The Real Problem With American Universities

Just about everyone in America seems to be angry at higher education. Congress is angry. State governments are angry. Donors are angry. Parents are angry because schools are so expensive, and students are angry because they aren’t getting what they paid for. Just 36 percent of Americans now tell pollsters that they have significant confidence in higher education, down from 57 percent less than a decade ago.

Elite schools in particular have become the site of culture-war battles over free speech, representation, global politics, and state control. Higher education has come under fire from one side for illiberalism, and from the other for injustice. Earlier this month, Harvard President Claudine Gay stepped down amid discoveries of plagiarism in her work as well as denunciations of her administration’s diversity, equity, and inclusion policies. Just today, a new complaint emerged against Harvard’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, Sherri Ann Charleston, alleging that she, too, engaged in scholarly misconduct. (The university expressed support for Charleston but declined to comment on the specific allegations. Charleston did not respond to inquiries.)

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