Nevada higher education is well-rounded

To the editor:

Today, some good news about Nevada higher education.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which promotes high standards and real education reform (not politically correct fads or mindlessly throwing money at schools), assigns Nevada’s state college and universities a B grade in a national ranking.

ACTA surveyed 718 public and private institutions — almost all U.S. colleges and universities except technical schools like MIT — and graded them on the rigor of their core curricula. ACTA addressed a fundamental question: If you graduate from an institution, does its core curriculum assure you’ll get a solid education in important areas to prepare you for work, citizenship and life?

ACTA considered whether a core includes these areas: composition (effective writing); literature; a foreign language; U.S. government or history; economics; mathematics; and natural or physical science.

Beyond asking whether a subject is required, ACTA investigated whether the standard actually requires students to pass substantive courses in the subject, not tangential fluff, nor one among many non-basic electives. For example, Princeton’s literature and arts requirement can be satisfied by “American Horror Fiction and Cinema,” so ACTA gives no credit. Wisconsin allows more than 550 courses, including “Introduction to Television,” for a similar requirement. No credit.

Only 17 schools (2 percent), notably including Air Force, Army and some Texas schools, got an A, meaning their core curricula require at least six of the seven areas. Besides Nevada’s institutions, 249 others got a B because they require four or five of the seven areas.

Nevada schools and almost all others fell short in economics, a sad irony in times in which understanding economic fundamentals is so important in work and citizenship. We also don’t require foreign languages, a sad fact even though this is probably the least essential among the categories. UNLV requires literature, but the University of Nevada, Reno and Nevada State College do not. All our schools require history/government, the second-most neglected area nationally, plus mathematics, science and composition.

Consider some of our “B” company: Arizona State, Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Navy, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Purdue, Utah and Utah State. If you can get accepted at highly selective universities like Chicago and afford their whopping tuition, maybe you should go there. Otherwise, Nevada’s very low costs (especially if you start at one of our community colleges) and high standards argue for staying here.

Among C recipients: Brigham Young, Idaho, Idaho State, Princeton, Stanford, UCLA and USC. Notable D’s: Arizona, Harvard, Illinois, Michigan, Oregon, Oregon State, Pacific, Reed and Wisconsin. Salient F’s: Boise State, Brown, Northwestern, Oberlin, Rice, Smith, California-Berkeley, California-Davis, Washington and Yale.

Of course, you can get a good, well-rounded education at most of these schools if you choose your courses well and work hard. You can also slide through at many of them, learn very little and emerge unprepared for work, citizenship and life.

In Nevada, we’re trying to close off the slide-through option and assure that our graduates are well-educated and get their money’s worth.

RON KNECHT

CARSON CITY

The writer is a member of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents.

They actually read it?

To the editor:

President Obama and the lame duck Congress pushed the START treaty through, and we’ve not been told how many in Congress read the accord.

Now the treaty has won initial approval in Russia’s Duma (the counterpart of our Congress), but its members pointedly say that final approval won’t occur until Jan. 11 at the very earliest, because they intend to study it.

Given the tendency of Congress to pass bills lawmakers haven’t read, I find the Russian Duma’s attitude refreshing.

Owen Nelson

Las Vegas

The great swindle

To the editor:

The Environmental Protection Agency has undertaken to save the planet from the man-caused global warming catastrophe.

That far-left conspiracy started some 40 years ago with the global cooling scam. We should have disarmed our bombers and sent them flying over the poles to cover the ice with soot to prevent huge new glaciers from crushing New York skyscrapers into dust. It continued into the 1990s with the global warming hoax. We should stop breathing, kill all the cows, nationalize oil and gas companies, coal mines, electric utilities, transportation companies and automakers.

After 12 years of substantial cooling, the 2000s brought the “climate change” flimflam, with the same program of massive communization. This name-changing sounded fishy, so the government-paid drones invented the cap-and-trade power grab, with the same program of massive nationalizations and impoverishment. The ultimate aim of this farce in four acts is the U.N.-sponsored world socialist government.

The Obama administration’s program of communizing America has already progressed through massive nationalizations of our automobile companies, mortgage and insurance companies, banks, hospitals and medical services (to arrive shortly) and the student loan industry, to be followed in the near future by the nationalization of our energy industries, led by the EPA.

And in the meantime, the ethanol boondoggle continues to destroy the environment while increasing the cost of energy and food. The tax incentives and outright tax money giveaways to the wind and solar energy projects are as well a huge waste of our resources in exchange for ultra-expensive, unreliable, inefficient and environmentally destructive swindles.

Marc Jeric

Las Vegas

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