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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Friday, June 28, 2002
12:13 PM

Camille Paglia Alert... I've been waiting for her to write something somewhere on the web since she disappeared from, and she turned up today at with a piece on the ruinous cost of college and the lack of a serious vocational alternative, particularly for men:

Educational reform is a critical national issue that should transcend political affiliations. I myself am a libertarian and registered Democrat who voted for Bill Clinton (once gladly, once not) and for Ralph Nader in 2000. But I have been very discouraged by the unwillingness of my party to address the major systemic problems in primary and secondary education.

As a career educator for 31 years, I have watched with dismay as public schools have degenerated and as the humanities programs of colleges and universities have veered away from art and toward a shallow pretense of politics--a politics without authentic political science or knowledge of history. Learning and cultivation are no longer criteria for recruitment and promotion in the humanities. The end result is a lost generation of graduate students. Our best and brightest are no longer going into humanities teaching.

As a columnist for (for six years from its inaugural issue in 1995) and now as a contributing editor of Interview magazine, I have often addressed the crisis in American education. One of my persistent themes has been the need for a revalorization of the trades. We are penning young people like prisoners in the classroom, forcing them along a pre-college track when they might have other interests and talents of a physical, socially useful, and remunerative nature. Teenaged boys in particular, with their abundant energy, are being damaged by their servitude to a one-size-fits-all style of schooling.

She links to a letter written to the Philadelphia Inquirer by a local parent:

We are being conned by a system that says our children must incur thousands of dollars of debt in order to get a decent job. Sums of money are required that are completely beyond any normal 18 -22-year old, not to mention beyond the ability of most families to afford. My son went to a modest private university here in Delaware County. Tuition is about $80,000 for a four-year degree! If our children came to us with an idea to start a business but they needed to borrow $80,000 to get started, most of us would strongly suggest they get some practical experience, work for a similar type of company and then, after a few years, we might talk about working on a loan. Yet we think it's great when our 18-year-old comes to us with an idea of what they would like to do and it will cost $80,000 for their degree....

Good issue. But for goodness sake, blogs were made for Paglia, custom-made. I hope somebody's telling her.

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