Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Truth about Higher Education

It is rare that people in power actually say what they think, but the current President of San Jose State, Mohammad H. Qayoumi, recently exposed what many university leaders really believe. In response to a question concerning the questionable educational value of some of his institution’s new online classes, Qayoumi said the following: “It could not be worse than what we do face to face.” This shocking statement implies that the current modes of education at his own university are so bad that nothing could be worse.

It is no wonder that many education leaders are willing to experiment with unproven instructional models when they themselves do not believe in the value of their own teachers or the learning of their own students. It is also not surprising that many academic institutions are now willing to give course credit for work and learning done outside of their schools. Since no one can seem to define or defend quality higher education, there is no stopping a race to the bottom where students are given credits and credentials for unproven and untested learning.

In an act of pure institutional suicide, universities are simply selling their credits to outside entities, are in a way, they are surrendering to their own logic of self-destruction. By saying that nothing could be worse than the current form of education at his university, Qayoumi opens the door for a large-scale privatization of public higher education. This move fits in well with legislators who want to make up for years of public educational defunding by turning to MOOCs and credit by exams. For example, Assembly member Scott Wilk’s bill for a New University of California reduces the idea of a university to simply testing students for previous work and learning. This bill exposes one of the hidden desires of so many political officials and university administrators, and that is a university or college without faculty. In the race to decrease the compensation and power of teachers, here we find a way for a “final” solution: eliminate all of the people.

Unless universities and colleges begin to support, improve, and defend their own educational methods, there is nothing stopping this bi-partisan move to destroy our institutions of higher learning.