Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” As an educator, I believe Mr. Franklin’s statement is accurate. Recently, however, an international ranking of educational success found that despite its role as a global superpower, the United States lags behind other countries. Top performers include Hong Kong, Canada, Taiwan, Estonia, Japan, and Korea.
I was a panel participant at a conference last Thursday in Washington, DC. The conference was sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute and was called Stretching the Higher Education Dollar. The five panels that were convened included: The Case for Reform, Opportunities and Obstacles at Existing Institutions, Unbundling College Degrees in Theory and Practice, College in Pieces: Cost Effective Approaches to Student Services and Credentialing, and Implications for State and Federal Policy.
In the past several years, online higher education has come under increased scrutiny by the federal government and policymakers. As a relatively new trend, online education has been closely examined by some, not so closely examined by others, and has a number of critics. In a recent report called “Odd Man Out: How Government Supports Private-Sector Innovation, Except in Education,” published by the American Enterprise Institute, author John Bailey notes that an acute lack of support and engagement from government agencies to the private sector in education is not only out of sync with other public-private enterprises, it is counterproductive in attempting to reform higher education.
America’s declining college graduation rates have been the subject of many a political speech or hearing lately. President Obama set a long term goal for his administration to restore America’s prominence in the percentage of its citizens with college degrees. When you examine the research literature regarding student attrition, persistence, or graduation rates, there are thousands of publications and numerous dissertations written about some aspect of those topics.