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Dave Granlund | Local budgets and services / CagleCartoons.com

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Learning by Degrees

If even a professionally oriented college degree is no longer a guarantee of easily found employment, an argument might be made in favor of a student’s pursuing an education that is less, rather than more, pragmatic.

Rebecca Mead, New Yorker Magazine

A member of the Class of 2010—who this season dons synthetic cap and gown, listens to the inspirational words of David Souter (Harvard), Anderson Cooper (Tulane), or Lisa Kudrow (Vassar), and collects a diploma—need not be a statistics major to know that the odds of stepping into a satisfying job, or, indeed, any job, are lower now than might have been imagined four long years ago, when the first posters were hung on a dorm-room wall, and having a .edu e-mail address was still a novelty. Statistically speaking, however, having an expertise in statistics may help in getting a job: according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, graduates with math skills are more likely than their peers in other majors to find themselves promptly and gainfully employed.

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The safest of all degrees to be acquiring this year is in accounting: forty-six per cent of graduates in that discipline have already been offered jobs. Business majors are similarly placed: forty-four per cent will have barely a moment to breathe before undergoing the transformation from student to suit. Engineers of all stripes—chemical, computer, electrical, mechanical, industrial, environmental—have also fared relatively well since the onset of the recession: they dominate a ranking, issued by Payscale.com, of the disciplines that produce the best-earning graduates. Particular congratulations are due to aerospace engineers, who top the list, with a starting salary of just under sixty thousand dollars—a figure that, if it is not exactly stratospheric, is twenty-five thousand dollars higher than the average starting salary of a graduate in that other science of the heavens, theology.

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Putting Our Brains on Hold

 

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The world leadership qualities of the United States, once so prevalent, are fading faster than the polar ice caps.

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We once set the standard for industrial might, for the advanced state of our physical infrastructure, and for the quality of our citizens’ lives. All are experiencing significant decline.

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The latest dismal news on the leadership front comes from the College Board, which tells us that the U.S., once the world’s leader in the percentage of young people with college degrees, has fallen to 12th among 36 developed nations.

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Philadelphia grooms future teachers at Parkway West High School

by Sarah Burgess - The Notebook

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Leon Sullivan's teaching internship at Parkway West's Urban Education Academy has taught him many lessons.

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Among them: "You've got to be patient and understanding. You can't let what they say get to you. You've got to be willing to go back over some things. (And) when kids act a certain type of way, you don't get into a confrontation, you go to the source."

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Sullivan, 18, along with 64 classmates, spends two hours, four days a week in classrooms at nearby elementary schools.

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The two-year-old internship program is proving a successful way to turn students on to teaching.

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Brockton, MA: Pink slips for 430 teachers

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  • If there's any question about the reasons for these massive cuts in education, read John Marion's report against the backdrop of Barack Obama's military budget for 2010 of nearly $1 Trillion. The monetary cost of the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq this year will add $200-$250 million to the $1 trillion already spent on the wars in these two countries. If that isn't enough to explain why the education of children is being sacrificed by the United States government, one only has to refer to the taxpayer bailouts of the banks and corporations. - Les Blough, Editor, Axis of Logic
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  • Budget Woes Hit Nation's Schools Hard and Harder
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John Marion, Axis of Logic

Heather Bastio, 16, carries a sign in support of striking teachers in Aliso Viejo, Calif. The majority of the district's teachers struck after the school board slashed their pay 10.1 percent last month (June, 2009). (Orange County Register)

Brockton Public Schools last Thursday (July 29) sent out pink slips to 430 teachers, more than a third of the school system’s 1,200 teaching staff. The drastic move is the result of a budget gap of $9.7 million for next year and is closely tied to projected cuts in local aid provided by the state of Massachusetts.

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In a letter posted on the district’s website, School Superintendent Matthew Malone described the move as “one of the darkest days our school system has ever seen.” The school district has approximately15,000 K-12 students in 20 schools.

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Budget Woes Hit Nation's Schools Hard and Harder, Rita Giordano and Edward Colimore, Philadelphia Enquirer, in Axis of Logic
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned Congress of a "catastrophe unfolding across this country" in the form of stripped-down state budgets that imperil 100,000 to 300,000 education jobs.

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What's Wrong With the American University System

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  • The Best and the Brightest Led America Off a Cliff
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  • Higher ed should aspire to higher purpose
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  • Teaching to Student's, Not Industry's, Needs
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Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, TheAtlantic.com

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Will Shapira

Holt/Times Books

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Andrew Hacker, who is professor emeritus at Queens College in New York, recalls the day a young political scientist walked into his department to interview for a job. Everything about the man's resume made him an ideal candidate. He was finishing his dissertation at a top university. His mentors had written effusive recommendations. But when the young superstar sat down with the department chair, he seemed to have only one goal: to land a tenure-track position that involved as many sabbaticals and as little teaching as possible. He was not invited back for a second interview.

Hacker and his coauthor, New York Times writer Claudia Dreifus, use this cautionary tale to launch their new book, a fierce critique of modern academia called Higher Education? "The question mark in our title," they write, "is the key to this book." To their minds, little of what takes place on college campuses today can be considered either "higher" or "education." They blame a system that favors research over teaching and vocational training over liberal arts. Tenure, they argue, does anything but protect intellectual freedom. And they'd like to see graduates worrying less about their careers, even if it means spending a year behind the cash register at Old Navy.

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The Best and the Brightest Led America Off a Cliff, Chris Hedges, TruthDig.com

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  • Those who defy the system—people like Ralph Nader—are branded as irrational and irrelevant. These elite universities have banished self-criticism. They refuse to question a self-justifying system. Organization, technology, self-advancement and information systems are the only things that matter.
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Higher ed should aspire to higher purpose, Charles Neerland, StarTribune | MN
Graduates need to calculate and compute. But let's make sure they can ponder and dream, too.

Teaching to Student's, Not Industry's, Needs, Rebecca Bauer, English Teacher, St. Paul Central High School, in Minnesota 2020
How pressures from No Child Left Behind and standardized testing have sapped the exploration and creativity out of teaching.  

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