Posts Tagged ‘funding equity’

COVID Crises Causing Collapse of College Majors, Grad Schools… and Main Street Businesses in College Towns

October 27, 2020 Leave a comment

The NYTimes Shawn Hubler describes the devastating impact of COVID on college campuses across the country in “Colleges Slash Budgets in the Pandemic with “Nothing Off Limits“, her article that appeared in today’s newspaper. But as a key paragraph in the article notes, many colleges were already on shaky ground:

Even before the pandemic, colleges and universities were grappling with a growing financial crisis, brought on by years of shrinking state support, declining enrollment, and student concerns with skyrocketing tuition and burdensome debt. Now the coronavirus has amplified the financial trouble systemwide, though elite, well-endowed colleges seem sure to weather it with far less pain.

“We have been in aggressive recession management for 12 years — probably more than 12 years,” Daniel Greenstein, chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, told his board of governors this month as they voted to forge ahead with a proposal to merge a half-dozen small schools into two academic entities.

Under-enrolled and underfunded state colleges are taking the biggest hits because they typically enroll students who do not have the resources to attend a private college and lack endowments that might make it possible to backfill lost tuition income or the added burdens that colleges are assuming during the pandemic. As Ms. Hubler notes:

The American Council on Education and other higher education organizations estimated that the virus would cost institutions more than $120 billion in increased student aid, lost housing fees, forgone sports revenue, public health measures, learning technology and other adjustments.

Sadly, but unsurprisingly, liberal arts programs and colleges that serve low income students are suffering the most.

Most of the suspensions are in social sciences and humanities programs where the universities — rather than outside funders such as corporations, foundations and the federal government — typically underwrite the multiyear financial aid packages offered to doctoral students. University officials say the suspensions are necessary to ensure their strapped budgets can continue supporting students already in Ph.D. pipelines….

As it is, the pandemic has had an outsize impact on less affluent students: A survey of 292 private, nonprofit schools released this month by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities reported a nearly 8 percent decrease in enrollment among students who receive federal Pell Grants.

And in the aggregate, these budget cuts have resulted in the loss of roughly 300,000 jobs— from administrators to janitors and far too many professors! And the cuts will have a ripple effect beyond the employment of those on campus. In Hanover NH where I live, the partial closure of Dartmouth’s campus has resulted in the closure of several restaurants and small businesses who depended on college students, weekend visits from parents and alumni, and college employees to keep them afloat. And I know that the threatened closure of one of Vermont’s small campuses sent shock waves through the community it would impact.

We DO need institutions that provide opportunities for learning…. one of the questions that will face us in the coming years is whether those institutions should be traditional colleges or some new form of learning.

AOC’s Rejoinder to POTUS’s Taunt is Perfect

October 27, 2020 Leave a comment

NYS Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC as she is known by her supporters, headline writers, and adversaries, showed her political savvy and wit with a rejoinder to taunting by the President. As reported in today’s The Hill, At a recent rally in central PA the POTUS insinuated that AOC never went to college by mockingly asking if she really attended. Here’s is her adept response:

“I could say yes, but who cares?” she tweeted. “Plenty of people without college degrees could run this country better than Trump ever has.”

Ocasio-Cortez said she has hired people without degrees “who have done incredible, effective, & strategic work.”

“The more college costs soar, the more degrees become a measure [of] privilege than competence,” she tweeted. “Our country would be better off if we made public colleges tuition-free & cancelled student loan debt.”

Some politicians would ignore the public taunting and others might post their transcripts on line and dare the President to do the same. But AOC’s response was better. It not only dismissed the POTUS’s bogus charge but also appealed to the majority of voters who didn’t have the privilege of having their parents pay for college and the thousands of students who are saddled with debt. A trifecta!

Upbeat Article on Virtual Learning Overlooks Several Obstacles that MUST Be Addressed for it to Work Universally

October 23, 2020 Leave a comment

Freelance writer Amanda Woytus’ JSTOR upbeat post, “Does Virtual Learning Work for Every Student?“, overlooks several elements of virtual learning that are very problematic. That’s too bad because many of the ideas she presents could be applied universally if the gaping holes in her analysis were addressed. But by overlooking them, she ends up with an article that reads like it was written by a shill for technology corporations.

Roughly half of Ms. Woytus’ generally favorable analysis focuses on the benefits of the flipped classroom, whose efficacy is generally supported by research but whose applications are largely at the secondary or post-secondary level. Ms. Woytus also bases some of her analysis on the Calvert School, a 231 student private secondary school in Baltimore, MD. Finally, much of Ms. Woytus’ analysis is based on mathematics, a course that lends itself to the hierarchical scaffolding that virtual learning does best. By basing her analysis on these three elements, Ms. Woytus misses four of virtual learning’s gaping holes: teaching primary students; teaching subjects that are not hierarchical but rely primarily on interactions with other students; reaching children who are unfamiliar with technology; and reaching children who are unable to get technology.

I am learning from the experience of tutoring my 8-year old grandson in mathematics that it is imperative that the teacher be able to look over the shoulder at the work of children as they develop their basic skills. There are ways this could be accomplished, but the software being used by the schools needs to bake this kind of instruction in.

Mathematics, science, grammar, and other hierarchical content is easy to convert to virtual learning… but the facilitated discussions that result from a master teacher’s analysis of a poem, a piece of music, or a thoughtful video or movie cannot be easily replicated on line, especially if “efficiency” is the ultimate goal and, as Ms. Woytus suggests, standardized test scores are the ultimate metric. Without the opportunity to engage in discussion the learning opportunities are greatly diminished.

The inability of students to use technology easily is related to the students’ access to technology, and several posts on this blog and several articles in multiple national publications decry the lack of access to technology among rural students and poor urban students. This issue of inequity is completely by-passed in this article. I believe it should be mentioned in ANY assessment of the universal use of technology since it is an obstacle that CAN be surmounted IF funding for broadband access and computer hardware and software was a national priority.

As noted above and in some posts on this blog, the flipped classroom has promise and hierarchical content can be delivered very effectively online. Their promise of remote learning as universal means of instruction, though, can only be realized if the inherent obstacles mentioned above are addressed.