Posts Tagged ‘education’
Joseph Stiglitz’ book on the topic
President Obama’s second Inaugural Address used soaring language to reaffirm America’s commitment to the dream of equality of opportunity: “We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”
The gap between aspiration and reality could hardly be wider. Today, the United States has less equality of opportunity than almost any other advanced industrial country…
It’s not that social mobility is impossible, but that the upwardly mobile American is becoming a statistical oddity. According to research from the Brookings Institution, only 58 percent of Americans born into the bottom fifth of income earners move out of that category, and just 6 percent born into the bottom fifth move into the top. Economic mobility in the United States is lower than in most of Europe and lower than in all of Scandinavia…
How do we explain this? Some of it has to do with persistent discrimination. Latinos and African-Americans still get paid less than whites, and women still get paid less than men, even though they recently surpassed men in the number of advanced degrees they obtain. Though gender disparities in the workplace are less than they once were, there is still a glass ceiling: women are sorely underrepresented in top corporate positions and constitute a minuscule fraction of C.E.O.’s.
Discrimination, however, is only a small part of the picture. Probably the most important reason for lack of equality of opportunity is education: both its quantity and quality. After World War II, Europe made a major effort to democratize its education systems. We did, too, with the G.I. Bill, which extended higher education to Americans across the economic spectrum…
Unless current trends in education are reversed, the situation is likely to get even worse. In some cases it seems as if policy has actually been designed to reduce opportunity: government support for many state schools has been steadily gutted over the last few decades — and especially in the last few years. Meanwhile, students are crushed by giant student loan debts that are almost impossible to discharge, even in bankruptcy. This is happening at the same time that a college education is more important than ever for getting a good job…
Finally, it is unconscionable that a rich country like the United States has made access to higher education so difficult for those at the bottom and middle. There are many alternative ways of providing universal access to higher education, from Australia’s income-contingent loan program to the near-free system of universities in Europe. A more educated population yields greater innovation, a robust economy and higher incomes — which mean a higher tax base. Those benefits are, of course, why we’ve long been committed to free public education through 12th grade. But while a 12th-grade education might have sufficed a century ago, it doesn’t today. Yet we haven’t adjusted our system to contemporary realities.
In the Eisenhower years, when I graduated high school in the top 1% of my class my advisor simply said “your father is a civil servant and the nearest state college is 100 miles away. He cannot afford to send you to college.” That was the end of it. Eight years of night school followed while I worked first in one then another of the few industries which dominated economic life in our factory town – and the specific engineering degree I worked for was ended one semester before I finished the program. The factory I worked in had been sold. The subsidy they provided the school I attended at night was withdrawn.
That’s the sort of education system Republicans would return to the United States.
On the other side of the coin, educational theory in the United States has wandered through the throes of a psychologist’s wet dream – inventing curricula that let students decide if courses are enjoyable or not, if they feel they need to be able to read or write or comprehend mathematics or not. Providing direction became a sin. Requiring standards anathema.
Education has devolved so much that the biggest debate in our state politics this year, once again, is over something called social promotion. At the 3rd and 6th grade levels, if teachers and the school system find a student unable to function at course level they cannot be held back from promotion into the next grade. Parents have the right to overrule the school because their child’s self-image might suffer if they have to repeat a course they failed.
Hogwash. And what passes for political leadership from either of the TweedleDeeDumb parties continues to be exactly what you’d expect. Which answer will get me re-elected?
Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, has given a rare interview to promote her new website advocating the “Dream Act” for immigration reform.
Powell Jobs spoke with Yahoo’s The Lookout news blog and revealed her interest in the Dream Act was sparked by College Track — an after-school program she founded in 1997 to help underprivileged high school students prepare for college.
The website is called “The Dream is Now,” and it can be found at thedreamisnow.org. It features videos from illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children — the same people who would be aided by the “Dream Act,” which provides an opportunity for permanent residency.
Powell Jobs completed the project, which launched on Tuesday, with filmmaker Davis Guggenheim. He was previously responsible for the films “An Inconvenient Truth,” which features former U.S. vice president and current Apple board member Al Gore, as well as “Waiting for Superman.”
The Dream Act has floated around congress since it was first introduced in 2001, but has failed to pass. It would allow people under the age of 30 who illegally entered the U.S. before they were 15 and who have lived here for more than five years to earn legal status. From there, they could potentially become U.S. citizens.
Switzerland is the best country for a baby to be born in 2013, according to a new study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which is based on both subjective and objective quality of life factors.
The variables include life expectancy, gender equality, political freedoms, and even climate, but because the study looks at where “to be born” not “where to live,” some of the factors look at what life will be like in those countries in 2030, when children born in 2013 reach adulthood.
Rounding out the top 10 are:
7. New Zealand
10. Hong Kong
The report authors write:
Being rich helps more than anything else, but it is not all that counts; things like crime, trust in public institutions and the health of family life matter too. In all, the index takes 11 statistically significant indicators into account.
The United States didn’t crack the top 10 this year, because American “babies will inherit the large debts of the boomer generation,” the researchers write. Could have included mediocre education, crumbling infrastructure in that same sentence.
In the 1988 survey, the United States came in first, followed closely by mostly European countries and several high-performing Asian ones, such as South Korea and Japan…
Now, Japan and South Korea rank 25 and 19, respectively, perhaps because their economies have become more troubled in recent years.
Europe has also slipped in the rankings because the ongoing euro-zone crisis there has caused severe unemployment and “eroded both family and community life,” the authors write…Germany has dropped to 16 – a tie with the United States.
Disagree with the list? The full methodology can be found here.
The Economist is a magazine grounded in conservative economics. That’s conservative in the traditional sense, rather like the term used to be in the United States before today’s Republican Party started their outreach policy for governance by homophobes, religious nutballs, various and sundry bigots.
So, the list will be accused of being part of a mythic liberal conspiracy – regardless of credentials.
Martin O’Malley and Sam Brownback
As state governments begin to emerge from the long downturn, many are grappling with a difficult choice: should they restore some of the services and jobs they were forced to eliminate in the recession or cut taxes in the hopes of bolstering their local economies?
Maryland, a state controlled by Democrats that has a pristine credit rating, raised income taxes on its top earners this year to preserve services and spending on its well-regarded schools…Kansas, controlled by Republicans, decided to try to spur its economy with an income tax cut — which Moody’s Investors Service, the ratings agency, recently warned would lead to “dramatic revenue loss” and deficits that would probably require more spending cuts in the coming years.
Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland…asked. “How much less do we think would be good for our country? How much less education would be good for our children? How many fewer college degrees would make our state or our country more competitive?
“How much less research and development would be good for the innovation economy that we have an obligation and a responsibility, a duty and an imperative, to embrace? How many fewer hungry Maryland kids can we afford to feed? Progress is a choice: we can decide whether to make the tough choices necessary to invest in our shared future and move forward together. Or we can be the first generation of Marylanders to give our children a lesser quality of life with fewer opportunities.”
Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas…said…“My viewpoint, and the viewpoint of the majority of the Legislature, was we’ve got to change our tax policy to attract more people and attract more businesses”…
Mr. Brownback said that he initially had hoped to pay for some of the lost revenues…by ending a number of popular tax deductions, and by phasing in the cuts slowly. But he could not find support for that, so, even as other states are beginning to add spending again, he has been looking for savings and more cuts to offset the projected loss in tax revenues. “We are going to be going through everything with a fine-tooth comb,” he said…
You won’t hear any speeches from Brownback about raising education standards. He already opposes teaching science, evolution.
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonprofit research organization in Washington…issued a report this year that found that the states with high income tax rates had outperformed those with no income tax over the past decade when it came to economic growth per capita and median family income.
The choices made by Kansas and Maryland could provide something of a real-time test of the prevailing political theories of taxing and spending — though it could be years before the results are in.
The results will verify what these competing systems have always proven…supply-side economics, dribble-down theorizing by Republican hack economists consistently proves to be a drag on the economy – only making life a bit easier for the country club set.
States that improve their economy do so by improving education, public health, a focus on building a work force capable of learning on their own and keeping up with a changing world. That costs money. It’s better spent on children who will become the next generation of wage earners than on providing aid and comfort to corporate pirates who would sail away on a whim if they thought they could make an extra dime profit in some other state, some other country or continent.
After winning a scholarship at the University of Technology Sydney, Kristy Everett, the first in her immediate family to go to university, is now able to make ends meet while studying for a double degree in design and visual communication and international studies.
Ms. Everett, 18, is one of a growing number of young Australians from regional areas or disadvantaged backgrounds who enrolled in university this year after the government removed a cap on the number of students in government-subsidized places.
The change is part of a plan to increase the number of citizens with higher education qualifications, in order to ensure that Australia has a skilled population able to compete in the global economy…
Marcia Devlin, chairwoman of higher education research at Deakin University, which has campuses around Melbourne, said the changes would mean that the student body would become more diverse than it was in the past.
“Universities have been very exclusive, and now that the cap’s off it’s more inclusive,” she said, adding that additional funds for disadvantaged students were also helping to increase the diversity of the student body…
Belinda Robinson, chief executive of Universities Australia, which represents the country’s 39 universities, said the increase in enrollment of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom may be the first in their families ever to go to university, was particularly welcome.
“This opportunity can have a profound effect on breaking the cycle of disadvantage. It also represents a big step forward for Australia by more fully developing our human capital potential,” she said in a statement. “More students, though, means more pressure on already stretched university budgets and facilities and puts the spotlight on the need to invest adequately in supporting students who are less well prepared for university.”
Added students in Oz needn’t worry about competing for positions worldwide with Americans. That’s for certain. Regardless of who’s currently in the White House, the elitist crowd in Congress isn’t about to start increasing spending on education – much less increasing the amount going to support someone solidly working class.
Kudos to elected officials in Australia for backing up those who will be part of building their nation into a growing economic force that relies more and more on talent instead of selling commodities.
Nearly half of Americans haven’t learned anything about science or evolution in the last thirty years
Forty-six percent of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form at one point within the past 10,000 years, according to a survey released by Gallup on Friday.
That number has remained unchanged for the past 30 years, since 1982, when Gallup first asked the question on creationism versus evolution. Thirty years ago, 44% of the people who responded said they believed that God created humans as we know them today – only a 2-point difference from 2012.
“Despite the many changes that have taken place in American society and culture over the past 30 years, including new discoveries in biological and social science, there has been virtually no sustained change in Americans’ views of the origin of the human species since 1982,” wrote Gallup’s Frank Newport…
The second most common view is that humans evolved with God’s guidance – a view held by 32% of respondents. The view that humans evolved with no guidance from God was held by 15% of respondents…
The numbers also showed a tendency to follow party lines, with nearly 60% of Republicans identifying as creationists, while 41% of Democrats hold the same beliefs…
According to Newport…”It would be hard to dispute that most scientists who study humans agree that the species evolved over millions of years, and that relatively few scientists believe that humans began in their current form only 10,000 years ago without the benefit of evolution,” writes Newport. “Thus, almost half of Americans today hold a belief … that is at odds with the preponderance of the scientific literature.”
Anyone surprised? Not only has the quality of American education been deteriorating for the past half-century, the starting point for questions like this remains stuck into the availability of science education in the 1930′s.
Young Americans get a mediocre education in science, the arts, reading and math. Not so surprising that they’re still stuck into the cultural cul-de-sac of their parents and grandparents.
Good news: despite shrunken state coffers, the quality of public schools is by many measures improving. In the decade-plus since Newsweek began ranking the top public high schools, the national graduation rate has increased 4 percent, federal expenditure per student has risen an adjusted $1,400, and the number of Advanced Placement (AP) tests given per school has more than doubled. The gold standard, of course, is college readiness, and the numbers are bright there too: between 1999 and 2009, the proportion of 18-to-24-year-olds enrolled in college rose by 14 percent…
The schools that made our top 1,000 tend to be relatively small and concentrated in metropolitan areas. Seventy-four percent have fewer than 2,000 students, and more than one quarter are located in or near New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. The collective student body at these schools is better off financially than the national average: only 17.5 percent receive free-or reduced-price lunch, compared with about 40 percent nationally.
Nearly 77 percent of the 1,000 admit students through open enrollment, with no admissions restrictions. But many of the highest spots were claimed by selective schools—where students are let in by academic achievement, admissions testing, or lottery—which makes sense given the growth of magnet, charter, and other specialty schools around the country: seven out of the top 10 schools on our list are either charter or magnet…
To reach these rankings, we factored in six criteria. Three of those—the four-year graduation rate, college-acceptance rate, and number of AP and other high-level exams given per student—make up 75 percent of the overall score. Average SAT/ACT and AP/college-level test scores count for another 10 percent each, and the number of AP courses offered per student is weighted as the final 5 percent. Because most of this data isn’t centrally available, we collected it from high-school administrators directly—about 15,000 of them—and received 2,300 responses.
Few topics spark more conversation among friends and family than the state of education in America. In general, I think we’d be pleased if we could say our local public schools are offering “education that doesn’t entirely suck!” Living in a 3rd-world state like New Mexico doesn’t aid that experience. There are no schools from New Mexico on this list.
I could pull age rank on everyone. I attended high school in a small New England town transitioning from rural to suburb not very gracefully. Still the school had over 1000 students tucked inside 4 years – and a graduation rate of 99.6%. I have no accurate idea of how many applied to/went on to college. That was mostly a function of family income for us – back then.
I feel that we learned to think as well as acquired some knowledge back then. This was before the Freudian ethos overwhelmed American colleges of education and we began to adhere to systems where the students decided if they felt like learning anything, their parents demanded an automatic pass at the end of each year – regardless of capabilities.
Read through the list. Systems for searching are contained within the page listing the 1000 schools.
Romney will shut down US government departments – but, voters don’t need to know which ones before the election – WTF?
You went and told them the truth?
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
Mitt Romney wants to shut down or amalgamate several US government departments if elected president, but has no plans to tell voters in advance of November’s general election, he told wealthy campaign donors.
The presumptive Republican nominee let slip his plans at a high-rollers fund-raising event in Florida estate that was supposed to be a closed-doors event but was accidentally overhead by a group of waiting reporters standing on the pavement outside.
“I’m going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them. Some eliminate, but I’m probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go,” Mr Romney said, according to NBC News, who had a reporter outside the event…
The issue of closing departments sunk the campaign of Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, earlier this year when, having promised to shut three federal agencies, was only able to name two of them in a live televised debate.
Mr Romney said that the Department of Housing which was headed for four years from 1969 by his father George Romney, who served in Nixon’s cabinet, was also in the crosshairs…
Of course. His father really was a compassionate conservative. He wouldn’t be allowed in a position of responsibility in today’s High Holy Church of Republicanism.
The Obama campaign, which hopes to paint Mr Romney as an out-of-touch multi-millionaire, is pressing Mr Romney to release more of his tax returns that could contain details of potentially embarrassing offshore investment trusts used in legal tax avoidance…
“Hearkening back to my youth, which extends far beyond yours, there was a show called, ‘I’ve Got A Secret.’ Increasingly, I think that would be the appropriate title for the Romney campaign,” David Axelrod told the Politico website, recalling the story that Mr Romney removed the hard drives from his office computers at the end of his term as governor of Massachusetts.
“There are central issues, but this is a disturbing one,” he added, “and it goes to that question of, like, ‘Who is this guy? What does he stand for? What does he believe? What do we know about him?’”
All most American voters need to know is that – wimpy as Obama may be on critical issues of bigotry, peace, civil rights and jobs – Romney is guaranteed to be worse.
He’s stuck into dribble-down economics which Republicans have been trying to justify since Herbert Hoover was president. His lack of integrity is sufficient that he kowtows to every religious nutball who finds his way into the Republican Party hoping to join the aristocracy.
Rick Perry worries more about helping meatpackers crank out Pink Slime – than schools
In Texas, this has been the year of doing without. Texas lawmakers cut public education financing by roughly $5.4 billion to balance the state’s two-year budget during the last legislative session, with the cuts taking effect this school year and next.
The budget reductions that districts large and small have had to make have transformed school life in a host of ways — increasing class sizes, reducing services and supplies and thinning the ranks of teachers, custodians, librarians and others, school administrators said.
Like chief executives of struggling corporations, superintendents have been cutting back on everything from paper to nurses and have had to become increasingly creative about generating revenue. They are selling advertising space on the sides of buses and on district Web sites, scaling back summer school, charging parents if their children take part in athletics or cheerleading and adding periods in the school day so fewer teachers can accommodate more students…
“It’s almost like slow death,” said the superintendent, Douglas Killian, during a visit to Veterans’ Hill, where the classrooms are now used by adults as part of a higher education center run by Temple College and Texas State Technical College. “We’re being picked apart. It’s made a tremendous morale issue in the district…”
Several lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Legislature have played down the impact of the $5.4 billion in cuts on schools statewide…Gov. Rick Perry said he saw no need for a special legislative session to restore some of the education funding that was eliminated last year and said the schools were receiving an adequate amount of money…
“We’re being picked apart,” said Douglas Killian, the superintendent at Hutto, which eliminated 68 positions.
But many public school advocates, parents and administrators said the reductions that districts had made — and were considering for the next school year — had reached an unprecedented level, even as enrollment and testing requirements have increased. Hundreds of districts have sued the state in four lawsuits, saying that the school finance system fails to adequately and equitably pay for public education in Texas…
At Hutto High School, Eric Soto, a world history teacher who is also the head softball coach and assistant volleyball coach, worries about the bottom line about as much as he worries about his classes and his games. He makes fewer photocopies, to save printing costs. He helped sell advertising space along the fence on the softball field, to bring in extra cash for the team. When teaching, he turns on only one of the room’s two light switches, to save on electricity.
Meanwhile, Big Oil enjoys the benefits of a Republican-controlled legislature. 30 years ago taxes from oil and gas accounted for 24% of the tax revenues for the state of Texas. Now? 6.6%. Rick Perry and his bubbas take care of the corporations that bankroll their political careers.
RTFA. Beaucoup tales, anecdotes of what struggling school systems do to get by because the state legislature figures austerity requires the maximum number of schoolkids suffer.
At a time when the United States is capping off a 30 year decline in economic position; when the real wages of America’s workers extend to the 3rd and 4th decades of less and less to live on — the response from conservative politicians continues to be the imposition of austerity upon every chance of increasing a working family’s worth. Look for a job with skills no one needs anymore. Pay for your home at the same rate determined when it was worth twice as much.
Structural unemployment looks to be rising to a 7% minimum. The politicians and paymasters inside the Beltway and Congress may or may not think folks need a better education to get a competitive job – but, they surely don’t care.
Mothers who tightly swaddle their babies to prevent colic are causing a rise in a hip problem that disappeared 25 years ago, a doctor said today.
The practice – eradicated in the 1980s after educational programmes – is now back in fashion with some websites selling tight ”swaddlers” to keep babies warm, help them sleep and avoid the crying associated with colic. But Professor Nicholas Clarke, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, said the unsafe form of swaddling is leading to more cases of hip dysplasia.
The condition is where the hips are loosened by mothers’ hormones to relax ligaments during birth, but the swaddling is forcibly straightening the legs within the first three to four months of life.
This means babies who would otherwise recover naturally are unable to freely flex and strengthen weakened joints, making surgery essential. ”This form of swaddling used to be very commonly used across the world but, with the help of major educational programmes such as the one used to eliminate the problem in Japan in the 1980s, it was all but eradicated and cases reduced drastically,” said Prof Clarke, who spoke out as part of the STEPS charity’s Baby Hip Health Week 2012.
”Now, I and my colleagues across the UK and in America are witnessing its revival, with swaddlers being advertised on the internet that tightly wrap babies. For the hips, that is exactly what you don’t want to happen…
Up to 100 babies are screened at Southampton General Hospital’s hip clinic every week with around one in every 20 full-term babies has some level of instability and swaddling-related incidences are increasing.
Although treatment, which involves fitting a harness to keep the legs bent up day and night for six weeks, is successful in 85% of babies, some will suffer permanent damage…
”I advocate swaddling in the right and safe way, which means ensuring babies are not rigidly wrapped but have enough room to bend their legs – they don’t need to have their legs straightened as there is plenty of time to stretch before they start to walk,” he explained. ”But, and this is worrying the orthopaedic community, it seems to be increasingly fashionable among parents to follow the re-emerging trend of tight swaddling…”
”We need to focus on ensuring the years of hard work and effort made by thousands of clinicians across the world to drive out tight swaddling is not unravelled in a matter of months and that means stepping in immediately,” he added.
Spooky rumors, “remedies” passed along through gossip sites – and even dumber, via hustlers trying to make a buck from mothers’ fears – are the last thing clinicians and pediatricians need to have reversing decades of education and effort.
It’s natural for anyone under the stress of a newborn to look for quick solutions to some of the problems attendant upon newborn care. Reaching out to superstition and quackery is the last thing you and your child are in need of. Especially your child. Placing an infant in danger of needing surgery at a tender age because your favorite granny’s advice website recommended tight swaddling to quiet colic symptoms – is more than absurd. It’s backwards and primitive.