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The college horror stories are endless. A mandatory Title IX training session at Harvard instructs students that “fatphobia” and “cis-heterosexism perpetuate violence and that using the wrong pronouns constitutes abuse. Yet, hatred against Jews is tolerated at the school.

In California, community colleges teach that if someone claims they are not a racist, they are in denial and that colorblindness “perpetuates existing racial inequities and denies systematic racism.” A Michigan college held a “queer” abortion stories event earlier this year. The once-venerable University of Chicago is planning to host a “kink and consent” workshop for students, in which the practice of sex play with ropes will be taught.

Yet, the conservative Turning Point USA was denied a campus chapter at Cortland, part of the State University of NY. So much for “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”

As John Ellis, professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz, notes, “Higher education by and for political radicals was foreseen and banned by the American Association of University Professors, which in a celebrated 1915 policy statement warned teachers ‘against taking unfair advantage of the student’s immaturity by indoctrinating him with the teacher’s own opinions.’ The AAUP already understood that political indoctrination would stamp out opposing views, which means the end of rational analysis and debate, the essential core of higher education. The 1915 statement is still a recognized professional standard—except that almost everywhere, it is ignored, at least until the public is looking.”

As the sordid college stories circulate in the media, it is rarely acknowledged that everyday taxpaying Americans of all political bents are subsidizing the insanity. According to Just Facts, colleges and universities received $226 billion in revenue from federal, state, and local funding sources in 2022. Also, from 1959 to 2021, inflation-adjusted government spending on higher education rose from $4,137 per student per year to $13,434. (This amount doesn’t include additional government funding for university research, university hospitals, or student loans.)

Jay Greene, Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, looked at payments to Ivy League schools and found that the federal government provides enormous subsidies to these schools, which are the wealthiest universities in the country. “The eight universities in the Ivy League receive $1.8 billion each year from taxpayers, despite the fact that these universities are sitting on $192 billion in endowment funds. If they need money for buildings and electricity, donors have already given them plenty. There is no need for taxpayers to give the richest universities $1.8 billion each year to cover the costs of buildings that their donors have already enabled them to maintain and update.”

Greene adds that the $192 billion they have collectively is greater than the entire annual budgets of 48 states. (Only California and New York spend more than what the Ivy League has in the bank.)

Overall, there are about 4,000 for-profit colleges in the U.S., and they receive the great majority of federal donations for higher education. In fact, there are only 23 colleges in the country that refuse any public funds.

And it is not only the money that goes directly to the universities that hurts taxpayers. Much of it goes to pay for student debt. President Biden, ignoring the Supreme Court’s landmark 2023 ruling that deemed his previous loan forgiveness plan illegal, just wrote off another $1.2 billion in student loan debt, bringing the total amount he has canceled to $138 billion. He’s not really eliminating the debt, of course. He’s transferring it from the borrowers to the taxpayers, who will pay for it with higher taxes or interest payments on the constantly soaring national debt.

Looking beyond the indoctrination factor, is a college degree really important?

No. For many, it makes no difference whatsoever. In fact, over 52% of recent four-year college graduates are underemployed a year after graduation, according to a new report from the Strada Institute for the Future of Work and the Burning Glass Institute. A decade after graduation, 45% of them still don’t hold a job that requires a four-year degree.

Clearly, not everyone should go to college. A meta-analysis aggregated numerous studies measuring college students’ IQs conducted between 1939 and 2022. The results show that the average IQs of incoming college students “have steadily fallen from roughly 119 to a mean of 102 today—just slightly above the population average of 100. In short, undergraduates are now no more intelligent on average than members of the general population.”

The researchers note that graduating from university today is actually more common than completing high school in the 1940s.

Additionally, according to statistics from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, only 58% of students manage to attain their degrees within six years. Not surprisingly, the rate of dropping out is negatively linked with IQ—the lower an undergraduate’s IQ, the more likely it is that they will leave college without a degree.

Hence, it’s hardly surprising that only 36% of Americans now express “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in higher education, compared to 57% who expressed those views in 2015.

Success in college will decline even further due to the K–12 sector’s poor performance. Between 2020 and 2023, the math and reading NAEP scores of fourth and eighth graders declined considerably. Though exacerbated by COVID, proficiency issues were already in place before the shutdowns.

What are the alternatives to traditional college?

There is one college-related program that pairs employers with community colleges that might be worth a try if it is available in a student’s state. The Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education began in 2010 as an experiment among several companies, including Toyota Motor Corp.’s Georgetown, KY, factory, which was having trouble finding “middle-skill” workers to operate new technology. Today, nearly 400 employers participate in the program in 13 states.

In addition, governors in Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and Virginia have taken executive action over the past year to filter prospective employees by skills, not degrees. This reform opens paths to opportunity and helps states fill jobs.”

BuildWithin, whose motto is “Potential over Credential,” makes it easier for employers and organizations to start professional apprenticeships and maximize skills-based hiring. In this model, employers hire young men and women who may not have a college degree but have the drive and innate talent to succeed.

A nonprofit in Philadelphia has presented new opportunities for students. Launchpad, a three-year career and technical education program, is not only free, but students get paid for their work.

Next Prep, offered in two high schools in St. Louis, is a pilot program that “helps teens start early in figuring out what they might want to do after graduation. The class starts in ninth grade and begins with exploring each student’s strengths and talents. Later, the class dives into learning about careers by visiting employers and talking directly with professionals. Hands-on and personal, the course is meant to lay out the stepping stones from high school to a meaningful career.”

High school graduates in California can take advantage of registered apprenticeships, which “provide options for Californians to get paid while learning a trade—like carpentry or plumbing—from skilled industry professionals, and usually get a job afterward. California’s Department of Industrial Relations has traditionally offered apprenticeship programs in the building trades, such as bricklaying and carpentry, but also trains for careers in healthcare, technology, transportation, and firefighting, among others.”

The trades pay well. In Los Angeles, carpenters and plumbers can earn over $90,000 a year.

It’s beyond time to rethink college. Unless a student is targeting a profession that absolutely requires a college degree, it would be better for them, their parents, and beleaguered taxpayers to avoid it completely. You may be deprived of lessons on evil Jews or the joys of kinky sex, but you can learn about things that will enrich your life and, at the same time, not be a burden to society.

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Larry Sand, a retired 28-year classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

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About Larry Sand

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network—a nonpartisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

Photo: Conceptual shot of education and graduation ceremony.