November 17, 2011, 5:11 pm
I just ran across this piece, which seems directly related to our earlier discussion about the abyss that lies between high-school graduation and college readiness for many students. I suggested in my last post that high schools could simply consult the community college down the street if they’re wondering whether their kids are prepared for college. Apparently, they can also consult the ACT and the College Board, which have come up with their own college-readiness standards. As Jenna Ashley Robinson, a graduate student in political science at UNC-Chapel Hill points out,
Two major testing organizations have created benchmarks that offer very clear guidelines for determining whether students are likely to succeed in college. Both of those organizations, ACT and the College Board (which administers the SAT), have found that fewer than half of college-bound seniors are prepared for…
November 10, 2011, 2:03 pm
If you want to know the lesson from the Penn State scandal, it’s not that we should shut down college athletics (though I wouldn’t be crying if we did). It’s not that people worship college football too much (though perhaps they do). It’s not that powerful men are all evil and always take advantage of their positions. The lesson is that colleges should not be in the law enforcement business. I’ve said it on this blog before and I’ll say it again. I would not trust a single college administrator to conduct an investigation into a criminal matter. They don’t have the interests of the victim in mind. They don’t have any interest in protecting the rights of the accused. Their interest is in protecting the school’s reputation (and their own jobs). That is it.
The reason we have police officers and public defenders and prosecutors and judges is that we think that it is hard to catch…
November 8, 2011, 10:44 am
(Cross-posted from Philanthropy Daily)
The new emphasis on accountability in higher education can have its upsides but the last couple of weeks have reminded me about the anti-intellectualism that often seems to come with such movements.
A couple of weeks ago, Rick Scott, Governor of Florida, suggested that producing degrees in anthropology was not a “vital interest” of his state. He told some editorial writers that there are only a limited number of jobs for anthropologists and wondered why were were producing so many. As a case in point, he cited his daughter who has a degree in anthropology from the College of William and Mary and said that her major did not lead her to a job.
A predictable uproar over these comments ensued, with academics across the country accusing Scott of knowing nothing about higher education. They have a point. First of all, a traditional bachelor…
November 6, 2011, 10:21 pm
The disconnect between what students must do to graduate from public high school and what they must do upon entering a state university or even a community college down the street is shocking. Take freshmen at Cal State, for instance. Despite a 3.29 grade point average in high school, in 2009 nearly half needed remedial English. Almost 40 percent were placed in remedial math.
The story is the same in New York. Here’s the beginning of a story in the New York Times several days ago:
In June, Desiree Smith was graduated from Murry Bergtraum High. Her grades were in the 90s, she said, and she had passed the four state Regents exams. Since enrolling last month at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, Ms. Smith, 19, has come to realize that graduating from a New York City public high school is not the same as learning.
She failed all three placement tests for LaGuardia and is now…
October 30, 2011, 9:46 pm
I cannot imagine what is to be learned from a college-admissions essay. Between the idiotic prompts, the navel-gazing by 17-year-olds, and the aid of parents, teachers and professional consultants, these essays symbolize everything that is wrong with the admissions process.
Yesterday’s New York Times offered yet another installment in the essay drama. The Common Application apparently asks students for a 500-word essay. For a while it had not enforced any kind of limit on the essay, but this year the upper limit was reinstated because there were so many complaints about endless essays. So students now have another source of stress. One complains that he has had to strip all of the emotion out of his essay. My favorite comment, though, was from an unnamed senior in New Jersey “whose first draft topped 700 words” and “said she decided to fictionalize portions of her piece, merging…
October 20, 2011, 10:29 am
On the one hand, this piece about colleges asking professors to up their teaching loads as a result of budget could be a simple result of contract ambiguity. The first professor in the story claims that his department head told him when he was hired that he’d teach a single large class of 500, but has since been told he needs to teach two sections of that class as well as an additional class. And he has filed a grievance as a result.
Was the college’s promise in writing? Probably not. In my experience talking to professors, most colleges do not spell out such matters except in the case of temporary workers who are getting paid on a per-class or per-student basis.
Colleges could presumably begin to spell out the exact terms of a contract for all teachers. As an associate professor, you will be expected to teach X number of courses for Y number of years and in return we will pay you …
October 6, 2011, 4:48 pm
You often read about how thanks to modern technology (and the terrible economy), college students are creating their own jobs. The freelance economy is an amazing thing to behold. I recently had occasion to attend a “hackathon” in New York. The combination of business and public service “apps” that were put together in a weekend was mind-blowing.
But even for those of us who use computers only for word processing, Web surfing, and email, Apple has been a godsend. I have been a freelancer twice in my life. Once was about 10 years ago. I can’t tell you the number of hours, days, weeks of my time I had to spend fixing problems with my laptop (out of which smoke actually came one day), my modem, my cell phone, etc. It was enough to make me run to go work for the biggest bureaucracy I could find, as long as they would provide tech support. And I did.
Two years ago I left that job and…
October 3, 2011, 9:06 pm
A federal jury recently awarded a former student at Sewanee $26,500. It was to compensate him for negligence in an investigation conducted by the university into an accusation of rape by a fellow student. The names of the students were not released. The student originally sued the school for millions but the jury only ordered the school to reimburse the cost of his tuition for the year in which the hearing was conducted.
The story is instructive in at least a couple of ways. First, university disciplinary committees are not set up to hear criminal charges. Our society doesn’t trust people other than lawyers and judges to uphold our constitutional rights or the laws of evidence. When someone at Coca-Cola or some other corporation makes a criminal accusation, especially as serious as rape, against another employee, the executives at Coke don’t set up a committee to determine if someone …
September 20, 2011, 11:06 am
I have never set foot on the Deep Springs College campus, but I was a little saddened to read that its board just decided to admit women to the all-male school. The two-year college, which allows students to learn intensively while taking care of the school’s farm, always struck me as a good example of the eccentricities that can thrive in American higher education. We can have large state universities, small private liberal-arts schools, Buddhist colleges, evangelical schools for home-schooled kids, schools for training political activists, and schools that ignore politics altogether.
I met a number of the Deep Springs graduates when I was in college—a few transfer to Harvard every year for their junior and senior years. And they were an extraordinary (if a little odd) bunch. While they may have been a little anxious for female company after those years in the California desert,…
September 19, 2011, 9:38 pm
Antioch College is re-opening this fall and it remains to be seen what the college that was known for its radical leftism has learned from its fall and whether this resurrection will last. The New York Times Magazine has a story about it this week, including a useful thumbnail history. While the school was plagued with some financial problems and in conflict with the other parts of the university, its radicalism seemed to erode the school from the outside in:
The college’s students, who had always leaned to the left, were becoming more radicalized. In 1973, after the school’s president announced plans to halt an affirmative-action program, 230 students went on strike one April morning, chaining the doors of administration buildings and later scuffling with police. The protesters refused to go to classes and ended up shutting Antioch down for more than six weeks. Someone set a fire…
September 11, 2011, 10:17 pm
The Mayor of New York decided not to include religious leaders in the ceremony at the September 11 memorial today. He told critics of the decision that he was trying not to force religion on other people. On his weekly radio show, he told New Yorkers:
“It’s a civil ceremony. There are plenty of opportunities for people to have their religious ceremonies. … Some people don’t want to go to a religious ceremony with another religion. And the number of different religions in this city are really quite amazing.”
Glad to know he thinks they’re amazing. Was that a compliment? Or is he personally amazed that people believe this stuff? And what does it have to do with whether they’re included. At one point, his aides told the press that he didn’t want to be in the position of having to pick which religious leaders would get to speak. On the radio show, he said, “It isn’t that…
September 7, 2011, 11:02 am
September 7, 2011, 10:50 am
Last week, The New York Times reported on the resignation of Michele Moody-Adams as dean of Columbia University’s undergraduate college. Moody-Adams gave a perfectly reasonable explanation for her departure:
A frank e-mail Dr. Moody-Adams sent to trustees and alumni claimed that her voice had not been “taken seriously” regarding policies that would “ultimately compromise the college’s academic quality and financial health.”
Her note focused, according to the Times, “on what she and others have perceived as the undergraduate college’s shrinking role within the ever-sprawling research university.”
And yet some members of the faculty have decided that her resignation was because of a lack of support for African-Americans or diversity in general on the part of the administration. They also cited the recent departure of Claude Steele, another black senior administrator…
September 6, 2011, 5:23 pm
Or higher education has?
National Louis University … became the first university in the country to offer one of Groupon’s daily deals in an effort to boost interest among potential students.
The deal is for a graduate-level introduction to teaching course and will go for $950. That’s almost a 60-percent discount on the usual $2,232 price tag for a three-credit course at the school.
August 30, 2011, 10:10 pm
Texas Governor and presidential hopeful Rick Perry revealed his reading list today. And it includes a book called Turning the Tide by Charles Stanley. I haven’t read the book, but New York Magazine reports that that book calls on Christians to pray for the conversion of Jews and Muslims. Here are two lines that the magazine has picked out:
“Pray for God’s protection against terrorism and ask that Muslims throughout the world will come to know Jesus as their Savior.”
“Pray that Jews worldwide will accept Him as their Savior,”
“May the people of Israel acknowledge their guilt, seek Your face, and accept Your Son — the Messiah.”
To which I would respond, “Go for it.” If Christians think that their prayers are going to result in Jews like me coming to Jesus, then they should feel free. If the prayers work, who knows, maybe they were right about the whole Messiah thing. But I do…
August 22, 2011, 6:35 am
The conceit of many selective college admissions officers (and others trying to encourage more campus diversity) is that there is no need to compromise on academic standards in order to get more black and Hispanic students on campus. But a new study suggests that there are not a lot of qualified minority candidates who are simply unaware of their educational options or who simply need a little outreach to push them into a selective school. According to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association by Ann L. Mullen, associate professor of sociology at the University of Toronto; Kimberly A. Goyette, associate professor of sociology at Temple University; and Katie Stuart, a doctoral student at Toronto, qualified minority students are actually more likely to apply to selective schools and enroll in them than white students are.
According to an article …
August 14, 2011, 10:36 pm
Last week, New York City announced that it would be bringing sex education back into public schools. I don’t have high hopes. That announcement came the day after the city released its standardized test scores. And here they are: 43.9 percent of New York City students met or exceeded the English proficiency standard. In math, 57.3 percent of city students were proficient.
The good news is that sex education may be simpler than math and English. In fact, it’s so simple that even teenagers in underprivileged neighborhoods understand it. The arguments about the content of sex education–abstinence or, well, a lot of information–are not particularly relevant. The truth of the matter is that teenagers have sex and get pregnant not because they don’t understand how not to get pregnant (which, let’s face it, is not rocket science) but because they want babies. Teenagers (and many adults)…
August 9, 2011, 10:35 pm
At its 102nd annual convention at the end of July, the NAACP passed a resolution calling for an end to the war on drugs. Here’s the statement of president Benjamin Todd Jealous in the press release:
“These flawed drug policies that have been mostly enforced in African American communities must be stopped and replaced with evidenced-based practices that address the root causes of drug use and abuse in America.” The resolution takes aim at sentencing disparities in drug-related crimes and suggests that they have created a system comparable to “Jim Crow.”
Once again, the NAACP seems to be focusing on the perpetrators of drug-based crimes, more than the innocent victims (who are also disproportionately black). All of these calls for the reduction of sentences for drug-based crimes will result in the quick return of criminals to predominantly black neighborhoods. (In fact, by…
August 4, 2011, 10:35 am
A friend of mine, a staunch libertarian, once admitted to me that when she was ready to leave the hospital with her first child, she completely freaked out. Her first thought was: These people at the hospital are just going to let me take this thing home? Shouldn’t there be someone checking up on me?
The question of how much “nanny state” involvement we need in raising kids will no doubt continue to be debated. But I just noted an ad on the back of The New York Times‘s front section today announcing that the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting is celebrating its 10-year anniversary on the New York Times Best Seller List (I made a mistake in my initial post of this), with 17 million copies in print. The number doesn’t surprise me—I remember going to my first ob/gyn appointment and having the doctor hand me a copy from the 4-foot stack in her closet.
I’m sure the book has…
August 4, 2011, 10:25 am
King’s College opened in the late 1990′s in the Empire State Building. It was supposed to be an evangelical college with a particular emphasis on exposing its young students to the world.
When the school was having trouble gaining accreditation a number of years ago, I defended it in the New York Post. And I spent some time interviewing students and professors about the school. I have since been invited back on a couple of occasions. I was disappointed when they lost Peter Wood, who now heads the National Association of Scholars. I also think that Marvin Olasky has done good things for the institution, even if his contribution had a more political flavor. But mostly I thought, they are attracting the right kinds of kids and they have found some good professors and they mostly have their heads screwed on straight.
But that was before they invited Dinesh D’Souza to be …