Friday, May 27, 2011

A College Conspiracy?

A growing number of people areclaiming the belief that Americans with college degrees earn $1 million more in lifetime income compared to high school graduates without a college degree is just a myth as talk surrounding the rising cost of college tuition bubble up.

The documentary, “College Conspiracy,” presented by the National Inflation Association calls for students at the University to drop out because it “just isn’t worth it” despite the majority of the population, with and without a college degree, believing otherwise.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Why Every School Should Think About Early College

It’s pretty much common knowledge that higher education can get expensive, and with recent budget cuts, tuition is skyrocketing even higher, but the public schools in Tulsa, Oklahoma seem have part of that solution.

The “Early College” program is a partnership of Tulsa Public Schools and Tulsa Community College. Hey cater to individuals like 15-year-old Sandra Escalante who has a dream to go off to college in the future.

“I was going to go to Booker T. Washington but I got a call one week before school started. What drew me in is well; I want to be a lawyer. That we could leave here with two years’ of college credits would get me that much closer,” said Escalante, a high school freshman to Tulsa World News.

The Early College program hopes to bring the opportunity for students to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree cutting out two years of tuition and focusing on the upper division courses after graduation.

postsecondary education is pretty much essential for financial and personal freedom in today’s economy. A four-year college graduate earns two-thirds more than a high school graduate does, and an Associate’s degree translates into earnings significantly higher than those earned by an individual with a high school diploma alone.

For every 100 low-income students who start high school, only 65 will get a high school diploma and only 45 will enroll in college. Only 11 will complete a postsecondary degree according to a National Educational Longitudinal Study.

Such data calls for essential interventions to increase the number of low-income young people obtaining postsecondary credentials. A change in education policies and practices are needed to ensure that more young people earn the postsecondary credentials that are crucial to their individual economic security as well.

Why not guarantee a necessary education for the future of America, cut costs and save time for growth and progress in our society and ensure these students viability of our nation’s economy?

Focusing On What Is Pertinent

What was once the great equalizer that opened doors for anyone wanting to better themselves and that bridged racial, social, economic, and geographic divides is now waning in its availability for the masses.

College tuition in many states is on the rise lately, and if further cuts to education take place, every college bound student should just get ready to kiss their shot at financing their education goodbye.

Young students attempting to chasing their dreams and trying to reach their goals primarily depend on the cost of higher education, but when tuition keeps rising every year, how can anyone afford to go to school.

Combining loans, grants, income from family members and hoping that they can pay for some of their college costs are the tactics that students have to go through every year, and it’s just getting worse all of the time.

The Institutional Research Program at the University of California in Los Angeles reported in their annual Freshman Survey that of the 62 percent whose choice was affected by the economy, 55 percent are at their first-choice college, compared with 69 percent of those not affected by the economy. The affected students are more likely to be living at home or attending college close to home. Fourteen percent of them report major concerns about financing their education.

As a college student today, I hear the stories about how everyone is just trying to make it from semester to semester. Students end up picking up part time jobs at fast food stops and commercial retailers in the attempt to pay for expensive books and the ever increasing insanely high tuition.

Many other students end up at two-year colleges or no college at all, because of concerns about costs. Two-thirds of the students who do happen to get into four-year universities collect debt up to their eyeballs and spend years after graduation trying to pay it all off.

We tell our youth that education is the way to go all the time, because for the most part it’s completely true if you want to achieve some sort of success. The problem is that we give them advice that is leading to a steadily unobtainable goal.

My full concern isn’t about whether or not I’m on the waitlist for half of my classes, although class unavailability due to budget cuts in the education department are impeding on graduation rates, but that the majority of the American population can’t even get into the colleges in the first place solely because of financial problems.

You might say that financial aid would cover the costs for college if you don’t have enough money, but that isn’t always so for the middle class. The middle class often suffers the most suffering from an average $30,000 upon graduation from loan collection.

A lot of middle class families haven’t been told that The American Opportunity Tax Credit, a recently renewed item in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Art, allows Illinois families a credit of up to $2,500 per student on their 2009 and 2010 tax returns. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, less than half of eligible Illinois families claimed the credit on their 2009 taxes. As for the rest of the middle class in America, we’re just screwed.

Our government is not helping anyone out by making it so the future generation can’t take care of themselves let alone the aging part of the population. The last time I checked, you need a college degree to become a physician. I wouldn’t want to completely run out of those.

Reposted via So Educated.

What Will It Be, Taxes Or Cuts?

Ted Rall / For the L.A. Times
I was reading an article on Mercury News aboutGov. Jerry Brown's plan to extend taxes and the$1.4 billion in higher education cuts that he also proposed when I came across this line within the text,

“Before a hearing at the Capitol Monday, California State University Chancellor Charles Reed said Brown told him and UC President Mark Yudoff ‘if this doesn't pass, we'll come back and cut more.’”

Right now, even before the proposed $1.4 billion cut, higher education in California is already struggling to keep afloat with what little they have. It took me two years to get into a pre-requisite English class at Cal Poly Pomona and I have met so many sixth and seventh year students on campus that my current intension of graduating in four years seems a little farfetched.

We have a $25 billion deficit sitting on our shoulders in California and smiles, confetti and wishing it all away won’t fix this problem.

There is a need for a two-thirds vote from both legislative houses to put the revenues up for a vote in June. If this doesn’t pass, the cuts would double, and anyone looking for that pre-requisite English class at Cal Poly Pomona should just give up hope of ever being able to get in.

Both Reed and Yudoff tried to avoid tuition increases for this year, but if the tax extension fails, students will have to fork up another arm and a leg to cover the costs.

I just really hope that the people of California can get to the point where we can accept the raising of taxes and leave higher education alone. California's colleges have suffered more than enough already.

The $1.4 Billion Budget Cut For Higher Education

Monday, Jan. 10, Governor Jerry Brown released his proposed budget calling for a $1.4 billion reduction in state funding for California’s higher education system to help combat the $25.4 billion budget gap for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The plan also includes a $1 billion cut for the UC and CSU system as well as $432.5 million in cuts to the state's community college system while increasing the price per unit from $26 to $36.

The California State University system has experienced severe cuts in recent years. Brown believes that these budget cuts to our state’s higher education system will be fully sustained on his plan.

Brown believes higher education, unlike health care services, is an easy place to cut because it's not tied up in federal mandates, but history seems to be repeating itself from Brown’s first governorship, from 1975 to 1983, where he cut funding for California’s Universities before.

The situation makes it difficult for lawmakers to both fix the deficit and keep all of the state’s programs funded without added revenue from increased taxes. Many California citizens want the lawmakers to pull money from where it doesn’t exist and fix the deficit, but we can't keep cutting higher education.

For many decades California was the state envied by others for its three-tiered system of higher education as a model for affordability and academic excellence. The Master Plan for Higher Education opened college to all state residents and helped the state grow both technologically and economically. But the devastating economic downturn has forced California to make harsh cuts to services such as education to resolve a large budget deficit.

I just hope that the people of California can get to the point where we can accept the raising of taxes and leave higher education alone. California's colleges has suffered enough already.

How Do We Fund Higher Education?

If you ask recently appointed chair of the House Higher Education Subcommittee, North Carolina Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx, about how we should fund higher education, she would say that it shouldn’t be publicly funded.

“If it can’t prove the worth of a program, then it needs to examine itself,” Foxx told the Chronicle of Higher Education. “Wherever taxpayer dollars are being spent, there has to be accountability.”

This view on education is actually a surprise for me. How can someone who actual received her education credentials, taught English and sociology before leaving the classroom for a career as a college administrator and then eventually head of a community college suddenly sweep the problems concerning education under the rug?

In 2009, Foxx was known for making other extremely shocking comments. “I don’t think the measure of success of a community college is always graduation. Many times, all people need to learn is a skill and perhaps get certification in an area.” Come on, really Virginia?

Foxx also opposes to student loan reform, which the Obama administration passed last year and is obviously not on board for Obama’s plan for community colleges to produce five million more graduates with degrees or certificates by 2020.

This woman is in love with for-profit colleges, has denied in the past that Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming who was killed in 1998, was the victim of a hate crime, and sometime between years of encouraging students to graduate and become successful individuals and not caring if the generation of tomorrow knows how to read, she apparently lost her mind and only thought about money.

But now that we have entered into a world where a college education is the key for survival, a semi-non-profit view on the way we fund and provide higher education for the masses should be looked into. Educating the future leaders of America will only help in the long run.

How Much Should College Tuition Be?

Lately it feels like The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, that was supposed to have invested heavily in education both as a way to provide jobs now and lay the foundation for long-term prosperity, isn’t really working out for California College students.

Recently, all 23 California State University campuses have been burdened with the news of receiving a 15.5 percent jump in tuition (5 percent for the spring 2011 semester and another 10 percent for the fall), after CSU officials approved the increase to compensate for state budget shortfalls.

The increase in tuition will result in the average undergraduate student paying $654 more for an annual cost of $4,884 in 2011-2012. The raise in tuition is said to add an additional $175 million annually to the CSU system.

A third of that revenue is planned to be set aside for financial aid. But when college tuition has already proved itself to be unaffordable for students in the first place, why did the California State University Board of Trustees approve the fee hike for all CSU campuses?

At times, it really seems as though college students are being deterred from graduating our universities. Despite expanded federal aid including tax credits, veterans' benefits, and a record expansion of the Pell Grant program for low-income students, college affordability still appears unattainable.

As tuition has crept higher over the years, federal aid has actually lowered. The maximum Pell Grant covers just 34 percent of the average cost of attending a public four-year college, which has gone down from 45 percent two decades ago causing students to either apply for school loans or shell tuition out of their own pockets.

The only students who seem to be okay with the rate they pay for their tuition are some illegal immigrants.

The Supreme Court of California have recently made the decision to uphold AB 540, also known as the DREAM Act, a state law allowing students who attend high school in California for at least three years and graduate to pay in-state tuition at California public colleges and universities. This includes non-residents and some undocumented immigrants.

There has already been a decline in the number of American students who are refusing to pay out-of-state tuition and instead going to college closer to home. The decrease in students paying out of state tuition has reduced the number of applicants that are admitted and has in return added to the need for the raise in tuition for everyone else. Having illegal immigrants paying in-state-tuition currently only further hurts the UC and CSU budget crisis.

The problem is not that these undocumented immigrants are attending California universities, but it is that they are rewarded by paying in-state-tuition while legal citizens who want to go to school in a different state or country are mandated to pay out-of-state tuition.

I do believe that education should be available to everyone. On average, college degree holders earn more and have a better chance at getting hired for various positions. But I also am aware of the budget crisis that we have for our colleges and universities. And though it may sound cruel, I don’t think it’s fair that tuition for legal U.S. students keeps rising while illegal students get to pay less than other equally hard working students who are coming elsewhere to earn a college education.

Originally posted on So Educated.

Let's Put Education First

A report reveals the state of our education system in California.

One of the many goals Obama has set to achieve while in office was to substantially boost college completion rates by 2020. But after looking at a statewide report on California’s community colleges, it seems as though our students will fall short.

According to the report, “Something’s Got to Give,” large portions of our students at community colleges enter the system unprepared. The report, commissioned by the state community college chancellor’s office, questions the effectiveness of remedial education in the 112 colleges reviewed.

It’s just a scary fact to know as a college student myself that of the 2.9 million people in the California system in 2008-2009, that only about one in 13 transferred to a four-year institution or earned an associate’s degree or vocational certification that year, according to the report.

All of this doesn’t exactly sound too promising for the state of our education system. Obviously there is something going on in the k-12 education system that is not being done to prepare students for colleges and universities.

It’s important that we take all levels of our education system seriously. Holding higher standards for our students once they have already reached the university level isn’t the best way to prepare our next generation for the future. It’s not just their future that is affected by budget cuts and how we instruct our students in the classroom; it also affects both our state’s future and our nation as a whole.

Five Years After The Storm

It’s been 5 years since the flood waters ravished the streets of Louisiana. Hurricane Katrina had destroyed homes, damaged landmarks and left the city in disarray and despair. New Orleans at one point, seemed to have been lost to the storm, but after the waters receded, a ray of hope emerges.

Before the hurricane the schools in New Orleans was deemed unsatisfactory by the locals as. Cash-strapped and under-performing, education sat on the back burner. From 2000 to 2004, enrollment in the schools declined from 77, 610 to 64,920 and an increasing amount of people were dropping out altogether.

In 2005, the state of Louisiana deemed 64 percent of the city’s schools “academically unacceptable. But when Katrina hit at the end of August 2005, the city was wiped clean of its students and teachers as they were forced to evacuate. And in November, the Legislature expressed an emergency session to give the state the authority to take over the school’s districts it considered to be “academically in crisis.”

The “Recovery School District” was then instituted taking 1-7 under-performing Orleans Parish public schools in the city under the states control. Private organizations converted the ailing schools into charter schools and left 16 schools that performed above the state average standard before Katrina.

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Today the schools have greatly improved as the Cowen Institute recently reported that just 42 percent of New Orleans schools are “academically unacceptable.” This is wonderful news seeing as the numbers went down from 64 percent from before Katrina.

Education in the Big Easy dramatically improved despite the horrific disaster. The rebuilding of 85 schools damaged during the hurricane acts as a symbol of faith in the next generation’s future. And it just goes to show that good things can come out of a bad situation.

America's Future Is Suffering

America is suffering both economically and academically, and as our government tries to fix our economy at the state level, their proposed budget cuts are causing major problems with schools all over the country. At the college level various majors are being dropped all together, tuition is being raised to unimaginable amounts and classes are being cut across every campus. This trend has even trickled down to the k-12 level as well with physical education classes and music programs becoming ancient history.

I'm really worried about the future of my generation. How is it that we are expected to run the country with the lack of knowledge available to us? There are so many kids out there that would kill to go to college, get an education and find a decent job, but because education is thrown on the back burner every kid in America is screwed.

Just recently Kansas City school officials promised Thursday to shut down nearly half the district's schools by the start of classes in the fall without offering details of how they intend to implement the complicated plan in just a matter of months.

The drastic project also calls for cutting hundreds of jobs and shuffling thousands of students. They have said that the changes are needed to keep the district from using up what little is left of the $2 billion it received as part of a groundbreaking desegregation case.

The school board on Wednesday night narrowly approved the plan that calls for closing 29 of 61 facilities, 26 traditional schools and three leased buildings that house early childhood programs. It also eliminates about 700 of 3,000 jobs and requires moving students from the shuttered buildings to other schools.

And last Thursday, hundreds of faculty and students voiced their concerns about their education in a California March 4th Statewide day of action. It was the result of the culmination of frustrations, lost opportunities, and consequences felt by the people of California due to the misprioritization of our government and the lack of resources into our education system.

This issue really does affect EVERYONE, from the older generation who will have to rely on my generation to run the country, to the generation that will come after us who we will have to teach and provide for as well. It just really sucks that our country has to come to this point. I just hope people are listening out there and that they will do something about it, and quickly.

My Biggest Issue Right Now Is Education

We now have all experienced the weight our crippled economy with the recent budget cuts for our schools, job losses and massive unemployment and issues involving health care.

And with the rumors that are going around about various departments and programs on campus being cut, students currently in school are experiencing this heavy burden now at a greater level. With students with in the mist of registering for classes, being informed that some of the majors offered at certain campuses will eventually not exist due to a lack of much needed expenses.

Already the classes in every department have been limited to the bare minimum now to the point where a number of students are left waiting for that one class that they need to graduate. Those certain classes that students are never able to register for, due to the overcrowding within the classrooms, often diminish the process of graduating on time. It saddens me to say that some departments will eventually be cut altogether.

Currently the school that is the quickest to drop departments is Cal Poly Pomona due to its very limited budget. Smaller programs such as philosophy and history are up for discussion for being cut within the budget. And even with the thought of certain departments being cut for good on campus, and at other departments being cut at other CSUs, the most disturbing news is that all of these decisions are to be finalized only within the next few weeks.

And because of this situation, in outrage, faculty and students plan a walk out at 11:30 am on November 19, 2009 according to the California Faculty Association. A teach-in sponsored by the CFA and Students for quality Education will inform the people attending the walk out on ways to fight back against this terrible situation.

The event will be located in the main quad in Pomona, and it would act as a demonstration to show that there are people who will not let this issue pass quietly about the mutilation of their university.

And despite $77.5 million being allocated to the CSU system, the budget is still having to be cut and acts such as limiting the number of units students could register during their registration period is still occurring. And the problem isn’t being fixed anytime soon. The state of California is running out of money and the CSU system is weakening by the minute.

I’m concerned to what is to become of our state’s higher education. Fewer classes, majors being cut indefinitely, and less money being available for the shape of education, have painted a grim picture for students both now and in the future.

And the fault doesn’t lie upon the students unlike how the dark anticipation of a system on the verge of collapsing looms about, nor does it drape over the faculty or the CSU system itself.

No, I believe that there are others responsible who are entitled to act and change this horrific spiraling fireball that we relay as the cutting of our education. And surely I suggest to the students to make sure that the people at fault are aware of our dreadful situation.

Is is wrong to encourage students to get an education?

"Every single one of you has something that you're good at. Every single one of you has something to offer, and you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is."

 This is what Obama told students at Wakefield High School in suburban Arlington, Va., and children watching his speech on television in schools across the country.

This speech came with controversy despite the positive message as several conservative organizations and many concerned parents warned Obama was trying to sell his political agenda. That concern was caused in part by an accompanying administration lesson plan encouraging students to "help the president," which the White House later revised.

So why is this speech considered so controversial? Many believe that with in the wake of the Health Care debate, Obama is attempting to sway the youngsters into siding with his reform. The uproar over his speech followed him across the Potomac River, as his motorcade was greeted by a small band of protesters. One carried a sign exclaiming: "Mr. President, stay away from our kids," even though Obama is not the first President to speak directly to the youth population.

I'm amazed at the fact that conservatives can make an act like encouraging youth seem so devious. Such things as discussing with students about being careful with what you post on Facebook' isn't such a horrible thing to say. 'Whatever you do, it will be pulled up again later somewhere in your life." 

And even if the President showed some signs of somehow influencing our youth for a political gain, is it so bad that he is bettering the future of our country in the process by just helping students better themselves?

Why is civic participation so important?

"Full participation in government and society has been a basic right of the country symbolizing the full citizenshipand equal protection of all."
-Charles Rangel
Democracy works best when political institutions – parties, parliaments, local government – are close to voters. This requires that voters are able to make their needs understood; elected representatives explain what they are doing to meet those needs; and mechanisms are in place to make this communication possible.

So why is programs like We the People, that encourage civic participation in the process of being cut out of the budget? Is it a sneaky attempt to hinder the future voters of America from having their own opinion on government? Or was this just mistake that should be looked at again?

Either way the budget should include the funding of programs that only help the progress of our nation and that keeps our very way of governing alive. To me this situation is very discerning to hear about. Not education the youth of today about why it is important to participate in their government will provide a disaster for the future. We seem to forget that the future of our nation will rest in the hands of a very uneducated and uniformed people if we stop the education of civic participation.

Voting is one thing, but encouraging people to find out what they are voting on is another. And when our future America falls into the deception that it is alright not to vote our government as we know it will fail. And because part of the government is the people (the states), it is important for the elected officials to fill their role and foster greater participation in order to connect the communities to each other and to the government.

Non-partisan sites that educate people on the happening of our government and our current issues do help in the matter of enlightening others and promoting civic participation, but more is needed. We need to start this education in the schools. Cutting the funding out of the budget will only make matters worse.

I what?

It's that time of year again. The graduation robes and caps are coming out, and the invitations have been sent out. All across the country college students are graduating and entering the workforce. But the big question is, Can I get the job I want in the ailing economy?

The answer is, your screwed. Thousands have been laid off while the toll of the unemployed rises presently. Graduates are scrounging around for a job and are coming up short. Graduates have been left to even move back home.

Only 43 percent of employers in a survey by online job website intended to hire new college graduates this year, down from 56 percent in 2008 and 79 percent in 2007. The site surveyed about 2,500 hiring managers and human resource officials from February 20 to March 11.

Nationally, less than 20 percent of graduating college seniors who applied for a job this year have one, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. That's down more than 30 percent from two years ago when more than half of those who applied for a job had one by the time of graduation according to Reuters.

So what's a grad to do? In order to get your foot in the door many college grads make blogs and websites for future employers to view during the interview process. Popular internet sites promote networking with different companies as well. Searching for a job during a recession isn't impossible at all. The search just requires a lot of extra work to promote yourself.

Cutting Knowledge From the Future Generation

First things first, as a Californian, it is important to know that the California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has proposed cutting public spending in almost all areas. The most important cut that has occurred was the slashing of funds that went towards education. California's public schools already trail most states in academic performance and they suffer from high dropout rates. Now they face a historic state budget deficit that is expected to force deep cuts in education funding that will lead to thousands of teacher layoffs, larger class sizes, school closures and a shortened school year.

How does this effect the students you ask? Well let me tell you what has happened to me and my fellow students in the surrounding area.

Currently things have become ridiculously insane around the Cal Poly Pomona campus as all the summer courses have been canceled and our governor attempts to cut more of the educational budget. Currently I cannot take a single summer course that I actually need due to the unavailability.

Classes during the academic year are even scarce to find as well, proof being in the fact that I still can't get into that darn English 105 course after attempting to do so for the entire first year of college! Music majors here on campus have to transfer to other schools because most of all the required courses are being cut as well.

And on the elementary school level, back in Bakersfield where I went for most of my high school career, the entire music program is being demolished from the Fruitvale school district.

So not only is the economy spiraling down the toilet, but the future generations will enter the world of business completely ignorant of all things cultural, retarded from the vital information they so desperately need to function, and so unhealthily obese because the physical education is being cut as well.
So good job govenator, you have completely destroyed the future!