Tag Archives: education

God Help Us — Now Obama Wants Gov’t to Rate Colleges — but SO DO AMERICANS? WHAT?

28 Jun

So Rasmussen reveals today, in its “Daily Update” of survey results, that

77% of Likely U.S. Voters who gave yes/no responses agree that a “world-class education is the single most important factor in determining whether our kids can compete for the best jobs and whether America can out-compete countries around the world”, that

69% (probably at least 75% of yes/no respondents) think U.S. PUBLIC SCHOOLS do NOT provide a world-class education, and that

64% (of yes/no respondents) favor a government college rating system.

 

Can we not see the problem here?  A major part of the reason why we are not getting world-class educations through our public schools is because of government intervention – yet – YET – people are willing to continue to think that giving government more control is a big part of the solution.  Can you not just anticipate what the rating system will look like that our government comes up with?  Will it have ANYthing to do with academic prowess?

Institutions of higher education are already rated by – who is it? Forbes? U.S. News and World Report? Others? – and colleges and universities have gamed these rating systems unmercifully, and created some degree of havoc in the school-seeking segment of our society.  And a strong majority of America’s voters think that a government system will be better?  When was a government system ever better in the mid- to long-term?

We deserve what we get.

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Citizenship and Civic Virtue — Where Art Thou?

7 Jul

Michele Malkin can be abrasive, over-the-top, etc., but I think this column titled “Rescuing Citizenship and Civic Virtue” is really good – relatively subdued language, but a powerful message.  It comes from

http://www.creators.com/opinion/michelle-malkin/rescuing-citizenship-and-civic-virtue.html

Excerpts:  [Bolding is mine]

As we celebrate our nation’s 237th birthday, a crucial facet of American life has all but vanished. We have forsaken, in any systematic and deliberate public manner, one of our most fundamental duties: fostering civic virtue in each and every one of our citizens.

What does it mean to be an American? Politicians in both parties keep pushing to create a new “path to citizenship” for millions of illegal aliens. But if sovereignty and self-preservation still matter in Washington, citizenship must be guarded ferociously against those who would exploit and devalue it at every electoral whim.

The pavers of the amnesty pathway think illusory requirements of paying piddling “fines” and back taxes will inculcate an adequate sense of responsibility and ownership in the American way. Other fair-weather friends of patriotism satisfy themselves with shallow holiday pop quizzes on American history to fulfill the “well-informed” part of the “well-informed citizenry” mandate of our Founding Fathers.

But Thomas Jefferson said it well: “No government can continue good but under the control of the people; and … their minds are to be informed by education what is right and what wrong; to be encouraged in habits of virtue and to be deterred from those of vice… These are the inculcations necessary to render the people a sure basis for the structure and order of government.”__

John Adams said it better: “Liberty can no more exist without virtue … than the body can live and move without a soul.”

__And Thomas Paine said it best: “When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.”

Civic virtue cannot be purchased with token gestures or passed down in perfect form like a complete set of family china. A life of honor, honesty, integrity, self-improvement and self-discipline is something you strive ever to attain.

Being American is a habit of mind, but also a habit of heart and soul. . . .

Calvin Coolidge . . . echoed the Founding Fathers’ emphasis on virtue, restraint and work ethic. “If people can’t support themselves,” he concluded, “we’ll have to give up self-government.”

The failure of public schools to impart even rudimentary knowledge of self-government principles, natural rights theory and the rule of law is compounded by the suicidal abandonment of civic education. As Stanford University education professor William Damon notes: “Our disregard of civic and moral virtue as an educational priority is having a tangible effect on the attitudes, understanding and behavior of large portions of the youth population in the United States today.”

Add militant identity politics, a cancerous welfare state, entitled dependence and tens of millions of unassimilated immigrants to the heap, and you have a toxic recipe for what Damon calls “societal decadence — literally, a ‘falling away,’ from the Latin decadere.” Civilizations that disdain virtue die.

Independence Day sparklers will light the skies overhead this July 4th, but George Washington’s “sacred fire of liberty” belongs in the breasts of Americans every day of the year.

How to rescue citizenship and civic virtue?

Let’s start by sending a message to politicians in the nation’s capital who imperil our sovereignty.

Citizenship — good citizenship — is not just a piece of government-issued paper. It is not merely a bureaucratic “status.” It’s a lifelong practice and propagation of founding principles. A nation of low information is just half the problem. A nation of low character cannot long remain a free nation.

[End of excerpts]

OK – I “excerpted” 90% of the column – I just couldn’t figure out what to omit, and I know that readers often don’t want to click on links.

Affecting Outcomes through Education

18 Jan

Very interesting article by E.D. Hirsch on the statistical link between language proficiency and upward mobility.  I am duplicating the first three paragraphs here, but the full article can be found at http://www.city-journal.org/2013/23_1_vocabulary.html

Excerpt:   [Bolding is mine]

A Wealth of Words

A number of notable recent books, including Joseph Stiglitz’s The Price of Inequality and Timothy Noah’s The Great Divergence, lay out in disheartening detail the growing inequality of income and opportunity in the United States, along with the decline of the middle class. The aristocracy of family so deplored by Jefferson seems upon us; the counter-aristocracy of merit that long defined America as the land of opportunity has receded.

These writers emphasize global, technological, and sociopolitical trends in their analyses. But we should factor in another cause of receding economic equality: the decline of educational opportunity. There’s a well-established correlation between a college degree and economic benefit. And for guidance on what helps students finish college and earn more income, we should consider the SAT, whose power to predict graduation rates is well documented. The way to score well on the SAT—at least on the verbal SAT—is to have a large vocabulary. As the eminent psychologist John Carroll once observed, the verbal SAT is essentially a vocabulary test.

So there’s a positive correlation between a student’s vocabulary size in grade 12, the likelihood that she will graduate from college, and her future level of income. The reason is clear: vocabulary size is a convenient proxy for a whole range of educational attainments and abilities—not just skill in reading, writing, listening, and speaking but also general knowledge of science, history, and the arts. If we want to reduce economic inequality in America, a good place to start is the language-arts classroom.

What the Heck Does X-Times-Less Mean?

22 Nov

Have you noticed, as I have, that the phrase “x times less” seems to be coming into vogue?  I see it in ads, in marketing campaigns, even in the national news broadcasts on TV.  Where in the world does this come from?  I just wrote a piece this morning on the dumbing down of education, but now this follow-up has come to mind again.

Have we become so ignorant that we cannot deal with someone saying “80% less than”, or “lower by two-thirds”, or “a quarter of the price”?

If we have a six-times reduction of something, will someone please tell me how much we have?

Another One “for the Books” re: Education in America

22 Nov

I was in a fast food restaurant on Tuesday for lunch.  I do eat in a lot of fast food restaurants and, although you will say this is not a healthy way to eat, sometimes we are treated to interesting slices of cultural directions and missteps.

This particular restaurant offers quarter-pound, one-third pound, and half-pound burger options.  Not wanting to overdose myself with what some of you would call poison, I ordered the quarter-pound version.  However, I noticed on the display that the young lady rang it up as a 1/3 pounder.

So — I simply said something like, “I’m sorry, but I thought I ordered a quarter-pounder — I certainly meant to.”  She looked at me for a few seconds like I was confused and should be consigned to a geriatric ward somewhere, but then suddenly caught on to what might be the source of the problem.  She took a couple of steps away from the register and asked someone in the back, “Bobby, is the quarter-pounder the  one-third button or the one-fourth button on the register?”

We all have our stories about [mostly] young people who can’t figure change from a dollar without a calculator or register, or who, if you give them $9.05 for an $8.05 purchase (because you don’t want the 95 cents in change) simply stare at you like the proverbial deer in the headlights.

But this was a new one on me.  This young lady might have been a high school grad, or maybe she was still in high school — I don’t know.  She seemed friendly and bright enough.  But — tell me — in what grade should we pick up on the fact that one-quarter means one-fourth?  Is that a higher math concept that must wait until high school or college?

[But here’s something I couldn’t figure out back when I prepared income taxes professionally.  How do people who are so number-challenged that they have to pay someone to fill out their basic 1040 know exactly how much they can earn in order to maximize their tax rebate that comes in the form of the Earned Income Credit?  Have they actually paid someone else to come up with this number so that the “earner” can stop working at the appropriate time during the year?]

And, of course, I need not remind you of the tests and survey results that show how grossly ignorant our population is (especially our younger population) regarding our history and our government.

The state of our education in this country is deplorable.  If the U.S. is sliding downhill as a nation and a culture, this has to be one of the big reasons why.  The types of jobs that a great and progressing nation has to offer people will lean more and more toward favoring a well-educated population, yet our young people seem to come out of high school and college with less and less knowledge (on average) about things that will contribute to the progress of a great nation.

The extra bad news for our future is that we have not adequately opened the doors to the number of educated immigrants we need to keep the steam up in the engines of progress.

Woe unto us.

 

The State of Higher Education in America — Ugh!

20 Sep

One of Walter Williams’ recent essays is entitled “Academic Dishonesty”, and highlights the sorry state of our colleges and universities.  Disgusting and scary at the same time – another nail in the coffin of “American Exceptionalism”?

Walter Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.  I have included excerpts from this essay below.  The full essay can be read at http://www.creators.com/opinion/walter-williams/-academic-dishonesty.html

Excerpts:  [Bolding is mine and content in brackets [ ] is mine]

College education is a costly proposition with tuition, room and board at some colleges topping $50,000 a year. Is it worth it? Increasing evidence suggests that it’s not. Since the 1960s, academic achievement scores have plummeted, but student college grade point averages (GPA) have skyrocketed. In October 2001, the Boston Globe published an article entitled “Harvard’s Quiet Secret: Rampant Grade Inflation.” The article reported that a record 91 percent of Harvard University students were awarded honors during the spring graduation. The newspaper called Harvard’s grading practices “the laughing stock of the Ivy League.”   [Other examples were included here.]    In the 1930s, the average GPA at American colleges and universities was 2.35, about a C plus; today the national average GPA is 3.2, more than a B.

Today’s college students are generally dumber than their predecessors. An article in the Wall Street Journal (1/30/97) reported that a “bachelor of Arts degree in 1997 may not be the equal of a graduation certificate from an academic high school in 1947.” .  .  .  Employers report that many college graduates lack the basic skills of critical thinking, writing and problem-solving and some employers find they must hire English and math teachers to teach them how to write memos and perform simple computations.

What is being labeled grade inflation is simply a euphemism for academic dishonesty.

After all, it’s dishonesty when a professor assigns a grade the student did not earn. When a university or college confers a degree upon a student who has not mastered critical thinking skills, writing and problem-solving, it’s academic dishonesty.  .  .  .

Academic dishonesty and deception go beyond fraudulent grades. “Minding the Campus” is a newsletter published by the Manhattan Institute. Edward Fiske tells a chilling tale of deception titled “Gaming the College Rankings” (9/17/09). The U.S. News and World Report college rankings are worshiped by some college administrators, and they go to great lengths to strengthen their rankings. Some years ago, University of Miami omitted scores of athletes and special admission students so as to boost SAT scores of incoming freshmen. At least one college mailed dollar bills to alumni with a request that they send them back to the annual fund thereby inflating the number of alumni donors.

[Other examples were included here]

Academic dishonesty, coupled with incompetency, particularly at the undergraduate level, doesn’t bode well for the future of our nation. And who’s to blame? Most of the blame lies at the feet of the boards of trustees, who bear ultimate responsibility for the management of our colleges and universities.

More on Obama’s Damaging New Education Initiative

15 Aug

More words of wisdom from Walter Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University, and a well-known black conservative.  Dr. Williams has written a column on the state of black education in America, entitled “Obama’s Educational Excellence Initiative”.  Ironically, I just posted an item referring to Heather MacDonald’s expose of this same initiative.  This is serious stuff.  I have excerpted Dr. Williams’ column below, but you can find the complete column at

 http://www.creators.com/opinion/walter-williams/obama-s-educational-excellence-initiative.html

 Excerpts:    [Bolding is mine]

President Barack Obama recently wrote an executive order that established a White House initiative on educational excellence for black Americans that will be housed in the Department of Education.  .  .  .  Though black education is in desperate straits, the president’s executive order will accomplish absolutely nothing to improve black education. The reason is that it does not address the root causes of educational rot among black Americans.  .  .  .

The president’s initiative contains not one word about rampant inner-city school violence, which makes educational excellence impossible. During the past five years, Philadelphia’s 268 schools had 30,000 serious criminal incidents, including assaults — 4,000 of which were on teachers — robberies and rapes.  .  .  . Similar stories of street and school violence can be told in other large, predominantly black cities, such as Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Oakland and Newark.

If rampant school crime is not eliminated, academic excellence will be unachievable. If anything, the president’s initiative will help undermine school discipline .  .  .  .  [F]or example, if black students are suspended or expelled at greater rates than, say, Asian students, it’s a “disparate use of disciplinary tools.” Thus, even if blacks are causing a disproportionate part of disciplinary problems, they cannot be disciplined disproportionately.

Whether a student is black, white, orange or polka-dot and whether he’s poor or rich, there are some minimum requirements that must be met in order to do well in school. Someone must make the student do his homework, see to it that he gets a good night’s rest, fix a breakfast, make sure he gets to school on time and make sure he respects and obeys his teachers.

 

 

Here’s my question: Which one of those requirements can be accomplished by a presidential executive order, a congressional mandate or the edict of a mayor? If those minimal requirements aren’t met, whatever else is done is for naught.

Spending more money on education cannot replace poor parenting. If it could, black academic achievement wouldn’t be a problem. Washington, D.C., for example, spends .  .  . more than any state, but comes in dead last in terms of student achievement. Paul Laurence Dunbar High School was established in 1870 in Washington, D.C., as the nation’s first black public high school. From 1870 to 1955, most of its graduates went off to college .  .  .  . During this era of high achievement, there was no school violence. It wasn’t racially integrated. It didn’t have a big budget. It didn’t even have a lunchroom or all those other things that today’s education establishment says are necessary for black academic achievement.

Numerous studies show that children raised in stable two-parent households do far better educationally and otherwise than those raised in single-parent households. Historically, black families have been relatively stable. From 1880 to 1960, the proportion of black children raised in two-parent families held steady at about 70 percent .  .  .  .Today only 33 percent of black children benefit from two-parent families. In 1940, black illegitimacy was 19 percent; today it’s 72 percent.

Too many young blacks have become virtually useless in an increasingly high-tech economy. The only bright outlook is the trickle of more and more black parents realizing this and taking their children out of public schools. The president’s initiative will help enrich the education establishment but do nothing for black youngsters in desperate educational need.

[End of Excerpts]

 This emphasis on preserving the legacy of racism by the current administration is really disturbing.