Category: Education

Critical challenges faced by Colleges and Universities

 

Most colleges and universities have a mission statement or motto that in- directly relays the message to students that as an institution of higher learning that the interests of the students come first, and that they are in the business of producing quality students. While these statements may be true,  in today’s society the complexities and challenges of securing an education while ensuring that students are mastering course content and at the same time obtaining and retaining qualified instructors, administrative staff and other faculty members,  are a few critical issues facing many colleges and universities. The old cliché that everyone should go to college or that anybody could acquire a college education, has proven to be an arduous sell. Colleges and universities struggle with students who have complex problems such as a lack of basic skills, financial hardship, and a lack of discipline and college readiness.

The evidence of this is in the high number of students who enroll in remedial courses. According to Aaron Short in the New York Post Metro Section (2015). He points out how high school graduates, “often aren’t ready for college”, and according to data, “the rising number of students needing remedial help… an astonishing 78.3 percent of college students who graduate from high school in 2014 enrolled in remedial courses.

Briana Boyinton an Education Wed producer, in his Article “Plan Ahead to Avoid Remedial Classes” for U.S. News, he points out how “remedial classes are courses that are designed to help students learn developmental skills in math and reading so they’re prepared for college –level work. Students have to pay tuition for these classes, which don’t count for credit and can delay graduation, particularly if students have to take more than one”.

Furthermore, the majority of these remedial classes contain students who are non-native speakers of the English language or there have been on an extended break in their education. Also, based on Boyinton’s article,” one estimate suggests that more than two-thirds of college students take at least one remedial course.” In addition, most instructors who teach remedial courses find themselves overwhelmed with the amount of individual attention each student requires. This leaves the instructor and the students frustrated and at a loss as to how to address the needs of remediation.

Over the course of many years, financial aid (TAP/PELL) and other government-funded programs have reduced benefits packages that currently do not accommodate all of students’ financial needs, and to add to this dilemma the cost of tuition, books and other college related supplies continues to increase. This causes disappointment to students who cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket.  As a result, students are borrowing loans as a way to supplement their income and to pay for their tuition. Danielle Dougles –Gabriel covers the economics of education. She writes about the financial lives of students from when they take out student debt through their experiences in the job market.

In her article “Congress cuts federal financial aid for needy students”, Gabriel gives readers a run down on why the congress has cut $303 million in funding for federal programs. She goes on to write that these cuts to the Pell grant is to “free up money to pay companies that collect student loans on behalf of the Department of education.” Equally important, congress’ explanation for these cuts to Pell is that “the demands placed on Pell during the recession, when thousands of people entered or went back to school, have changed as the economy has improved.” Gabriel also notes that these cuts target the nation’s lowest income earners and a significant number of these recipients of the Pell grant is from African American and Latino households.

Regardless of the fact that most people’s opinion is that educational institutions are in the business of educating, most of the prestigious Ivy League colleges or universities are brand names, and they make an effort to distinguish themselves from others.  Meaning, they must stand out. Some of these institutions are famous for their athletics department and others seek to illustrate their prestige by emphasizing their higher standards in academics by employing prominent and well-learned scholars who are experts in their areas of instruction.  To complement the teaching faculty there is the need for highly qualified administrative staff who play an important role in the daily operations of how an institution functions.

In his article” Netting an elusive breed how to attract and retain better teachers”, Mark R. Warner, the governor of Virginia and chairman of the Education Commission of the states,  talks about his experience in operating a successful business and the challenges he faced.  Warner states “there is no greater challenge than to attract and retain the best-qualified, hardest-working employees.” He goes on to say, “To accomplish this, businesses must offer compensation and benefit packages, positive working environment, and opportunities for employees to gain more responsibilities and to upgrade their skills. The suggestion offered by Mark Warner in his article is what most colleges and universities board of directors agonize over each year as they sort to hold onto qualified faculty.

What Say You?

 

 

Name Dropping

Dear readers,

Whats in a name? Trump/Clinton two names the public have come to know well. The question on most people’s minds, is whether either of these names are trust worthy to be president of the United States? Each candidate declares that he or she is running for the good of the people. Where have we heard that before?

donald-trump-make-america-great

Donald Trump, formerly known as ” The Donald,” claims he will, ” Make America Great Again.” He came out swinging, when he announced that he wants to be president, the world laughed, well, whose laughing now? Trump is well-known in the business world, a real estate mogul, father, cheating husband, founder of Trump University, and known to have bad hair days. Trump does not posses graceful etiquette or public speaking skills.  However, he does have one key attribute, he speaks out about many issues that others are to chicken shit to say.

636027203639042627-AP-DEM-2016-CLINTON-BENGHAZI-82978080

Hillary Rodham Clinton, a woman scorned, wife of a former adulteress president, former U. S. Senator, Secretary of State, grandmother, a women with a point to prove, and a believer in “Stand by your Man.” One key point to notice, her campaign message keeps changing, she started out with, ” Fighting for us” then move to ” No We Can’t. Well, Hil, which one is it?

Back in the days,  going to the voting polls was an honor, a rite of passage. People were proud to pull that lever, and let their voices be heard. Nowadays, there is so much confusion, corruption, and mudslinging surrounding each candidate, that there is a large number of people who feel that going to the polls isn’t worth the trip. WAY TO GO AMERICA.

What Say You

voices crying out in the wilderness

 

maxresdefault

On March 8, Intnational Women’s Day will be celebrated in various ways to recognize the contributions women have made to society. In the minds of some people, they think wow! “We’ve come a long way, baby” from the days of slavery, suffrage and the feminist movement.  We had Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to the United States Congress, Condoleezza Rice, the first African American woman to serve as Secretary of State, and Sonia Sotomayor, the first Supreme Court Justice of Hispanic heritage. Even though women have made progress, there are still social challenges that women worldwide struggle to overcome, such as the problems associated with forced marriages and the denial for women’s rights to education due to cultural and religious constraints.

Throughout history, women have experienced strict rules that have kept them from moving forward socially, politically and economically.  For instant, the barbaric practice of female circumcision that cripples and kills countless innocent girls. The horror of murdering female babies because in some societies they are perceived as useless and a financial burden. Currently, women continue to endure chauvinism, sexism, verbal, physical and sexual abuse. Women are constantly being reminded that they should be seen and not heard. These narrow-minded beliefs is what motivates women to continue to press on to strive for greatness.

WHAT SAY YOU?

A Short Analysis of Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Darkling Thrush’

Interesting Literature

A brief summary and analysis of a classic Thomas Hardy poem

Thomas Hardy’s novels often overshadow his poetry, although a handful of poems from his vast poetic output remain popular in verse anthologies. One such case is ‘The Darkling Thrush’, a great winter poem which was first published on 29 December 1900. Poised on the cusp of a new year (and even, depending on your view of the matter, a new century), Hardy reflects in this poem on the events of the nineteenth century, his own feelings about the future, and his attitude to nature. Here is ‘The Darkling Thrush’, followed by a brief analysis of its features.

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate,
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their…

View original post 794 more words

Failing the Test

 Teaching to the Test

The new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) concentrate on a clear set of skills and concepts that students will learn in a more organized way. However, there is confusion and concerns from parents and teachers about how course content is taught and if the students are learning. During my ten years as a reading and writing Supplemental Instructor for college level courses, and an ELA Instructor for grades K-12, I have witnessed serval changes in the New York City Public schools curriculum. Due to decreasing test scores teachers are scrambling to adjust to yet another assigned way to teach to the test.  However, aside from the common core, there are other factors that contribute to black and Latino children failing standardized tests and not obtaining the appropriate skills thus leading them to become under achievers academically.

Obstacle #1: The learning Environment has Changed

Today’s children are in classrooms that lack space for intellectual growth and creativity. As a result, children are restless and bored by the daily grind and drilling of teaching to the test. In addition, teachers are no longer allowed to use their knowledge, skills and talents to make learning engaging. Instead, they are chained to the demands of a curriculum required by the Board of Education. In order for learning to take place, children need to feel comfortable in the classroom. Therefore, allowing the process of taking in course content pleasurable and interesting.

Hindrance #2: Home Life

Learning is impede at home for some children because there is no encouragement to use their reading, writing and math skills. Instead, what is encouraged is marathon hours of watching meaningless television shows and playing video games nonstop. The majority of parents mind set is that learning should take place in the class room because teachers are paid to educate children. Secondly, working parents are exhausted, it is easy to use the television to contain their children’s behavior by sitting them in front of the television having their brains drained and corrupted by the Disney channel or worse reality TV. The world children live in today is far removed from the days when the father was the sole bread winner and mom stayed home and help with homework.  Furthermore, in an effort to take even less responsibly for their children’s education parents are stretching their budgets to pay tutors to pick up the slack. There is nothing wrong with using tutoring services for academic support, however, it’s not a good use of resource if the parents are only hoping for a quick fix.

Barrier #3: Children’s attitude towards Learning

This generation of scholars’ define the process of education as being a nuisance, difficult and too much work.  During tutoring sessions   I often hear children questioning their parents, teachers and tutors as to “why they have to learn this stuff” and “how this stuff is going to help them?” I’ve witnessed kids having melt downs and crying spells because they detest learning. This attitude is not entirely their fault. How can we expect them to be motivated and excited about learning when the majority of children in African American/Latino homes do not observe their parents engaging in reading or writing? It is said that home should be the first place where children get inspired.

The final insult, the practice of social promotion moving students to the next grade regardless of whether they learned the necessary material, in order to keep them with their peers. This is also referred to as social grouping. The harm caused to the students caught in this game of move them along, further damages their academic achievement.  First, they have not mastered the material in the previous grade. Second, the embarrassment to their egos and self-esteem   when they realize their peers are ahead of them and that they lack the ability to catch up.

Now that you have heard my side of the story, WHAT SAY YOU?

Teachers Accountability versus Students Responsibility

EXPLORACTeachers Accountability versus Students Responsibility

In this modern age of technology that changed the  way teachers teach in the class, and how students are retaining  course  content, the question is raised  as to  who should be held accountable for students’ academic success or failure? It was once the educators’ duty to ensure that the knowledge we hold be passed onto the hungry minds of students. This process of teaching is referred to as the “Banking Concept,” a phrase that Paul Freire discussed. This method of instruction is where the teachers deposit information into the students’ minds, then leads to them using memorization of information in a specific chronological order. Once upon a time, in the education system, there was no teaching to the test and the idea of Banking Education was used to ensure that students could at least remember dates, names, events and terms. This stored information which was to be applied to exams that measured the level of course comprehension and skills.

Those were the days of old.  Today the problem is culpability for our students’ lack of understanding over what is being asked of them in the classroom where the core of learning is supposed to take place.  In Adrienne Rich’s Convocation Speech delivered at Douglass College in 1977, she states that “If…education means anything beyond the processing of human beings into expected roles…through test and grades, it implies an ethical and intellectual contract between teacher and student”.  Rich statement brings us to the question of teacher accountability and student responsibility. This matter is a debate that the state continues to arguing back and forth due to our students’ failing grades on standardized test.  Nowadays, teachers are given report cards based on their classroom performance and on the percentage of students who pass or fail standardized exams. Thus, the state has redirected how course content should be taught and places heavy blame on teachers if they fail to properly prepare students. Moreover, students have been taken out of the learning equation, meaning that they are no longer held liable for their own education.

As stated by Rich “Students are no longer laying claim to what is rightfully theirs.” In other words, they have lost the sense of what they owe to themselves and replaced it with what they feel is owed to them by educators.  Basically, Students are refusing to think for themselves, therefore allowing others to dictate how they should be educated.  This releases themselves of culpability and encourages using teachers as scapegoats for the reason as to why this nation is turning out poorly prepared students.  Parents have also jumped on the band wagon of holding teachers accountable for Johnny not knowing how to read. The parents who are crying foul are the same parents who do not attend PTA meetings, fail to show up at teacher parent conference, and even worst, they do not take the time to sit with their children to assist with homework. Moreover, they feel as others do; it is solely the teacher’s duty to educate their children because that is what the state pays them teachers to do. As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The same can be said for educating our children. Pointing fingers, passing the buck and playing the blame game is not going to solve the problem of balancing students responsibilities and teachers culpability in such a  highly technology advanced society.