Readers of this blog know that I’ve been critical of SCSU President Potter and of MnSCU in general. I’ve questioned MnSCU’s decisionmaking, too. That’s why I’m critical of anything talking about how essential MnSCU is in its present configuration. That’s why I’m critical of this St. Cloud Times YTE.

While Minnesotans entered or returned to school for training in a number of career fields, 33 percent of non-traditional students graduated with degrees from health programs, comprising MnSCU’s highest proportion of non-traditional graduates.

Steve Hine, with the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), believes the trend of non-traditional students enrolling into health programs will continue.

Training and staffing well-skilled health care professionals statewide is critical in the coming decades, as retirements and aging baby boomers create a double crunch on demand. DEED predicts health fields will lead the next decade’s labor market growth, specifically jobs in personalized and home care and registered nursing, with a combined 51,000 new jobs.

There isn’t a thoughtful person who objects to training people for a high-paying career, whether it’s in health care, agriculture, heavy equipment operation or aviation.

It’s the crap degrees that I have a problem with. For instance, the Masters Degree program in Social Responsibility at St. Cloud State seems like a questionable use of limited resources. Here’s the synopsis for Social Responsibility:

This interdisciplinary Masters Degree in Social Responsibility addresses a citizen’s responsibility to others, to society and to the environment.

Simply put, it’s a graduate level indoctrination program. What’s the justification for spending $1,218,000 in teacher salaries alone on this class? BTW, that’s before pensions and health care are factored in.

Another program within MnSCU is the ecotourism degree from Central Lakes Community College in Brainerd:

The CLC AAS degree in ecotourism is designed to enable the graduate to use sustainable tourism to expand economic development and to improve the quality of life for your destination. As one of the few colleges in the nation to offer an ecotourism degree, our program meshes a range of disciplines for a well-balanced start in nature travel. Fourteen program areas at CLC blend the required 48 credits, and a host of electives allow the student to emphasize special interest areas such as nature viewing, culture or business. At the core of this program is respect for the environment.

WOW!!! Another indoctination program involving the environment. Who would’ve thought that on a modern college campus?

How about the Nail Care Technician certificate from Century College in White Bear Lake? Here’s the synopsis on that course:

This Nail Care Technician certificate includes instruction in theory and practical application techniques of cleansing, shaping, polishing, massage of hands and feet, and also the application of artificial nails. Completion of this certificate prepares students for state written exam and certification of skills as required by Minnesota cosmetology laws and rules for licensure. Program costs listed below are approximate, and books and other fees are not included for general education coursework.

I’d love hearing why this is taught at a community college and not at a private trade school. Whatever money is being spent on this program is too much.

The point to me highlighting these programs, and I could go on alot longer, is to tell people that MnSCU wastes alot of money on degrees that shouldn’t be offered. If they disappeared from the MnSCU menu of degree programs, the money could be saved but the programs wouldn’t be missed.

It isn’t that conservatives hate MnSCU. It’s that conervatives know that too much money is spent on soft degrees. It’s why there’s a growing number of conservatives that are warming to the idea of reforming MnSCU. In fact, it isn’t just conservatives that are warming to that idea.

During the Clinton administration, liberals would just mention the word education and think that we should spend more. Those days are grinding to a halt. We’ve accumulated too much debt to spend recklessly.

A reformed, accountable MnSCU is worthy of support. MnSCU in its present form is worthy of support with the condition that it be significantly reformed.

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3 Responses to “Questioning MnSCU’s Importance”

  • eric z says:

    Do you then support the trade unions having instructions in the trades they represent in order to assure competence of practitioners? It is private sector. It is not teaching carpentry in the State funded institutions.

    What about teaching computer programming? It seems more a trade than a profession, but either way, it could be priivatized. What about law? It used to be that one clerked and then took the bar exam. I think that is how Lincoln got licensed.

    Now it is law schools? Is that something you like or dislike? If law schools and medical schools were all private sector, schools like Case-Western Reserve, U. Chicago, etc., would you favor that, and if so, what about the grant money going into such programs?

    You seem to have no beef with medical school, or graduate school in the hard sciences and engineering, but what of graduate school in history, political science, or other “social sciences?”

    It is easy to snipe here and there for easy kills.

    But where do you draw lines and shade the nuances of funding policy, and in particular, how would you have a set of policy criteria on deciding to budget for one use vs. another?

    Junk degrees are easy targets; but that’s really dodging the real, difficult questions. And on the “doing nails” schooling, those graduates do make a living, not being burdens on the state requiring welfare assistance.

    Is it that you dislike a system where there are inequalities so that a proportion have discretionary cash for doing nails while others worry over mortgage foreclosures? I have not seen that line of thinking prominent here.

  • Alan says:

    Eric truly lost me. A social responsibility program goes well beyond a philosophy or some other typical humanities degree program. Quite frankly, there are presently academic degree programs that are highly questionable here in MN and beyond. How do you truly equate the importance of law or medical schools to a Social Responsibility master’s degree program that has less than 40 students? This program studies animals, social justice, and peace. Please tell me the name of actual companies who recruit these graduates. As Seinfeld said, “Good luck with all that!”

  • Gary Gross says:

    Junk degrees are easy targets

    Then let’s eliminate the low-hanging fruit ASAP. If money is being spent foolishly, whether it’s for a Social Responsibility Masters degree program or for a nail-polishing certificate, it must be eliminated. It isn’t right that private citizens that are having a difficult time making ends meet have to pay higher taxes & tuition to pay a professor that gets paid $60,000+ to teach these junk degrees.

    And on the “doing nails” schooling, those graduates do make a living

    First, is there a demand for manicurists & pedicurists? If there isn’t, then we shouldn’t be pissing money away on the subject. Next, if there is a demand for manicurists & pedicurists, could these people be trained at a private business college at a cheaper price than what we’re paying for it through government schools? I suspect that a trade school like St. Cloud’s Model College of Hair Design could meet the marketplace’s demands without a penny of taxpayer money.

    I’m perfectly willing to let private schools compete with government universitie. Competition is good & should be encouraged. It isn’t the be-all-end-all solution but it certainly works wonders with technology.

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