Thought for the Day: September 7, 2020

Northeastern dismissed 11 students the other day for violating COVID-19 social distancing rules.  The university dismissed them but kept their $36,500 tuition.  The elephant is the room is how did private university come to cost $50k/year (tuition plus other expenses)?  That’s a discussion in and of itself but, given that the cost is what it is, is it worth it following COVID-related changes, i.e., on-line learning, reduced interaction and limited access to campus facilities, etc.? Continue reading

Thought for the Day – July 18, 2017

I read a piece in the NYT today on “pragmatic” Democratic governors. (The NYT reporter uses “pragmatic” and “pro-corporate” interchangeably where I don’t believe it’s justified, but I digress.)  One of the governors interviewed was Steve Bulloch of Montana.  I have a favorable impression of him but that’s beside the point.  In the article, Bulloch was touting apprenticeships as an alternative to free college.  I have a favorable view of paid apprenticeships as well as tuition- and fee-free public college. Vocational training is a good thing and it’s a good thing when people can use their college education to obtain gainful employment.  That stated, it’s important not to regard college as high-level vocational training.  The greatest value of higher education isn’t that it enables better employment opportunities, it’s that it advances Enlightenment values.  Paraphrasing what I think is a spot-on description:  The purpose of education is to help people to learn on their own. It’s the learner who is going to achieve in the course of education and it’s really up to them to determine how they’re going to master and use it.  The greatest value of an education is that it fosters the impulse to challenge authority, think critically, and to create alternatives to the status quo.  (I suspect that’s why so many Republicans don’t view college favorably.)  Is college the only place where you can get that kind of education?  No, but it’s a great opportunity for you to do so if you’re so inclined.  Compared to life in the rest of the world, the barriers are low.

 

All in a day at nursery school

From the daily teacher’s email:

[Today] we read a book about how dinosaurs eat and we asked the children what they thought dinosaurs ate.  Here are their words:

[Child #1]:  Meat

[Child #2]:  Garbage and ham.

[Son]:  No, just ham.  There wasn’t any garbage back then.

 

The cost of higher education

Several months ago Mike Konczal had a piece, The [University of North Carolina] Coup and the Second Limit of Economic Liberalism.  An excerpt:

The UNC System Board of Governors voted unanimously to cap the amount of tuition that may be used for financial aid for need-based students at no more than 15 percent. With tuition going up rapidly at public universities as the result of public disinvestment, administrators have recently begun using general tuition to supplement their ability to provide aid. This cross-subsidization has been heralded as a solution to the problem of high college costs. Sticker price is high, but the net price for poorer students will be low.

This system works as long as there is sufficient middle-class buy-in, but it’s now capped at UNC. As a board member told the local press, the burden of providing need-based aid “has become unfairly apportioned to working North Carolinians,” and this new policy helps prevent that.  Iowa implemented a similar approach back in 2013. And as Kevin Kiley has reported for IHE, similar proposals have been floated in Arizona and Virginia. This trend is likely to gain strength as states continue to disinvest.

The problem for liberals isn’t just that there’s no way for them to win this argument with middle-class wages stagnating, though that is a problem. The far bigger issue for liberals is that this is a false choice, a real class antagonism that has been created entirely by the process of state disinvestment, privatization, cost-shifting of tuitions away from general revenues to individuals, and the subsequent explosion in student debt. As long as liberals continue to play this game, they’ll be undermining their chances.

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LearnEO!

LearnEO! is a creation of the European Space Agency.  From the LearnEO! website:

LearnEO! is an Earth observation education project funded by the European Space Agency. Its aim is to increase the understanding of satellite data from ESA missions and show how these can be used to tackle environmental problems in the real world.

The project will develop hands-on training resources for use primarily (but not exclusively) by teachers and students at upper high school to university level.

 

NASA Applied Remote Sensing Training

From the NASA ARSET website:

The goal of the NASA Applied Remote SEnsing Training (ARSET) is to increase the utility of NASA earth science and model data for policy makers, regulatory agencies, and other applied science professionals in the areas of Health and Air Quality, Water Resources, Eco Forecasting, and Disaster Management.

The two primary activities of this project are webinars and in-person courses. Continue reading

Animal School

Once upon a time the animals decided they must do something heroic to meet the problems of a “new world” so they organized a school. They had adopted an activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects.

The duck was excellent in swimming. In fact, better than his instructor. But he made only passing grades in flying and was very poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to stay after school and also drop swimming in order to practice running. This was kept up until his webbed feet were badly worn and he was only average in swimming. But average was acceptable in school so nobody worried about that, except the duck.

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