By "Higher Education," They Mean the Price

Burt Prelutsky
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Posted: Jun 11, 2007 12:00 AM
By "Higher Education," They Mean the Price

Like all of my conservative colleagues, I have often taken up a cudgel or even an axe in the ongoing battle with liberals, leftists, Socialists, progressives, Maoists, Castroites, Communists, and all the other whack-jobs on the wrong side of history.

Some of the issues that we on the right usually agree about involve affirmative action, taxes, capital punishment, bilingual education, welfare, illegal aliens, the military, the Constitution, and the belief that logic and commonsense should always trump emotion when it comes to making national policy.

These days, I’d say that the major issue over which conservatives are most likely to part company involves Iraq. But even those who happen to agree about timelines with the likes of Pelosi, Murtha and the other Neville Chamberlain wannabes, generally acknowledge, unlike the Democrats, that a state of war actually exists between Islamists and modern civilization.

There is one issue, however, of some importance about which nobody else seems even slightly concerned. And, no, I am not referring to my book sales, but, rather, to the cost of what is amusingly referred to as higher education. Higher than what, you well might ask, considering that a good number of college graduates can not do simple math or write a coherent sentence, and would be better served if they repeated the eighth grade. Still, countless American families are mortgaging their homes and future solvency so that their kids can attend college.

Frankly, I’m not certain just when it became so darn imperative for every 18-year-old to traipse off to some ivy-walled ivory tower. I understand colleges and universities serving as trade schools for such occupations as engineering, physics, architecture and medicine. But why are all those other people hanging around, wasting their parents’ hard-earned cash? It can’t merely be to fill the stands at football and basketball games, but perhaps the answer really is as simple as that.

I mean, really, what is there about being a grade school teacher, a social worker or a professor of English literature, for that matter, that requires spending upwards of four years killing time among the groves of academe?

I have long-wondered why it costs so much dough to be a student in the humanities. After all, it’s not as if novels and books of poetry are terribly pricey items. It’s not as if they were cyclotrons or chemistry labs. Paper is paper, and it doesn’t cost all that much. However, thanks to Michael Medved, I just recently learned that the average salary for American professors is more than $90,000-a-year, and that doesn’t factor in what they might earn as researchers, consultants and writers. Even that nutsy Ward Churchill, I’ve read, pulls down well over the national average, and that’s just base salary, and doesn’t include personal appearance fees.

Believe me, it’s not personal. I have nothing against English majors or, for that matter, reading fiction. As a matter of fact, I was an English major back during the Ice Age. But it didn’t cost my folks an arm and a leg for me to attend UCLA. And the truth is that most of what I garnered from my time at the university wasn’t the result of class work, but of having the opportunity to hone my skills while writing for the Daily Bruin and the humor magazine.

Seriously, did I really need to be enrolled at UCLA in order to read the writers I’d already begun reading when I was a 12-year old?

I honestly feel sorry for all those dutiful and loving parents who feel they must hock the silverware in order to finance junior’s liberal arts education. Guilt being as ingrained in some people as it is, I know that even if I started screaming from a rooftop that they’d all be better off if they gave the kids $10,000 and a library card my words would fall on deaf ears.

If I point out that 80-90% of the professors in the humanities will spend their time and your money propagandizing for the left, and trying to convince the kids that their parents are political troglodytes if they don’t happen to agree that Che Guevara was a saint; that the members of al-Qaida and Hezbollah are freedom fighters; and that any war, otherwise known as a quagmire, in which America engages is motivated by oil, empire and/or racism; unless, of course, the war is begun during a Democrat’s administration.

Seriously, I have no idea why there isn’t more of an outcry over this issue. Millions of Americans will go ballistic if the price of gasoline goes up 10 cents-a-gallon, but they barely make a peep over the fact that it can easily run them well over $100,000 to buy their kid a college degree.

What the heck is the matter with you people? I feel like Howard Beale in “Network,” urging his apathetic TV viewers to get up, go to the window, open it, stick their heads out, and yell: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

For the time being, though, I must accept the sad fact that on this issue at least, I remain the lone haranguer.

Hi-ho, Silver.