Sunday, April 15, 2012

Grow Economy by Cutting Law School Subsidies

by Hans Bader ·

The economy remains slow, recovering from the recession at an unusually low rate, partly due to economically-harmful Obama administration policies. “U.S. stocks fell, dragging the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lower . . . after employers added fewer jobs than forecast in March,” reports Bloomberg News. As one columnist notes, “Were it not for people dropping out of the labor force, the unemployment rate would be well over 11%.”

Under the Obama administration, the Education Department has poured increasing amounts of financial aid into law schools, while seeking to cut vocational education needed to train certain kinds of skilled factory workers who are in short supply, impeding the expansion of factory operations that would also provide jobs to many unskilled workers. As the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal notes, “Law students . . . are treated generously as future professionals and able to borrow, with virtually no cap, significantly more money than undergrads. . . For several decades, most higher education loans were made by private lenders with the federal government providing guarantees against loss—and, in some cases, interest rate subsidies.”

The leftist law professors who dominate many law schools openly teach law students a contempt for property rights, the rule of law, and the free-market system, telling them that a lawyer’s role is to be “either a social engineer or a parasite on society.” Many law schools are more like incubators of evil than centers of learning.

Based on my experience as a graduate of Harvard Law School, much of what law schools teach their students is useless drivel, as some law professors themselves have conceded. Imagine how much more economic growth there could be if taxpayers no longer subsidized law schools and their indoctrination of students in left-wing group-think. (Since many law schools fail to teach much in the way of practical skills, there is also no reason to require people to attend law school before sitting for the bar exam, a requirement that merely enables law schools to jack up tuition.) The lawsuits and social engineering promoted by left-wing law professors harm economic growth.

Cutting subsidies to law schools would allow the government to either reduce the skyrocketing budget deficit, or redirect the money thereby saved to more productive uses, like vocational education. As The Washington Post has noted, as senior skilled factory workers are retiring, no one is taking their place, since “many of the younger workers who might have taken their place have avoided the manufacturing sector because of the . . . stigma of factory work.” Our government’s prejudice against manufacturing and in favor of white-collar college degrees is causing serious harm to our economy. As the Post observes, “A recent report by Deloitte for the Manufacturing Institute, based on a survey of manufacturers, found that as many as 600,000 jobs are going unfilled.” Meanwhile, millions of people are unemployed, many of them people with economically useless college degrees in politically correct majors that teach few useful skills.

Yet the Obama administration wants to slash useful vocational education that leads to high-paying blue-collar jobs, even as it seeks to increase wasteful education spending that has fueled massive administrative bloat and enormous college bureaucracies. As The New York Times notes, President Obama “aims to shrink the small amount of federal spending for vocational training in public high schools and community colleges. . .The administration has proposed a 20 percent reduction in its fiscal 2012 budget for career and technical education, to a little more than $1 billion, even as it seeks to increase overall education funding by 11 percent.”

Meanwhile, universities continue to expand their bureaucracies to include more duplicative jobs for campus administrators and left-wing apparatchiki. There are now “more administrators than teachers” at many colleges. One university that claims to have cut spending “to the bone” is expanding its huge bureaucracy even further, creating a new full-time “vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

As Heather Mac Donald notes, that position augments the university’s “already massive diversity apparatus, which includes the Chancellor’s Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women’s Center.”


Should unproductive academics be made redundant?

Below you will find the sort of rage-filled rant that comes from academics who have not shown academic excellence.  The "publish or perish" rule is a demanding one (though I never found it so) but a more objective  way of assessing intellectual excellence has yet to be found. And if a university is not about intellectual excellence, what is it about? 

The claim below that intellectual productivity is "philistine" shows by itself what a  confused thinker the author is.  He sounds like  one of the "Theorists" who tend to infest English Departments these days.

It is certainly true that some good teachers are inactive in research but they should not be in a research-intensive institution.  You can be good at both research and teaching and a university is right to demand that

How to assess academic productivity? At Sydney University, the question couldn't be more relevant: in November, management announced that it had made a serious budgetary mistake and would slash underperforming staff in order to pursue IT and building improvements. Although officially, research is only 40 per cent of academics' responsibilities, management retrospectively introduced a new performance test, just to purge staff. Anyone who hadn't published at least four articles in less than three years was threatened. This basic violation of natural justice was astonishing, particularly from managers who continually profess their commitment to high-minded, progressive values.

Like other workplaces, universities have performance management processes. These, not redundancy, are the answer to underperformance. But how to respond to a failure of management?

The cuts have provoked an outcry. With its simplistic measures, how will Sydney maintain research quality, when the finest researchers couldn't possibly teach and publish consistently at the rate administrators demand? How can management sack staff with classrooms already so crowded?

Sydney's administrators have not been so different from their counterparts elsewhere. Administrators everywhere are trying to shrink their already overstretched academic workforces. Universities, apparently, just don't need academics.

Talk of values such as productivity serves to justify managers' failure to promote the conditions necessary for universities to function. Local managerialism is the polar opposite of world's best practice - such as in the US Ivy League - and shows parallels with the disastrous financialisation of the global economy.

University technocrats are the equivalent of the regulators whose negligence caused the GFC. Just as markets favoured complex financial instruments far removed from commodities, so too universities have been alienated from their basic rationale by an ascendancy of executives hostile to the principles that should govern academic communities: respect for students and staff; research unfettered by philistine "productivity" requirements; security of academic tenure; uncasualised labour; low student-staff ratios. These are the ways to guarantee academic "productivity", rather than its bureaucratic substitutes.

It is the managers who are unproductive. Systemic managerial failures are compromising quality.


Music education helps education generally

MUSIC in schools is being sacrificed in the push to improve literacy and numeracy, but a major study shows its importance in improving students' results and attendance.

The Song Room, which funds music programs for schoolchildren, said students were falling behind despite a bigger focus on literacy and numeracy.

And a leading Hobart music teacher said fewer schools were investing in music, despite long-term knowledge that primary schoolchildren in particular benefited from specialised music teaching.

The Song Room report said children who had done its programs had higher academic grades, gained the equivalent of one year in literacy and reading results in NAPLAN scores, and had better relationships with teachers.

"The results show students taking part attend school more often, become more engaged with their studies and schooling and become happier, more well-rounded students," said co-author Professor Brian Caldwell.

Sandy Bay music teacher Annette Stilwell said music was offered less and less as part of school studies.

"The very sad thing is that they don't spend the money in the primary schools," she said. "It's especially important in the little ones. We know it helps their concentration, memory and time management skills.

"Everybody benefits but in particular in primary school, and it should be specialised music teaching."

Ms Stilwell said singing was cheap to teach but also had benefits.

"People talk about the high results in Asian students, and they neglect to mention they have intensive music classes in all their primary classes," she said.

The Song Room offers programs mainly to children who would not otherwise have the opportunity, with the possibility of some this year in Tasmania.

Chief executive Caroline Aebersold said the study showed music and art helped bridge the huge disparities in educational achievement for students from low socio-economic, indigenous or non-English-speaking backgrounds.


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