It’s ironic Donald Trump Jr. accused American colleges of indoctrinating students so badly they turn against their country and religion when, according to U.S. News and World Report college rankings, academia favors the very economic demographic that helped get his daddy “elected” president in November.
A Politico report shows the prestigious rankings’ criteria promotes incentives for colleges and universities to lean more favorably toward affluent students.
Through interviewing over 20 former and current college presidents, administrators, and federal officials, the report reveals there is a significant problem with economic diversity among American institutions of higher learning. Many interviewed cited U.S. News rankings as the culprit.
The rankings’ criteria–unofficial guidelines for some colleges’ admission decisions and financial priorities–encourages the practice of spending more to attract an elite student body. These factors then reward colleges with higher rankings.
About the rankings, F. King Alexander, president of Louisiana State University, said:
“I think U.S. News has done more damage to the higher education marketplace than any single enterprise that’s out there.”
Brit Kirwan, former chancellor of the University of Maryland system, had this to say:
“We are creating a permanent underclass in America based on education — something we’ve never had before.”
Some criteria U.S. News rankings encourage are spending more on the faculty, recruiting students with higher SAT scores, maintaining low acceptance rates, performing well on high school guidance surveys, and alumni giving.
Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas was so sold on the rankings, it engaged in a billion-dollar fundraising drive that caused its placement to soar.
Georgia State University, however, fell 30 spots because of its practice of graduating more low- and moderate-income students.
Despite political pressure from the Obama administration and the attention to economic inequality during the 2016 election cycle, colleges do not measure student bodies’ economic diversity.
A Jack Kent Cooke Foundation report found students within the top quartile of income earners account for 72 percent of the nation’s most competitive schools; those from the bottom quartile, though, are three percent. Research from the Pell Institute shows fewer than 10 percent of those in the lowest income quartile earn bachelor’s degrees.
According to the Equality of Opportunity Project, the dearth of economic diversity extends beyond Ivy League schools; it now includes private and public universities as well.
Class warfare was a driving contributor in putting Donald Trump in the Oval Office. Record numbers of white voters without college degrees were by far the most significant factor.
However, according to a recent report by Washington-based think tank New America, the vast majority of young Americans do not believe higher education is helping them get a good job and move up in society.
Walter Benn Michaels, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said:
“Elite colleges are part of the apparatus that produces Trumpism and produces working class, white resentment.”
Richard Kahlenberg, the senior fellow at the Century Foundation, adds:
“It fits perfectly into Trump’s narrative. Basically, if you’re a low-income or working-class white student who works hard and you find out that what matters in admissions is who your daddy is, or what your race is, you’re completely left out. When a politician like Donald Trump comes along and says the system is rigged, you’re very likely to believe that. In this case, it is rigged — against those students.”
Whether or not most of his base consists of working-class blue-collar workers without college degrees, Trump is the one-percent president. His economic policies favor Wall Street, not Main Street; his cabinet is filled with former hedge fund managers and rich business executives, and his budget touts massive tax cuts for the wealthy that will create a further rift between the “haves” and “have-nots.”
The wealthy Americans who voted for him knew exactly whom they were getting. It is the white working class that got conned.
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