Interview: Glenn Reynolds on The New School


"It’s no secret that existing schools are underperforming," Glenn Reynolds notes in his latest book, The New School: How The Information Age Will Save American Education From Itself. "We keep putting more money and resources into them, but we keep getting poorly educated students out of them":

In 1983 – three decades ago – the report A Nation at Risk was published by President Reagan’s National Commission on Excellence in Education and famously observed, “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.” Since then, things have, if anything, gotten worse. But in the essentials, not much has changed.

Except that these days, as the University of Tennessee law professor and host of notes in the excerpt of his new book published this past weekend in the Wall Street Journal, "In the field of higher education, reality is outrunning parody":

A recent feature on the satire website the Onion proclaimed, "30-Year-Old Has Earned $11 More Than He Would Have Without College Education." Allowing for tuition, interest on student loans, and four years of foregone income while in school, the fictional student "Patrick Moorhouse" wasn't much better off. His years of stress and study, the article japed, "have been more or less a financial wash."

"Patrick" shouldn't feel too bad. Many college graduates would be happy to be $11 ahead instead of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, behind. The credit-driven higher education bubble of the past several decades has left legions of students deep in debt without improving their job prospects. To make college a good value again, today's parents and students need to be skeptical, frugal and demanding. There is no single solution to what ails higher education in the U.S., but changes are beginning to emerge, from outsourcing to online education, and they could transform the system.

Those potential changes are the subject of our 20-minute interview, during which, we’ll explore:

● How today's education system is an industrial age one-size-fits all dinosaur in today's diverse Internet-driven world.

● "It's not white flight now.  It's just flight," Glenn notes: Why families of all backgrounds that can afford to are increasingly pulling their kids out of urban public schools.

● Why technology alone won't repair the current education system.

● Could education reform help break the logjam that political correctness has imposed on education?

● What does Glenn make of parents’ recent complaints over Obama’s Common Core agenda?

● Plus some thoughts on where Obama goes next as his administration reaches its nadir.

And much more. Click here to listen:

(20 minutes and 19 seconds long; 18.6 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this interview to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 3.47 MB lo-fi edition.)

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Transcript of our interview begins on the following page; for our many previous podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.