Maryland’s governor just decided to shower money on Bowie State University, a school that is almost as bad as a diploma mill. When I applied to college, Bowie State’s median SAT score was 617 total — out of 1600. (My SAT score was 1520.) You could get nearly that score by leaving the entire test blank except for your name (you got a quarter of a point for each blank answer, to discourage random guessing.) One of my high-school history teachers went there despite its bad quality because it was right near his house. He took courses like “arithmetic for college students,” and although he never fully mastered arithmetic, he was a genius compared to many of his classmates (who viewed him as a strangely studious egghead). Bowie State is a monotonously left-wing place, and one of its professors was famous for claiming that the U.S. government invented AIDS as a conspiracy to kill blacks.
Now, The Washington Examiner reports that “Maryland officials on Wednesday approved the purchase of 32 high-end pianos for Bowie State University, costing taxpayers more than a half million dollars amid a looming $1 billion shortfall. With a 2-to-1 vote, the Maryland Board of Public Works signed off on a $553,000 contract . . . Gov. Martin O’Malley and Treasurer Nancy Kopp . . . voted for the contract.”
States spend billions of dollars operating colleges that are little better than diploma mills in terms of academic rigor, yet manage to graduate few of their students — like Chicago State University, “which has just a 12.8 percent six-year graduation rate,” and UT El Paso, which graduated only “1 out of 25 students in a timely manner.”
As state send more and more mediocre students to college, students learn less and less. “Our colleges and universities are full to the brim with students who do not really belong there, who are unprepared for college and uninterested in breaking a mental sweat.” “Nearly half of the nation’s undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don’t make academics a priority,” according to a widely-publicized January report from experts like New York University Professor Richard Arum. “36% showed little” gain after four years. Although education spending has exploded in recent years, students “spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago, the research shows.” “32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.” As George Leef of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy notes, “long-term average earnings for individuals with BA degrees have not risen much and in the the last few years have dipped. Also, degree holders seem to be learning less, as shown by the National Assessment of Adult Literacy.”