Professors Union: It’s Bad Policy To Measure Whether Colleges Help Students

Gregory Ferenstein

One of the largest college teacher unions in the country has taken a rather odd education policy stance: opposition to measuring whether colleges are helping their graduates. In response to President Obama’s push to tie federal college aid to labor-market outcomes, the American Association of University Professors has issued a stern warning against the seemingly uncontentious idea of evaluating colleges before giving them money. “In reality measuring the output of our colleges and universities in a meaningful way is simply not possible,” writes President Rudy Fichtenbaum.
As someone with an advanced degree in the mathematics of social science, I fully appreciate the difficulty in quantifying post-graduate outcomes. But, Fichtenbaum’s opposition isn’t to any specific metric; it’s to the very idea of evaluation- not educational, not civic, not financial- nothing. He wants a blank check, even as colleges fail to improve student outcomes by their own standards.
“Quality education can give students skills that will be useful in helping them find jobs, but it is also about creating better human beings and giving students the knowledge to deal with the myriad of problems we face as a society. I have yet to see a test to measure whether or not someone has become a better human being.”