I am a huge fan of utility. I am also ultimately a pragmatist. Some have called me an unreasoning pragmatist. Or something like that.

However,  when Kentucky Community and Technical College System’s approach to measuring the social good of degree programs that do result in large earnings by creating a “social-utility index.” My response was, “Well, okay.”

There is nothing wrong with the methodology or the conceptual underpinnings. Christina Whitfield, the author, does very good work and so I wasn’t finding fault, it just generated kind of null feelings. Not empty, no content, just null. And I didn’t understand why.

Now I do. When I reviewed the Storify that Dave Mazella had assembled of our conversations last week about assessment, I was sitting in the trailer positioning the new cabinets I had built. As I began fastening them into place,  I realized that my problem is that I don’t think that everything needs to be measured, or assigned a value.

There I said it.  I don’t think that everything needs to be measured, or assigned a value.

I really think we need to make peace with a couple of concepts.

  1. A little inefficiency, like a little nonsense now and then, is a good thing.
  2. It’s okay for something to not have an immediate economic return, or a large one.

I suppose I could explain or justify these, but I don’t think I will. This is what I think, and these are principles that often guide my analysis and recommendations. And they are not new to me.

I don’t think we really need to justify that a well-educated child-care provider is probably a good thing. If you disagree, let me choose your next daycare.


Be nice. It won't hurt either of us.

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