Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.

All the talk of war has blotted out lesser, but still significant events, e.g., the presidential announcement of a federal system for rating colleges and universities.

U.S. media seemed to swallow whole the idea that the federal government, which now controls student loans, would just look at the cost of higher education and such sterile statistics as graduation rates to – as the Washington Post put it – “steer more federal student aid toward colleges that score highly in the ratings.”

Here’s how it would go, really:

College administrator: See here! You’ve given us a low rating in spite of our high, four-year graduation rate, outstanding acceptance of our students into graduate degree programs and successful efforts to hold the line on tuition. We also have maintained a very diverse student body.

Federal bureaucrat: Say! You have done well on those measures. But we have a problem with your course catalog

College administrator: Our course catalog? We offer bachelor’s degree programs in all the arts and sciences, and our graduates do extremely well in the job market.

Federal bureaucrat: But the mix of your courses isn’t good.

College administrator (a bit perplexed): What’s the problem? We have outstanding professors teaching a curriculum that is both broad and deep.

Federal bureaucrat: Still, you have to admit it is a bit Eurocentric. You’ll have to tone that down, or our federally controlled student aid will go to other institutions.

College administrator (angrily): What business do you have meddling in our course content?

Federal bureaucrat: We always have looked on course content as our business. And now we have the means to enforce it.

College administrator: We will never surrender our academic freedom!

Federal bureaucrat: You’re kidding, right?

College administrator (whispering): Of course, but you never know when some professor might hear you. We’ll get right to work on that Eurocentrism.

You think this is fantasy? Bookmark this page and refer to it in a couple of years if Obama gets to install his college rating system.

Welcome to “The Big U”: Janet Napolitano, coming from a left-wing administration, might have expected a warm welcome to her new job as president of the University of California.

Instead, the former Homeland Security secretary faced a no-confidence vote in the U.C. Student Association board. It failed, but only 6-9.

The big issue was the number of deportation of illegal aliens during her tenure has Homeland Security chief. One deportation is too many for the pro-illegals organizations of the multi-campus university system.

Apparently, the argument that carried the day for Napolitano came from the student association board chairwomen, who said, “Speaking from a purely relationship-building standpoint, regardless of who is in the U.C. Office of the President, we need to have a relationship with them so that we can demand things for students.”

Well, there’s student government vernacular for you. They never suggest, never request, never debate.

The key word that resonates with the student body always is “demand.”

Ms. Napolitano will learn that it’s one thing for a departmental secretary to stonewall congressional demands for information and quite another thing to stonewall students.

Affirmative action dies hard: The above-mentioned University of California has filed an amicus brief in support of the University of Michigan’s effort to reinstate affirmative action. The case is headed for a Supreme Court decision, and U.C. administrators fear that a holding against U. Michigan will cement California’s Proposition 206 in place.

Prop. 206, among other things, banned the consideration of race, sex or ethnicity in granting admission to California universities.

A reporter for The Daily Californian (at Cal, my alma mater) wrote, “The case involves race-blind admissions at public universities – policies both Michigan and California currently have.”

The reporter is mistaken. Race-blind policies exist on paper, but not in fact. As a state college president once told me, and I paraphrase: We receive federal funds, so we follow federal guidelines on affirmative-action admissions.

In other words, California’s university administrators feel free to cheat the voters of California – and they do.


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