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According to “The Path Forward; The Future of Graduate Education in the United States,” what’s wrong with graduate education is too little of it.  The Educational Testing Service and the Council of Graduate schools published this “landmark report,”on April 29; we know it’s a landmark report because ETS and CGS said so, in their press release.  OK, OK, minimal irony from here on, I promise.

The reason we need more people graduating with Ph.D.’s and M.A.’s–overwhelmingly the main reason–is the “necessity of a graduate-level workforce to maintain US competitiveness and innovation” (April 29 News Release),  The United States “is in peril of losing its competitive edge . . . ,” say the presidents of ETS and CGS.  People with graduate degrees are “crucial to ensure our nation’s continuing ability to compete in the global economy. . . ,” says the report’s conclusion.  There is much talk of losing the “dominant position” of US graduate education, its standing as “world leader,” its “preeminence,” and so on.  Yes, our grad schools are competing with those in other countries, but that competition is governed and warranted solely by its contribution to “our nation’s” economic battle with other nations.  You don’t have to look too deeply between the lines to understand this economic “necessity” as that of the companies that want to employ highly skilled and innovative holders of advanced degrees.  Naturally, the ETS-CGS commission that produced the report included business leaders, one of whom (Stanley S. Litow” of IBM) called for “innovative graduate programs in partnership with business.”  I suggest decoding this call to partnership  as:  “you grad schools produce the high-tech workers and we corporations will make the profits.”

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