“Diversity” or excellence – pick one

HMD, more or less:

America is in crisis, from the university to the workplace. Toxic ideas first spread by higher education have undermined humanistic values, fueled intolerance, and widened divisions in our larger culture. Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton? Oppressive. American history? Tyranny. Professors correcting grammar and spelling, or employers hiring by merit? Racist and sexist. Students emerge into the working world believing that human beings are defined by their skin color, gender, and sexual preference, and that oppression based on these characteristics is the American experience. Speech that challenges these campus orthodoxies is silenced with brute force. Diversity commissars denounce meritocratic standards as discriminatory, enforce hiring quotas, and teach students and adults alike to think of themselves as perpetual victims. From #MeToo mania that blurs flirtations with criminal acts, to implicit bias and diversity compliance training that sees racism in every interaction, we are creating a nation of narrowed minds, primed for grievance, and that we are putting our competitive edge at risk.

At UCLA, “the diversity vice chancellor’s total pay, including benefits, has averaged $414,000.” Nice work if you can get it. We touched on this a while back. Hey, let’s subject the NBA and the 207 Nobel laureates in physics to this nasty foolishness.

One Response to ““Diversity” or excellence – pick one”

  1. Bob Risko Says:

    IN DEFENSE OF THE ACADEMIC BUDGET

    Education takes time. This is because learning is slow. The core reason is that the mind never takes a straight line in learning. It doesn’t simply take new information and incorporate it as is. It instead compares it to, measures it against, and synthesizes it with, existing information. Every time the mind is presented with something new, that is, it rearranges everything it already knows to integrate the new into it. Importantly, this doesn’t happen overnight. The pace depends on the person, the complexity of the material, and the amount of information that already exists. But overall, the process is slow, because it simply takes time to work properly. This is what educational psychologists mean when they call learning long-term, iterative, and in the end inefficient. It all amounts to the same thing: learning is slow, so education takes time.

    More practically, when we talk about rolling back university costs, we focus on three budgets – student, administrative, and academic – and debate how to allocate funds among them. The third budget, however, is special, because it captures something the others don’t, which is educational time: time it takes students to explore the curriculum; to interact with faculty and other students; to master course work; to build on that mastery; and to emerge with a degree that has value. Education – real education, solid education, lasting education – takes time: to accomplish everything the process demands, and successfully. The academic budget, therefore, is very much the central one, because it captures the mission of the university.

    In hard times, unfortunately, this leaves only one choice: cuts that target students and staff should come first. Why? For the simple reason that these aren’t core costs. Naturally, a university without robust student and staff spending is a lesser place, but that still doesn’t make it core spending. By contrast, cuts that target academics should come last, because they leave less time: for exploring, to repeat, the curriculum, interacting with faculty and peers, mastering course work, building on that mastery, and emerging with a degree with value. And less time is always a serious misstep, because the mission of the university – education — has to come first, no matter what. That’s the nature of the business.

    Education is about learning, and learning just can’t proceed without adequate time and an adequate budget to support that time. It’s that simple.

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