Archive for ‘Higher Education’

August 31, 2011

Match.com For College

by Vince

Considering college and want the best fit for you? Here is ConnectEDU:

This won’t just help the brightest, most driven kids. Bad matching is a problem throughout higher education, from top to bottom. Among all students who enroll in college, most will either transfer or drop out. For African American students and those whose parents never went to college, the transfer/dropout rate is closer to two-thirds. Most students don’t live in the resource-rich, intensely college-focused environment that upper-middle-class students take for granted. So they often default to whatever college is cheapest and closest to home. Tools like ConnectEDU will give them a way to find something better.

August 27, 2011

Where Poverty Comes From

by Vince

A very interesting story:

Seth Masket effectively exposed the logical fallacy of French’s argument, but I want to point out the harmful nature of the argument itself.

I worked hard and got a good education, yet I am poor. I have no money and haven’t worked in years, and if it weren’t for my parents letting me stay with them I would be homeless. The notion that poor people are just lazy isn’t new. People have been asserting that Randian trope for years. French adds a claim that religious attendance (if this were true, Nigeria should be an economic superpower) and moral depravity are also to blame.

The problem with this argument is that I believed it.

It may seem obvious to others that someone who completed an undergraduate double major in three years and graduated from a top ten law school can’t really be described as “lazy” but it took *years* of therapy before I could even contemplate the idea that it wasn’t my fault, I am not lazy or a bad person, but that I am suffering from depression. It is still sometimes difficult for me to accept that this isn’t my fault, but French seems to have no problem assigning that blame.

I wonder how this affects other people who are living in poverty. It seems like if you tell people that they are poor because they are lazy and immoral, the message that you’re sending is that there is no hope. Unless you believe that the poor have just decided that they would prefer to be lazy and depraved and they can wake up one day and simply choose to become virtuous hardworking citizens.

I started receiving food assistance last December after hearing about the program from a neighbor. My parents would be struggling financially even if they weren’t paying for my therapy and medication, so I figured it would help a lot if they didn’t have to feed me as well. I get $200 a month which can only be used to buy unprepared food. A few days after I started receiving this I happened to hear my state’s new House Speaker, Jase Bolger, talking about plans to limit the program I had just joined. He made it clear that he was doing this to *help* people on assistance:

“Michigan should help its citizens break the cycle of dependency, not create one for them,” Bolger said.

Really? $200 a month for food is going to create a cycle of dependency? People would go out and get a job but they just don’t want to give up that free six and a half dollars a day of food? The minimum wage in Michigan is $7.40/hr, and you think people are not working because you’re giving them less than that a day in food assistance? If there really are people with such an epic level of laziness I would suggest that the threat of starvation will not magically turn them into hardworking, moral citizens.

I like capitalism. I believe it is very effective and I value the freedom that it brings. But free markets are not bags of pixie dust that can be sprinkled on all of societies problems, and all of the failures of the market cannot be blamed on the moral failings of the less fortunate.

H/T: The Dish

July 5, 2011

A Profile in Stupidity

by cpmy3rs

Eastern Michigan University has a problem. A former student who felt that her Christian faith prevented her from providing counseling services to a gay male student who sought them was removed from the program and subsequently sued. Although the Federal Courts which have heard the matter thus far have ruled in favor of EMU, a bipartisan team of legislators are fighting to allow future Julea Ward’s the right to discriminate against whoever they wish — without having to worry about pesky institutional sanctions — so long as counseling that individual ran contrary to a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”

Now, this concern for the moral conscience of college students is admirable. There are, however, a number of questions which it raises. The one of the most import, however, is about the role that an individual’s personal faith should be allowed to play when they are crafting legislation for the public. It is therefore worth observing the exchange that State Senator Hunter, who is black, had with reporters following the unveiling of the legislation:

Asked if a white nationalist who was an adherent of a brand of Christianity called Christian Identity would be allowed to invoke their sincerely held religious beliefs to refuse to counsel a person of color, Hunter replied, “No. That is where I draw the line.

“You pose a scenario that some one could suggest that’s like being discriminated against because of sexuality,” said Hunter. “When I believe that there is a moral value, what I believe, that is one thing. To say that, you know, that sexuality is on the same level as an issue of racism, that is a debate we need to have.”

Hunter said the Bible prohibits homosexual activity but does not support racism. Asked if under his scenario he weren’t setting universities and colleges up to be the arbitrators of which religious values were and were not valid, Hunter said, “No.”

As we can see, when individuals legislate based on their personal moral sentiments rather than on the merits of an individual issue, we obtain some rather absurd arguments based on nothing but self-interest. If the principle at stake is the right of individuals to make moral judgments about the activities of their peers based on their personal understanding of their own religion, then why isn’t our principled State Senator on the side of the bigots who are bigoted against him? Is it, perhaps, because in his own heart he shares their sentiments?

This is not to say that public policy debates should entertain the sort of laissez-faire moral relativism of which many of the secular persuasion are so frequently accused. It is rather to assert that, when making policy in the public sphere, an individual is required — for the sake of the legitimacy of the system — to make arguments which are more satisfying than “because my Bible/Qur’an/Talmud/etc told me so.” This is for a simple reason: Legislation concerns a great number of individuals who hold contrary theological beliefs. These individuals are also a part of the polity. To alienate them from its laws is to assert that, rather than governing based on the rights of citizens, the government has the right to govern based on the simple right of power alone. I can hardly think of a more unAmerican principle.

June 4, 2011

Charts on College

by Vince

Ezra Klein provides some points on the above and below:

The bottom line, however, is that fewer than 5 percent of workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher are unemployed, while more than 14 percent of those who haven’t finished high school are unemployed. You really want to bet that there’s nothing causal going on there?

I know of maybe one friend (and many more people I knew of in college) who shouldn’t have gone to college, but we should remember this:

This seems like evidence that students are being ill-served by the cultural stereotype of college as a period of enjoyment and exploration that precedes entry into the “real world.” College, rather, is a period of preparation for the real world, and if you don’t take it as such, the real world can make you pay and pay big.

June 3, 2011

Best Cities for Recent Graduates

by Vince

The Daily Beast has a list:

According to The Daily Beast’s second annual ranking of the best cities for recent college graduates, many of American’s most livable cities for those seeking low rents, cheap eats, good job prospects, and decent pay are not the traditional destinations of New York City or Los Angeles. Austin has a huge rental market, Savannah is packed with those in their early 20s, and Seattle bears a boast-worthy cost of living. In general, it seems grads should try to unpack their bags in the South, where cost of living is low, job growth is strong, and average earnings are high.

To put together the list of the top towns for recent graduates, we looked at the cities through the lens of the basics of quality of life: housing, employment, affordability, and relationships. The cities that land among the top 25 have relatively low unemployment, high average salary per capita, a low cost of living, a high portion of housing units devoted to rental properties, and a large population between ages 22 and 24. Figures were drawn from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, C2Er, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Census.

Corpus Christi, TX comes in 14th:

Population: 416,095
Percent of population between age 22-24: 4.3%
Cost of Living Index: 91.3
Percent of housing units for rental: 37%
Unemployment rate: 7.9
Average per-capita personal income: $36,558

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June 2, 2011

Fearing Saul Alinsky

by Vince

It is almost a daily occurrence that Glenn Beck pontificates about the downfall of the world and how Saul Alinsky is partly behind it. Steven Taylor did some digging in a handful of academic online databases and found the following:

I tried the flagship journal of the discipline, the American Political Science Review for articles, full text, and “Alinksy” and got back 3 results (1946, 1968 and 1969).  Keep in mind the APSR is indexed back over a century on JSTOR.

Other major journals that I bothered with:

American Journal of Political Science: 1 (from 2002).

Perspective on Politics:  2 (2004 and 2006).

Journal of Politics:  2 (form 1974 and 1975).

If you search all 116 political science titles for “Alinsky” (without checking to see if they refer to Saul Alinsky specifically) one gets a whopping 55 article.  A search of “Saul Alinsky” in full-text article for the 116 journals in question gives me 38 hits, while “Alinsky, Saul” gives me 7.

Towering figure, indeed.

And this is the guy who supposedly is the kingmaker for indoctrinating the liberal intelligentsia at our universities and urban centers?

May 26, 2011

Quote of the Day IV

by Vince

“They can participate in debates, or in ongoing series of speeches. Being tapped as commencement speaker is different. There is no debate, no opportunity for meaningful dialogue, in these cases. And the university is granting an honor, not just hosting a forum. If Boehner ever said in public that nobody has any obligation to help the poor, and persisted in saying so after pastoral attention, then it would be wrong for Catholic universities to have him give commencement speeches.

I suspect that liberal Catholics would call for disinvitations in such a circumstance. Maybe the reason they didn’t this time is that at some level they realize that what Boehner has done isn’t at all equivalent to a violation of Church teaching.”

Ramesh Ponuru on Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner speaking at Catholic Universitites commencement and the uproar surrounding the clash between the Catholic ideals of helping the poor and Boehner’s support of Paul Ryan’s budget plan (which was voted down yesterday in the Senate) that proposed major cuts in programs and support for the poor, for women, and for children while giving billions of dollars in tax cuts to the rich and various corporations.

May 24, 2011

10 Epic Commencement Speakers

by Vince

GOOD magazine has a list:

3. J.K. Rowling, Harvard University, 2008: In her speech, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination,” Rowling reflects on her experience writing herself out of poverty. She told graduates about the benefits of failure, saying, “failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.”

May 16, 2011

Denzel Washington at UPenn Commencement

by Vince

This was today:

April 15, 2011

Are Universities Liberal Breeding Grounds?

by Vince

Conor Friedersdorf says no:

To me, there are better explanations for the fact that “the more university education a person receives, the more likely he is to hold secular and left-wing views.” One is that people who attend college leave home. That is to say, they leave their church, the community incentives to attend it, and the watchful eye of parents who get angry or make them feel guilty when they don’t go to services or stray in their faith. Suddenly they’re surrounded by dorm mates of different faiths or no faith at all. For many of these students, it turns out that their religious behavior was driven more by desire for community, or social and parental pressure, than by deeply held beliefs. Another reason education correlates with secularism is that secularists are more likely to seek advanced degrees, partly because they’re more focused than their religious counterparts on career.

He then takes the attention off of whipping universities as being breeding grounds for the liberal intelligentsia and looking at our religious institutions:

But if four years of college undo 18 years of parenting and religious affiliation, perhaps the faith community’s tenuous hold is the problem, not the particular place outside its bubble where that hold evaporates.

April 6, 2011

Improvements in Schools and Money: What makes a difference?

by Vince

Some say that more money has not healed the epidemic known as the broken educational system in Pennsylvania (and nationwide). We shall see what impact less money has on the system in the Keystone state.

February 7, 2011

John Kuhn and Ship

by Vince

Much love.

(thanks M.M.)

January 5, 2011

The Language of Cursing

by Vince

This was a neat lecture to watch over my hot soup lunch. Enjoy!

H/T: John

November 11, 2010

Question of the Week

by Vince

Why, in your opinion, are there less visible (or truly less) college students today standing with, voting for, and or siding with the Republican party?

Email your responses to vgiordano at gmail dot com. Your responses could end up posted here!

This question was inspired by this post.