A UNC-Chapel Hill professor has a rant in the N&O today. Her point, such as it was: Pat McCrory’s comments on the absurdity of North Carolina taxpayers’ shelling out their money so UNC students can get degrees that will do little to get them jobs.
The writer, Michele Rivkin-Fish, is an associate professor of anthopology. She says that McCrory’s common-sense comment is like the Soviet Union’s monopoly on education. It’s that kind of bizarre thinking that makes people outside of the campus conclude that today’s liberals arts studies are not only useless in the marketplace, but in fact actually harm students’ ability to think logically.
The liberal arts of course can enrich lives — but only if they actually do encourage students to learn to think and to study history, the arts and other subjects that can broaden their minds and souls. Sadly, too often modern liberal arts studies consist rather of indoctrination that cramps minds rather than broadens them, and too often these academic departments obsess over the cant and jargon of the left rather than the monuments of thought and culture.
For of course, McCrory was suggesting that if someone wants to study any of the liberal arts, hey, go ahead — on your own dime. Just don’t ask the taxpayers to pay for you to spend four years of your life, just so you can work at a job you could have gotten out of high school. That’s what freedom really is: You’re free to pursue your dream. Just don’t ask us to subsidize it if we can’t see how it benefits us.
There is still a scandal simmering over possible easy or nonexistent classes in one department at UNC. Here’s the real scandal: Universities that encourage students to spend four years for a degree that won’t help them get good jobs. Here’s what the McCrory and the legislature could do: order state universities to track what percentage of graduates get jobs that require a college degree. Law schools are already doing so. It would be enlightening to see how many gender studies, English or communications majors get started in good careers, and how many are working at coffee shops, clothing stores and so forth.
Oh, and as for letting students choose: We should eagerly await for a diatribe from the UNC campus about how elementary and high school students should be free to choose whichever school and course of study they desire.