The Certification Abdication

Education has become all about producing people with degrees, with the ultimate aim for many to produce individuals possessing PhDs. Colleges push to become PhD-granting institutions so they can attract more students or keep current students longer. That means more money, and with governmental support having eroded a great deal in the past decade, money is a concern across the board.

The certification race is also being accelerated by employers, who have become lazy in their hiring practices, using credentials as a cheap and easy initial screen on applicants. No degree, no interview, no chance.

Yet, the degree-granting institutions dispose of PhDs they produce without a second thought, failing to create teaching or research positions commensurate with the production of the vaunted credentials. A cynic might assert that these institutions see value in PhDs when the value is flowing into their coffers, but that value diminishes when the PhD needs the money to flow their way once they've achieved the promised certification. The cynic has a point.

Our institutions -- governments, universities, civic groups, courts -- are failing us at the moment. They are not businesses, and do not need to generate profits. They need to establish a fair and just environment in which citizens can expect the social contract to work in their favor. By abdicating the promise implicit in the degrees they tout, universities and their institutional allies are failing the rising citizens of our nation. By not supporting educational institutions so that they can avoid becoming cynical certification mills, governments are failing universities, colleges, their faculties, and their students and graduates.

And that's certifiable.