Monday, February 15, 2021

OCPA: Are parents getting what they pay for with college?

Are parents getting what they pay for with college?
By Jonathan Small

Whether parents are truly getting their money’s worth when paying for a child’s college tuition is a growing question not just in other states, but Oklahoma as well.

That’s because an increasing share of tuition money today funds things that have little to do with academics and preparing for a career, and much to do with political indoctrination.

Consider the University of Oklahoma, which has mandated diversity training for all students. Thanks to that training, OU students now know that chanting “Boomer Sooner” is racially problematic. They’ve been informed that supporting equality and treating all people the same are bad things. (I kid you not.) They’ve even been told the lives of all black citizens are comparable to house fires. Nothing shows your racial awareness like stereotyping all people by race, I guess.

Not to be outdone, Oklahoma City Community College recently removed a longstanding depiction of the 1889 Oklahoma Land Run. Why? Because it supposedly offended American Indians, who were often displaced by those settlers. Fair enough. What if the campus also had a monument recognizing the history of American Indians in Oklahoma? It seems that was never considered. Better to erase the past than grapple with it.

An OU newsletter recently informed students they can attend a workshop to learn how to “disrupt the detrimental dynamics of power and privilege,” headed by an administrator who has a “focus on social justice.” I am sure parents from all parts of Oklahoma will be thrilled to learn their children’s tuition is paying to help “disrupt” the awful system that allowed those families to pay tuition in the first place—because anyone capable of earning enough money to send a child to college is clearly the beneficiary of “power,” right?

But, some critics may counter, Oklahoma colleges still teach courses that are focused on core learning that will help a student enter a profession upon graduation.

Perhaps, but such learning is being downgraded every year. That reality can be seen in the fact that OU recently announced that student evaluations won’t be used in rating the performance of professors this year. Put simply, professors who have been providing substandard instruction on Zoom now have even less reason to step up their game or get out of their pajama bottoms.

Add it all together, and Oklahoma families are paying more for less and less at state colleges. They’re paying for ideological claptrap that has no useful purpose outside academia, and they’re paying for other courses that provide needed instruction only in a consistently substandard manner.

If lawmakers truly want to make Oklahoma colleges the best in our region and nation, they must act now. They must refuse to increase college funding so long as colleges refuse to jettison garbage programs and augment those with true merit.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.


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