The Irascible ProfessorSM

Irreverent Commentary on the State of Education in America Today

by Dr. Mark H. Shapiro
Education costs money, but then so does ignorance.   .....Sir Claus Moser, 21 August 1990

Commentary of the Day - October 8, 1999:

Grade Inflation:

Grade inflation has been endemic on college and university campuses since the sixties - an unfortunate legacy of the Viet Nam war that has caused a persistent low-grade infection in the American higher education system.  To a large extent, the science and engineering disciplines have been immune from this disease.  After all, you wouldn't want to drive over a bridge designed by an engineer who got passing grades just because he or she was able to fog a mirror and showed up for class once in a great while.  Or would you?  We wouldn't want to lower the student's self-esteem would we!  Maybe not.  I for one would sure like to make it across that bridge in one piece.

Well, the Irascible Professor is sorry to have to report that this low-grade infection has become a flesh eating bacteria.  A physics instructor at a major southern California university (would you believe U.C.L.A.) is now offering guaranteed C grades in a general education physics course to students who do little more than show up!  My own discipline!  Physics, the last refuge of intellectual purity!  I'll have to hide my head in shame.  I use to be able to sneer at my colleagues in the humanities whose major decision for the semester was whether to give students in their classes A's or B's.  I think I'll have another Guinness.


The Irascible Professor invites your comments.
©1999 Dr. Mark H. Shapiro