Declining by Degrees

Higher Education at Risk

By Richard H. Hersh (Editor); John Merrow (Editor); Tom Wolfe (Foreword by)
(Palgrave Macmillan, Hardcover, 9781403969217, 256pp.)

Publication Date: May 12, 2005

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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What is actually happening on college campuses in the years between admission and graduation?

Not enough to keep America competitive, and not enough to provide our citizens with fulfilling lives.

When A Nation at Risk called attention to the problems of our public schools in 1983, that landmark report provided a convenient "cover" for higher education, inadvertently implying that all was well on America's campuses.

Declining by Degrees blows higher education's cover. It asks tough--and long overdue--questions about our colleges and universities. In candid, coherent, and ultimately provocative ways, Declining by Degrees reveals:
- how students are being short-changed by lowered academic expectations and standards;
-why many universities focus on research instead of teaching and spend more on recruiting and athletics than on salaries for professors;
-why students are disillusioned;
-how administrations are obsessed with rankings in news magazines rather than the quality of learning;
-why the media ignore the often catastrophic results; and
-how many professors and students have an unspoken "non-aggression pact" when it comes to academic effort.

Declining by Degrees argues persuasively that the multi-billion dollar enterprise of higher education has gone astray. At the same time, these essays offer specific prescriptions for change, warning that our nation is in fact at greater risk if we do nothing.

About the Author

Richard H. Hersh is a Senior Fellow at the Council for Aid to Education (RAND). He is the former president of Trinity College and Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

John Merrow is the Peabody Award winning president of Learning Matters, Inc. He is Host and Executive Producer of The Merrow Report on PBS and NPR. He is an education correspondent for the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on PBS. 

Praise For Declining by Degrees

"I have never heard a single parent speculate about what value might be added by . . . four undergraduate years, other than the bachelor's degree itself . . . an essential punch on the ticket for starting off in any upscale career. The book before you is, to my knowledge, the first to confront the question head-on. All those boys and girls . . . do parents-does anybody-have any idea what happens to them in college?"--from the foreword by Tom Wolfe

"Anyone who cares deeply about American higher education will read this book and feel enlightened and enraged, delighted and despondent, encouraged and in despair. A 'must read' for those interested in both good news and bad, from higher education's influential insiders and jaded outsiders."--Lee S. Shulman, President, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

"The decline of our once-proud colleges and universities--well documented in this book--is the bitter fruit of our ever-more ineffective K-12 education. This book makes it clear that our nation is still at risk."--E. D. Hirsch, Jr., author of Cultural Literacy and The Schools We Need

Praise for Merrow's Choosing Excellence:
"This [is an] outstanding assessment of the current state of the nation's schools...Forecast: Since most children in America attend 'good enough' schools, this book's potential market is enormous, and the author's high profile will help."
--Publishers Weekly

"No pre-service teacher should consider his or her professional education complete if it does not include regular viewings of The Merrow Report, the documentary series now airing on PBS and National Public Radio."
--Library Journal

"Merrow aims to create a smarter consumer of schools....He succeeds in that he gives parents a framework for what they should be seeking and very practical hints on evaluating schools."
--Karin Chenoweth, 0Washington Post

"This book points out that there's more to a school than its four walls and reputation, and more people need to be aware of all the choices that are out there."

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