As College Enrollments Drop, Apprenticeships Flourish

(p. A5) Today, colleges and universities enroll about 15 million undergraduate students, while companies employ about 800,000 apprentices. In the past decade, college enrollment has declined by about 15%, while the number of apprentices has increased by more than 50%, according to federal data and Robert Lerman, a labor economist at the Urban Institute and co-founder of Apprenticeships for America.

Apprenticeship programs are increasing in both number and variety. About 40% are now outside of construction trades, where most have traditionally been, Dr. Lerman said. Programs are expanding into white-collar industries such as banking, cybersecurity and consulting at companies including McDonald’s Corp., Accenture PLC and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

. . .

. . ., some employers say a mismatch has developed between the skills employers are seeking and the lessons students are learning in college and university courses. To address the mismatch, companies are dropping requirements for degrees for some jobs, and states are rebuilding the vocational-education pathways that were de-emphasized two generations ago when the nation adopted a college-preparatory path for nearly all students.

. . .

Companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Delta Air Lines Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. have responded by dropping college degrees as requirements for some positions and shifting hiring to focus more on skills and experience. Pennsylvania has cut college-degree requirements for some state jobs, and Maryland has set a statewide goal of 45% of high-school students starting a registered apprenticeship by 2031.

For the full story, see:

Douglas Belkin. “More Choose Apprenticeships Instead of Heading to College.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, March 18, 2023): A5.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated March 16, 2023, and has the title “More Students Are Turning Away From College and Toward Apprenticeships.”)

Many Universities, Embracing DEI, No Longer Hire and Reward Based on Competence and Merit

(p. A13) Diversity is no longer a term to describe the breadth of our differences but a demand to flatter and grant privileges to purportedly oppressed identity groups. Equity assigns desirable positions based on race, sex and sexual orientation rather than character, competence and merit. Inclusion now means creating a social environment where identity groups are celebrated while those who disagree are maligned.

“Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” [DEI]—the compound form of these modern concepts—is especially toxic. It divides us by social identity groups, ranks those groups on privilege and power, and excludes those who fail to honor the new orthodoxy. Rather than being equally endowed with innate dignity and fundamental rights as human beings—best judged by our character and not skin color—we are supposed to discriminate and confer status based on race, sex and cultural affinity.

. . .

When coming from the college’s administration, DEI practices essentially gatekeep entry to college faculty, staff and students. Requiring DEI statements as part of the faculty employment process dissuades those who think otherwise from even applying. It stifles discourse by keeping dissenting viewpoints from campus in the first place.

College DEI training programs discourage the open and candid discussion necessary for intellectual growth. They exacerbate divisions between groups, creating an environment of tension, fear and one-mindedness, and they have the pernicious effect of closing minds and shutting down thoughtful debate even before classes begin.

DEI attacks the integrity of the academic project. Instead of listening to divergent voices, ears are shut. Instead of the free expression of contrary opinions, chilling self-censorship takes place. Instead of a campus open to all, one finds a narrow doorway through which only an approved few may enter. If the right pieties and homilies aren’t made, ostracization and exclusion become the norm rather than the exception. Unanimity, inequality and exclusion—Orwellian indeed.

For the full commentary, see:

Matthew Spalding. “DEI Spells Death for the Idea of a University.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023): A13.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed abbreviation, added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date February 10, 2023, and has the same title as the print version.)

Flourishing Is the End, Profit Can Be a Means

Glen Hubbard has long been a thoughtful defender of entrepreneurial capitalisms. The article quoted below from The New York Times suggests that he is moving away from that. Is that true, or is The New York Times misrepresenting the development of Hubbard’s thoughts? I suspect the latter, but I have not kept up with Hubbard’s recent articles or lectures. Profits are a key means to enable human flourishing. The two are not inconsistent. Flourishing is the end, profit can be a means.

(p. C1) One zigs, the other zags. One teases the passer-by with bands of translucent glass wrapping a core of clear windows; the other, with floors angled in and out — a gentle architectural mambo. The pair of buildings that comprise Columbia University’s new business school, on its growing Manhattanville campus, exude a nervous off-kilter energy.

. . .

(p. C4) Glenn Hubbard, the former business school dean who brought the project to fruition, saw the need to break free from fealty to the unregulated free market economy that over decades has led to extraordinary wealth concentration. The idea that business should focus only on making money, attributed to the economist Milton Friedman, “was a simple and direct idea that took over business, banking, even corporate law,” Hubbard explained. “We are trying to come up with a framework that can be more about flourishing, not just profit.”

“The vision now is to bring people together and debate issues going on in the world,” said Costis Maglaras, who was on the faculty as the project was being designed and who succeeded Hubbard.

For the full story, see:

James S. Russell. “A Temple of Capitalism Opens Itself Up.” The New York Times (Saturday, January 7, 2023): C1 & C4.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated Jan. 9, 2023, and has the title “At Columbia’s $600 Million Business School, Time to Rethink Capitalism.”)

Racial Disparity in Wages Is Mostly Due to Racial Disparity in Skills

(p. A11) I was raised, in part, by my paternal grandmother—a phenomenal black woman born in 1925 who came of age during Jim Crow, attended Bethune-Cookman University in the early 1940s, and experienced both the promise and limitations of the civil-rights era when integrating schools in Florida in 1969. She did her best to teach sixth-graders subject-verb agreement minutes after being spat on by their parents. Her life’s journey provided unlimited content as we sat together for nearly three decades, stuck to the plastic slipcovers on her sofa, playing cards, drinking sweet tea, and talking uninhibitedly about race in America.

. . .

. . ., in graduate school, I read a 1995 paper titled “The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences.” Using a nationally representative sample of more than 12,000 14- to 17-year-olds from 1979, Derek A. Neal and William R. Johnson estimated that blacks earned between 35% to 45% less than whites on average.

. . .

“We find,” they wrote in the abstract of their paper, “that this one test score explains all of the black-white wage gap for young women and much of the gap for young men.” With their approach, antiblack bias played no role in the divergent wages among women; a black woman with the same qualifications as a white woman made slightly more money. And it accounted for at most 29% of the racial difference among men, with 71% traceable to disparate performance on the AFQT. The AFQT itself was evaluated by the Pentagon, which found that black and white military recruits with similar AFQT scores performed similarly on the job—indicating no racial bias.

The paper felt like an attack on what I knew. An assault on all those conversations with my grandmother, which taught me that racism—present-tense racism—dictated black-white inequality.

. . .

I vented about my battle with Messrs. Neal and Johnson to a fellow graduate student at Penn State, a white guy from the cornfields of Southern Illinois.

. . .

I told him I was sure discrimination was a bigger factor than Messrs. Neal and Johnson were letting on, but “I just can’t get this data to cooperate.”

. . .

He pointed out how far I was straying from our Euler equations. How on any subject other than race, I would have never given in to such sloppy thinking.

. . .

Messrs. Neal and Johnson, as it turns out, aren’t bigots, and their conclusions have stood the test of time and my attempts to disprove them. I extended their analysis to unemployment, teen pregnancy, incarceration and other outcomes—all of which follow the same pattern.

. . .

Taken together, an honest review of the evidence suggests that current racial inequities are more a result of differences in skill than differences in treatment of those with the same skill.

. . .

A black kid who believes he will face daunting societal obstacles is likely to underinvest in trying to climb society’s rungs. Every black student in the country needs to know that his return on investment in education is, if anything, higher than for white students.

. . .

The solution isn’t to look away from discrimination. It does exist. But we also can’t point at every gap in outcomes and instantly conclude it’s racism. Prejudice must be measured rigorously. Statistically. Disparity doesn’t necessarily imply racism. It may feel omnipresent, but it isn’t all-powerful. Skills matter most.

For the full commentary, see:

Roland Fryer. “Disparity Doesn’t Necessarily Imply Racism.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, November 26, 2022): A11.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date November 25, 2022, and has the same title as the print version.)

The Neal and Johnson paper discussed by Fryer in passages quoted above is:

Neal, Derek A., and William R. Johnson. “The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences.” Journal of Political Economy 104, no. 5 (Oct. 1996): 869-95.

(Note: the reference is linked to the NBER draft of the paper, and not to the final published version, which can obtained from academic databases such as JSTOR.)

The McCarthy Era, and Right Now: Each a “Very Bad Time” for Free Speech

(p. A13) New Milford, Conn.

Old-fashioned liberalism doesn’t get much respect these days, and Nadine Strossen illustrates the point by pulling out a hat. “I have to show you this gift that somebody gave me, which is such a hoot,” she says, producing a red baseball cap that bears the slogan MAKE J.S. MILL GREAT AGAIN. “Which looks like a MAGA cap,” she adds, as if to help me narrate the scene.

As she dons it, I observe that if she walked around town in her bright-blue home state, angry onlookers would think it was a MAGA hat. “And,” she continues, “I can’t tell you how many educated friends of mine have said, ‘Who is J.S. Mill?’ So we really do have to make him great again.”

Ms. Strossen, 71, has made a career as a legal and scholarly defender of classical liberal ideals, most notably as president of the American Civil Liberties Union from 1991 through 2008. She brings up John Stuart Mill (1806-73), the British philosopher and parliamentarian, by way of citing his view, as she puts it, “that everything should be subject to re-examination,” including “our most cherished ideas.”

. . .

“For many decades now there’s been this asserted dichotomy or tension between equality rights and liberty,” Ms. Strossen says. “I continue to believe that they’re mutually reinforcing, that we can’t have meaningful liberty, in a meaningful sense, unless it’s equally available to everybody. . . . Every single one of us should have an equal right to choose how we express ourselves, how we communicate to somebody else, what we choose to listen to.”

She elaborates in her 2018 book, “Hate: Why We Should Resist It With Free Speech, Not Censorship,” and in our interview when we turn to higher education. Campus authorities frequently justify the suppression of “so-called hate speech”—Ms. Strossen is punctilious about including that dismissive qualifier—with what she calls the “false and dangerous equation between free expression and physical violence.”

“When people hear the term ‘hate speech,’ ” she says, “they usually envision the most heinous examples—a racial epithet; spitting in the face of Dr. Martin Luther King. But in fact, when you see what’s been attacked as so-called hate speech on campus, it’s opposing the idea of defund the police, opposing the idea of open borders.” Any questioning of transgender ideology or identity is cast as “denying the humanity of trans people, or transphobic.” Ms. Strossen hastens to add that “I completely support full and equal rights for trans people,” but she says critics are “raising concerns that I think deserve to be raised and deserve to be discussed.”

Ms. Strossen, herself a professor emerita at New York Law School, likens the situation on campuses to McCarthyism, “a climate of fear that leads to treating certain people with suspicion or, worse, ostracizing those people and those who try to defend them, and punishing them.”

. . .

On campus, she admits that things are worse than they’ve been at least since the McCarthy era—but she still tries to look on the bright side. “I am absolutely convinced that a future generation is going to look back on this time and say this is another very bad time,” she says.

For the full interview, see:

Tunku Varadarajan. “THE WEEKEND INTERVIEW; Make Freedom of Speech Liberal Again.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022): A13.

(Note: ellipses between paragraphs, added; ellipsis internal to paragraph, in original.)

(Note: the online version of the interview has the date August 5, 2022, and has the same title as the print version.)

The Strossen book mentioned in the interview is:

Strossen, Nadine. Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.

Fewer Jobs Require College Degree Than Prepandemic

(p. A3) The tight labor market is prompting more employers to eliminate one of the biggest requirements for many higher-paying jobs: the need for a college degree.

Companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Delta Air Lines Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. have reduced educational requirements for certain positions and shifted hiring to focus more on skills and experience. Maryland this year cut college-degree requirements for many state jobs—leading to a surge in hiring—and incoming Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro campaigned on a similar initiative.

U.S. job postings requiring at least a bachelor’s degree were 41% in November [2022], down from 46% at the start of 2019 ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an analysis by the Burning Glass Institute, a think tank that studies the future of work. Degree requirements dropped even more early in the pandemic. They have grown since then but remain below prepandemic levels.

. . .

Lucy Mathis won a scholarship to attend a women in computer science conference. There, she learned about an IT internship at Google and eventually dropped out of her computer science undergraduate program to work at the company full time. The 28-year-old now makes a six-figure sum as a systems specialist.

“I found out I had a knack for IT,” she said. “I’m not good at academics. It’s not for me.”

More than 100,000 people in the U.S. have completed Google’s online college-alternative program that offers training in fast-growing fields such as digital marketing and project management, the company said. It and 150 other companies are now using the program to hire entry-level workers.

For the full story, see:

Austen Hufford. “Employers Rethink Need for a Degree.” The Wall Street Journal (Monday, Nov. 28, 2022): A3.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Nov. 26, 2022, and has the title “Employers Rethink Need for College Degrees.” I am grateful to Zhigang Feng for calling my attention to the article quoted above.)

Non-Partisan Congressional Budget Office Estimates Cost of Biden Student Loan Forgiveness at $400 Billion

(p. A1) WASHINGTON — President Biden’s plan to erase significant amounts of student loan debt for tens of millions of Americans could cost about $400 billion, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in a report Monday [Sept. 26, 2022], making it one of the costliest programs in the president’s agenda.

The C.B.O. said the price tag might rise even higher because of Mr. Biden’s decision to extend a pause on federal student loan repayments through the end of the year, which could end up costing some $20 billion. The report gauged the cost over a period of 30 years, though the bulk of the effects to the economy would be felt over the next decade.

. . .

. . . , critics have accused the Biden administration of hiding the plan’s true cost.

Marc Goldwein, the senior vice president for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said that the C.B.O. score did not take into account a significant part of (p. A13) the administration’s loan relief program: a plan to reduce payments for future borrowers who go on to earn low incomes after college, which outside analysts say could host hundreds of billions of dollars more.

“You’re basically buying a very expensive lottery ticket,” Mr. Goldwein said. “When you’re taking out the loan, you’re going to have no idea of how much you’re going to be paying back.”
Monday’s report, issued by a nonpolitical budget scorekeeper, is one of several attempts to estimate the total cost of the program, which Mr. Biden enacted using executive action rather than legislation.

For the full story, see:

Katie Rogers and Jim Tankersley. “Cost of Erasing Students’ Debt Will Be Steep.” The New York Times (Tuesday, September 27, 2022): A1 & A13.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Sept. 26, 2022, and has the title ‘White House Student Loan Forgiveness Could Cost About $400 Billion.”)

When Free Speech Could Be Defended in The New York Times

In 2017, an eloquent op-ed in The New York Times defended free speech by objecting to the students at Middlebury College who violently canceled a speech by Charles Murray. Would The New York Times run such an op-ed today?

(p. 9) The talk that the political scientist Charles Murray attempted to deliver last month at Middlebury College in Vermont must have been quite provocative — perhaps even offensive or an instance of hate speech. How else to explain the vehement opposition to it?

. . .

Some of the protesters became unruly and physically violent, forcing Mr. Murray to flee..

. . .

. . . Mr. Murray’s speech was neither offensive nor even particularly conservative.

. . .

Of course, many of the protesters may have been offended by Mr. Murray’s other scholarship, in particular his controversial 1994 book, “The Bell Curve,” written with the Harvard psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein, which examined intelligence, social class and race in America. Or rather, they may have been offended, as many people have been, by what they assume “The Bell Curve” says; only a small fraction of the people who have opinions about that book have actually read it. (Indeed, some people protesting Mr. Murray openly acknowledged not having read any of his work.)

“The Bell Curve” has generated an enormous literature of scholarly response and rebuttal, a process that is still underway. Many scholars have deemed the book’s most provocative argument — that differences in average I.Q. scores among races may have genetic as well as environmental causes — to be flawed and racist. Some have judged it to be judicious and reasoned, if still controversial. But its academic critics have nonetheless treated it not as hate speech to be censored but as a data-based argument with which they must engage in order to disagree.

This is not how the Middlebury protesters treated Mr. Murray’s talk, and that is an intellectual disappointment. It is incumbent on each of us, in the spirit of free inquiry, to make a decision for ourselves — after actually reading a book or listening to a speaker — about how the views in question hold up to critical scrutiny. It is also incumbent upon colleges to offer protesters meaningful opportunities to share alternative views.

Not everyone deserves to get to speak at a college campus. But those like Mr. Murray who use reasoned, evidence-based approaches to investigate matters of scholarly concern shouldn’t be forcibly silenced after they have been invited to do so.

For the full commentary, see:

Wendy M. Williams and Stephen J. Ceci. “Charles Murray’s ‘Provocative’ Talk.” The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sunday, April 16, 2017): 9.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date April 15, 2017, and has the same title as the print version.)

NU President Carter May Earn $1.5 Million Per Year by 2023

(p. B1) LINCOLN — The University of Nebraska Board of Regents extended President Ted Carter’s contract by three years on Thursday, potentially keeping the university’s top leader in Nebraska through 2027.

Carter’s new contract, approved unanimously, also raises his base salary by 3% this year and adds a second deferred compensation package to incentivize the president to stay at NU.

In all, Carter’s total compensation could top $1.5 million beginning in 2023.

. . .

Regents also awarded Carter, a former superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, a $105,000 performance bonus for the (p. B1) 2021-22 academic year.

That amount is less than the $140,000 he was eligible to receive; Carter hit 89% of the benchmarks set for him by the board last year after first- to second-year retention numbers fell at several NU campuses.

For the full story, see:

CHRIS DUNKER, Lincoln Journal Star. “NU President Given Raise, Extension.” The Omaha World-Herald (Friday, August 12, 2022): B1-B2.

(Note: the online version of the story was updated Sept. 18, 2022, and has the title “Regents approve contract extension, pay raise for NU president.”)

Wary, Subdued Infants Tend to Grow into “Anxious, Inhibited Adults”

(p. A21) Prof. Jerome Kagan, a Harvard psychologist whose research into temperament found that shy infants often grow up to be anxious and fearful adults because of their biological nature as well as the way they were nurtured, died on May 10 in Chapel Hill, N.C.

. . .

Professor Kagan argued in more than two dozen books, including the widely praised “The Nature of the Child” (1984), that some children were genetically wired to worry and that they proved to be more resilient than expected as they passed from one stage of maturity to another. He also contended that the specifics of parenting were often not as crucial to a child’s future as parents think, although the child’s natural predisposition to be shy or exuberant could be altered by experience.

. . .

Professor Kagan and his collaborators, including Howard A. Moss and Nancy C. Snidman, pioneered the reintroduction of physiology as a determinant of psychological characteristics that could be measured in the brain.

They derived their conclusions from lengthy studies that started with the videotaped reactions of toddlers and infants as young as 4 months to various stimuli — unfamiliar objects, people and situations — and correlated those reactions to their temperament as teenagers and beyond, as measured in interviews.

The wary ones who were subdued, shy and hovered around their mothers or who fussed, thrashed around and cried — about 15 percent of the total — tended to become anxious, inhibited adults. Another 15 percent who were ebullient as infants and embraced every new toy and interviewer tended to develop into fearless children and adolescents.

Professor Kagan acknowledged that as an ideological liberal he had originally believed that all individuals were capable of achieving similar goals if afforded the same opportunities. “I was so resistant to awarding biology much influence,” he wrote.

For the full obituary see:

Sam Roberts. “Jerome Kagan, 92, Psychologist Who Tied Temperament to Biology, Is Dead.” The New York Times (Saturday, May 22, 2021): A21.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date May 21, 2021, and has the title “Jerome Kagan, Who Tied Temperament to Biology, Dies at 92.”

Kagan’s book, mentioned above, is:

Kagan, Jerome. The Nature of the Child (Tenth Anniversary Edition). New York: Basic Books, 1994.

Ivy League Discriminates Against Middle-Class, White, Female Business Majors

(p. A4) Kaitlyn Younger has been an academic standout since she started studying algebra in third grade.

. . .

Ms. Younger, 18 years old, was cautiously optimistic when she applied to top U.S. colleges last fall. Responses came this month: Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Brown, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, University of California, Berkeley, and Northwestern all rejected her.

. . .

For students such as Ms. Younger, the odds are particularly long. She is a middle-class white female from a public high school in Texas who wants to study business. Each characteristic places her in an overrepresented group, said Sara Harberson, a former admission officer at University of Pennsylvania and now a private college-admissions counselor.

Nearly half of white students admitted to Harvard between 2009 and 2014 were recruited athletes, legacy students, children of faculty and staff, or on the dean’s interest list—applicants whose parents or relatives have donated to Harvard, according to a 2019 study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research.

At Harvard, low-income students with top academic scores had an admit rate of 24% compared to 15% for all other applicants, according to a 2013 study by the school. Harvard has said it believes enrolling a diverse student body is important because the school wants students to learn to work with people from different backgrounds.

“The middle class tends to get a little bit neglected,” said Hafeez Lakhani, a private college counselor in New York who charges $1,200 an hour. “Twenty years ago, Ms. Younger would have had a good shot at an Ivy League school.”

For the full story, see:

Douglas Belkin. “For Top Students, Rejections Pile Up.” The Wall Street Journal (Friday, April 22, 2022): A4.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated April 21, 2022, and has the title “To Get Into the Ivy League, ‘Extraordinary’ Isn’t Always Enough These Days.”)

The 2019 NBER article mentioned above has been published as:

Arcidiacono, Peter, Josh Kinsler, and Tyler Ransom. “Legacy and Athlete Preferences at Harvard.” Journal of Labor Economics 40, no. 1 (Jan. 2022): 133-56.

A related paper is:

Arcidiacono, Peter, Josh Kinsler, and Tyler Ransom. “Divergent: The Time Path of Legacy and Athlete Admissions at Harvard.” Journal of Human Resources (published online before print, on Jan. 13, 2022).