduate Courses: Sex and Power; Gender and Popular Culture; Crossroads of Race, Gender, and Class; Gender Across the World: Human Rights in Film; Intro to Feminist Theorizing; Introduction to Queer Theory; Issues in GWS: Sex, Science, Society; Senior Seminar in GWS: Capstone; Women in Islam; Gender Politics in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture; Literary Encounters: Women Behaving Badly; Sexuality Education; Contemporary Russian Women’s Literature and Undergraduate Research in Gender and Women’s Studies: Independent Study.

There's also a doctoral program at UK for those who want to make GWS studies a self-perpetuating profession. From the program's web-site: “The PhD program in Gender and Women's studies at the University of Kentucky aims to train cutting-edge scholars of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies.” Sex may be important in GWS-world but apparently grammar isn't. The word should have been “in,” not “of,” regarding the studies unless the statement meant that all the scholars actually have a gender and are feminist in philosophy and very interested in sex experiments. Fortunately, there's no Men's Department of Studies to waste money.

Spring 2014 Course Offerings in African American and Africana Studies at UK: “Inequalities in Society; African American History 1865-Present; History of Subsaharan Africa; Major Black Writers; History of Jazz; Geography of Mid East/N Africa; Race/Sprts in America; Special Topics in African American Studies: Black Greek Letter Organizations; Special Topics in African American Studies: Languages in African American Societies; Special Topics in African American Studies: Pidgins and Creoles; Independent Readings/Research in African American Studies; Race & Ethnic Relations; Education in Culturally Diverse Society; Theories, Perspectives, Trends and Issues in Multicultural Education; Multicultural Psychology; Black American Literature.” Sounds like liberal boilerplate. Fortunately, there are no departments in Caucasian, Latino, Native-American or Asian Studies.

These useless departments (okay...I'm both racist and chauvinistic) are replicated throughout the other institutions—a huge waste. Elaborate Physical Education Departments could be axed, muscle-building not being a responsibility of academia, and the rules of volley-ball don't matter much in the real world. The Great Recession is in its seventh year and revenues will reflect that. Post-graduate education gurus should take notice and consider overhauling/downsizing before whining, especially since the governor has just proposed bushwhacking it by another 2.59%. Wringing 10% out of institutional budgets should not be hard, especially when chartered planes are used to transport athletes to the far reaches of the nation. It takes about $230,000 just to outfit a football team but that's not even half of what UK pays its offensive and defensive coordinators each. Disgusting!

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

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