18 December 2008

Interesting that we haven't settled this question yet

From Richard Hofstadter, 'The Higher Learning in America,' in The Development and Scope of Higher Education in the United States, by Richard Hofstadter and C. DeWitt Hardy, Columbia University Press, New York, 1952, pp. 107-108:
If it is democratic to admit to our colleges great numbers of students who lack intellectual interests and to attune the educational system to their sub-intellectual needs and capacities, there has been an excess of democracy in the conduct of American higher education. State universities are commonly required to admit all graduates of state high schools who have academic records that can be examined without shuddering, with the consequence that an unholy proportion of the freshman classes in these institutions consists of sheer excess baggage. This is ‘democracy’ with a vengeance. But if by democracy we mean equality of recruitment among the intellectually able without regard to the limitations of their purses, American colleges and universities could welcome an extension of it.