Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Higher ed assessment yet again

Richard H. Hersh, who is nothing if not a member of the higher education establishment, offers his version of its response to the the Bush Administration’s push for learning outcomes (or "value added") assessment in higher education. While he rightly refers to "a dangerous hollowing of an increasingly precarious ivory tower," I’m a little leery of the buzzwords he invokes to describe what higher education should be doing: "we need to significantly improve our undergraduate colleges — not only to compete globally, but equally importantly, to enrich an active democracy here at home, a public life marked by liberty, dissent, and robust civic engagement."

On the surface, it’s hard to quarrel with the goals, but there’s nothing there about cultural depth, the transmission of a heritage, the good, the true, and the beautiful, or "the best that has been thought and said." Applying my hermeneutic of suspicion, I wonder if he’s in effect proposing an alliance of business and academic liberals, offering ways for each to use higher education to accomplish its agenda.

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