“It’s Like Rating a Blender”


That’s how Jamienne Studley, Deputy Under Secretary at the Education Department, regards the Obama administration’s proposed system of ranking colleges. “This is not so hard to get your mind around.”

Actually, it is.

All blenders have a single purpose. They take certain types of organic material and combine them into products of chosen consistency. They can be judged on these products, on durability, on noise, and on a few other factors. But that’s about it.

But colleges? Or any schools, for that matter. The criteria are not quite so simple, no matter how enamored with numbers and assessment one has become. Graduates are not products and are not meant to be consistent–not even within disciplines. Though they are expected to have certain skills, not even those are easily quantifiable. What does “having learned to learn” mean? How can you enumerate it? Yet that is probably the greatest skill one gains from any…

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About @NatM4Equity

The National Mobilization for Equity is a coalition of organizations committed to alleviating the present staffing crisis in higher education: three-quarters of the teaching jobs in American colleges are held by underpaid, precarious and poorly-supported contingent faculty. Our long-term goal is to end contingency as the norm. The current untenable situation not only adversely affects all faculty members, both contingent and tenure-track, it also negatively impacts our profession, our students and the quality of their education.

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