The right has two main enemies: the press and academia, together with the bureaucracy they form what we call the Cathedral. Academia creates liberal doctrine and indoctrinates the young into it. The press promulgates doctrine. The bureaucracy implements it. The bureaucracy, while a problem, follows the lead of the press and the academy.
The press is immolating itself. It is being outflanked by non-traditional media enabled by modern technologies and is squandering what’s left of its legitimacy rapidly. We should help it along its course, but its self-destruction is nigh inevitable. The main question is rebuilding something favourable to western civilization in its place.
On the other hand the academy is going strong and continually grows stronger. It’s primary strength is that a diploma is necessary for a “good” job. The destruction of the traditional economy is leaving many in a situation of Yale or jail. For ever-more Americans the choice is increasingly either college or destitution. So most young Americans choose to load themselves in debt for their anti-poverty paper.
I’ve stated before, we should end federal student loans, and I stand by that, but that is a minor measure that still leaves the system intact. Another measure to strike against the university is to end disparate impact. Sailer has been writing about how disparate impact prevents direct meritocratic hiring, forcing employers to rely on indirect signals, such as a degree, for years now. Ending disparate impact would alleviate some of the economic necessity of a college degree.
But, I’m going to present a strategy even more direct. One that would almost immediately cripple the academy’s stranglehold over meritocratic signalling. I will say beforehand, that this would require significant resources and extensive coordination. Ideally, this could function as a start-up if someone had enough access to VC and could get buy-in from at least one industry to start, but realistically, this would probably have to be a government project (so if any of you have a line to Bannon or someone else who might be interested, send this idea along; take credit if you want, the idea is simple and not particularly novel, its implementation would be the heavy work).
The idea is simply a Knowledge and Skills Signaling Organization or KASSO for short. Essentially, the KASSO would be a single window supplier of certifications for occupational knowledge and skills.
KASSO would work with various industrial and occupational organizations to develop a battery of certification tests, both academic and practical, for each industry/occupation, the completion of which would demonstrate a certain level of competence in the tested competency. Upon successful completion of certification tests, the testee would be given a certificate of competence, which would he could present to employers.
For an example of how this would work, let’s look at programming. Programming already has a large spread of certifications, but KASSO would centralize and standardize these certifications. It would start by consulting with major Silicon Valley firms and other firms with large programming departments, about what particular skills requirements they would require for their various programming occupations. It may also talk to other industry players, such as programming languages organizations, language developers, or conferences, but it would primarily be aimed at what the employers wanted.
Working with these groups, it would develop a series of tests that would show competence, in these. For example, you could have a C++ 1, C++ 2, and C++ 3 for basic C++ knowledge for grunt-work programmers, mid-level programmers, and expert programmers, respectively. Each test would be a rigourous, complete and supervised. The C++ 1 test could, for example, be a combination of developing a few simple programs or routines, doing some basic debugging, and answering some basic theoretical questions. While the C++ 3 certification could be developing a complex program from scratch and a difficult debugging problem based on a real-life example.
The length and involvement of these tests would depend on the requirements thereof. The C++ 1, may only be a 3-hour test, while the C++ 3, may be three 8-hour days or even a 24-hour marathon.
Upon successful completion of the C++ 1 test, the testee would then be provided with his C++ 1 certificate, which he could present to his employer who would know that this testee was qualified for C++ work and to what degree he was qualified. What competences and what level of competence each degree represented would be easily available and clearly explained on KASSO’ website.
Of course, adding more gradations of skills would also be a possibility. You could have, for example, C++ 1 – Standard, Silver and Gold, depending on the level of competency shown.
Cheating would be possibility, so the strictest anti-cheating measures would be put in place to ensure the integrity of the process. Each testing class would be kept small, say a half-dozen testees. Each test would be monitored by two KASSO testers at all times. To prevent memorization, each test would actually be one of a half-dozen similar and equally challenging, but different, tests administered in a quasi-random order. There would also be a cool-down period for unsuccessful testees; say 4 months before they could attempt the test again. Insofar as possible, the tests would be as practical as possible so that cheating required as much competence in the subject matter as successful completion.
KASSO would pay for itself, or even be a for-profit organization. If each student had to pay, say $500 per a test, they could take a half-dozen different certifications for a fraction of a years worth of tuition, yet KASSO would still be raking in cash. Or, more likely, different tests would have different costs: C++ 1 may only cost $100, while C++ 3 may cost $2000. For those taking multiple related certification, there could be a discount program. Say, $5000 for testing in C++ 3, VB 3, and Java 3.
This same thing would be done for each in-demand language. There might be a set of certifications for those showing competence in language independent parts of programming. Whatever industry expresses a desire for. There might be a broader Programmer certification for those who’ve been certified in a certain range of programming languages and theory.
For each skill domain, industry, and/or occupational group there’d a similar set of tests and certifications, drawn from the needs of the various industries and organizations hiring people with those skills.
In addition, to such specialized certificates, such as programming, KASSO would offer more generalized certifications. A small battery of tests, similar to a GED, similar to a high school certification. Another, more larger and more difficult general test, that would be generally equivalent to the knowledge gained from a generalized humanities bachelor. A series of general tests could be equivalent to a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, with a minor in Political Science. A series of tests could be the equivalent of a business degree. And so forth.
You could even apply tests to softer skills. Although, these tests may be harder to plan and implement, you could have certifications in salesmanship or public speaking.
These were all general examples, the details would have to be developed by experts, but the essential idea of KASSO is to create a self-funding organization providing a set of well-known, broadly-accepted, reliable certifications. Employers would know exactly what certified students had demonstrated competence in, while (future) employees would know which certifications would be needed to get the job they wanted.
There are a number of potential pitfalls. The main problem would be starting this up and getting buy-in from employers. Now, for the federal government a solution might be converting the useless education department to developing KASSO.
Another problem that would come from a government implementation of KASSO is political considerations intervening in what should be an impersonal and objective certification program. To combat this, the government should make it an independent, arms-length institution mostly outside the the ability for politicians or bureaucrats to interfere. Possibly even privatize it after it gets off the ground.
Anybody implementing KASSO may also have to be wary of disparate impact, but with enough will this could be worked around.
But beyond these pitfalls, KASSO would have numerous benefits. First, it would allow another route to competence signaling beyond college or even beyond high school. It would allow the self-taught, the self-motivated, and prodigies to receive certification without having to rely on formal schooling. It would reduce tuition debt slavery, as people could get certification relatively inexpensively through KASSO. It would reduce certification time as people taught themselves on their own schedule, so young people could enter the workforce earlier. Once heavily adopted, it would provide a standard set of certifications for human resources departments to look for and for (future) employees to pursue. It would help poor people lift themselves from poverty; they could get “better” jobs by studying on their own schedule and getting certifications. It would break the back of academia. It would prevent the waste of time and resources of dropouts, as it’s a lot easier to waste a day and $500 failing a test than a year and $10,000 failing your first year at university.
* All numbers and examples are rather arbitrary and undeveloped. They are there for illustrations sake; this is a broad outline, the experts would have to develop the real details.