The Good and the Bad for Higher Ed in the Republican Tax Proposal

On November 2, House Republican leaders unveiled their tax reform plan. A number of its provisions affect higher education. While this is only a proposal, it’s worth looking into those provisions. Several of them eliminate tax preferences for college-related activities and two impose new taxes. Those that take away tax preferences are beneficial, but the … Continue reading “The Good and the Bad for Higher Ed in the Republican Tax Proposal”


Liberal Arts Education Is Not (Necessarily) a Waste of Time

Harvard history professor Jill LePore tells this story. She was hosting an event in her home for new students, promoting the university’s history and literature program. One of the students there was suddenly distracted by urgent text messages from her parents telling her, “Leave right now, get out of there, that is a house of … Continue reading “Liberal Arts Education Is Not (Necessarily) a Waste of Time”


Why Is It Such a Struggle to Reform Our Colleges?

Former Harvard University president Derek Bok can’t stop thinking and writing about higher education. Ten years ago, he wrote Our Underachieving Colleges, in which he lamented that on the whole, American colleges and universities don’t do very well. Many students don’t graduate and among those who do, many seem to have gotten little intellectual benefit … Continue reading “Why Is It Such a Struggle to Reform Our Colleges?”


The Campus Free Speech Problem Worsens and Washington Finally Acts

The turnabout in federal policy towards higher education has been dramatic. Back on September 7, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that her department was rescinding the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter in which the Obama administration’s Office for Civil Rights imposed new standards for the way colleges must deal with allegations of sexual assault and … Continue reading “The Campus Free Speech Problem Worsens and Washington Finally Acts”


The Chinese Don’t Like Academic Freedom, So American Schools Should Avoid Their Confucius Institutes

Academic freedom has long been a guiding principle for American colleges and universities: Neither faculty nor students should be told what to say or punished for saying whatever they think. That principle has been under attack in recent years as militants try to drive out those who dissent from their beliefs, but for the most … Continue reading “The Chinese Don’t Like Academic Freedom, So American Schools Should Avoid Their Confucius Institutes”


Secretary DeVos Begins to Rectify the Title IX Mistake

It is very rare for a federal agency to admit having made a mistake and rarer still for the secretary of a cabinet department to announce a U-turn in policy in a heavily publicized speech. But that is exactly what Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos did on September 7. Speaking at George Mason University, Secretary … Continue reading “Secretary DeVos Begins to Rectify the Title IX Mistake”


What’s the Alternative to a Mountain of College Debt?

Meet Sarah, a very bright student in her junior year in high school. She excels in math and science and thinks that an engineering career of some kind would be her cup of tea. She wants to go to a college or university where a strong academic program will give her the knowledge she needs. … Continue reading “What’s the Alternative to a Mountain of College Debt?”


No, Professor, Words Are Not Violence

The excuse we have often heard for raucous campus protests over the last few years is that they are justified as a way of countering the “violence” of speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos and Charles Murray. To prevent them from speaking is, according to this line of argument, using mere sound to eliminate the actual harm … Continue reading “No, Professor, Words Are Not Violence”


Student Free Speech Suffers a Defeat

Since launching its Stand Up for Free Speech project in 2014, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has had a great deal of success in defeating college officials when they interfere with the free speech of students. But you can’t win them all, and a recent decision went against FIRE and the students … Continue reading “Student Free Speech Suffers a Defeat”


books on fire

Professors Should Write Books That Seek Truth, Not Inflame Passions

The academic enterprise is supposed to be about truth. Those who are entrusted to teach are expected to convey knowledge to their students, not their opinions. And when academics write books, they should do so to deepen knowledge in their fields, never to mislead readers. Sometimes, however, academics allow their zeal to convert students or … Continue reading “Professors Should Write Books That Seek Truth, Not Inflame Passions”