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A Note from WRM
Extremely Proud of My Bard Students and Colleagues
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  • wigwag

    Congratulations to the prisoners on their victory; its great that a program like this exists. All involved should be very proud.

    But here’s the problem. The mere fact that a program like this exists in the context of an American college is proof positive of what’s wrong with higher education in America. American colleges and universities do way too many things that are unrelated to their primary mission, educating their students. That’s why a Bard education (and the education at every other private college and university in America) is so outrageously expensive. Who pay’s for this admittedly great program? If the faculty who participated spent less time in the Correctional Institution and more time at Bard actually teaching, how many fewer professors would Bard be able to employ and how much could tuition be reduced?

    I don’t mean to pick on this program in particular, but Bard, like the rest of its sister and brother institutions is overrun with programs that cost it millions of dollars that could easily be eliminated. Does Bard really need a Hannah Arendt institute? Does it really need a Center for Environmental Quality? How critical exactly is the Center for Advanced Photographic Studies or the MBA Program in Sustainability? Does Bard really need a joint program with Al Quds University in Jerusalem?

    While none of these programs may be bad in themselves (although some of them may be), taken together they do little more than drive up tuition costs that students and their parents have to pay so that they can get a reasonably good education. Even when wealthy donors underwrite some of the costs of these superfluous programs, money is fungible; these same donors could have been approached to provide underwriting to projects more focused on the institutions real mission; educating its students. But its not just tuition payers being bilked; it’s tax payers. Through the student loan program (which makes continuously rising tuition feasible) and numerous grant programs and they payment of indirect costs on grants that faculty receive, college and universities may be the biggest welfare recipients in the history of the known universe.

    So by all means; congratulations to the prisoners and to everyone else involved, but what we really need is a radical and disruptive approach to reforming higher education in America. The higher education sector is desperately in need of disintermediation. Bard and all colleges and universities are little more than fat inefficient and bureaucratic middlemen that stand in between those who want to teach and those who want to learn. Teaching undergraduates to be productive American citizens isn’t even a primary goal for Bard anymore; it would much rather focus on reforming prison education, appeasing radical Palestinians and paying homage to the likes of Arrendt.

    Is this really what the higher education sector is supposed to do? How much more of this can middle class families afford?

    Why don’t you tell us, Professor Mead?

    • Boritz

      “The higher education sector is desperately in need of disintermediation. ”

      And they need to streamline.

      • wigwag

        You’re right Boritz, streamlining would be good; so would reducing our national obsession with credentialism. But nothing would reduce costs more than disintermediating higher education. Institutions like Bard need to go the way of travel agents and pimps. They need to get a big dose of what publishing companies like Doubleday are experiencing and music companies like Atlantic Records.

        There are still plenty of people who want to fly somewhere and plenty of airlines ready to take them. Flying has stayed relatively cheap because travel agents are no longer necessary and the costs they imposed on the system have been eliminated.

        There are still plenty of people willing to pay for sex and plenty of people willing to offer sex in exchange for money; thanks to the internet, pimps are no longer needed to broker the transaction.

        Thanks to disintermediation, recorded music is now practically free and the cost of books has fallen dramatically.

        It won’t be long before electric utilities, cell phone carriers and health insurance companies confront the same near death experience. Just ask taxi fleet owners how many of them thought just a decade ago that Uber would turn them into dinosaurs.

        Higher education is ripe for the same disputive phenomenon. Why do students who want to learn and professors who want to teach need a huge bureaucracy like Bard to broker the transaction? What exactly does Bard provide to either its students or professors that is so valuable other than the opportunity to do things the same old way? How much less would higher education cost if institutions like Bard which have scores of agendas other than educating undergraduates were written out of the system.

        The program that Professor Mead writes about in this post is heart warming and apparently valuable; I have no quibble with it. I just don’t think that it’s what a college or university should be doing. That is, unless your goal is to bankrupt America’s middle class.

        Bankrupting the middle class has become a speciality of Bard and similar institutions all over America.

    • Jim__L

      It matters that inmates in prison get the chance to do this. Harvard is still pursuing its basic mission, just in an unusual direction.

      The fact that these inmates are (presumably) not the usual 10%er elitists actually gives me more hope for fostering real diversity on campus — the sort of diversity that gets outside the Ivory Tower / Politically Correct bubble.

      If you want to target the bloat in Higher Ed, target the Title IX inquisitions, the Green programming, and the football squad. I sincerely wish you luck on all of those endeavors.

  • mdmusterstone

    Is it even conceivable that any parole board will be able to
    resist the arguments these prisoners will bring to their next hearing? LOL

  • Fat_Man

    the college admissions process is not a magical sorcerer’s hat which
    automatically sorts life’s winners and losers”

    I wish that were true, but increasingly it looks like we live in a world where the only thing that counts is your credentials. We need to take concrete steps to change that. One way would be removing the ability of college admissions officers to pass out the golden tickets.

    The only fair system that takes no account of race, location, family, or money is a lottery. My proposal would be that the “selective” colleges be required to admit students based on a lottery drawing. No SATs, no recommendations, no affirmative action, no legacies, no athletic scholarships.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The American University Campus is no longer a place where different points of view get shared and debated, in an open minded spirit of tolerance and an interest of in learning how to discover the Truth. It is rather a place of leftist indoctrination where any other view points get shouted down, and forbidden a forum to express themselves. It is unsurprising that criminals serving time have greater skills at uncovering the Truth, than the leftist drones of Harvard.

  • Corlyss

    Congrats to all concerned. I hope there’s something the young men can do with their new-found intellectual prowess besides serve as jailhouse lawyers.

  • Tina Trent

    It must have been so thrilling for you and your colleagues. Such things are all about preening faculty getting to get off on hanging out with killers and rapists.

    In reality, these prison college programs are unmitigated nonsense. The New York programs are heavily involved with unrepentant terrorists and cop-killers, whom you and your peers choose to associate with, legitimate, and labor to free.

    Most of the “coursework” above GED-level is leftist race-gender-class resentment studies garbage. Also, none of this has anything to do with college admissions, and you know it — you just can’t help trying to paper over your pedestrian hanging-with-the-killers excitement with some faux narrative insight. There are plenty of people who merit help with getting a higher eduction — these “students” probably killed some of them.

    Now that you’ve indulged yourself by showing off here, can you muster the integrity to tell us the facts about the victims and what they suffered? And don’t forget to get the entire record — not just the last convictions. Or are you just going to participate in the official cleansing of such unpleasant realities from the historical record, as your scumbag peers at Bard routinely and viciously do?

    Also, what’s next — reaching out to Carl and Carlos’ victims to give them an education too? Oh wait, they’re still dead. They were murdered by your “students.”

    But they won a debate contest.

    But they killed people.

    Oh, the delicious quandary of it all. Thrill up the leg, contrarian musing, etc. etc.

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