The Boston Herald, Jan. 2, 2015
Even the president of President Obama's alma mater thinks his plan for the government to begin ranking colleges and universities may be flawed — a sign of a way-out-there initiative that in our view ought to be scrapped.
Harvard President Drew Faust has her own reasons for questioning the U.S. Department of Education's plan to begin rating institutions of higher education — both public and private — based on "affordability and value."
"I think it raises the issue of what do you rate them for?" Faust recently told The Washington Post. "It goes back to what is college worth. What are you going to say? Is it all going to be about how much more money an individual makes with a college degree?"
In part, yes. The administration wants to evaluate colleges and universities based on such categories as graduation rates and post-graduation employment and earning potential and the level of individual student debt. The effort is pitched as a way to make the institutions more accountable for what they charge students — and ultimately more affordable, since the feds would reward colleges and universities that they deem a better "value" with more generous federal aid.
Call it a combination of intensive bureaucratic micromanagement — and wishful thinking.
Faust was measured in her comments to the Post but suggested the evaluations "should be very complex portraits of institutions. And not reduce an institution to a simple metric."
Our own concerns lean toward the wisdom of having the federal government engage in this exercise at all — taking on what U.S. News & World Report and Peterson's and the College Board and school-based counselors not to mention parents and students themselves have managed to do on their own for decades.
The federal government provides all kinds of aid to private and public institutions, which appears to be the justification for the new ranking system. So will the federal government begin ranking the "affordability and value" of the green energy companies it invests in? What about the anti-crime initiatives it supports?
What shall we empower the White House to "rank" next?
The Caledonian Record of St. Johnsbury (Vt.), Dec. 29, 2014
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, brother of George W., has let it be known that he will enter the race for the Republican nomination for President in 2016.
Some conservative voices — notably National Review and the Wall Street Journal — have good things to say about Bush. "As governor of Florida from 1999 through 2007, he advanced conservative goals on taxes, school choice, privatization, racial preferences, the right to life, and many other issues. He did all this and left office popular in a swing state," the National Review notes.
Others, including us, worry about the increasing possibility of a dynastic landscape featuring another Clinton/Bush matchup. Worse, maybe, is the way the two royal families have taken to fawning over each other. As Charlie Cooke writes in the National Review, "George W. Bush has referred to Bill Clinton as 'my brother from another mother' and to Hillary Clinton as his 'sister-in-law.'"
Cooke also points out that Jeb Bush, as chair of the National Constitution Center, recently honored big-government Hillary with a "Liberty Medal" for her lifelong career in public service. Reciprocally, Clinton praises Bush as a person "who really focused on education during his time as governor in Florida, and who has continued that work with passion and dedication in the years since."
The National Review's Jim Geraghty explains the problem. "We do not like Hillary Clinton. We do not like her philosophies, her decisions, or the weapons-grade pabulum that she stuffs in her books and offers for six figures per speech ... her record in public life — and that of her allies, and her party — has been an absolute disaster for the country for the past six years, and the 2016 Republican nominee needs to be able to make that case and win that argument ..."
We doubt that's going to be anybody named "Bush." Particularly not one who applauds the liberal Clinton's fictional commitment to "Liberty." There are a number of better options for the GOP.
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