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On Point
Vincent Carroll, editor of the editorial pages, writes his On Point column most weekdays. He is also an author and freelance writer. Reach Vincent Carroll at carrollv@RockyMountainNews.com.


Carroll: Better than you think
Wednesday, August 22 at 12:40 AM

Colorado higher education is in desperate straits, everyone keeps telling us, but the claim apparently failed to persuade U.S. News & World Report.

To be sure, Colorado public colleges do not appear among the elite in the magazine’s 2008 edition of America’s Best Colleges. Our local schools’ rankings may not even qualify as “high,” despite what a Rocky headline optimistically proclaimed last week.

But with the Colorado School of Mines garnering 75th among “Best National Universities” and the University of Colorado at Boulder close behind at 79, the results were somewhat heartening given the doomsday rhetoric that so often surrounds Colorado schools.

Not everyone is reassured, naturally. Over at HeadFirst, a Web site devoted to Colorado education edited by the knowledgeable Alan Gottlieb, a regular contributor groused that “There are only 50 states, each of which offers at least one ‘flagship’ university, plus a dozen or more elite private universities. But, [Colorado] is barely cracking the top 75, and that with a small niche institution focused upon mining! . . . . if the state flagship is really only No. 79, that should get a headline more like ‘Under- funded Colorado higher education still not close to national elite.’ "

Not so fast.

The list of top 20 national universities is dominated by private schools — most of the Ivies and the likes of Stanford, Chicago, Northwestern, Emory, Rice and Notre Dame. CU-Boulder actually ranks 35th among the top public national universities. And if that doesn’t sound particularly high — there are “only 50 states,” we must not forget — consider this: No fewer than 29 other states do not have a single public institution that ranks as high. And Colorado, with Mines, has two.

In short, although several states (California, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia, for example) place more than one college among the top national schools, a majority of states cannot boast of a single institution in that tier.

Do all of these states “underfund” their schools? Hardly.

Would CU-Boulder soar into the upper ranks if state funding doubled overnight? Who knows?

Most of the truly elite schools, private and public, are indeed lavishly funded by any standard. But the rankings by U.S. News & World Report — and if you don’t like its system, pick another because the lesson will be the same — do not support the thesis that greater funding is always associated with higher quality. Nor does it support the idea that you can’t offer a good college education under budgetary constraints.

Because Colorado already does.

Reading ’tween the lines

Ah, Pat Schroeder, how have we managed without your charming daily assessments of public affairs?

The former Denver congresswoman, now the president of the American Association of Publishers, was back to her old-time form the other day in responding to a poll that claims liberals read more books than conservatives.

(Liberals not only are more likely to read at least one book a year, the survey said; those with this reading habit read nine books on average as opposed to eight for conservatives.)

“The Karl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a couple slogans: ‘No, don’t raise my taxes, no new taxes,’ ” the thoughtful Schroeder opined. “It’s pretty hard to write a book saying, ‘No new taxes, no new taxes, no new taxes’ on every page.”

Liberals, she continued with this subtle theme, “really want the whole picture, want to peel the onion.”

In this case, as it happens, the onion includes the finding that political moderates who read books wade through only five a year, substantially fewer than either liberals or conservatives. Has Rove corrupted them as well, or are moderates naturally even more simple-minded than conservatives, in Schroeder’s view?

Here’s my take on the poll: The average number of books allegedly read by more than three-fourths of liberals and two-thirds of conservatives is suspiciously high, and seems at odds — to cite entirely anecdotal evidence — with the astonishing percentage of people in airport lounges and on planes who would rather stare off into space for hours or watch the tube than crack a book.

Maybe the only lesson from this poll is that moderates tend to be more truthful.

Vincent Carroll is editor of the editorial pages. Reach him at carrollv@RockyMountainNews.com.


READER COMMENTS

Schroeder said, "Liberals, she continued with this subtle theme, “really want the whole picture, want to peel the onion.”

Which explains why liberals are so open to other views on the global warming debate. (Sarcasm intended)

Posted by SlouchingtowardBoulder on August 22, 2007 08:42 AM

Regarding Pat Schroeder, the following is from today's NRO Corner at http://corner.nationalreview.com/

About 10 years ago Jeopardy had a special
"Washington D.C. Insiders" or something like that episode. The episode I caught part of featured Oliver North, Pat Schroeder, and someone else who I can't remember. The
good part is that Ollie North was beating Patsy Schroeder's brains out! I mean it wasn't even a contest. He had like eight times the prize money that she had won. Total humiliation. It was at that moment
that I was witness to, not only her obvious ignorance but to her vacuous smarminess to others. It's one thing to be arrogant and condescending but when you're
as dumb as she obviously is, well it's just doubly unwarranted.

And she has some nerve to call conservatives (or anyone, for that matter) lax in their reading diligence. It seemed that she had read precious few books in her life - or if she had she remembered nothing.

Posted by JoeHillwasacommie on August 22, 2007 08:59 AM

Hey sloucher, do you believe in Evolution? I find that people who don't buy the science behind Global Warming also do not believe the science behind Evolution. Just wanting to know where you are coming from.

Posted by just sayin' on August 22, 2007 09:38 AM

my brother was in the military with Oliver North. He told me that he was considered to be a major stooge by all his co-workers. He thought he was the dumbest guy he had ever met. Later when Reagan recruited him for the illegal operation in Nicaragua, they all laughed because only North would have been dumb enough to do it.

Posted by on August 22, 2007 09:49 AM

Oh Patty, what did we do? When you were in office, Colorado was good enough for you. As you left office, you left our state. Could it be that we were being used? Your words have little meaning for this Coloradan. Say hello to Roy for us.

Posted by T on August 22, 2007 12:28 PM

Just Sayin,

There is virtually no science backing either theory, so people who actually believe in real science are right to be skeptical about both of these Liberal Religions.

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Posted by dbztzzjkhp on October 1, 2007 12:46 PM

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