Down with the B.A., and Long Live Education

That could be the rallying cry of Charles Murray in this month’s Cato Unbound. Suppose, he argues, we were to give the job of designing our higher education system to an expert, and that expert gives us the following proposal:

First, we will set up a single goal to represent educational success, which will take four years to achieve no matter what is being taught. We will attach an economic reward to it that often has nothing to do with what has been learned. We will urge large numbers of people who do not possess adequate ability to try to achieve the goal, wait until they have spent a lot of time and money, and then deny it to them. We will stigmatize everyone who doesn’t meet the goal. We will call the goal a “BA.”

Mad, says Murray. A terrible system.

Education should not be made to suffer under a system like this, and neither should those who want to achieve something with their lives. You can read his proposals for education reform in this month’s Cato Unbound. Education economist Pedro Carneiro will have a reply tomorrow, economist Bryan Caplan of George Mason University will reply on Friday, and education policy expert Kevin Carey will have a follow-up on Monday.