About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Education - The Closest Thing To Magic

 "The closest thing to magic in America is a quality education.  It is the great equalizer.  It is the issue that allows for each & every family today living in poverty to believe that the American dream is alive, it is well, & healthy, & coming their way." - South Carolina Senator Tim Scott speaking @ the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

The American Council Of Trustees & Alumni (ACTA) released their 2022-2023 ratings of over 1,100 colleges & universities in their annual report entitled What Will They Learn?.  The report is an invaluable guide for high school juniors & seniors & their parents to what college rankings don't tell them - grading all of the schools on an "A" through "F" scale.

ACTA's core mission is the promotion of academic freedom, academic excellence, & accountability.

In releasing this year's report ACTA President Michael Poliakoff said “The erosion of general education programs at our colleges and universities is responsible for poor student outcomes.  ACTA works tirelessly to highlight and reverse this alarming trend.  Our flagship annual report What Will They Learn? provides unprecedented insight.  We are deeply committed to returning a rigorous core curriculum to American higher education.”

The website is very user friendly.  You can easily find the 22 schools graded "A" or the 151 schools graded "F" or click on any state on the map to see the schools & grades there.  

Notable schools graded "F" include the continually recurring leader John Hopkins ($58,720 tuition), Brown ($62,304), Vassar ($62,870), Smith ($56,114), & Middlebury College ($59,770) where a few years ago Charles Murray was shouted down in what turned into a riot during a speaking engagement & Mr. Murray's escort from the college was injured by students who didn't want to hear the great libertarian.

Yes, you can pay tens of thousands of dollars per year to go to an F graded school & not be required to take one course of study in Composition, Literature, (intermediate-level) Foreign Language, U.S. Government or History, Economics, Mathematics, or Natural Science.  That is why the report is entitled What Will They Learn?  And in some cases the answer is nothing.

Many colleges & universities do not provide an education that prepares graduates not only for their first job, but for an adult life of responsible citizenship - in other words they received an expensive useless degree.

But the colleges & universities have a partner in this unpreparedness: K-12 government schools whose annual report card gets more dismal every year.  

For instance, the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) - a congressionally authorized project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education that has been assessing what students know and can do since 1969, released the nation's report card last Fall that showed national test scores had the largest math declines ever recorded for fourth & eighth graders & reading levels that dropped to the lowest levels since 1992.  The nation's report card shows the results for each state so you can find out how your state fared & the link to the press release shown on the home page lists the states that had no change in reading or math scores & a much longer list of states that had a decrease.  There were no states that had an increase in scores.

Reading & math skills for fourth & eighth graders are important because after the fourth grade students must be proficient in reading to learn other subjects & math proficiency in eighth grade is one of the most significant predictors of success in high school.  I often wonder how someone got to the eighth grade reading @ a fourth grade level.

There were declines in high school seniors reading & math scores in the 10th & 25th percentiles as well as some declines in civics & geography.  High school seniors in the 10th & 25th percentiles showed increases in economics.  Otherwise there were no significant differences compared to the last assessment year for high school seniors.

So it is no surprise that a growing number of high school graduates are not ready for college & school lockdowns mandated by Democrat governors, mayors, & teachers unions during the pandemic caused by the Wuhan coronavirus exacerbated the learning deterioration reported by NAEP for the years 2019 to 2022.  

To compensate for the deteriorating academic results, many schools simply have made the SAT (originally called the Scholastic Aptitude Test) or ACT (originally an abbreviation for American College Testing) standardized tests that measure English, reading, math, and science skills optional.  For those in the 2022 high school graduating class who did take the ACT test, the number is down 30% from 2018, more than 40% didn’t meet any ACT college readiness benchmarks across the four subjects tested & only 22% met all four benchmarks in the core subjects.  This year marks the fifth straight year that the average ACT scores declined & the 2022 average score was the lowest since 1991.

The ACT test is a three-hour test with minimal breaks that acts as a barometer on whether a student has a high probability of successfully completing their first year of college.  But schools get around this by making the ACT test optional & then further compensate by inflating grades to offset lack of learning, thereby enabling schools to use diversity & race to replace test scores in the admission process under the abstraction of social equity - i.e., the progressive idea that everyone under whatever circumstance they find themselves is given whatever they need to reach an equal outcome with anyone else.

But here is where ACTA & their What Will They Learn? program comes in.  If you are one of the high school seniors who did or can pass the ACT test, or you realize you are not prepared for college but will take some remedial courses to improve your chances of passing, you will find the ACTA report will tell you what schools will provide the magic of a quality education that Senator Scott talked about above & which schools to avoid while also giving you a very good chance of saving tens of thousands of dollars during your next four years of higher education.


  1. Hi Doug - I identified three topics in your posting. Education, college, & success. In many ways the topics are connected, however, in many ways there’re not. I know several roofers who are millionaires and they don’t know the first thing about literature. Are they successful? I’ve seen masons figure in their heads how many yards of cement they need. I’ve never know a mechanic to be out of work. Microsoft & google are laying off thousands of college educated employees.
    Another words, in my humble opinion, education, college, & success may need to be looked at with a different set of eyes
    There is a stereotype in our country that folks who hands get dirty while working are dumb A/K/A uneducated.
    Great topic…thanks for the read.

    1. Thanks for your comment that I have heard you make before & I posted online. You make good points that there is more than one way to skin a cat but taking into account the millions of people involved I think the magic way of education that Tim Scott advocates provides the best path to success. The thousands of dollars difference over a lifetime is regularly published. My first boss did not regard my engineering degree to mean I knew anything special about engineering - it meant to him that I had the perseverance to complete a course of study that made me the type of person he wanted to hire. I saw this play out many times in that people like the roofers & masons you mention, who were much smarter than me & certainly more experienced & 20 years older, gave up working on a problem if they could not get the solution immediately while I trudged on until I did get it. Also, the roofers @ my house last July during the heatwave, who I gave a large tip to, were greatly appreciated not just because of the awful working conditions. If these people don't take the time to study literature or math & science during their lifetimes, independent of their careers, they are missing much in my opinion.