Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 27, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Higher Education

  |   Video
  • New York Times writer Claudia Dreifus discusses Higher Education?, a new book she co-authored about the rising costs of higher education and the value students receive in return.
Guests:
  • Claudia Dreifus - New York Times
Category: Education

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
We have all seen the cost of higher education rise in recent year a "The New York Times" writer has co¬authored a book about the rising cost of college. It is titled "Higher education?" How colleges are wasting our money and failing our kids and what we can do about it. Here joining us is Claudia Dreifus.

Claudia Dreifus:
Thank you for inviting me.

Ted Simons:
Colleges are wasting our money and failing our kids, huh?

Claudia Dreifus:
Not all colleges. I think the public universities like ASU use their money efficiently, far more efficiently than many of the private, elite universities.

Ted Simons:
Talk about some of the inefficiencies.

Claudia Dreifus:
Well, as we say in our book, many of the schools are wasting huge amounts of money on arcane sports, on business enterprises, on unsupervised investments. Harvard has lost as much as a third of its endowment on unwise speculation and nobody is really watching it. The University of Texas spends as much as 53,000 per volleyball player. We say that all schools education should come forward to graduates and everything else should be justified.

Ted Simons:
I want to get to other aspects, but you mentioned athletics. Many folks will say at many universities, especially the big ones, the athletic budget is separate from the university; is that true?

Claudia Dreifus:
It is and it isn't. But certainly the athletic budget takes away from other sources that might be contributing to the university, and the funding is also bizarre and difficult to trace. But you can't fully say what’s what. But very few of these athletic programs make any money. Just a handful of them. And lot of it comes out of tuition.

Ted Simons:
The idea, the primary mission for colleges should be teaching undergrads. That seems to be a focus of what you’re saying.

Claudia Dreifus:
Absolutely. We only look at undergraduate education.

Ted Simons:
What happened to that primary mission? What is going on out there?

Claudia Dreifus:
It has gotten lost in a variety of functions that have often nothing to do with teaching our kids. And let me say that I think ASU does a really good job, compared to a lot of places. It does an excellent job. One of the things we did was travel around the country and look at schools throughout the country. We must have looked at 100 schools. Came to ASU and we were surprised because something like the Barrett Honors College is as good as any Ivey league school, and if you're in state, it is bargain. So the idea that schools should be dedicated to teaching them, those students in those four years, we think that should be job one, but instead, a lot of universities, are much more focused on the graduate schools, on the careers that their professors -- on just growing the empire. I've been very impressed with what goes on here.

Ted Simons:
I know that research is a major topic and a major bone to pick as far as what you were looking at in your book. Talk about what you mean by maybe too much research. Because a lot of folks say research is related to knowledge, researching can be very stimulating for students, it is part of an academic education.

Claudia Dreifus:
Well, it is, particularly if you want to be a scientist, but what we're talking about is the way research at most universities has become the central theme. And we're not just talking about science research. The science research can be justified; you never know what’s going to be important. But in the humanities and the social sciences, this is how professors get promoted. You do papers, you do books, and after a while, we don't need 3,000 papers on Virginia Wolf, or I love William Faulkner but 3,000 papers, there just isn't that much new to say about it, but you can't become tenured unless you do that.

Ted Simons:
We had Jonathen Cole here who wrote a wonderful book about Universities, he mentioned what is going on at the University of California a lot.

Claudia Dreifus:
That is tragic.

Ted Simons: Talk about, why do you see that as tragic?

Claudia Dreifus:
Well Because they're spinning off the actual education function of the undergraduate colleges and just leaving the schools as a bunch of research centers. And that is really sad. I mean, one of the reasons why California has prospered is because they did have mass education of their young people, and I think also from what I can see Michael crow has tried to do here is extend, let's say, the educational franchise and make it available to most people possible. That's how a region develops, that is how this state could develop. It's very important.

Ted Simons:
And yet, you mentioned ASU and you see ASU doing things right.

Claudia Dreifus:
Some things.

Ted Simons:
Yeah.

Claudia Dreifus:
Many things right.

Ted Simons:
The idea that too much research, too much arcane research, too much dependency on arcane sport, too much emphasis on grad study. We have people in the state who think ASU is at fault in those areas.

Claudia Dreifus:
They haven't seen the rest of the country.

Ted Simons:
So you're saying in comparison, ASU is doing well.

Claudia Dreifus:
Well, Yes, I'm sure ASU are things critics could find wrong with it, but I think the idea that Dr. Crowe has had was Arizona is a state without a lot of resources, maybe you could turn this place into Singapore because it has been just endlessly dependent on building booms and there aren't a lot of resources to do anything else so build up the brain power.

Ted Simons:
Reaction to your book; what are you hearing?

Claudia Dreifus:
Well, it's done very well as a book. We've been to three printings, but we've been vilified by our fellow professors. My co-author is Andrew Hackard, a political scientist and also my life partner, and we've been called anti-intellectual, neo-conservatives, which we actually are not. And in New York, that's a sin. And there are parts of -- I had, for my work for the times, I had to be up at Harvard a couple of weeks ago, and I thought I should go with an armed guard. We don't say nice things about Harvard.

Ted Simons:
the last question here, the perception is that higher education in America is the envy of the world. Cole seems to believe that.

Claudia Dreifus:
Some ways it is.

Ted Simons:
A lot of folks seem to believe that. Are you saying maybe not? Maybe it is not as rosy as some would paint?

Claudia Dreifus:
The Oldsmobile used to be the envy of the world and Detroit had a change, you can't make the huge gas guzzlers with the big fins, and Detroit didn't listen and people who run education could be less self-satisfied and look at what works and what doesn't work in the system.

Ted Simons:
Thank you for being here.

Claudia Dreifus:
Thank you for asking me.

Judicial Performance Reviews

  |   Video
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review publishes a report that ranks judges’ performances. Roberta Voss, chair of the commission, will explain the reviews and how they can assist voters in the November election.
Guests:
  • Roberta Voss - Chair of the Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance
Category: Vote 2010

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Superior court judges are listed for retention and there are a lot of judges on the ballot list. Who do you keep and who do you throw out? A report by the Arizona commission on judicial performance is designed to help. Earlier, I talked to Roberta Voss, chair of the commission, and she explained judicial performance reviews.

Ted Simons:
Thank you for joining us tonight on "Horizon."

Roberta Voss:
Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons:
What do performance ratings look at?

Roberta Voss:
Well, the commission gets together every couple of years and we look at half the judges who were on the bench for retention, and we look at performance in terms of legal ability and whether they can administer justice fairly, whether they are unbiased on the bench, whether they run the calendar effectively. A lot of things we're looking at for effectiveness on the bench.

Ted Simons:
How are the reviews conducted? Who is involved?

Roberta Voss:
A lot of people involved. It's a public effort, it's a legal effort, the people who are actually in the courtrooms are the ones who are receiving surveys to fill out the information during the survey period, and then the results of those surveys go to a data center. The data center then compiles in an anonymous way, they assign numbers so the actual commission members don't know who the judges are, we then get the data from the data center and it is compiled completely numerically. So we take a look at all of the information in a short period of time, in a two-month period of time, pretty much, but it is a lot of data. And more specifically to your question, 30 members on the commission. 18 are public members, so it is very public-oriented. There are six judges and six attorneys, as well.

Ted Simons:
You mentioned some of the standards. Let's talk about what kind of standards need to be met. Legal ability is one of those standards. What does that mean?

Roberta Voss:
It is in the eye of the beholder, so whoever gets the survey, the bailiff, juror, lawyers, witness in the courtroom, they read the survey and they determine whether or not the judge has legal ability or whether or not the judge has treated them fairly or whether the judge is biased or effective.

Ted Simons:
So legal ability could mean, if I'm one of the people on the commission or one of the people doing the survey, if I don't think that particular judge, what, knows what he is talking about? There has to be a little bit of parameter, doesn't there?

Roberta Voss:
Well, the people inclined to know legal ability are those practicing in front of the judge. It can be peer review, so it is typically people experienced in the area, and oddly enough, you know, we sometimes think that if you’re the loser in the case, that you might treat someone poorly, but that's not what we see in the numbers. We actually see a lot of comments that someone has been treated fairly or the judge did a fine job on the bench, even from those who do not prevail in their cases.

Ted Simons:
Integrity and judicial temperament among the standard. Give us a general idea what that means.

Roberta Voss:
Sure. Some of the matters we see come up, maybe a judge doesn't look out into the audience often enough. Maybe the judge doesn’t acknowledge someone when they’re setting at the witness stand. We find that sometimes just little body language matters like that make a big difference. So it is a matter of job performance and public perception.

Ted Simons:
Communication skills would fall under that, as well.

Roberta Voss:
Absolutely.

Ted Simons:
Another standard, administrative performance. How can someone from the outside figure out a judge's administration performance?

Roberta Voss:
You look at your clock and see if you had an appointment at 1:00. If your matter started at 2:00 or 4:00 or got postponed, so sometimes someone who is in the courtroom will assume that the judge is at fault for that, or to be praised for how efficient the courtroom is run.

Ted Simons:
What -- how often do judges fail to meet the standards or don't quite get to the top of the list in terms of the scale, the standards scale?

Roberta Voss:
I believe since JPR was created, back in 1992, it's a constitutionally-created entity, since then I think there are three judges who have not met standards, according to the commission. All of the names, whether you meet standard or don't meet standard, are all sent to the ballot and it is up to the public to vote on those judges and vote whether to retain them on the bench or not retain them.

Ted Simons:
And they've all been retained?

Roberta Voss:
They've all been retained.

Ted Simons:
Does that suggest maybe there is a different way to do this? You would think since 1992 there has got to be a suspect judge out there somewhere.

Roberta Voss:
And there could be. And I think that through the analysis of the data that we produce the information the best we can. The best thing to do to change the system is encourage more people to investigate more about the judges. Go on the website and read more about the judges, look at more of the data we look at. They have the same information we've had to look at and they can vote to retain or not retain.

Ted Simons:
If I'm a judge and I see -- I will be able to see, correct, some of these reviews? You don't know who it is but you know what the review says, and it says that my integrity is suspect or my communication skills aren't the best, and I figure I've got great communication skills, a very fair-minded person; how I do respond? What are the avenues there?

Roberta Voss:
There are couple parts of the process, but I will focus on the judges up for retention. So if those judges find that they have a low score, the commission actually typically will ask that judge to write a response or come in and sit before the commission and maybe explain what's going on with their scores. So usually it's the commission members who reach out to the judge to express concern. The footnote to that, Ted, is there is another part of the process that the public gets involved in in the off sessions, on the off cycles, that talk about ways to improve communication or other skills.

Ted Simons:
And in another aspect of this, you know, everything is very partisan, controversial these days. A lot of yelling and shouting out there. How do you avoid ideological bends when people are looking at judiciary?

Roberta Voss:
Well, from the commission standpoint, there are no politics involved in this because we are looking at this purely based on data. We don't know the name of the judge, we don't know who we're reviewing at a particular turn of the page, so when we're looking at something, we have no idea who the person is. We're strictly looking at those numbers that are put before us. So there's no politics in that regard.

Ted Simons:
What about the numbers that get to you, the folks that are doing the survey, is there a concern there at all?

Roberta Voss:
No. Actually there's not. It is a pretty air tight system.

Ted Simons:
Okay.

Roberta Voss:
So the surveys come in, they are anonymous surveys. It is actually a fabulous question for everyone to know. The surveys that come in, we don't know -- we know what type of category they came from, whether it is a witness or a lawyer or a bailiff, but we don't know who that person is because there is no identifying markings. So it is strictly data input and the data centers, no idea who the people are, they don't know who the judges are either because they have assigned them numbers, so it is -- it is very numerical and confidential.

Ted Simons:
If these ratings are available on-line.

Roberta Voss:
They are available on-line.
Ted Simons:
azjudges.info.

Roberta Voss:
You can go to the Supreme Court website; you can go to the secretary of state's website. Since this is a big election cycle, you can click through there, also.

Ted Simons:
Good stuff. Thank you for joining us.

Roberta Voss:
Absolutely. Thank you.

Public Health Law Network

  |   Video
  • ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law has been named a regional office for the national Public Health Law Network. James Hodge Jr., who directs ASU’s Public Health Law and Policy Program, discusses the new regional office, which he will co-chair.
Guests:
  • James Hodge Jr - Director, ASU Public Health Law and Policy Program
Category: Medical/Health

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
We have all seen the cost of higher education rise in recent year a "The New York Times" writer has co¬authored a book about the rising cost of college. It is titled "Higher education?" How colleges are wasting our money and failing our kids and what we can do about it. Here joining us is Claudia Dreifus.

Claudia Dreifus:
Thank you for inviting me.

Ted Simons:
Colleges are wasting our money and failing our kids, huh?

Claudia Dreifus:
Not all colleges. I think the public universities like ASU use their money efficiently, far more efficiently than many of the private, elite universities.

Ted Simons:
Talk about some of the inefficiencies.

Claudia Dreifus:
Well, as we say in our book, many of the schools are wasting huge amounts of money on arcane sports, on business enterprises, on unsupervised investments. Harvard has lost as much as a third of its endowment on unwise speculation and nobody is really watching it. The University of Texas spends as much as 53,000 per volleyball player. We say that all schools education should come forward to graduates and everything else should be justified.

Ted Simons:
I want to get to other aspects, but you mentioned athletics. Many folks will say at many universities, especially the big ones, the athletic budget is separate from the university; is that true?

Claudia Dreifus:
It is and it isn't. But certainly the athletic budget takes away from other sources that might be contributing to the university, and the funding is also bizarre and difficult to trace. But you can't fully say what’s what. But very few of these athletic programs make any money. Just a handful of them. And lot of it comes out of tuition.

Ted Simons:
The idea, the primary mission for colleges should be teaching undergrads. That seems to be a focus of what you’re saying.

Claudia Dreifus:
Absolutely. We only look at undergraduate education.

Ted Simons:
What happened to that primary mission? What is going on out there?

Claudia Dreifus:
It has gotten lost in a variety of functions that have often nothing to do with teaching our kids. And let me say that I think ASU does a really good job, compared to a lot of places. It does an excellent job. One of the things we did was travel around the country and look at schools throughout the country. We must have looked at 100 schools. Came to ASU and we were surprised because something like the Barrett Honors College is as good as any Ivey league school, and if you're in state, it is bargain. So the idea that schools should be dedicated to teaching them, those students in those four years, we think that should be job one, but instead, a lot of universities, are much more focused on the graduate schools, on the careers that their professors -- on just growing the empire. I've been very impressed with what goes on here.

Ted Simons:
I know that research is a major topic and a major bone to pick as far as what you were looking at in your book. Talk about what you mean by maybe too much research. Because a lot of folks say research is related to knowledge, researching can be very stimulating for students, it is part of an academic education.

Claudia Dreifus:
Well, it is, particularly if you want to be a scientist, but what we're talking about is the way research at most universities has become the central theme. And we're not just talking about science research. The science research can be justified; you never know what’s going to be important. But in the humanities and the social sciences, this is how professors get promoted. You do papers, you do books, and after a while, we don't need 3,000 papers on Virginia Wolf, or I love William Faulkner but 3,000 papers, there just isn't that much new to say about it, but you can't become tenured unless you do that.

Ted Simons:
We had Jonathen Cole here who wrote a wonderful book about Universities, he mentioned what is going on at the University of California a lot.

Claudia Dreifus:
That is tragic.

Ted Simons: Talk about, why do you see that as tragic?

Claudia Dreifus:
Well Because they're spinning off the actual education function of the undergraduate colleges and just leaving the schools as a bunch of research centers. And that is really sad. I mean, one of the reasons why California has prospered is because they did have mass education of their young people, and I think also from what I can see Michael crow has tried to do here is extend, let's say, the educational franchise and make it available to most people possible. That's how a region develops, that is how this state could develop. It's very important.

Ted Simons:
And yet, you mentioned ASU and you see ASU doing things right.

Claudia Dreifus:
Some things.

Ted Simons:
Yeah.

Claudia Dreifus:
Many things right.

Ted Simons:
The idea that too much research, too much arcane research, too much dependency on arcane sport, too much emphasis on grad study. We have people in the state who think ASU is at fault in those areas.

Claudia Dreifus:
They haven't seen the rest of the country.

Ted Simons:
So you're saying in comparison, ASU is doing well.

Claudia Dreifus:
Well, Yes, I'm sure ASU are things critics could find wrong with it, but I think the idea that Dr. Crowe has had was Arizona is a state without a lot of resources, maybe you could turn this place into Singapore because it has been just endlessly dependent on building booms and there aren't a lot of resources to do anything else so build up the brain power.

Ted Simons:
Reaction to your book; what are you hearing?

Claudia Dreifus:
Well, it's done very well as a book. We've been to three printings, but we've been vilified by our fellow professors. My co-author is Andrew Hackard, a political scientist and also my life partner, and we've been called anti-intellectual, neo-conservatives, which we actually are not. And in New York, that's a sin. And there are parts of -- I had, for my work for the times, I had to be up at Harvard a couple of weeks ago, and I thought I should go with an armed guard. We don't say nice things about Harvard.

Ted Simons:
the last question here, the perception is that higher education in America is the envy of the world. Cole seems to believe that.

Claudia Dreifus:
Some ways it is.

Ted Simons:
A lot of folks seem to believe that. Are you saying maybe not? Maybe it is not as rosy as some would paint?

Claudia Dreifus:
The Oldsmobile used to be the envy of the world and Detroit had a change, you can't make the huge gas guzzlers with the big fins, and Detroit didn't listen and people who run education could be less self-satisfied and look at what works and what doesn't work in the system.

Ted Simons:
Thank you for being here.

Claudia Dreifus:
Thank you for asking me.

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