academic protocol, adjunct faculty, doctoral dissertation, Ed.D, First Lady, Gropin' Joe Biden, Jill Biden, NCOs work for a living, Ph.D, Public Schools, self-imagined elite, Tucker Carlson
I’m sure by now you’ve heard of the pseudo-controversy revolving around Jill Biden. Excuse me: DR. Jill Biden, Ed.D.
The fact is Jill Biden has a doctorate in education. Let’s review. There are essentially four kinds of college degrees: (1) Associates: normally a two year degree, essentially getting prerequisites out of the way prior to competing the last two years of a bachelor’s program. (2) Bachelor’s: this is the standard 4-year—these days up to 7 years—undergraduate college degree. I got mine in 2.5 years. (3) Masters: the next post-graduate degree. Colleges like to force people to spend a minimum of two years to get one of these, but it can be done in less time. (4) Doctorate: the pinnacle, also taking 2+ years, though this too can be done in less time. Generally, the more advanced the degree, the more narrow the field of study and knowledge acquired.
Even when I was taking my bachelor’s in the mid 1980s, we all had a sense of pity for people taking a doctorate, particularly if they were hoping to teach college. Even then, college teaching jobs, particularly tenure track jobs with some degree of job security and benefits, were exceedingly rare. Circa 2020, colleges have largely done away with tenure track positions, and greatly reduced actual teaching faculty in favor of diversity/inclusion and other administrative positions that pay far more than teaching positions. Many classes are taught by adjunct faculty, people with advanced degrees but no hope of ever getting a position with job security, a pension and benefits.
The cartoon is far less humorous to newly minted Ph.Ds than one might imagine, but to those that understand the post-graduate degree racket, funny—and accurate–indeed.
It’s well understood in academic circles that anyone holding an Ed.D is almost certainly far less academically capable, perhaps even far less intelligent, than those holding a Ph.D. Several of my professors urged me to get a doctorate, but I knew how unlikely finding employment as a professor would be, how expensive it would be, and at the time, I needed to work. I was offered various scholarships, but decided against pursuing that non-career path. I certainly had no ego need for the title.
Back then, it didn’t much matter where one took their masters, but getting a Ph.D from a prestigious university was thought to be essential, because those schools were academically rigorous and didn’t hand them out like candy on Halloween. Ed.Ds were generally thought to be far less meaningful, essentially a means for public school administrators to claim credentialed status and make more money. Anyone applying for a college teaching job with an Ed.D would likely be passed over for a similar candidate with a Ph.D, and the prestige level of the university that granted them their doctorate would bear considerable weight.
In public education, you see gentle readers, the only way to make any real money is to get into administration and completely out of teaching. Thus are schools run by people who haven’t seen the inside of a classroom in decades, and who are hell on wheels on theory and fads, but useless when it comes to actually teaching, and they almost universally impose their useless and destructive theories/fads on people who actually know how to teach. One can become a principal in most places with a masters, but virtually no one can become a superintendent, or higher-lower ranking administrator without an Ed.D. It remains almost universally true public school administrators have Ed.Ds, and not Ph.Ds.
After graduating from college, I earned nearly enough credits for a masters by attending various workshops and taking summer classes on subjects of interest, things that would actually help me in expanding my own knowledge and in teaching. But settled into my classroom in my mid-sized Texas high school, I decided not to finish a masters, and certainly not to get a doctorate of any kind. I could easily have taken both—universities across the country offer online degrees—but in Texas, a masters is only worth $1000 more a year—$83 bucks a month before taxes–and the same with a doctorate.
It would have cost tens of thousands to obtain both degrees, and there was really no point. I absolutely did not want to be a principal or administrator. As NCOs in the military say: I worked for a living. In addition, spending all that time and money would be highly unlikely to make me a better teacher or more intelligent and capable in any real sense. So I wrote and sang, and made far more money in those pursuits that I could possibly have made with those degrees.
Here’s another little secret: I’ve found most people in education with Ed.Ds, to be singularly unimpressive. Not only were most mediocre teachers, their primary interests tended to focus around imposing useless and destructive fads on actual teachers, and on back-stabbing and resume-padding their way into a superintendent’s position. There were, to be sure, exceptions to this rule, but they were rare, and even then, I virtually never saw any evidence their degrees made them superior teachers. Indeed, most were far less well read than me, and I’m talking about English teachers. Teachers in most other disciplines tend to be much less well read than English teachers.
Tucker Carlson, speaking of Jill Biden’s insistence on being called “Doctor,” provided excerpts from her doctoral dissertation. Not only was it poorly written in every sense of that term, it added no apparently useful knowledge to the scholarly universe. The dissertation/policy paper—her words—may be found here. I’d recommend accessing it promptly. Who knows how long it will be before it goes into hiding, like the academic writing of the Obamas? Also take this link for some revealing examples from that dissertation. Sadly, this is what I expect of doctorates these days. This is true even of supposedly prestigious universities, because in so many disciplines, academic ability and rigor are far down the list compared to political correctness and identity politics.
One interesting fact is each of the three professors that certified they read and approved the paper are Ed.Ds, not Ph.Ds.
All of this is interesting in that it has always been my experience people with doctorates are not, for the most part, good writers, and I make this critique ignoring the fact that most of their writing tends to be impenetrable jargon. Great writers are born, not made. I can help pretty much anyone to become a better writer, but I cannot help anyone to become a great writer. One either has the genetic endowment for that or they don’t.
The dissertation, gentle readers, is essentially the final exam, the culmination of a doctoral program. It is finished and submitted to a committee to read, and the candidate must then sit in a room with the committee and defend their dissertation. These days, it is essentially unheard of for a candidate to fail that final defense. In the past, that was not the case, and particularly not for Ph.D candidates.
Academic protocol is that those holding a masters are not addressed in any way to acknowledge that degree. Those holding a doctorate are generally addressed as “Doctor,” but only in a professional, academic setting. It’s also interesting that people with doctorates—Ph.Ds—in the hard sciences, tend not to demand they be called “Doctor,” even on campus. People with Ed.Ds. however, virtually always insist on the honorific, even outside academia.
What does this mean? Those holding Ph.Ds in a hard science, a genuinely academic and demanding discipline, generally feel no need to be called “Doctor.” If they’re a professor in those disciplines, that fact alone says all that need be said. Those holding Ed.Ds, however, apparently feel the need to remind everyone, everywhere and in every way, of their Ed.D. Then there are people like Whoopie Goldberg:
Sorry Whoopie, but Jill Biden is not an MD. Anyone earning an medical doctorate genuinely deserves the honorific. Because lives are at stake, all the years of schooling and on the job experience are absolutely necessary, failure is not an option, and the title is necessary that patients know who is treating them and may have faith in their training and experience. It’s not an ego issue, though some physicians certainly have healthy egos. Even so, many MDs don’t introduce themselves as “Doctor” outside of a setting where it’s necessary people know they are doctors.
So what’s going on with Jill Biden? Though America is one of the effectively classless societies in the world, we do have a sort of informal caste system, and at the top of the pile are the self-imagined elite. What matters in that caste is not actual ability, accomplishment and knowledge—such enlightened people cannot be held to the unreasonable standard of merit—but credentials. These credentials are most obviously displayed with the letters following one’s name, or the honorific “doctor” before one’s name. The alphabet soup is, in a very real sense, an entrance ticket. Thereafter come various job titles, which to people who don’t do actual work, might sound impressive.
This, gentle readers, is the class of “experts,” people with the right credentials, which gives them the authority to rule the rest of us. Never mind that many of these people actually know virtually nothing, are often terrible human beings, and despise those below their caste. They are the self-imagined elite, and they have credentials to prove it. We know that because they have “Ed.D” after their name and demand to be called “doctor.”
And now you know why Jill Biden is demanding to be called “Doctor.” “First Lady” just isn’t enough for such an exalted, evolved being. And of course, she knows she isn’t going to be First Lady for long, so she’s getting whatever she can as fast as she can. She will surely sit for a formal oil painting as soon as possible after Inauguration Day. She may allow Joe to be involved.
UPDATE, 12-26-20 1045 MT: Go here for a lovely essay by Roger Kimball regarding Joesph Epstein’s rather gentle commentary on Jill Biden’s absolute feminist right to be called “Doctor” under any and all circumstances, an appellation for all occasions, as it were. It now appears failing to call women, particularly, with an Ed.D “Doctor” is misogynistic. Of course it is. I’m sure it is also, somehow, according to woke logic, racist, white supremacist is somehow destroying the souls of Black people, and constitutes slighting brown nipples, forever after rendering them incapable of socially just erection.
Robert Heinlein had some comments about the value of an Ed.D in “Number of the Beast”. He didn’t think too highly of it.
Poor Jill. She married into a family that is cursed. They are all dumb as posts. Then again, she’s really a perfect fit.
Mike McDaniel said:
I read the abstract of her paper and if the rest of it was that bad I really wonder why those signees signed it. Even I write better than this.
Mike McDaniel said:
Having a spent a career in academia, and spoken in depth with a variety of honest professors, I know it’s a version of a “good old boys” society. Contemporary academia is all about social justice, and cares far less about academic excellence. I’ve often written about how universities have proclaimed competent English and writing to be racist, so pretty much anything goes. In Jill Biden’s case, because of her husband, there is no way she would have been denied that Ed.D regardless of what she wrote–or didn’t write.
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