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The Milton Measure

Obama’s College Scorecard Gets F

by Ned Sheehan on Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Recently, President Obama released his College Scorecard. As a September 12th New York Times Article reports, originally, the Scorecard was meant to be a ranking, based in large part on cost-effectiveness, of colleges. After facing much criticism from the higher education lobbyists, the Obama administration decided not to release a ranking. Instead, he changed the format of the College Scorecard to the raw data that his team collected. Due to this cancellation, I feel the College Scorecard is an intolerable half-measure. Though its intentions are noble, and its data is better than most other resources at this point, I personally fear that politicians will hold this scorecard up as a great success, when in reality the Scorecard is only a very small step in the right direction.

College is one of the most expensive investments an American family can make yet college-related data available before the Scorecard was limited. Without a doubt, the College Scorecard, which focuses on cost-effectiveness, is certainly an improvement over the above mentioned metrics; however, it should go farther.

The Scorecard, in its current form, is just a few columns of data informing the reader of the price it costs to go to a given college, the graduation rate, as well as the average annual salary a graduate of said college makes. For me, this information is only mildly useful, at best. The data itself is a solid resource, but it needs more breadth and depth. A good step forward within the current form would be to explain how large a salary would justify the cost of a given degree.

A ranking is necessary; the American people have the right to make head-to-head comparisons on how to make a sound choice before making an investment in their children’s education. Earlier, I mentioned the higher-education lobbyists stood in staunch opposition to such a ranking. The leader of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, Carol Schneider, gave her opinion of the system to the New York Times. She believes that the Scorecard “accelerates what has been a narrowing of the American dialogue over the purposes of higher education over the last two decades.” Mrs. Schneider states that college is for the purpose of higher learning (rather than preparing its graduates to make a lot of money). However, I believe that college, which is meant to prepare us for life, should leave us financially solvent.

Opposition to the Scorecard seems to me to be propagated by schools who fear that their reputation will be tarnished by their astounding cost-ineffectiveness. President Obama should not have bent to the insecurities of these institutions. Perhaps he was worried that Congress would shut down or defund his plan. One would think that as Obama prepares to leave office, he would exhibit less compromise in realizing his goals.

Where we were promised progress; we were only given half-steps and half-measures. An organization that claims to advocate for higher education has only instilled more doubt and inefficiency in our college choice system. More people borrow a hefty sum for a degree that may take decades to repay. More American citizens will have to live years of their lives under the specter of student loan debts. One can take solace in the fact that some day, colleges will be forced to prove their worth, but until then, many people will remain without a solid means to compare schools. We have been disappointed by politicians in the hope that producing something will look better than nothing. I must express my severe disappointment in both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Schneider. In trying to “protect” college education, no progress has been made.

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Posted by Ned Sheehan on Oct 2 2015. Filed under More Opinion, Opinion, Recent Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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