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 .


Mr. Santorum started from something that conservatives more generally believe: that college education has become indoctrination into liberalism. This is mostly an issue for social science & humanities; it is unlikely that your physics or math professors will indoctrinate you into liberalism or any other political doctrine or ideology; nor your engineering prof. nor medicine nor many others. Now, if you take economics, pol sci, sociology & however many pretend-sciences, you're really asking for it as a student... As for the humanities, how could you possibly avoid it there?

But then he went on to blame four-year college as a fixation. But according to his previous statement, it was ideology not length of study that was the problem! Like Ann Coulter says, Mr. Santorum has the strange gift of ruining perfectly reasonable or plausible arguments...

You rebel, you should be proud.  You stood your ground with a smartass comment. 

I like a smartass of any political persuasion.


Well, when it gets so obvious, what can you say? There's little use in talking to people like this. There is something even more disgusting about them in positions of authority, but I think a mob is disgusting enough, & I've never seen anyone from any college where liberals who hate Bush were not a comfortable, mindless majority...

But most of the indoctrination is less hysterical & more insidious. College professors are one class among few in America that get to preach without seeming to preach. College professors are the closest thing to a public authority on who is superior & who is inferior in America.

Practically, students want to fit in & to earn approval; it just happens that they have to be indoctrinated into liberalism. Of course, they get something in return: license.


College for me meant liberals telling my how Sen. McCarthy ran the House Un-American Activities Committee. Communism was an invention of paranoid conservatives. There had never been a Cold War. Their history was mostly Howard Zinn & Noam Chomsky. America was the greatest terrorist nation in the world. I have seen this attitude in people from Nepal through Central Asia to various parts of Europe to America & Canada. These people do not even realize how uniform their opinions are as they regurgitate them for one another, for approval. They realize they're all the same, because they're very comfortable with each other. But they never had to think about any political matter in their lives.

Eventually, I could no longer put up with liberals; before that, I did not even call liberals liberals. I guess it's because I grew up with people who thought the essence of being clever was being an atheist who believes in the superiority of the 20th century to all previous centuries, then the 21st to the 20th & all previous centuries.

Since high-school I've always had some contact with my studies, classical political philosophy. This was what taught me how wrong everything liberalism stands for these days must be. The liberals I met had read some of the stuff I was reading & then in college I went through all my courses with a majority of liberals. They were lazy & stupid; it had previously never occurred to me that people who read classical texts could be bored by them, but I thought, fair enough. But the self-sufficiency & ignorance of their own incompetence was too much.

I'll leave you with a story that stuck to me. Hell, let me apologize now for going on & on about college liberalism... A number of years ago I was in a seminar on Greek tragedy & the liberal German professor decided it would be fun for us to stage a kind of debate, whether Oedipus is guilty or not. Then she assigned teams & my team was stuck with this Harvard girl - vegan type, she was already orange & kept eating carrots with ketchup - who started our preparation by saying she thought it was a clever strategy to argue that if tried today in America, he would be found innocent. -- Then hours went by, reading the play, reading some commentary, talking through some of the difficulties in the plot. -- Then we summed up: cheerful, she said again what she had said at the beginning. I had never seen before somebody so stupid as to let half a day of study affect her not at all. -- Then again, the professor, who was as kind a woman as this Harvard girl, & who really meant well, but was rather new to teaching, assigned for reading one of the greatest commentators on classical texts. I could not comprehend how the woman could recommend this guy & still go on with her pleasant platitudes. -- By degrees, I realized that they all thought that this was a waste of time, though they volunteered for it. Nobody cared even to elucidate the plot & this was an elective course...

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. 


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