Saturday, April 19, 2008

MAS annual dinner 2008 

The MAS annual dinner was attended by about 50 supporters. I saw a few people I haven't seen there before, like John LaPlante and Mitch Pearlstein, and some old friends who I normally get to see did not come this year. And of course the usual people who read here and are fans of the NARN; on behalf of the entire show, thanks for that.

Two students received awards for supporting rational discourse on campus. One was Amy Ledig from Macalester, who wrote a brave column against the creation of "gender-blind" bathrooms in the school's dorms. The other went to Rachel (? I missed the first name) Zeman from St. Catherine, who is also getting Star Parker to come to St. Kate's, with less folderol than her appearance at St. Thomas.

Peter Wood then gave his talk as I mentioned yesterday. He divides the aspiring reformers of higher education into two phylum -- those who would reform from within, and those who have the attitude of "let it burn". Once again, he argued that more conservative economists fall in the let-it-burn camp. I argued instead that some upheaval is needed to free resources for reform efforts, so some schools will in fact fail. But that should not be interpreted as burning down the house. It's renovation, just that it's renovation more than refinishing cabinets. Install new rooms, take out old. But the structure will still be there.

The resolution of this did not strike me as being at all radical, and I do not know how Wood sees the institutions resolving their fundamental issues. But clearly his vision is for internal reforms.

The group was apprised and afterwards concern was expressed over the coming crisis in student lending. That's worth a separate post, but consider this a teaser.