COMMENTARY | My high school is now rated “acceptable” by the state of Texas. Two years ago it was unacceptable, which my principal claims was the result of a single failing student. The student, apparently a member of a minority group, put that group’s failure percentage over an acceptable margin, triggering an automatic grade of “unacceptable” for the entire campus. And when we’re talking about over the margin, keep in mind that my school is one of those 5A juggernauts with over 2,000 students in grades 10-12. Now the state is using a new rubric to judge high school performance. Gotta love it!
According to TIME, the long-bemoaned K-12 methods of judging public school performance will now be applied to colleges and universities in order to adjust student loan bargains. If schools perform well, student loans and government funds come easy. If they are judged to be low-performing the cash dries up. The Obama administration hopes that this will end, or at least significantly ease, our nation’s student loan and college cost crises. It will not. It will make it worse.
First of all, schools will lie and manipulate to ensure that they are considered “high performing.” They will reduce academic rigor to lower levels to allow more students to graduate, thus increasing their graduation rates. And when this statistical manipulation leads to greater government funding, universities will have an incentive to continue the unethical practice. Colleges and universities that refuse to engage in grade inflation will lose funds to those that inflate.
Secondly, continuing to insist that a four-year degree is necessary for middle class success is harmful to those already struggling to pay for college and further disenfranchises the poor. Instead of trying to develop other avenues of post-secondary training or skill-building, the Obama administration has doubled down on reinforcing traditional college and university education, which is expensive and time-consuming. Not every high school graduate is well-suited for traditional higher education and should not be expected to waste lots of time and money pursuing it.
And return on these college loans may minimal: The plan calls for a cap on college loan repayments based on graduates’ monthly income. Students who get through grade-inflating colleges and universities and find their degrees useless, due to an oversaturation of the job market with grade-inflated degrees, will only have to pay back pennies on the dollar on their loans. Who suffers? Taxpayers. I do not want to have to pay for the millions of college graduates who should not have gone to college, only made it through due to rampant grade inflation, and now cannot get decent-paying jobs that will allow them to pay off their hefty student loans.
The Obama administration needs to go back to the drawing board on this plan.