A Richard D. Kahlenberg post under the imprimatur of The Century Foundation lays out How Higher Education Funding Shortchanges Community Colleges.  Summarized in one sentence: "In raw numbers, private research universities spend five times as much per student as community colleges, and public research universities almost three times as much." And from the perspective of horizontal equity, those differences in state funding might well be a regressive transfer.  Here's Mr Kahlenberg on the losses from that transfer.
In fact, educational opportunities in primary and secondary schooling are vastly unequal, so we can have little confidence that the “meritocratic” winners by the end of high school are indeed society’s most able. Moreover, many highly able low-income students “undermatch,” attending community college even though they have the academic credentials to attend a selective four-year college.

The current system then compounds this inequality and inefficiency by educating low-income students on the cheap in community college. In so doing, we often waste the talents of those students who could contribute a great deal to our society, but who are failed by our grossly unequal two-tiered system of primary, secondary, and tertiary education.
But nowhere in his essay does Mr Kahlenberg consider the ways in which higher education, funding levels notwithstanding, enables primary and secondary education to continue to send Distressed Material its way.
On one hand, don't kick out somebody in good standing for lack of money. On the other hand, don't give the high schools bailouts for their own failures to inculcate proper habits of mind and comportment. That way lies full employment for the pushers of crying towels and the assessment of the obvious and all the other drags on the real mission of higher education. Where there excess capacity in safety schools, excess demand for prestige degrees, and inefficiently many students in college coexist, there must be improvements on business as usual.
Phi Beta Cons's Jay Schalin proposes Fixing the Remedial Education Madness.
North Carolina’s legislature is finally doing something about it. Jenna Robinson writes how a couple of bills may make it through this year’s legislative session that will ensure that students who cannot demonstrate a reasonable skill level after their junior year will receive remediation in their senior year instead of pushing it off until after graduation.

Of course, let’s hope that things don’t stop there. With any luck, the high schools will realize that they’re not the proper level for remediation, either, and push it back to the junior high schools, who in turn will back it to the elementary schools. Who then will put pressure on the major culprit: the college education schools that have long championed ineffective theories and methods, thereby condemning lots of young people to waste their entire educations pretending to learn.
That's encouraging. Calling out the school districts that send unprepared students to university is also a positive development.  To the extent that higher education, particularly the most visible institutions that live in the rarefied reaches of the U.S. News rankings, continues to beclown itself (and I have more evidence of that racked and ready to post), the rebellion can only get stronger.

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