David Bernstein observes that if Elena Kagan is confirmed then every single Supreme Court Justice will have attended Harvard or Yale law schools. He also observes that:
The president went to Harvard, and barely defeated a primary opponent who went to Yale. His predecessor went to Yale and Harvard, and defeated opponents who went to Yale and Harvard, and Harvard, respectively. The previous two presidents also went to Yale, with Bush I defeating another Harvard grad for the presidency.
..and asks, “Isn’t this a bit much?”
His post reminded me of something that Peter Drucker wrote, way back in 1968:
One thing (a modern society) therefore cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale…By contrast, one of the strengths of American education is the resistance to any elite monopoly. To be sure, we have institutions that enjoy (deservedly or not) high standing and prestige. But we do not, fortunately, discriminate against the men who receive their training elsewhere. The engineer whose degree is from North Idaho A and M does not regard himself as “inferior” or as “not really an engineer.”….And five or ten years later, nobody cares much about where the fellow got his degree…
The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position. But American society has never been willing to accept this claim.
…It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the strength of American higher education lies in this absence of schools for leaders and schools for followers.
(link via Little Miss Attila)