Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise


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A Checklist for Change. Heinz-dieter Meyer. A professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania, he is now in his fourth decade of producing insightful and influential analyses and commentary on American higher education. He has been an indefatigable critic of low undergraduate completion rates, cost inflation, smorgasbord-style undergraduate curricula, and our inability to provide broad access to higher education.

The first culprit, the faculty, plays a major role in all this: where they have not made their pact with the devil the unions , they have checked out, preferring the cosmopolitanism of international conferences and high-powered consulting to the trench work of teaching and institutional service.

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Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise by Robert Zemsky

When on campus, they prefer overheated rhetoric to old- fashioned constructive dialogue Chapter Two. The second culprit is a federalized market of student aid offering perverse incentives that reward enrolling first year entrants with little regard to overall educational quality and time-to-completion Chapter Three. In Chapter Four, one of the most instructive parts of the book, Zemsky offers an analysis of the failed Spellings Commission effort to address these ills.

Spellings wanted to license accreditation agencies only if they committed to using outcome-based quality control standards. Colleges that did not pass muster under those outcome-based standards would lose accreditation and hence eligibility for critically important federal student aid. For my money, the very strengths of the American system is its high degree of self- regulation, as commentators from Burton Clark , to Martin Trow and David Labaree have pointed out.

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Yes, that absence of central control opens the system to a fluidity of standards, organizational slack, duplication of effort, and the ability of dubious quality institutions to enter the fray. Yes, it means that obvious deficiencies often go unrepaired for long stretches of time.

But on the credit side it has given us a system with amazing self-correcting abilities, a system deeply embedded in society because it satisfies an array of normally contradictory interests in utility, mobility, liberal learning, and research excellence. A Checklist for Change adds important analysis and urgency to a much needed debate about higher education reform. References Clark, B.

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The higher education system: Academic organization in cross-national perspective. Berkeley: University of California Press. Identifying the problem is often more than half the battle.

We often try to accomplish too much or lack a clear objective in trying to make change happen. This is wise strategy. Sometimes we will succeed, but I think we also need to attend to why employing these sound strategies sometimes fails one possibility is discussed here in my recent blog post.


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You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. What do you think? What makes change succeed or fail at your institution?

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Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise
Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise
Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise
Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise
Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise
Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise
Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise
Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise
Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise

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