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Author Topic: Flagship universities should set the standards  (Read 12705 times)
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« on: March 10, 2006, 3:42:11 PM »

Author: Observer
Date:   03-06-06 17:56

The most important lever held by higher education is the set of entrance requirements set by the states' top public institutions. If the flagship institutions set the right requirements the secondary schools will follow that lead. That means a core of substantive courses in science, mathematics, social studies and the humanities, with high expectations with regard to writing and mathematical skills. It means revivifying foreign language requirements in this putatively global age.

That would be a good start for those state universities that have allowed their standards to slide.

Severing the self-interested connections between schools of education and the teaching establishment (bloated administrations, teachers' unions) at the secondary level would be a nice second step.

Tilting the emphasis within the educational establishment on self-esteem in the direction of enhanced skills and knowledge would be nice too. Don't get your hopes up on the last two items, but realize that until we take those steps the individuals who suffer most will continue to be the students.
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Norman Hanscombe
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« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2006, 2:57:26 AM »

A wonderful goal, although I'd have thought there were challenges enough getting students whose command of English enabled them to engage in high level analysis, without the burden of a foreign language --- although learning a foreign language could perhaps help lead them to a sounder grasp of their own tongue's grammar?

Turning back the clock won't be easy, of course.  I recall a "progressive educationist", Buell Gallagher from memory, who forty years back managed to destroy standards in New York City without even needing to use a fraction of his natural abilities; but reversing it is a tad more difficult.  It's a case of: ---

"Today I tackle the easy task, developing a perpetual motion machine.  When I've finished that, it's the difficult task --- repairing the damage created by those who set out to help the poorly educated, and made it even worse."
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mtnlover
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2006, 11:16:58 AM »

What is the emphasis in the major state universities?  What do they promote?  Sports.  We at XYZ Univ. have 27 players in the NFL.  3 Heismann trophy winners, etc. etc.  3 pools, a huge Greek system, etc.  When you think of Ohio State, UK, Texas, etc. what comes to mind?  Where is academics in their promotions? 

General education continues to be deemphasized in the flagships (at least in my part of the country).  Having 4 children I can tell you kids today look at our major state universities as a back-up in case they can't get into their top choices which are usually big name privates or SLACS.
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spork
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« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2006, 4:28:41 PM »

In the state where I obtained my PhD, there was a bifurcated educational culture, for lack of a better term.   The majority of the state's population didn't value education, and the state-managed K-12 system was ranked one of the worst performing in the country.  Those children, if they went to college, attended their home state's university, where undergraduate programs were mediocre -- low admissions standards, etc.  Parents who saw value in an education and who possessed the necessary means sent their kids to private schools.  These kids went out of state for college  -- and they typically stayed out of state after that because of a lack of job opportunities at home for the college-educated.

The flagship campus of this state's university system could not and can not enforce standards for the K-12 system for one simple reason -- both the university and the K-12 system are funded by the state.  The purse strings for both are controlled by the same batch of politicians (who by the way typically send their children to private institutions).

Interestingly, several of the graduate programs of this state's university are fairly good and attract people from all over the country.

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dale1
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2006, 8:03:51 PM »

Spork,

You don't live anywhere near the White River and the Wabash, do you?  Where the governor gives out Sagamores each year?
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Dale (original)
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« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2006, 9:45:08 PM »

Spork,

You don't live anywhere near the White River and the Wabash, do you?  Where the governor gives out Sagamores each year?

If he does, then that state's problems were made worse by the lack of an organized community college system until a few years ago.  There were few institutions to fill the numerous roles that a cc can fill in a community, hence the satellite campuses and a few programs on the main campus tried to do so on top of athletics and research, etc.  Spreading the already thin resources way too thin.  Rumor has it that they're trying to increase enrollment standards in the upcoming years. 
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dale1
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« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2006, 12:47:45 PM »

Iomhaigh:

Yes, the state university (red/white) will increase admissions standards in about 2011, because currently it's the lowest in their athletic conference and among its peers.  It's aspirational peers have much higher admissions standards.  Another issue is that any professor can sponsor a student and essentially waive most if not all the admisisons requirements. 

I think the other one (black/gold) has higher standards already, and is seen as the juggernaut in higher education in the state. 

The CC system does give access to previously under-served students, and it's the second-largest institution in the state overall.  Problem is that when these CC students enter 4-year institutions, they (a) want all their credits to be equivalent, which they often are not (though the state is working on this), and (b) are unprepared for "regular" college-level work.  This is a significant problem because the CC was intended to increase graduation rates and shorten time-to-degee.  I don't think it's done either, so far.  But it's pretty new, so we'll have to wait and see.
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Dale (original)
iomhaigh
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« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2006, 1:25:00 AM »

Dale1 - thanks for the update!  I never realized the admission standards were the lowest in the conference.  It'll be interesting to see how all of that plays out in the next decade (and it is always good to know that my rumor mill sources get a few things reported accurately!)
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I am the very model of a modern major general.
dale1
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« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2006, 12:30:01 PM »

No problem.  It'll be some years before these changes really are in effect.

What is important as well is what this does to the other institutions in the system.  If big red/white improves its standards, what will happen to the smaller red/whites who follow big's lead?
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Dale (original)
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