Now that  the economy appears to be improving to some, we see the culture wars making a return to  presidential politics. College is for snobs says the candidate with multiple degrees. Really? Why do we abandon real issues that affect people and resort to these tactics? Really Senator sweater vest is saying,most people are not good enough for college,  but wrapping in sheep's clothing. In order to compete in the world we are going to need to find a way to give more citizen's an advanced education, and make it affordable. Creating jealousy can not be the way. What do you think?


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I haven't seen a condemnation of college in campaign rhetoric.  I don't know what someone's sweater has to do with it.  I don't see how we can know that "college is for snobs" -- should someone say it -- really means "most are not good enough for college"; it sounds like projection.  I don't know what you mean by advanced education; however delightful, studies in German history or ancient Greek tragedy won't make the country rich, but EE will.  I don't know who would be jealous of whom here.

It just sounds like projection.  We should resolve our own issues offline, before blaming others for what we imagine them to be thinking.

The interesting thing to me here is "affordable."  Not *whether* -- come now, nobody thinks college should be unaffordable! -- but how.  Massive amounts of financial aids doesn't seem to be working, nor would we expect it to:  lots of third-party money always drives up prices.  I have some ideas, but they may not belong on TGD.  I'm not sure they'll make anyone mad! :o

I want to hearbecause the debt our kids are being saddled with. Is terrifying

Santorum never said that college was for snobs.  He didn't.  Not even close.  And when he was in the Senate, he aggressively pushed for policies to make higher education more accessible.

The real question is why is our entire political debate dominated by people arguing over things that weren't said, things that didn't happen, things that are mathematically impossible, and things that no one has ever proposed?  Maybe if instead of making up this kind of stupid nonsense, people actually bothered to find out what any of the candidates platforms are, our country wouldn't be in the sorry shape it's in.

Sorry, but when you post stupid crap like this, I can only conclude that you're among the people who deserve to live under the dysfunctional government your ilk has given us.

He didn't say that "college is for snobs" and he belatedly walked back the use of the word. For context, these are the statements made by the parties involved, in chronological order.


"President Obama once said he wants everyone to go to college. What a snob...These are good decent men and women who go out and work hard every day and put their skills to test that aren't taught by some liberal college professor trying to indoctrinate them. Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image. I want to create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his."

-Rick Santorum, 02/25/12


"What I've said is I want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college, or whatever other higher training skills," he said. "But it doesn't mean you have to go to a four-year college degree... I think everyone should have the opportunity. It's about what's best for you."

-Rick Santorum, 02/26/12


"When I speak about higher education, we're not just talking about a four year degree. We're talking about somebody going to a community college and getting trained for that manufacturing job that is now requiring somebody walking through the door handling a million dollar piece of equipment. And they can't go in there unless they've got some basic training beyond what they received in high school."

-Barack Obama, 02/27/12


"[Obama's statement] seems entirely reasonable. Everybody in America has to get re-educated all the time because jobs are going to change, technology is going to change. If we are going to compete with the world market, we both have to have the best equipment and the best training."

-Newt Gingrich, 02/28/12


"I was commenting on the general attitude of...government knows best. And so I used the term snob. You know, it was a strong term, probably not the smartest thing."

-Rick Santorum, 03/02/12


The problem with Santorum's comments is that these quotes (Santorum speaking on Feb. 26th and Obama speaking on Feb. 27th) show both he and Obama basically agree giving people more opportunities to pursue higher education is a good thing and that that higher education is not necessarily going to be a conventional four-year bachelor's degree. Santorum created a dispute where one didn't exist and generated a tremendous amount of negative press in the process. That's not how you behave as a candidate and it shows why he's not going to be able to win the nomination.

Good analysis. Not everybody needs to go to a 4 year college, we need master mechanics plumbers, dental hygienists. And we also need the training and education provided by colleges and universities.  Everybody should have opportunity, and we do need to find the how  in making it happen .


I like a smartass of any political persuasion.


Based on what Mike said (link?), Santorum kept pushing to make college more accessible (how?), so it's not reasonable to blame him for being opposed to college!  Unless those more-accessible policies were ill-advised.

Here are ways I can think of to make college more affordable, per Stein's question.  Maybe you all have others.

The biggest one I can think of is to make primary education better.  The stronger you are scholastically, the less help you need.  This means you can be in a bigger class, or get what you want to learn from a book, or place out of the class entirely.  I think this will do more than all the other stuff put together except possibly...

Reduce staff for unnecessary positions.  I don't really know how big a problem that is, but when you've got UC San Diego adding an estimated $1M diversity office to 18 existing diversity offices on campus (if I read right), this suggests it's a problem worth looking into. ( ).  There, I've made people mad anyway, possibly.

Distance learning; online courses.

And my colleagues would kill me, and I don't see how we'll get this into our culture, but:  let college for non-humanities major be technical, not liberal-arts.  It works in Oz and Germany.  Problem is, an employer finds out you got a shorter degree only in engineering, and they think you went to something like the DeVry Institute.

And:  reduce financial aid somewhat.  Don't eliminate it; I don't want people to not get what they need.  But whenever you throw massive amounts of 3rd-party cash at something, you drive up the price, and we've seen that as year after year the cost of college has significantly outpaced inflation. We'd be foolish to ignore that.  Loans, OTOH, against future earnings, make sense, and would send people to majors that will serve them better after graduation.

But, mostly, make primary education better.

There are bound to be other ways.  What are they?

So how do we make primary education better?  Here are my ideas.

Tuition vouchers and magnet schools.  We know competition increases quality, and private schooling is usually better; it's unfair to deny the poor this opportunity.  Magnet schools help, as they are allowed to be innovative, but there aren't enough of them.  Why not let all public schools, or almost all, be magnet schools?

Allow schoolchildren to cross district lines.  They can take their tax money with them; some areas already allow this.  Forcing children to go to bad schools benefits the establishment, but it doesn't benefit the children.  (A faint way to say it.  It sentences children to lifelong poverty.  What a horrible thing to do!)  Can't say I care much for jailing a mother for sending her children to the wrong public school, either.  Can't find the link.  She lied about where she lived to give her kids a chance.

Longer work for those that need it.  I posted this in another thread.  Poor kids' scores decline over the summer, while middle-class and rich kids' scores improve, because the latter are reading and going to museums and stuff in the summer and the poor kids aren't.  A NYC school that has longer hours and a longer year has parents praying to get their kids in... but IIRC there's only one of it.

Use teaching styles that work, not those that are trendy.  Worst offender here I think is sight-reading.  It creates an age cohort of children who can't spell.  People notice, and they return to phonics.  But that doesn't interest those who decide on teaching styles enough, it seems, and the go to sight-reading again.

Eliminate teaching-to-the-test laws.  In my state, they're called Standards of Learning (SOL's -- hah), and they drive the pursuit of trivia ("what is an obtuse angle?") rather than understanding.  I do see a drawback -- eliminate them and maybe instead of teaching trivia, schools will teach nothing.

In my home state, the teachers' unions backed -- and got -- a bill requiring every teacher to document the effect of every lesson plan on every student.  Teachers themselves hated it, of course, but most of them aren't union, although they have to pay dues by state law.  If there are such laws still, they should be eliminated.  Now, I'm sure no teacher actually does this nightmare of paperwork, but they probably had to at least be seen doing something, and that time would be better spent teaching. has some other ideas I have read.  Reading programs with documented effectiveness, not implemented for political reasons.  

Also, I think, fix problems early on; it's easier to teach a young child to read than to teach a middle-schooler to read and good study habits and all the content he's missed.

What's yours?

Allow schoolchildren to cross district lines.


Part of the problem with this is that the people who paid boocoo money for a house in the "right" district will flip out. To them, it won't be fair that someone who didn't "pay in" is getting to use their resources. About twenty years ago, Texas had a ballot issue that would have created county-wide school districts; the people in the new suburbs with the good schools and the top-dollar real estate turned out in droves to make sure that didn't happen. 

Read the next sentence:  "They can take their tax money with them; some areas already allow this."  

Part of the problem with figuring out who the "bad" teachers are is that the students themselves usually aren't in a place to make that judgment. For a 9 year-old, a teacher who assigns a lot of homework is a "bad" teacher. For parents, a teacher who doesn't think their offspring is God's gift to the world is a "bad" teacher. For administrators, a teacher who doesn't do a sufficient amount of ass-kissing is a "bad" teacher. There really isn't a disinterested third party who can make that judgment. 


Determining who a good teacher is is kind of like determining who a good doctor is - it's an absence or minimization of explicitly negative outcomes. I don't know how much better or worse my doctor is relative to his peers. I'm not educated in medicine and don't have the background to make that judgment. But if my doctor did a procedure or prescribed a medication that injured or maimed me, I would obviously not see that doctor again (except in court). 

It's really not that hard to tell if a teacher is doing a good job. You consider the improvement in the students.

(Not that I think bad teachers are usually the problem; I think it's constraints on those teachers.  But if it were, we could certainly address it.  Seriously:  any of you have children?  You're not going to investigate how good their teachers and schools are, but just hope everything's OK?  I find that hard to believe!)


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