Time for reinventing education: a cover story not to be missed

by Peter Meyer | Program Manager, CIEP

Henry Luce pioneered a form of journalism that linked compelling narrative to compelling fact and created a magazine that has withstood the test of time.  And the magazine shows that it still has the right stuff with an important special issue on higher education.

I used to work at Time (and Life and People) and can tell tales about the fact-checking system (reporters were ordered to bring match books and stationery back from foreign hotels so that the spelling was correct and on for several days prior to “closing,” the library, staffed, was open all night) and the writing (an intricate system in which reporters sent in long and detailed reports from the field to a stable of some of the best writers in the land) – a system that makes the peer review process seem tame.

“Exactly 150 years ago, in the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, which launched the great and enduring public university system in America,” writes managing editor Rick Stengel, (who, full disclosure, has a house not far from mine, introducing the issue, going on to point out, quite compellingly, that “[e]ven during the most wrenching conflict in our history, Lincoln was thinking of the future….  I’d argue that higher education is in large part the foundation of American exceptionalism and we weaken it at our peril.”

If you don’t have a subscription to Time, this special issue, for educators, policymakers, and parents, is worth the price of admission.  Some highlights:

Senior writer Amanda Ripley goes to school; specifically, to Udacity, the amazing new Silicon Valley operation that offers college-level courses free – and now has students from 125 different countries.  Ripley also tried out some free MOOCs (massive open online courses), including COURSERA, a consortium of 33 high-powered colleges;

Great charts and graphs covering all sorts of college-related issues (tuition costs, graduation rates, student debt);

A Time/Carnegie Corporation poll asking Americans what they thought of the “crisis in postsecondary education”;

Essays by Mitt Romney and Barack Obama (pretty boilerplate, but interesting);

Six views on the higher ed debt crisis

This is the kind of report that policymakers read – because smart voters are reading it as well.

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