Monday, June 19, 2017

Should education always be respected?

A couple of days ago, I put up an article under the heading "Imbecillic call for all Australians to graduate high school"

A reader was reminded by that of a passage in "The Road to Wigan Pier" by George Orwell, chapter 7.  It says:

"And again, take the working-class attitude towards 'education'. How different it is from ours, and how immensely sounder! Working people often have a vague reverence for learning in others, but where 'education' touches their own lives they see through it and reject it by a healthy instinct.

The time was when I used to lament over quite imaginary pictures of lads of fourteen dragged protesting from their lessons and set to work at dismal jobs. It seemed to me dreadful that the doom of a 'job' should descend upon anyone at fourteen.

Of course I know now that there is not one working-class boy in a thousand who does not pine for the day when he will leave school. He wants to be doing real work, not wasting his time on ridiculous rubbish like history and geography.

To the working class, the notion of staying at school till you are nearly grown-up seems merely contemptible and unmanly. The idea of a great big boy of eighteen, who ought to be bringing a pound a week home to his parents, going to school in a ridiculous uniform and even being caned for not doing his lessons!

Just fancy a working-class boy of eighteen allowing himself to be caned! He is a man when the other is still a baby.

Ernest Pontifex, in Samuel Butler's Way of All Flesh, after he had had a few glimpses of real life, looked back on his public school and university education and found it a 'sickly, debilitating debauch'. There is much in middle-class life that looks sickly and debilitating when you see it from a working-class angle."

Schools Worry About Kids Getting Too Competitive, Remove ‘Valedictorian’ Status

Schools are getting rid of their “valedictorian” titles over concerns that they create harmful competition, influence course selection and propagate misconceptions of large disparities in GPA because of differences in class rank.

Nearly half of American high schools do not display class rank, according to the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and many schools give out awards to students who obtain a certain grade-point average or higher instead of only the highest-scoring student, reported the Associated Press.

The NASSP stresses that schools should encourage cooperation instead of competition with regard to academic excellence. Connor Carrow of Lancaster High School in New York wants his school to switch from honoring the top 10 students to the cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude system of honors typically adopted by colleges. He advocated this switch well before placing 14th in his own graduating class.

“More and more schools are moving toward a more holistic process. They look deeper into the transcript,” said Melanie Gottlieb, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers’ deputy director. Gottlieb explained that, while many applications ask students to provide a class ranking if they have one, course difficulty and grades outweigh this factor.

“We are encouraged by any movement that helps students understand that they’re more than a score, that they’re more than a rank,” said Dana Monogue, assistant superintendent for Elmbrook School District in Wisconsin. Her schools rank the valedictorian and salutatorian, but merely because Wisconsin gives out scholarships to each school’s two highest-performing graduates.

Meanwhile, schools in Howard County, Md. distinguish the top 5 percent of their graduates to boost those students’ applications.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to The College Board and Fairfax County Public Schools for comment on the trend away from ranking students, but did not receive comment in time for press.


Why does college cost so much?

Researchers who study the question of the rapidly rising financial burden of American higher education say it's important to understand that very different forces are driving the cost of delivering that education and the price students and their families have to pay.

On the cost side, schools continue to compete for students by working to attract top faculty, build and maintain the latest facilities and offer the next generation of students amenities that can be touted on campus tours for prospective applicants.

Among the most selective schools, amenities have become an important part of the race for the best and brightest, and well-off, applicants, according to Robert Kelchen, a professor at Seton Hall University's Department of Education. "Schools are all going after a fairly small pool of students who are high achieving and high income and able to pay much of their own way to college," he said. "They're trying to build more amenities—so you hear about the rock climbing walls and the lazy rivers."

Over the decade from 2001-2011, the share of expenses devoted to "student services" rose from 17 percent of the average school's budget to 20 percent, according to a comprehensive review of college-spending patterns by the Delta Cost Project at American Institutes for Research. The research covered decades of data from thousands of American public and private colleges and universities.

The rising cost of college sports including generous coaching salaries—has also raised concerns, especially when tuition subsidizes money-losing programs and increases the financial burden on students who don't take part in athletics. (The costs of intercollegiate sports are included in the "Student Services" category in the chart below, except for those operated as self-supporting auxiliary enterprises.)

"At many colleges, it's a significant cost," said Kelchen. "The biggest subsidies are at these small Division I programs that are trying to make their way up the ladder and get into the big time."

Still, though pricey amenities and big-budget sports programs get a lot of attention, they're the exception, not the rule among universities, say higher education experts.

Higher education payrolls have also been rapidly adding non-teaching jobs in recent years. Public and private colleges and universities expanded their payrolls by 28 percent between 2000 and 2012, more than 50 percent faster than the previous decade, according to an analysis of higher education staffing by the Delta Cost Project. That build-up largely tracked the rise in enrollments.

"Many of these new positions appear to be providing student services, but whether they represent justifiable expenses or unnecessary 'bloat' is up for debate," wrote Donna Desrochers, the report's principal researcher.

But while that payroll expansion added higher benefit costs for full-time faculty and staff, many schools offset those spending increases by relying more heavily on part-time instructors. That kept the overspending impact relatively contained, with the exception of some well-funded private research universities, the report concluded.

Meanwhile, teaching salaries, one of the biggest single line items, have remained relatively flat—much like those across most of the U.S. labor market. Despite heavy spending by a handful of top universities for the most talented, grant-winning researchers, most schools aren't seeing big wage pressures, largely because teaching jobs are in high demand.

"Overall, the aggregate level that institutions are spending on teaching and student-related services has been pretty much stable for the past 15 to 20 years, adjusted for inflation" said Franke, of the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

So if the cost of providing an education has remained fairly stable, why does the price students pay keep rising?

The reason, say researchers, is that deep budget cuts in state funding for public higher education and shrinking subsidies at private schools have pushed a greater share of the cost onto students and their families.


No comments: