The Higher Ed Challenge
We believe Michigan’s higher education system is one of our best assets for rebuilding a prosperous Michigan. Its kind of hard to imagine how we could build in the last century one of the best public higher ed systems on the planet, and then when it matters most disinvest in it. Not smart!
But higher education – nationally – faces one big challenge. Its low graduation rate. At both our community colleges and universities too few students graduate. Two recent terrific articles highlight the challenge.
The first is from the Washington Monthly (click here) which details how many students (both recent high school grads and mid career adults) get stuck in remedial courses at community colleges. This is the weak link in the adult training system. We need a remedial system that works. The current system doesn’t. Like with k-12 we need to set standards and provide incentives for innovation.
Today’s New York Times has a column by David Leonhardt (click here) on the low graduation rates across the country at our public four-year universities. And some ideas on how to fix it. Leonhardt highlights the lack of accountability in our system of funding higher ed. Its doesn’t matter to the bottom line of our universities whether their students get a degree or not. This needs to change! Because it sure matters to the economic well being of each student whether they earn a degree or not.
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We certainly need to figure out how to give incentives to colleges to aid graduation. But there are two sure ways to game that system: Only admit students with relatively high incomes, and only admit students with relatively high college admission scores (which are mostly those with relatively high incomes). Let’s make sure we don’t get the incentives wrong.
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