Education in America: Four Years Good! Four Years Good!

Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute argues that certification of accomplishments, knowledge and skills is a more rational educational approach than the four-year, B.A. default. From the Wall Street Journal, “For Most People, College is a Waste of Time“:

The BA acquired its current inflated status by accident. Advanced skills for people with brains really did get more valuable over the course of the 20th century, but the acquisition of those skills got conflated with the existing system of colleges, which had evolved the BA for completely different purposes.

Outside a handful of majors — engineering and some of the sciences — a bachelor’s degree tells an employer nothing except that the applicant has a certain amount of intellectual ability and perseverance. Even a degree in a vocational major like business administration can mean anything from a solid base of knowledge to four years of barely remembered gut courses.

The solution is not better degrees, but no degrees. Young people entering the job market should have a known, trusted measure of their qualifications they can carry into job interviews. That measure should express what they know, not where they learned it or how long it took them. They need a certification, not a degree.

The essay in today’s Journal comes from Murray’s new book, due out next week, “Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality” (Crown Forum).

(Hat tip: George Leef)

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