View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Kerry on College Education 

Speaking yesterday in Chicago, John Kerry unveiled part of his plan to get more students into college, and to get more of them studying math and science.

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry says if he's elected president, 1 million more students will graduate from college during his first five years in office and he will bring a special focus to boosting opportunities for low-income and minority students.


Kerry says he'll make a special push to encourage students to study math, science and technology by spending $100 million more annually on scholarships for those fields and $20 million more than Bush requested to spend this year on programs in those areas at colleges with large minority enrollment.

We'll note the tacit assumption that he wins a second term, usually considered poor form for a challenger, and move on.

Of course, he admits that half the enrollment increase will come from population growth, which even the most ambitious politician can't take credit for. He plans to spend $100 million more on math and science at the college level, which comes out to about $500 per extra student, or enough for one book. Maybe a used book and a bookbag. Probably not a decent calculator, though.

Kerry's education plan has a particular emphasis on supporting minority enrollment in college. He would require colleges to report to parents and students annual data on the number of minority, low-income and middle-income students enrolling and graduating.

Ah, yes, report to "parents and students" annual race data. Let's all gather in the stadium to watch the annual Powerpoint presentation. This is, of course, a report to a government bureaucracy with a vested interest in quotas. In some sense, it's worse than strict numerical guidelines. State don't know where the goalposts are, but does know it wants to be ahead of Tech.

As for increasing minority enrollment in math and science, college really isn't the place to start here. Start with high school. The business school at DU dropped its econometrics classes not because of a lack of demand, but because the students couldn't handle the math any more. Yet after decades of laying waste to high school education, the Democratic party still can't come up with any actual ideas. You think they're mad over the war? You ought to be purple with rage over the way they're treating your kids.

Finally, there's the confusion of "price" with "cost." The price of a college education keeps going up, if measured in tuition. The costs of providing that education go unmentioned. Again.

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