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The University of Virginia, Brought to You by David Brooks

[ 109 ] June 20, 2012 |

Oh for the love of god:

Both took time to comment on a major donor’s e-mail in which he suggested that university leaders study the way Stanford and Harvard Universities, among others, were having success online. The donor wondered in his e-mail if these developments are “a signal that the on-line [sic] learning world has now reached the top of the line universities and they need to have strategies or will be left behind.” Dragas replied: “Your timing is impeccable — the BOV is squarely focused on UVa’s developing such a strategy and keenly aware of the rapidly accelerating pace of change.”

Another article — this one forwarded from Kington to Dragas — was the “The Campus Tsunami,” by the New York Times columnist David Brooks, predicting massive change from the MOOCs, and also predicting that the new model will involve much more learning from professors who are not at the college or university a student attends.

Various theories have been traded among UVa-watchers in the last 10 days about the source of conflict between Sullivan and the board, and the e-mail records suggest that online education may have been among them. In her statement on the day the board announced Sullivan’s departure, Dragas used language similar to some of the columns that were being shared among board members, saying “We also believe that higher education is on the brink of a transformation now that online delivery has been legitimized by some of the elite institutions.”

The next time you see me, I’ll be at the bottom the cliff I just jumped off.

Comments (109)

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  1. Bexley says:

    So what you’re telling us is that Sullivan failed to grasp that the world is flat.

  2. bradp says:

    I can’t say that I follow this post.

    Why are you jumping off a cliff?

    • Erik Loomis says:

      Because these people are using David Brooks as their guru to eviscerate the university.

      • j_h_r says:

        Clearly, if Sullivan had just embraced the simple red state virtues of small towns in rural Pennsylvania within driving distance of Brooks’s Maryland residence, this never would have happened.

      • bradp says:

        Well certainly Brooks is no guru on much of anything but asinine pontification, but how is the university being eviscerated?

        • Lee says:

          Because if Brooks model is followed that universities would be nothing more than hollow sheels of what they once were. Because most or all learning will be on-line or through video, most students will not or could not interact with professors to ask questions, nor could professors lead the class in discussion or experiments/practical training.

          • bradp says:

            To me it sounds like newspapermen ranting and raving about blogs.

            But there’s no ulterior self-interest there, I’m sure.

            • gmack says:

              Brad, if you want to defend on-line education, or the elimination of traditional liberal arts, as a perfectly adequate substitute for traditional college education, then make your case. But stop insinuating ulterior motives or acting as if the people here are just ranting without having thought about these issues.

              • bradp says:

                Well, when I think of bloated, overpriced, inefficient, and exploitative industries and markets, clamping down on alternatives seems like a bad idea.

                Granted, pretty much what I have read has been in support of exploring and fleshing out a market for online learning, so I am at least open to having my mind changed by alternative arguments.

                Its a really bad start, however, to clamour about “eviscerating the university” as if it is the typical university structure we should want and not the service it provides.

                • elm says:

                  Oh! So you understood Erik’s point and feigned ignorance to make your own point! That makes so much more sense than you being so massively dense on an obvious point, but it is more than a little troll-y.

                • bradp says:

                  Oh! So you understood Erik’s point and feigned ignorance to make your own point! That makes so much more sense than you being so massively dense on an obvious point, but it is more than a little troll-y.

                  Yeah.

                  God forbid I ask someone to clarify their position before I disagree with him.

            • elm says:

              Well, obviously, if you agree with Brooks’s opinions about what higher education will look like, you won’t object to a university basing their plans on Brooks’s opinions.

              If you disagree, like Erik does, than seeing a university leadership cite a buffoon like Brooks in major decisions will be quite troublesome to you. If you believe that in-person instruction is crucial to higher education, then it should not be surprising you would find reducing this to be “evisceration.”

              Not sure why such a simple point has needed so much explanation.

              • bradp says:

                If you believe that in-person instruction is crucial to higher education, then it should not be surprising you would find reducing this to be “evisceration.”

                I don’t believe that it is either crucial or superflous. I would imagine face-to-face instruction could be either depending on the curriculum and department.

                I believe there are more organic methods for figuring this out.

            • Pinko Punko says:

              brad is nicely echoing a UVa e-mail where there is concern that newspapers are the model for what will happen to universities. Which is asinine, unless wikipedia and youtube are playing the role of Craigslist, I think it is a moronic statement.

              • bradp says:

                I don’t know in what context the comparison was made in the email, but are you saying that nothing can be gained from making the comparison?

                And what does that second sentence mean?

                • Pinko Punko says:

                  Newspapers were killed by their loss of advertising revenue as a primary driver, though subscriptions also were an issue. Loss of classifieds was a major killer of newspapers (Craigslist being a huge issue there). So what is going to make Universities like newspapers? Knowledge could become free, but will this knowledge be given value by employers- how is the knowledge going to be certified? That is what the diploma is. As long as the diploma is perceived to have value by employers, and the college experience perceived to have value by students/parents, the University is not like a newspaper.

                • bradp says:

                  I basically agree with everything you said there.

                  I also don’t think it is out of the question that employers might start recognizing online education. And if they do, secondary education could become far more accessible.

                • Pinko Punko says:

                  Employers will certainly not recognize online degrees if they are from business whose sole goal is to grant as many as possible for a fee. Consider the brand value of online scientific journals that are perceived to publish anything in return for a fee charged to the author. Students are not entirely the true consumers of university product, employers are.

                • bradp says:

                  Employers will certainly not recognize online degrees if they are from business whose sole goal is to grant as many as possible for a fee.

                  That, presumably, is not the goal of every institution that could feasibly try to offer online degrees.

                • There are a lot of degrees employers are uninterested in already.

        • John says:

          Well, the classics and German departments are on the block, to start with.

  3. somethingblue says:

    So UVA will achieve greatness by cutting its own departments, programs and faculty, and having its students watch videos of Harvard professors.

    Good luck with that.

    • BigHank53 says:

      They’ll be charging UVA prices and delivering community college content, and there’s sure to be at least a decade’s worth of undergraduate’s parents who won’t notice the difference. What isn’t great about that?

      • Jameson Quinn says:

        So UVA administrators’ bank accounts will achieve greatness by cutting its own departments, programs and faculty, and having its students watch videos of Harvard professors.

      • NonyNony says:

        I think you underestimate both undergraduate students and their parents here. If educational quality matters to them, they’ll figure it out easily within a year of a system like this being in place.

        The question really is – what’s more important to the student: A UVA education or a piece of paper that says you graduated from UVA. The alumni and the administrators pushing this appear to be of the opinion that the piece of paper is more important than the education.

        And sadly, for many of the students this is likely to be the case. The actual education received from a big-named school is secondary (or even lower in rank) to the name of the school and the networking opportunities a degree from the school provides.

        • BigHank53 says:

          Oh, the smart ones are already thinking twice about sending in next year’s application. But you don’t have to read too many of Prof. Campos’ stories about parents pushing their offspring into law school to realize that there are parents who wouldn’t care if the kid got a basketweaving degree as long as they were able to stick that UVA logo on the back window of their Tahoe.

        • gmack says:

          It seems to me that universities are effectively moving in the direction of a multi-tiered system. For wealthy and privileged sorts, traditional college experiences will still be available. Others will be farmed into various “alternative” tracks. Or at least, that’s one possible outcome of the trends I see.

          Apropos of nothing, I it’s also fun to remind everyone of something one of my professors observed many years ago: the term “business school” is literally an oxymoron. The term “school” comes from the Greek “skhole,” which was the term for leisure, or the time in which one was free to engage in activities (philosophy, politics) that were higher than the base animal activities by which one has to make a living (work, trade, reproduction, etc.).

      • Unsympathetic says:

        How will we handle universities with an average life of only 15 years? That’s the average life of a Fortune 500 company these days. If we’re going to run universities like a business, what’s the plan when those businesses go bankrupt?

        • BigHank53 says:

          Sell the patents, literary collections, and real estate to your friends for twelve cents on the dollar. Read up on how Russia “privatized” after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and you’ll know exactly what the plutocrats have in mind for the US.

  4. DrDick says:

    Just another example of the infiltration of the perfidious “run it like a business” model. Universities love online programs because, if properly run at least, they are far cheaper than face to face classes. They tend to be run by grad students and adjuncts (regardless o who provides the original content) and make limited use of university facilities. They are also significantly inferior to face to face classes in most ways (and I say this as someone who routinely teaches online classes and is singled out as highly responsive and more engaged than usual in student reviews).

    • Andrew R. says:

      The thing is, online is useful in a few contexts–students who live on a mountaintop or are out in the middle of Kandahar–but most of the time even schools that have a significant online program have to force the students into the online courses. Most students still prefer in-class. (I say this as someone whose teaching load is 2/3 online).

      The end result of this is going to be that you have a really sharp two-tiered model of education: there’ll be the good private schools where students get to interact with a human being in person and which only the wealthy can afford and there’ll be your state schools where an adjunct tells you to read the textbook.

      • DrDick says:

        I do not disagree with that, though I do not want to see state schools go that route (and I teach at one).

    • Manta1976 says:

      What is your opinion on Stanford’s free online courses?

      They seem to be quite successful.

      • Holden Pattern says:

        The magic word there is “free”. Also, too, “free”. And “free”. With a side of “not for credit toward a degree”.

      • elm says:

        As supplementary enrichment opportunities? Awesome!

        As a core component of a university education? Eh, I still have my doubts. As does Stanford, since you don’t get credit for the course even if you are a Stanford undergrad.

        • Manta1976 says:

          I also am a bit skeptical, but if I remember correctly Plato was also skeptical about the value of books as a core component of an education…

          • NonyNony says:

            The on-line structure that Stanford has is actually a good supplement to a textbook. With a really good lecturer, it might even be a good replacement for many textbooks.

            Actually the one place where this model might be quite helpful is if it moves lectures out of the classroom and onto the students’ own time (as textbook reading is now). Then the classroom time can be focused on interactive work – clearing up misconceptions, classroom discussions, practical hands-on activities – whatever fits with the material.

            This form is also great for doing away with one thing that colleges should have gotten rid of 50+ years ago – lecture halls with 100+ students in them and an instruction lecturing at them with little to no interaction. If that’s your classroom then this model can completely replace it (and any university that has more than a handful of courses like that is basically already stealing students’ money and deserves to have terrible things happen to them).

            But as a replacement for actual classroom instruction in a smallish classroom environment it’s a terrible idea. It isn’t a replacement at all for having an expert instructor who can identify the problems you’re having with the material and rephrase/rework what he/she is doing to help you comprehend it.

            • Even in a large lecture class, discussion sections help clarify a lot of the material and separate the wheat from the chaff. Those aren’t reproducible online, since they differ from real-life discussion as email differs from conversation.

              But a model where students watch lectures on their own time and engage in small-ish groups with a professor during actual class time sounds like a good idea.

              • DrDick says:

                You assume that there are always discussion sections for these large classes (or that the TAs who run them are adequately prepared for the job) and neither is always the case.

                • True. Though that observation bolsters the idea that we should be having more and better discussion sections, instead of more educational models which excise them or make them harder to conduct.

      • DrDick says:

        I do not personally know anything about that program, but would generally agree with what the others have said here.

        • Manta1976 says:

          Thanks for the discussion, anyhow.
          Another question: what do you think of the “Open University” model, where students and teachers do not meet at all?
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_University

          • DrDick says:

            Color me skeptical. I teach in both modalities and it is much harder to initiate and sustain interaction online and the quality tends not to be as good. There is definitely a place for online instruction, but I think it must always be secondary. I would also like to see monster lecture sections, which I also teach, go away, but that ain’t happening in my lifetime.

  5. Marek says:

    In the future, no one will have a job.

  6. BigHank53 says:

    “My goodness!” said Alice to the Cheshire Cat, “We certainly are fucked, aren’t we?”

  7. Walt says:

    I was wondering if that was the real story. The only way the “strategic dynamism” stuff makes sense is if Dragas and her ilk think that UVa has to go online in a big way.

    • rea says:

      It may not be the whole real story–a major donor involved in pushing President Sullivan overboard, billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, has close ties to a company called Education Mangement Corporation, a for-profit online educational content provider . . .

      • Walt says:

        Oh my God, really? I guess straightforward corruption is easier motivation to understand than anything we’ve heard so far.

      • TT says:

        Shocker! Paul Tudor Jones is the Barzini to Dragas’s Tattaglia in this grotesque and sordid escapade.

        As others have noted in this space and elsewhere (Jammelle Bouie in particular), this is just the latest salvo in the business and financial elite’s drive to corporatize and “financialize” every public and governmental institution in their path. Not for the betterment and/or “strategic dynamism” of said institutions, mind you (although that will always be the publicly-stated reason–offered with Brooksian smugness), but to make big bucks for themselves and their cronies, until the institution is but a rotting carcass along the roadside. Then it’s on to the next one. And the next rigged game. And the next elite failure (from which they completely insulate themselves).

      • TT says:

        Here’s an excellent primer on the underlying issues at stake and the corruption at the heart of Jones’s power play.

  8. George bush's feminism says:

    Of course, this is why the University of Phoenix and other on-line only schools have vastly outpaced those old Ivy League, State and land grant school in the prestige race. Pay me.

  9. themac says:

    If you haven’t read president Sullivan’s letter to the BOV I strongly recommend it. I think those of us who work for public universities will be referring to its arguments for some time to come:

    http://www.cavalierdaily.com/2012/06/18/president-sullivans-statement-to-the-board-of-visitors/

    In the meantime it would appear that my UVA doctorate has already depreciated 15%.

    • rea says:

      Oddly, the the message singles out for praise the new Contemplative Sciences Center (UVa gets into yoga) which(guess what) is funded by . . . Paul Tudor Jones. He also bought the new basketball arena. Like the hedge-fund manager he is, now he expects a return on his investment.

  10. Ronnie P says:

    In other news, Slate currently has a series where Mark Regnerus debates Will Saletan on gay parenting. This seems right up LGM’s alley.

    • elm says:

      Is this real or is this satire? I refuse to go to Slate to find out for sure, but I would believe it either way.

      • Ronnie P says:

        Real

        “Are gay parents bad for kids? Mark Regnerus and William Saletan discuss new research.”

        I can’t read it but my prediction: the “liberal” disagrees with some of what Regenerus has to say, but concedes many points along the way, thus re-defining the center in the debate. Regenerus will concede nothing.

  11. Davis X. Machina says:

    Odds on when the first state does away with the provision of post-secondary education altogether? Outsourced completely? Much of that real estate — there’s an urban campus of nearly every state university — is potentially very valuable.

    It’s expensive, and the median voter is too old to need it, or miss it when it goes, so long as the teams are still in existence.

    The major leagues can run the sports under the player-development model used in junior hockey and minor-league baseball.

    • Linnaeus says:

      Odds on when the first state does away with the provision of post-secondary education altogether?

      It’s just one guy (that I know of, at least), but we have a state house member here in my state who believes that is precisely what should happen.

    • Warren Terra says:

      Most states already massively underfund their state universities – giving less to the university for everything, in total, than the university spends to subsidize the tuition of in-state students. It’s at the point where it’s not clear why the universities are even bothering to have in-state tuition discounts in some cases.

      Aside from that, what’s even left for the states to do? They can’t take away the universities’ tax exemption. I suppose they could try to sell the buildings out from under the university.

  12. Dave says:

    any word from uva faculty on the imminent trashing of their institution?

  13. Richard says:

    I went to undergrad school and law school at Berkeley. I received a good education. I think I had about six courses total in those years when I had any interaction with the professors who taught those cases. With the sole exception of those classes (most of which were taught using the Socratic method), I could have learned just as much as watching the lectures online or on a DVD. If what you are doing is watching a good professor deliver lectures, which is most of the courses I ever took, I can’t see what I lose (except the comraderie of my fellow students) by watching that same lecture online or on DVD. I dont like what is going on at UVA but I certainly don’t buy the idea that on-line education is horribly wrong or that it will eviscerate the university.

    • Lee says:

      IMO there is nothing inherently wrong with on-line learning or video lectures but I still think its a problematic way to learn. It does not really faciliate intellectual exploration via the asking of questions or discussion. For big 101 lectures this might not be an issue but for smaller, more advanced classes it is.

      The real problem with on-line learning occurs when the class is supposed to teach a physical skill like fine cooking, the plastic arts, nursing; on-line learning falls flat. Its horrible for vocational traninng or fine arts training becasue it doesn’t lend itself to practice work easily. This is already a problem according to articles I’ve read in the Times.

      • Richard says:

        I agree it doesn’t work for the plastic arts or science labs or language instruction or the like. But I got a history degree as an undergrad and then a law degree. Almost all of my courses were lectures, some in large rooms and some in small rooms. There was very little questioning or discussion. (Some of those classes where the professor lectured to hundreds of students were the very best and most memorable of the classes I took). When the class consists of the professor lecturing to you (and most of my advanced history courses were exclusively that even if the audience was only ten or twenty students), then the need for the classroom experience, as opposed to online or DVD, is minimal. Regardless of the UVA situation, which seems to be a reprehensible palace coup, I dont see a valid objection to online education for many, many classes.

        • witless chum says:

          At Michigan State, I had a pretty good number of professors who seemed to me like I was gaining something from by being there in person. Now, I actually listened and didn’t do the State News crossword. Not because I was even a good student, but because I’m pretty much incapable of ignoring a lecture going on.

          I think there’s something to be said for making people leave their home and sorta psych themselves into a learning frame of mind, too, but that’s probably something there’s actual research on.

    • Warren Terra says:

      I’m actually sympathetic to this idea: for large lecture classes on static subjects like Calculus or Ancient Greece (changing perspectives and relevance to current events aside), the idea that the professor should have to give the same lecture (more or less) every year when they really nailed the lectures five years ago, or when some other professor in another state gives basically the same lecture series but much better, doesn’t make much sense. It would be better to have the students watch the best possible version of that lecture series on DVD.

      But there are a few issues with this approach:
      1) Will the students really be as engaged with the DVD? Even a lecturer who’s a poor performance artist gains credibility, respect, and attention simply by being in the same room, breathing the same air, and addressing the student directly. Plus, that lecturer will be devising the exams according to their own priorities and preferences – another reason to pay particular attention to them, to how they deliver the subject.
      2) The logical conclusion of this is that there will be only a handful of lecturers on, say, first-year Calculus, or freshman inorganic Chemistry. And each of them perhaps only once, and they may have been dead for years. If we don’t have people lecturing, where do the lectures come from? And isn’t this a huge problem for the employment prospects of existing professors?
      3) It presents an enormous future-employment problem: already the freshman survey course is lectured by a professor who sets exams and crafts the syllabus but has little interaction with students – aided by a staff of graduate students or PhD-level Instructors who lack a faculty appointment. No lecturers, no jobs; without this carrot of an eventual faculty position (even if The Carrot Is A Lie), where would those lower-level teachers, the ones interacting with the students, come from?
      4) It seems very unlikely that once this teaching method hits its stride it will remain limited to large lecture classes, and it seems very unlikely that the schools will maintain the staffing levels necessary to grade papers adequately and to interact with and inspire the undergraduates. If you’ve outsourced the lecture to a recording, why not outsource the grading to India, or (technology willing) to another robot? Why not outsource the senior seminar?

      Don’t get me wrong: I think this is the future. And I think that if done properly it could be a golden future. I’m fascinated with the little I know about the Oxbridge system of having a faculty member, often a senior one, act as your tutor and guide you through your reading and your responses to lectures; in this context it would be no problem if the lectures were tinned. But my optimistic visions depend on these technologies being used to eliminate scutwork and inferior lectures while resources continue to be expended or even increased on exposing students to active scholars and to teachers interested in their development. My expectation, on the other hand, is thoroughly pessimistic: I expect these technologies to be used to slash budgets and resources, to eviscerate and to eliminate departments. Rather than the use of a fantastic tinned lecture enabling the instructor to spend more time molding the next generation, it will almost certainly condemn to instructor to unemployment – or even prevent the instructor from ever being trained.

      • Richard says:

        1) Will the students really be as engaged with the DVD? Even a lecturer who’s a poor performance artist gains credibility, respect, and attention simply by being in the same room, breathing the same air, and addressing the student directly. Plus, that lecturer will be devising the exams according to their own priorities and preferences – another reason to pay particular attention to them, to how they deliver the subject.

        My experience of being in a large lecture hall was not that I was being addressed directly. And breathing the same air as the professor? Not one of my great thrills in life. Yeah, you gain an advantage if the prof you’re listening to is the same prof who prepares the exam but that is not ruled out by online lectures.
        2) The logical conclusion of this is that there will be only a handful of lecturers on, say, first-year Calculus, or freshman inorganic Chemistry. And each of them perhaps only once, and they may have been dead for years. If we don’t have people lecturing, where do the lectures come from? And isn’t this a huge problem for the employment prospects of existing professors?

        But the goal of the university is not to employ professors. Its to teach students.
        3) It presents an enormous future-employment problem: already the freshman survey course is lectured by a professor who sets exams and crafts the syllabus but has little interaction with students – aided by a staff of graduate students or PhD-level Instructors who lack a faculty appointment. No lecturers, no jobs; without this carrot of an eventual faculty position (even if The Carrot Is A Lie), where would those lower-level teachers, the ones interacting with the students, come from?

        You’re assuming that there is interaction. I had little of that during my college education.
        4) It seems very unlikely that once this teaching method hits its stride it will remain limited to large lecture classes, and it seems very unlikely that the schools will maintain the staffing levels necessary to grade papers adequately and to interact with and inspire the undergraduates. If you’ve outsourced the lecture to a recording, why not outsource the grading to India, or (technology willing) to another robot? Why not outsource the senior seminar

        You can make the proposal for any innovation into a slippery slope argument but its not convincing. I don’t think substituting video lectures for large lecture hall lectures will lead to this parade of horribles.

    • Where there really no discussion sections in these large lecture classes you took? I spent my fair share of time squeezed next to a hundred other people scribbling down stuff I could sometimes barely hear, but those classes always included a discussion section of 10-20 people that clarified the material and clued you in as to what was important and what wasn’t. Sometimes they weren’t helpful, but for the most part I was glad they were there

      And those aren’t reproducible online.

      • Richard says:

        Yes. None at all. I distinctly remember my first year course (at UCLA) on European intellectual history taught by Professor Schorske, first year history of philosophy by Professor Furth, Professor Levine at Berkeley on American history (second year at Berkeley), twentieth century art (cant remember the professor) but it was junior year at Berkeley. All great lecturers, really good classes. No discussions. They lectured and left. That was basically true about all my undergrad education except language classes and a couple senior year history courses taken in connection with writing a senior thesis. Large or medium size lecture halls, no discussions, no teacher interaction. Maybe its different at Berkeley now but that was certainly the norm in the 60s

        Would I have gotten as much out of those lecture courses if I had watched them online or on DVD? I think so. In fact, there are probably ways of making online lecture videos that are even better (links to other topics to explore, videos, sound recordings). Its probably easier to tune out if you’re watching at home rather than being in a lecture hall but I don’t know if thats sufficient reason to keep the large lecture hall experience.

  14. Pinko Punko says:

    The weirdest part is that at other schools where this is happening, it has been directly driven by right wing think tanks, at UVa it seems the organically marinated conservative BoV just needed a little churnalism of right wing ideology through David Brooks. Also, I note the irony of having a massive amount of faculty that could function as an in-house consulting department, but their expertise were not needed for this decision, the board acted unilaterally based on their bidness skiilz, then outsourced for PR. Atrocious.

  15. Pastafarian says:

    I suggest letting the free market sort it out.

    If you’re right, and online education is inferior, employers will quickly come to recognize this and give preference to candidates from traditional schools. Customers (students) will see both the inferior education and the inferior credential and will shun online education.

    And if you’re wrong, I hear Piggly Wiggly is hiring.

    Maybe you can apply for a job at my small manufacturing company, Loomis. Let’s put our heads together and try to come up with a way that someone with your skills could help bring products to market that people need. What is it you bring to the table again? Multiple doctorates in history and such-and-such studies, specializing in the history of labor, environmentalism, and various other pet causes of the left?

    Hmmmm….

    You know, Erik, there’s no shame in janitorial work. It’s an honest living.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      Ha ha ha, I love you promoting that such a thing as a “free market” exists. Next you’ll tell me the world is flat!

      • Pastafarian says:

        “A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it … gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.” — Milton Friedman.

      • Linnaeus says:

        The “multiple doctorates” dig gave me a bit of a chuckle.

    • Cody says:

      With any luck, all those darn elite intellectuals will be driven out of the United States. Then we can proceed with our advancement to complete capitalism, without any pesky lefties to interfere with our corporatism.

      I can’t wait to live in a world where being “smart” is an insult. Though I suspect being in the Republican party may already be like this.

      • Davis X. Machina says:

        It’s not necessarily an insult, but it will disqualify you from a run at the vice-presidency.

      • Furious Jorge says:

        I can’t wait to live in a world where being “smart” is an insult.

        I already live in a world like that.

        It’s called “The South.”

    • Furious Jorge says:

      There’s no such thing as a free market, dipshit.

    • Pinko Punko says:

      They already recognize this. This is why for profit colleges prey upon non-traditional or underskilled students, and their entire business model is designed to feed at the government trough for aid. This is also why they fight against any sort of oversight on the government side or the accreditation side. You see, Walmart is able to use their market leverage to control behavior of suppliers, but the US government isn’t allowed to demand some level of quality based on allowing student aid to flow to scam factories. That is a wonderful free market (for me not for thee).

    • The reduction of all human activity to market transactions is unbelievably sad. You’re in my prayers, pasta man.

      • Hogan says:

        “Cash payment the sole nexus; and there are so many things which cash will not pay! Cash is a great miracle; yet it has not all power in Heaven, nor even in Earth. ‘Supply and demand’ we will honour also; and yet how many ‘demands’ are there, entirely indispensable, which have to go elsewhere than to the shops, and produce quite other than cash, before they can get their supply! . . . All men are not patient docile Johnsons; some of them are half-mad inflammable Rousseaus. Such, in peculiar times, you may drive too far. Society in France, for example, was not destitute of cash . . . [T]he time has come when [Laissez-faire] must either cease or a worse thing straightaway begin, — a thing of tinderboxes, vitriol-bottles, secondhand pistols, a visibly insupportable thing in the eyes of all.”

        Thomas Carlyle, in an unusually lucid moment

    • DrDick says:

      there’s no shame in janitorial work. It’s an honest living.

      Too bad the same cannot be said of being a bloodsucking capitalist.

    • Walt says:

      There’s no way in a competitive market online education would drive out the real thing. The danger here is one of central planning — states imposing an unworkable model of education because it will save them money in the short-run. In the long run, public online education would lose out in the marketplace to private classroom education, but only at the cost of hurting American competitiveness for a generation. Online education can never produce the number of engineers or accountants necessary to keep the US economy afloat, but we’re on the path of learning that after a centrally-planned disaster.

    • Walt says:

      You ever notice that’s always the small business owners who are wingnuts? (Whenever someone starts talking about how they’re a job creator, I generally assume they own a dry-cleaning business, or maybe a car dealership.) Millionaire investment bankers or high-level Fortune 500 executives are far to the left of your average small business person. I think it’s because they know in some sense they don’t matter, that economic growth is driven by big businesses, but they make up for it cheering harder.

      Wingnut obsession with humanities is also peculiar. The humanities don’t suck up too much in terms of university resources — staff salaries are low, they don’t need expensive lab equipment — and the amount of resources they take up is demand-driven. Students like to take humanities courses; it’s part of the appeal of college. Especially for a place as imbued with tradition as U Va.

    • Deggjr says:

      Or you could apply for a job teaching at a university and as you say, there’s no shame in janitorial work. It’s an honest living.

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