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QOTD: “College is an expensive way of taking an IQ test” May 18, 2007

Posted by federalist in Education.

In her recent essay, “The Higher Education Scam,” Barbara Ehrenreich notes:

[T]here are ways in which the higher education industry is becoming a racket: Buy our product or be condemned to life of penury, and our product can easily cost well over $100,000. … My theory is that employers prefer college grads because they see a college degree chiefly as mark of one’s ability to obey and conform.

James Taranto compellingly blames the Supreme Court.  “[T]he higher-education industry and corporate employers have formed a symbiotic relationship in which the former profits by acting as the latter’s gatekeeper and shield against civil-rights lawsuits.”



1. federalist - January 7, 2009
2. federalist - December 1, 2010

From an essay by Jonathan Last:

The modern college degree functions less as an educational tool than as a credentialing badge—a marker which gives employers a vague estimate of a person’s intelligence, social milieu, and work ability. The reason employers need this badge is that, thanks to an obscure Supreme Court case, they aren’t allowed to ask for test scores the way colleges are.

In the 1971 case Griggs v. Duke Power, the Court held that employers could not rely on IQ-type tests if minorities performed relatively poorly on them. Blacks and Hispanics display a persistent underperformance on such tests, making it impossible for employers to ask for test scores. (As the recent Ricci case proved, even a test that has been sufficiently vetted beforehand for a lack of bias can cause trouble if minorities perform poorly on it.) So employers launder their request for test scores through the college system since colleges are allowed to use such considerations. The universities get rich, students and their parents go into hock, and everyone pretends that Acme Widgets is hiring young Suzy because they value her B.A. in English from Haverford, and not because her admission to Haverford proved that she is bright—a fact that a free, three-hour written test would have demonstrated just as well. If Griggs were rolled back, it would upend the college system at a stroke.

3. federalist - February 4, 2011

Richard Laliberte: Do Kids Need College?

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