23 March 2012

College Is Officially Meaningless

D.C. students would be required to apply to college or trade school and take the SAT or ACT under the most sweeping education legislation passed by the D.C. Council since a 2007 law set the stage for former Chancellor Michelle Rhee's aggressive reforms.
Under the Raising the Expectations for Education Outcomes Omnibus Act of 2012, the District is set to become the first "state" in the nation to require students to apply to a postsecondary institution, according to council staff.

If college is going to mean anything, it must have standards, preferably in realm of intelligence and academic accomplishment.  This implies that some people won’t live up to the standards.  If everyone could live up to the standards, then either the standards are too low or everyone is an ubermensch.  In the case of the former, the standards are irrelevant; in the case of the latter, the standards are irrelevant.

Anyhow, what’s interesting is how little thought DC officials have apparently put into this program.  Consider:  either every student in DC has the potential to go to college or they do not. Since DC is not Lake Woebegone, it stands to reason that either collegiate standards have devolved into a flaming pile of crap or not every student has the potential to go to college.  Given the sheer amount of federal money in postsecondary education (not to mention state money besides), and seeing the corresponding increases in college enrollment as a result, it seems likely that collegiate standards are becoming more meaningless.

At any rate, this continued emphasis on going to college simply indicates that college is becoming worthless, in terms of educational value and in terms of labor market value.  After all, if everyone can presumably clear the bar, how high can it really be?


  1. That is a stupid rule given the DC area is closing on a 50% graduation rate from high school and many of those are functionally maleducated.

    Even making everyone take the SAT test is stupid since they charge hundreds of dollars for those and the city can't make people pay for it. I suppose if Obamacare passes the Supreme Court, then governments at all levels will start making people buy things they don't want or need.

    Also, having all those stupid kids taking the SAT will drive the "average" down and make all those college prep kids more tightly clustered near the top.

  2. @Prof. Hale- Maybe I'm getting cynical, but the thought that maybe College Board paid off DC politicians did cross my mind. Also, it seemed really stupid to implement this in DC, when there are plenty of cities and states that are better academically, and could thus better handle this requirement.

  3. Simon, I would not be surprised at all to see the College Board's hand in this decision one bit. Not one bit.

    Before teaching (actually, this job was the impetus for going into teaching) I worked for ETS. I was involved with the CB on a day to day basis because the research I was assisting had much to do with the test scores of underprivileged kids, college entrance stats, etc. It got to the level of interacting with VPs and Presidents and discussing plans and funding of programs to improve scores...and the CB is like a pitbull on 'roids when it sees and opportunity to expand testing and make money in the name of Bettering Society (TM).

  4. @Cranberry- There are days when I wonder if I'm too cynical, and then I hear things like what you just wrote and realize that I'm often not cynical enough.