And just to make my point…

From the Moveable Type blog, October 3, 2007; edited to compensate for Chicago Sun-Times linkrot. (Thank God for the Wayback Machine.)

…and further pound it into my skull that I am, in fact, part of a dying vocation, and the vast majority of America thinks I’m completely useless to the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, the mayor of Chicago, Richard M. Daley.

Education cannot get so costly that it takes 80 percent, 90 percent of Americans out of the reach of college. If that happens, God help America…They should cut half the courses. It would cut the cost down tremendously. What are the basic courses that you need in college? Cut some of the unnecessary courses out.

Wow. Just wow.

Of course, this is horribly out of context, and I’d like to see the actual full-text of the comments. (It bears mentioning that Daley has been pounding on the idea that American public education is horrible for some time, and just yesterday was addressing school kids and teachers at a “Science In The City” festival and saying that “the United States is at risk of falling behind other nations in science and technology…we have the responsibility to make a career in science available to any children here in Chicago.”) But to say something as stupid as “They should cut half the courses”…

I mean, you want to alienate every person in higher education immediately? There you go. Run, don’t walk, to you nearest two-year college or small private school and say “Yeah, you’re an overpriced bunch of twats because you offer too many courses. You could surely run things on half the people you’re employing right now.”

The problem is, I absolutely guarantee you that Daley’s Q-rating just went up, not down, because of that comment. Note its context – cost of higher ed. Which is, in fact soaring. Which is, in fact, beginning to exceed the reach of the lower class, even elements of the middle class. And which is beginning to deal with financial realities – from health care for an aging faculty to competition for PhD’s from industry to paying for programs to deal with underprepared students…and we could go on for hours. The number of courses an institution teaches? That’s the tip of the dang iceberg.

But the populace doesn’t see it that way. The populace sees it as a question of pampered faculty taking their money and giving their kids an overpriced piece of paper in return.

So yeah, those of you who were so kind and commented on my “Grade D Culture” post…thanks. And know that you’ve just placed yourself in the 1% or so of the population who actually gets it. Right now, that 1% is not a happy place.

(HT: Dean Dad.)