Thursday, January 29, 2009

American Dream Reassessed: Relevant Education News

The American Dream seems to be undergoing some revisions. Own your own home? Maybe not. Send your kids to college. Not necessary? There have been some interesting headlines around the education world lately:
  • When the economy tanks, many head back to or choose to stay in school for more training and higher degrees in an effort to positions themselves for a better position as things improve. But,  more stories are emerging lately, with prominent figures  such as Suze Orman, that suggest perhaps a college education is not all it's cracked up to be anymore. From the cost benefit perspective, the Delta Project has tracked a trend of reduced value and devoted resources to students, even as tuition has risen. The Christian Science Monitor offers a pretty balanced look at the issue, suggesting that perhaps the model no longer applies to today's climate, and greater attention to vocational training may be in order.
  • And talk about a model that may not fit any longer, colleges aren't happy with the College Board for instituting a new policy for the SAT called Score Choice. Currently each time you take the SAT, each score is sent to the college one is applying to. Score Choice would allow students to send only their best overall score. The College Board sees it as an anxiety lowering move, while critics think it just promotes more test taking (read revenue) and another handicap for students that lack the resources to keep taking the test and getting coaching to improve performance.
  • If education indeed does lead to better mobility and equalization, the open source curriculum movement feels that education needs to be more available and free to all, globally. The "University of the People," spearheaded by an Israeli educational entrepreneur is attempting to do just that.
"The idea is to take social networking and apply it to academia," said Shai Reshef, an entrepreneur and founder of several previous Internet-based educational businesses. "The open source courseware is there, from universities that have put their courses online, available to the public, free. We know that online peer-to-peer teaching works. Putting it all together, we can make a free university for students all over the world, anyone who speaks English and has an Internet connection.
  • California has a lot going for it, but we're about to go off a financial cliff. We've been told that tax refunds are on hold indefinitely (with no interest, although if WE are late we have to pay up), and my friends and neighbors are going to school district meetings to learn just why they have to pony up more money for their "free public education" (we are expected to stock our kids' classroom supplies, pay for "elective" classes such as music, and we even teach P.E. ourselves! Oh and yes, we need to add more property taxes to make up for the budget shortfalls). Is it really all that surprising that homeschooling is on the rise?
  • I think most can agree that our funding plans for education need alot of work. For those that want to circumvent the bureaucracies  and target their money for education, allows teachers to state their needs, and donors can choose whom they fund. 
It will be interesting to see what reforms the Obama administration will make, and I'll keep my radar up for any good stuff on this front.

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