To Encourage Civic Engagement, Start in Elementary School

by Judith Pace (U of San Francisco)

The Educational Testing Service report on the correlation between income and education and levels of political and civic engagement (“Education and Income Levels Are Key Predictors of Civic Involvement, Report Says,” The Chronicle, May 23) is not news. Educational researchers call this the civic empowerment gap, or democracy divide, and trace it not only to sociological factors but also to unequal democratic learning opportunities in secondary schools. Students in higher-track classes, who are disproportionately European- or Asian-American from middle-class or affluent families, enjoy more discussions of important public issues and experiential curricular activities than do students in lower-track classes, who are disproportionately Continue reading “To Encourage Civic Engagement, Start in Elementary School”

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Why the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act Still Matters

How should higher education be funded?

by Christopher Loss (Vanderbilt)

July 2, 1862, was a busy day for President Abraham Lincoln. He dispatched several letters to far-flung military commanders. He held meetings on the war and on the status of fugitive slaves. He also signed three laws, including one banning polygamy in the territories and another creating a loyalty oath for all government officials. The final law Lincoln signed, the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, putting the federal government in charge of the development of public colleges and universities, not only turned out to be the most important of the three bills he signed but stands as an enduring legacy of his presidency.

The long-germinating land-for-education bill was the brainchild of a self-taught son of a blacksmith, Representative—and later Senator— Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont, a Republican. He believed that the Continue reading “Why the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act Still Matters”

There’s No Learning When Nobody’s Listening

How much do students know?

By Nadine Dolby (Purdue)

I decided to call the panel “Listening to Parents.” As I began the organizing process last November, I was sure that “parents” was the important word in the title. After more than 20 years in teacher education, I had become frustrated and saddened by the attitudes of our undergraduate students toward parents. Although they were only 19- or 20-year-old freshmen or sophomores, our undergraduates already felt that they knew more about children and learning than the parents of their prospective students. They saw parents as annoying obstacles who contributed little to nothing to their children’s education.

As a teacher educator who focuses on multicultural issues, I also realized that the attitudes of our mostly white, female, Christian middle-class students toward parents from backgrounds different from their own was even more troubling. Continue reading “There’s No Learning When Nobody’s Listening”

Renewing The Commitment

Is higher education improving or going down hill?

By Sara Goldrick-Rab  (U Wisconsin)

In 1947 the historic Truman Commission called for national investments in higher education to promote democracy by enabling all people to earn college degrees. Subsequent expansion of community colleges, adult education, and federal aid occurred not in the name of economic stimulation but to reduce inequality and further active citizenship.

Those ambitions have been steadily corrupted. Today the Tea Party casts the college-educated as snobbish and fundamentally disconnected. Many four-year colleges and universities Continue reading “Renewing The Commitment”

We Have Yet to Use Them Where They Are Needed Most

Are we evaluating colleges the right way?

By Sylvia Hurtado (UCLA)

College-completion rates only partially reflect institutional quality, and we have yet to adequately make use of completion information for institutional improvement where it is needed most—with students who are first generation, low income, or are from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Recent analyses of national data that track full cohorts of freshmen to graduation suggest that completion rates reflect entering-student characteristics and intentions, how students are able to finance college, peer norms associated with enrollment-mobility patterns, and institutional resources. Continue reading “We Have Yet to Use Them Where They Are Needed Most”

Leading in the Legacy of St. Vincent de Paul

What have you learned about life?

by Roxanne Owens (DePaul)

My husband’s theory is that if he does not have money in his pocket, he can’t spend it.  My counter theory is that if I don’t have money in my pocket, I have to make more frequent trips to the cash station. After checking our account balance and in deference to my husband’s cheapskate attitude (or frugality as he prefers to call it) I withdrew only one crisp $20 bill on a recent trip to the cash station.  I knew that was all I needed for the next few days, as long as I didn’t do anything too indulgent—like give in to a desire for obscenely overpriced coffee drinks for instance. Continue reading “Leading in the Legacy of St. Vincent de Paul”

College and Responsibility

How do you get the most out of college?

By Joan Ramirez (NY/NJ Schools)

In grade school, my teachers used to make class rules. Whenever we didn’t follow them, she pointed to the chart. For all the prospective college students in the universe, I have a news flash: The rules stop the minute you start your Freshman year.

Even though my first year of college began with preparatory courses in my last year of high school, I still walked into class with butterflies in my stomach. To make matters worse, my World History professor planned on retiring so he lectured with the speed of a marathon runner. We all took down notes and left the class drained of energy. At the end of my first day of undergraduate classes, I wanted to quit, but it was a sleep away college and many miles from home. My wise Mom said to give it a month and then decide. To my surprise, after the first week I actually enjoyed classes because I focused on the prize—a great job in a profession of my choice. Today’s economy may not be as favorable to graduating students, but the following facts should be taken seriously:

1. Be focused on your goal and talk to everyone you meet about marketable majors. Have a Continue reading “College and Responsibility”