Donald Trump just issued an executive order insisting that colleges obey the First Amendment. That something is wrong with American academia is shown by the very necessity of reminding all that they should, really, be obeying the law. But it’s the other part of this which is the much more fun and important. For he’s just ensured that, in the fullness of time, there are going to be an awful lot fewer grievance studies courses and professors. Because he’s just insisted that every college has to produce statistics on the outcome of the education received. Who, by studying what, now earns how much?
And let’s face it, given that the median, mean and modal outcome of grievance studies is to qualify as an excellent barista, with an income to match, this means that rather fewer are going to be taking these courses given the amount of money being charged.
So this isn’t the important bit:
In a move that appeared aimed at what some view as a growing trend of political correctness on college campuses, President Trump signed an executive order Thursday to bar federal research grants to institutions that don’t “avoid creating environments that stifle competing perspectives.” The president promised earlier this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that he would do something about what he called a political climate on liberal college campuses that chills discourse. His executive order conditions research funding on “compliance with the First Amendment” and directs federal agencies to ensure that institutions receiving federal research or education grants “promote free inquiry.”
During the signing ceremony at the White House, Trump specifically called out “professors and power structures” that keep young Americans from “challenging rigid far-left ideology,” and lamented that many universities have become “increasingly hostile” to free speech. “We will not stand idly by and allow public institutions to violate their students’ constitutional rights,” Trump said. “If a college or university doesn’t allow you to speak, we will not give them money. It’s very simple.”
That’s fun, obviously, but this is the more important part:
The Federal Government can take meaningful steps to address these problems. Selecting an institution and course of study are important decisions for prospective students and significantly affect long-term earnings. Institutions should be transparent about the average earnings and loan repayment rates of former students who received Federal student aid. Additionally, the Federal Government should make this information readily accessible to the public and to prospective students and their families, in particular.
This order will promote greater access to critical information regarding the prices and outcomes of postsecondary education, thereby furthering the goals of the National Council for the American Worker established by Executive Order 13845 of July 19, 2018 (Establishing the President’s National Council for the American Worker). Increased information disclosure will help ensure that individuals make educational choices suited to their needs, interests, and circumstances. Access to this information will also increase institutional accountability and encourage institutions to take into account likely future earnings when establishing the cost of their educational programs.
In other words, you can go earn $9 an hour at Starbucks right now. Why spend $100,000 and up and four years on a liberal arts degree so that you can earn $9 at Starbucks? More specifically:
(ii) expand and update annually the College Scorecard, or any successor, with the following program-level data for each certificate, degree, graduate, and professional program, for former students who received Federal student aid: (A) estimated median earnings; (B) median Stafford loan debt; (C) median Graduate PLUS loan debt (if applicable); (D) median Parent PLUS loan debt; and (E) student loan default rate and repayment rate; and
Note that by degree and certificate. Chicano Studies, Queer Theory and the rest leading to such massive paychecks as opposed to the stuff the dweebs have been doing, accounting and engineering. All of which information is to be presented to students in a form they can actually understand before they sign up.
What will be really fun about this is that it’s also the information we need to be able to check – and believe me, people like us will check – which colleges are even worth going to. Which courses have a positive economic value. It’s easy enough to find out how much a college costs. If we have median earnings as well then it’s an easy calculation. My suspicion would be that, as is already the case in the UK, an arts degree for a man subtracts, not adds, to lifetime earnings. It wouldn’t surprise to find that this is true of all liberal arts colleges either. Which will be fun, won’t it?