19.1.06

AND WE'RE WORRYING ABOUT INDOCTRINATION? The Labor Theory of Value is more challenging than a grocery store label.
Nearing a diploma, most college students cannot handle many complex but common tasks, from understanding credit card offers to comparing the cost per ounce of food.
It gets better.

More than 50% of students at four-year schools and more than 75% at two-year colleges lacked the skills to perform complex literacy tasks.

That means they could not interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.

Some responsibility for these shortcomings rests with an education establishment willing to let basic skills slide in favor of therapeutic interventions or mixing students of varying abilities. On the other hand, it suggests that the alleged Marxoid indoctrination at UCLA (motto: On! Wisconsin!) might go in one ear, onto the notebook, into the blue book, and out the other ear.

Overall, the average literacy of college students is significantly higher than that of adults across the nation. Study leaders said that was encouraging but not surprising, given that the spectrum of adults includes those with much less education.

Also, compared with all adults with similar levels of education, college students had superior skills in searching and using information from texts and documents.

"But do they do well enough for a highly educated population? For a knowledge-based economy? The answer is no," said Joni Finney, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, an independent and non-partisan group.

[I'm working with USA Today here and have not checked out that "independent and non-partisan assertion. Public Citizen and the Center for Science in the Public Interest also make those claims.]

What is to be done?
The survey showed a strong relationship between analytic coursework and literacy. Students in two-year and four-year schools scored higher when they took classes that challenged them to apply theories to practical problems or weigh competing arguments.
Study economics. Develop your jive-detector.

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