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Write a research paper on one of the two topics below.
Here is how your paper should be organized.
Part I: Write a three page summary of the article , clearly labeled Part I “Article Summary”
Part II: Write a five page analysis (critical thinking ). This should be clearly labeled Part II “Analysis”
CHOOSE ONE OF THE TWO TOPICS: (1) “IS COLLEGE WORTH IT” OR (2) WHO’S MINDING THE SCHOOLS”
TOPIC ONE ??" “IS COLLEGE WORTH IT”
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Question of 'Is college worth it?' weighs on local students
By JEREMY HAY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Published: Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 2:39 p.m.
Total student loan debt has soared to about $1 trillion nationwide and increasingly the question of attending college is being framed in terms someone with an MBA would use:
Is the rate of return on a college education worth it?
“Right now, no,” said Bianca Calderon, 23, a Fortuna native who graduated from Sonoma State University last week with a degree in criminal justice.
“I'm looking for a job and it's really, really hard. Especially in my field,” said Calderon, who is her family's first college graduate and now owes about $20,000 in student loans.
She considered dropping out during her junior year because of the growing debt, but decided she was already too far along to quit, and also that she couldn't disappoint her family and professors. Now, she said, she's considering getting a master's in public administration to improve her job prospects.
For years, research has shown a direct link between education and ine: the more education you have, the more money you make.
But the value of a college education is being questioned by, among others, President Ronald Reagan's education secretary, William Bennett, who thrust the issue into the national debate last month in his new book, titled “Is College Worth It?”
His answer: Not every college and not for everyone.
That's true especially, Bennett says, given the debt graduates can leave with ??" an average of $25,250 nationally ??" and the large number of American students who do not finish college.
“The return on investment is positive, we think, for about 150¬ colleges and universities, but there are about 3,000 colleges and universities,” Bennett said in a recent interview with Yahoo Finance.
'Not worth it'
Annie Nagel of Rohnert Park is working toward a veterinary technician's certificate at Santa Rosa Junior College, often used as a stepping stone to a four-year college. She also is studying anthropology, which Bennett says is an example of a major that leaves graduates without a clear path to a career.
Tuition hikes and budget cuts have led to crowded classes and made it at times impossible to get into classes she needs to graduate. So the 21-year-old has concluded: “College is not worth it.”
She doubts she will go to a four-year college, unless it specializes in canine studies, said Nagel, who works part time at a Santa Rosa dog kennel.
“I love learning and I think education is great, but I think the education system is not very great,” she said. “It's worth it to me because my parents pay for it. If I had to pay for it, it wouldn't be.”
She and her brother, who earned a business degree from Chapman University, had little choice about whether to go.
“It wasn't an option not to go to college. It was made very clear from the day they were born that they were both going,” said their mother, Molly Nagel, a special education teacher for Petaluma City Schools.
“College is the best investment anyone can make,” Molly Nagel said, “in your mind and your job opportunities and in the functioning of the world.”
Not always best path
But it may not always be the best path, according to a May report by the Brookings Institution, a centrist Washington think tank.
Fewer than 60 percent of students who enter four-year schools finish within six years, according to the report by economist Isabel Sawhill and researcher Stephanie Owen.
As well, they note, certain college degrees do not always guarantee higher lifetime earnings ??" which is often cited as a chief reason to get a college degree.
“By telling all young people that they should go to college no matter what, we are actually doing some of them a disservice,” they write.
In an interview this week, Sawhill noted that about 70 percent of munity college students do not finish within six years. The weightiest decision for prospective college students, she said, is whether they should go to college, “given one's prospects of graduating.”
“I think there are some questions we need to debate more,” she said. “We're spending a lot of money on this, and it's not at all clear what we're getting for it.”
Question too limited
But many say the question that Bennett, Sawhill and others are posing is far too limited.
“Looking only at lifetime earnings potential really diminishes the educational experience and what people should expect out of life in general,” said William Silver, dean of SSU's School of Business and Economics.
“If you go to a university that exposes you to opportunity in multiple ways, it may not be your ine potential that defines your return on investment,” he said. “How's your life? Are you happy? What do you do in your munity?”
As it happens, when it es to ine, SSU measures well. It has a 30-year net return on investment of 6.6 percent, according to a report (which Sawhill's study also drew upon) by Payscale, an online salary information firm that ranked 1,511 public and private colleges based on surveys of graduates.
Stanford University, by parison, has a 6.9 percent return on investment, the Payscale report said.
Return on investment, or ROI, calculates the amount of additional money a college graduate will earn over a 30-year period, minus the costs of attending college.
That number is then converted to a percentage that can be pared to what the graduate would have earned by investing the money.
The report shows “there is no 'one size fits all' answer,” said Payscale lead economist Katie Bardaro. “It's truly an individual choice of whether or not college is the right path for a student or prospective student to achieve their intended career goals.”
But some experts say the data used by those questioning the economic value of college are weak or inplete.
“I think the ROI analysis is so far off that even low-paying B.A. majors are still a reasonable deal financially,” said Steven Rose, senior economist at the Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workplace. “You earn $1 million more over a lifetime if you have a college degree. That makes it pretty much a no-brainer.”
Among the ROI argument's shortings, Rose said, is that the researchers calculate ine lost during school years into the return on investment. It also does not incorporate how many college graduates go onto earn graduate degrees ??" 35 percent ??" that typically lead to even higher-paying careers, he said.
Also, he said, calculations about the number of students who do not finish college within six years largely exclude students who transfer and graduate from a different school than where they started.
That means about 67 percent of people who attend college actually do graduate within six years, Rose said. And 6 percent to 7 percent of those who don't graduate from a four-year college end up getting associate degrees or technical certificates, he said.
“If he says that, he's probably right,” Sawhill said. “I think one counterpoint is that the longer it takes you to graduate, the more it's going to cost you. You're losing earnings and you're using the resources of the system longer.”
The Brookings report does acknowledge many upsides to college that it doesn't account for. Those include social benefits like less crime and more political participation and contributions to “overall well-being,” including job satisfaction, social interaction and improvements in parenting, trust and marriage.
“It's up to the individual to decide whether these non-monetary benefits are important,” Sawhill said in an interview. “I think that it's not always clear that taxpayers should be subsidizing all of those non-monetary benefits” through federal education grants and other public funding.
In Sonoma County ??" where census data show 32 percent of residents age 25 or older, or roughly 120,000 people, have bachelor's degrees or higher ??" the question has resonated among those whose job it is to guide students' educational and career choices.
“I think it's a good question for us to ask,” said Stephen Jackson, director of career development at the Sonoma County Office of Education.
“I think that it is more important nowadays given the cost of a college education and the variety of career opportunities that are out there for young people,” Jackson said.
“I don't think schools as a whole do that very well,” Jackson said. “We've been trained to sort of say, 'Lets get the kids on to four-year college,' and not pay attention to what sort of education and training would be good for what they want in a career.”
Still, the lure of traditional college remains strong and broad-based.
“It's worth it, because even though at the end of the day you're going to have to pay some loans back, it's all about networking,” said Gemma Bolaños, 19, of Sonoma, who just pleted her freshman year at SSU and is the first in her family to go to college.
“I'm almost sure I'm going to be able to get a job pretty quickly once I graduate,” said Bolaños, a criminal justice major who said friends have found work quickly after graduating.
Others say, as Silver does, the true value of their college education cannot be counted by the number of zeros on a paycheck.
“The whole point of education is to bee informed, to be able to make decisions on a moral internal level,” said Jude Rowe of Santa Rosa, who started at SRJC before moving on to SSU.
“Nobody can take that away from me,” said Rowe, who graduated last Saturday with a bachelor's degree in applied physics.
But Rowe relied on scholarships, including tuition assistance for military veterans, to get through SSU.
Parents used savings
What about those who paid for their children to go to college, like Kim Carjuzaa of Irvine? She and her husband used family savings to pay college tuition for their son Nicolas.
A business administration major, he too graduated last week from SSU, which costs $26,314 a year for students living off campus, $12,402 of that in food and housing costs.
“It was a big sacrifice to put Nicolas through school but we didn't want him to e out with a lot of debt like we did,” said Carjuzaa, an accountant.
“I don't look at this as a sure thing that he's going to be a success, because that es from who a person is as an individual,” Carjuzaa said. “I just hope that what Nicolas got out of this is some personal growth, some skills and that he will do well in a job interview.”
At Santa Rosa High School, counselor Seth Geffner said students do ask him whether college is right for them. From parents, he said, he hears concerns about the cost.
The real question, he said, should be what kind of higher education fits the student's career desires.
“I think that's a better discussion,” Geffner said. “Because it is important that everyone go on to some type of post-secondary education, but not just a four-year college.”
For Rose, the Georgetown University economist, it is clear that more college graduates is good for the nation.
“It is a system that is, at the median, giving you big rates of returns, and at the margins, giving you adequate rates of return,” he said. “Our economy values the B.A. and graduate production as being responsible for over half of all the country's earnings, and this is a system that's failing?”
You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 orjeremy..
Copyright © 2013 PressDemocrat. ??" All rights reserved. Restricted use only.
TOPIC TWO - “WHO’S MINDING THE SCHOOLS”
June 8, 2013
NEW YORK TIMES
Who’s Minding the Schools?
By ANDREW HACKER and CLAUDIA DREIFUS
IN April, some 1.2 million New York students took their first Common Core State Standards tests, which are supposed to assess their knowledge and thinking on topics such as “The Adventures
of Tom Sawyer
” and a single matrix equation in a vector variable.
Students were charged with analyzing both fiction and nonfiction, not only through multiple-choice answers but also short essays. The mathematics portion of the test included plex equations and word problems not always included in students’ classroom curriculums. Indeed, the first wave of exams was so overwhelming for these young New Yorkers that some parents refused to let their children take the test.
These students, in grades 3 through 8, are taking part in what may be the most far-reaching experiment in American educational history. By the 2014-15 academic year, public schools in 45 states and the District of Columbia will administer Common Core tests to students of all ages. (Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia have so far held out; Minnesota will use only the Common Core English test.) Many Catholic schools have also decided to implement the Common Core standards; most private, nonreligious schools have concluded that the program isn’t for them.
Many of these “assessments,” as they are called, will be more rigorous than any in the past. Whether the Common Core is called a curriculum or not, there’s little doubt that teachers will feel pressured to gear much of their instruction to this annual regimen. In the ing years, test results are likely to affect decisions about grade promotion for students, teachers’ job status and school viability.
It is the uniformity of the exams and the skills ostensibly linked to them that appeal to the Core’s supporters, like Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Bill and Melinda Gates. They believe that tougher standards, and eventually higher standardized test scores, will make America more petitive in the global brain race. “If we’ve encouraged anything from Washington, it’s for states to set a high bar for what students should know to be able to do to pete in today’s global economy,” Mr. Duncan wrote to us in an e-mail.
But will national, ramped-up standards produce more successful students? Or will they result in unintended consequences for our educational system?
By definition, America has never had a national education policy; this has indeed contributed to our country’s ambivalence on the subject. As it stands, the Common Core is currently getting hit mainly from the right. Tea Party-like groups have been gaining tractionin opposition to the program, arguing that it is another intrusion into the lives of ordinary Americans by a faceless elite. While we don’t often agree with the Tea Party, we’ve concluded that there’s more than a grain of truth to their concerns.
The anxiety that drives this criticism es from the fact that a radical curriculum ??" one that has the potential to affect more than 50 million children and their parents ??" was introduced with hardly any public discussion. Americans know more about the events in Benghazi than they do about the Common Core.
WHAT became the Common Core began quite modestly. Several years ago, many organizations, including the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, whose members are top-ranking state education officials, independently noticed that the content and scoring of high school “exit” tests varied widely between states. In 2006, for instance, 91 percent of students in Mississippi passed a mathematics exit exam on the first attempt, while only 65 percent did so in Arizona. At the same time, students’ performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress often differed from the state results.
This was not just embarrassing: it looked unprofessional. The governors and the school chiefs decided to work together to create a single set of standards and a mon grading criteria. Private funding, led by some $35 million in grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, allowed the coalition to spread its wings. Aligning tests became an opportunity to specify what every American child should know.
In 2009, an education consultant named David Coleman was retained to help develop the program, and he and other experts ended up specifying, by our count, more than 1,300 skills and standards. Mr. Coleman, a Rhodes scholar and the son of Bennington College’s departing president, is known as a driven worker as well as for his distaste for personal memoir as a learning tool. Last year, he was selected to lead the College Board, which oversees A.P. exams and the SATs.
Of course, the 45 states that have decided to implement the Common Core did so willingly. While federal agencies did not have a role in the program’s creation, the Obama administration signaled to states in 2009 that they should embrace the standards if they hoped to win a grant through the federal program known as Race to the Top.
For all its impact, the Common Core is essentially an invisible empire. It doesn’t have a public office, a board of directors or a salaried staff. Its Web site lists neither a postal address nor a telephone number.
On its surface, the case for the Common Core is pelling. It is widely known that American students score well below their European and Asian peers in reading and math, an alarming shortfall in a petitive era. According to the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment, the United States ranks 24th out of 34 countries in “mathematics literacy,” trailing Sweden and the Czech Republic, and 11th in “reading literacy,” behind Estonia and Poland. (South Korea ranks first in both categories.) Under the Common Core, students in participating states will immediately face more demanding assignments. Supporters are confident that students will rise to these challenges and make up for our country’s lag in the global education race. We are not so sure.
Students in Kentucky were the first to undergo the Common Core’s testing regimen; the state adopted the standards in 2010. One year later, its students’ scores fell across the board by roughly a third in reading and math. Perhaps one cannot blame the students, or the teachers ??" who struggle to teach to the new, behemoth test that, in some cases, surpasses their curriculums ??" for the drop in scores.
Here’s one high school math standard: Represent addition, subtraction, multiplication, and conjugation of plex numbers geometrically on the plex plane; use properties of this representation for putation. Included on New York state’s suggested reading list for ninth graders are Doris Lessing, Albert Camus and Rainer Maria Rilke. (In many parts of the country, Kurt Vonnegut and Harper Lee remain the usual fare.)
More affluent students, as always, will have parental support. Private tutoring, already a growth industry, will bee more important if passing scores on the Common Core are required for graduation. Despite worthy aims, the new standards may well deepen the nation’s social divide.
The Common Core is not oblique in its aim: to instill “college and career readiness” in every American teenager ??" in theory, a highly democratic ideal. In the past, students were unabashedly tracked, which usually placed middle-class students in academic courses and their working-class peers in vocational programs. New York City had high schools for cooking, printing and needle trades. (There was even one in Brooklyn called Manual Training.) Indeed, the aim of these schools was to prepare a slice of society for blue-collar life. Since the 1960s, this has been seen as undemocratic. Today, students are typically required to take algebra, so they will have more options upon graduation (should they graduate). The irony ??" and tragedy ??" is that students who don’t surmount these hurdles now fall even further.
Already, almost one-quarter of young Americans do not finish high school. In Utah and Oklahoma, roughly 20 percent don’t; the proportion rises to 32 percent in South Carolina and 42 percent in Nevada. What does the Common Core offer these students?
The answer is simple. “College and career skills are the same,” Ken Wagner, New York State’s associate missioner of education for curriculum, assessment and educational technology, told us. The presumption is that the kind of “critical thinking” taught in classrooms ??" and tested by the Common Core ??" improves job performance, whether it’s driving a bus or performing neurosurgery. But Anthony Carnevale, the director of Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, calls the Common Core a “one-size-fits-all pathway governed by abstract academic content.”
IN sum, the Common Core takes as its model schools from which most students go on to selective colleges. Is this really a level playing field? Or has the game been so prearranged that many, if not most, of the players will fail?
Debate is now stirring within partisan circles. Glenn Beck sees the Common Core as “leftist indoctrination.” The Republican National Committee calls it “an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children.” Republican governors and legislators in Indiana, Kansas, Georgia and several other states are talking about reconsidering their participation. Yet conservative scholars at the Manhattan and Fordham institutes laud it as promising “a far more rigorous, content-rich, cohesive K-12 education.” Some corporate C.E.O.’s favor it because they say it will upgrade the work force. Mr. Duncan is one of the lone liberal voices in support of the program. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, supports the plan, which she calls “revolutionary.” That said, she has called for a moratorium on judging teachers and schools by the first round of assessments, which she fears are sometimes being implemented hastily and without needed support.
For Diane Ravitch, a historian of education and former assistant education secretary, the program is predicated on “the idea that you can’t trust teachers.” If we want our children taught from standardized scripts, she told us, let’s say so and accept the consequences.
For our part, we’re tired of seeing teachers cast as scapegoats, of all the carping over unions and tenure. It is time teachers are as revered in society as doctors or scientists, and allowed to work professionally without being bound by reams of rules.
Still, there’s an upside to the Common Core’s arrival. As the public better appreciates its sweep, there is likely to be much discussion about schools and what we want them to do. Ideally, this will involve a reconsideration of the contours of knowledge and the question of how we can bee a better-educated nation.
Andrew Hacker is an emeritus professor of political science at Queens College, City University of New York. Claudia Dreifus is an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. They are working on a book about mathematics.
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