Care to Roll the Dice?

It takes time for changes to become apparent. Especially in a huge complex thing such as the modern education industriplex.  I see this all the time in regard to the transition from secondary to higher education.  The college entrance game is a constantly changing dance.  Colleges change their criteria and that means high school college counselors then change accordingly, and then slowly, maybe as much as a generation later, students and their nervous parents change as well.  Much of this generational shift is because many parents work off their own college experience to guide their children.  That is not wise. There is nothing about my experience in the early 80’s that is of use to my current college age children.  We must approach this issue like any other, with careful scrutiny and real knowledge, not fear and propaganda.  Let me illustrate.

Right now many parents believe the single most important thing for a college bound junior or senior in high school is their ACT and SAT scores, right?  Of course right.  No, actually, it is quickly becoming quite wrong.  Read this article from the inside and see what I mean.  But the majority opinion will prevail and guide most entrance activity even after the colleges have left this form of criteria behind.  Why?  Because most parents and college counselors are working off past information, not current.  While the principal of a large private high school I invited college admissions directors from two large schools near our high school to come speak.  One was from a prestigious State school that everyone wanted to get into.  The other was from a very sought after private college nearby.  Both said the same thing:  what is true this year will change next year.  And one of the schools, now seven years ago, no longer required ACT/SAT scores for admission.

What amazed me most about those evenings were the large number of parents who afterward over cookies and coffee said something like, “Well, I listened, but I don’t believe them.  We are still going to put our eggs in those baskets.”  One of those parents dropped almost $40K that year to ensure that their child (in addition to the tuition for a private high school diploma) was given coaching and tutoring on all aspects of getting into an Ivy League school.  Their fear over their child’s success being tied to what college they got into made them deaf to the very folks trying to tell them that the rules were in constant flux.  They just couldn’t hear it.

All this to say two things: a) as long as we continue with this unsustainable thing we currently call higher education, admissions will be a roll of the dice, not a guaranteed anything, and b) fear will continue to be the main controlling factor for parent’s choices in guiding their child toward higher education.  We need the college bubble to be popped, loudly.

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At What Cost?

In the midst of reading yet another article on how a return good education would be fairly easy (simply return to what we used to do), which is fodder for another meditation, I ran across this chart:

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And rather than seeing what the author wanted me to see (which I see, but am not meditating on here), I saw further proof for my thesis that modern public education is not about learning, but about job growth.  It is profitable for educators to avoid improvement.  If there is always a crisis in education, there is always more money with which to try and solve it.  If the simple solutions were to be implemented, and work, then all the current spending on education would be silly.

Even as we decry how poorly we pay our teachers, we watch as the educational industry skyrockets in cost.  If we are paying teachers poorly, where is all that money going?  The text book industry is doing well, especially now that it can charge the same or more for electronic books while saving all the costs of printed texts.  The testing industry is booming.  The satellite industries that produce practice tests, test prep, consulting, and the like are doing well.  And there are more offices in the admin wing than ever, but teachers are still underpaid.  Hmmmm.  There seems to be a large rabbit hole somewhere…

Reposting an Argument Worth Having

I try not to repost too much on this blog.  Most of it should be my thoughts, in my way of looking at blogs.  But, occasionally I find something I think fits with what I am trying to do here:  breed discussion and thought on the nature of teaching.

A modern concern has been the issue of authority in education.  Who should be “in charge” of it.  The modern liberation of the parent has resulted in the State taking over this parental responsibility.  So now we have those who believe the federal Department of Education is the all knowing, all important Nanny of education.  Others believe the whole DoE should be abolished, so much so that many voted for a candidate who promised just such a move.

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Below are two links, one is a call for such abolishment, the other a response to the first article.  You have the ability to read, to discern, to think it through.  Determine where you think the wisdom lies.

Albright Article

Gorman Response

How Big Can the Grade Balloon Inflate?

Assessment is perhaps the toughest thing in education, and reporting one’s assessment may be right behind it in difficulty.  Grade inflation has been hitting the headlines off and one for some time.  Keeping abreast of the trend is both discouraging and yet leads toward wisdom.

Here is a commentary on grade inflation.

That comment is based on this website.  http://www.gradeinflation.com/

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Corrosion from Within: Higher Ed’s Toxic Lead Problem

If you wish to meditate on the relationship between education and the State (once you’ve read The Republic) go no further than looking at the issues killing the modern university.  I have been thinking a lot about what the future of college and university looks like and most of my thoughts have been disturbing and depressing.  But in reading up on the recent event with lead poisoning in Flint, MI (during which I did not expect to think about college at all), I ran across the following interview with the research scientist at the forefront of that controversy and what he had to say about academia.  Perhaps it is easier to hear doom and gloom from those within (like him) than those from without (like me).  Read and judge for yourself.

http://chronicle.com/article/The-Water-Next-Time-Professor/235136

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Headed Toward Localization

Perhaps we are seeing a recovery of what it takes to rightly govern, even in our attempts at education.  I have long held that all decisions regarding our children’s education should be made as close to the classroom as possible.  The corporate structure of American education, whether Public, Charter, or Private, has been to move decisions farther out, rather closer to the classroom.  Until now.  I saw the following chart and had hope.  Unions are just one way that collectivism has hurt good education, and allegiance to such is waning.  May it continue.

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