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If It Ain't Broke ...

Fixing the higher education system in the US? Not necessary, according to the Washington Post's Daniel deVise. Still, to mend American higher ed's "vaunted reputation," deVise proposes eight ways to get the system "into shape." In order to abate the issues of "spiraling tuition and fees" and "yawning 'graduation gaps,'" the Post says universities ought to quantify student learning, stop awarding merit-based aid, refine and standardize three-year bachelor's degrees, strengthen core curricula, assign "more homework," "encourage completion," "cap athletic subsidies," and "rethink remediation."

However, Blogger GEARS "[rips] a few holes in the arguments because these might fly for non-technical degrees but these will do little to help in the engineering [or] science areas. For example, he says, measuring what science and engineering students are learning is difficult to nail down on paper. GEARS also says that when re-designing core curricula, schools should incorporate as much science as they do Shakespeare. "If I have to read ancient literature … then some lit major should learn a Mohr’s Circle and have to build a balsa wood bridge," he says. Blogger Historiann says that standardized testing will likely do nothing to improve higher ed, and further, that it is unsubstantiated "until we get some evidence that more testing [equals] more education." In the end, though she doesn't agree with them all, Historiann says each of the Post's eight ideas could all prove to be quite costly. To that end, she adds a ninth suggestion, her own: "Government reinvestment in higher education." Historiann says that those in higher ed ought to strive for "a collective commitment for state and federal education funding at responsible and appropriate levels given the excellent work that universities do and given how much individual states and the federal government lean on these engines of innovation and job creation."