More College Graduates, a Debate

PBS “Newshour” last night featured an excerpt of a good debate on the educational and economic value of increasing the number of college students. (We had previously noted the discussion in this post citing George Leef’s column.) The show’s description:

Miller Center Debate: Does the U.S. Need More Grads?

March 17, 2010 3:00 PM 

Editor’s note: Paul [Solman] recently moderated a Miller Center debate on whether the United States must dramatically increase its number of college-educated citizens to remain a leading economic power. Former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and Michael Lomax, president of the United Negro College Fund, argued that the United States needs more graduates to maintain its economic might, while George Leef, director of research at the John William Pope Center for Higher Education in North Carolina, and Richard Vedder, professor of economics at Ohio University, argued that many jobs being created today don’t require college degrees.

You can see an excerpt of the debate on Wednesday’s NewsHour, or watch the full debate below or at the Miller Center’s Web site.

In the excerpt, Secretary Spellings and especially Michael Lomax attempted to redefine the debate topic away from the economic value of increasing the number of graduates from four-year colleges to the social/cultural/esteem benefits of ensuring additional minority enrollment. On that point, one wonders how much real benefit there is from impelling more students into four-year college educations, which are already too often mediocre or irrelevant to one’s life in the working world.

And how about a cost-benefit analysis? Is increased federal subsidization of college enrollments really a good use of the taxpayers’ dollars?

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