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American Students are Mastering Math

According to an article recently posted on InformationWeek, American fourth and eighth graders have moved up in the polls, ranking ninth and sixth internationally in math test scores. To a nation that seems to be dumped on quite a bit for their public education system and how smart their students are, it seems that the U.S. is starting to move up in the ranks.

A survey conducted by the International Study Center at Boston College shows that the comprehension of math students in fourth and eighth grade has increased since 2003, which leads to the boost in the rankings amongst other nations. The American students also scored above average when compared to students in other countries. (more…)

Anti-Intellectualism, the Ivy League, and Obama’s Cabinet

During a summer job when I was in college, I was chatting with a fellow college student.  I asked her where she went to school.

“At a school in Connecticut,” she said.

“Where at?” I asked.

“New Haven,” she said, sort of blushing.

“Oh, you go to Yale!” I said, “How cool is that?”

I wonder how many other Ivy League students out there answer the question “where do you go to school?” with such an evasive response.  Perhaps she thought that others would think she was a snob, or that they would think that she was bragging, if she answered the question directly.  I, for one, certainly didn’t think less of her, quite the opposite.

But isn’t this a shame?  On the one hand, Americans admire Ivy League educations, and because of this, the names on their transcripts can open some doors.  On the other hand, there’s a powerful undercurrent of distrust of intellectualism in America.  Whether it’s high school students mocking the smart kids, or college girls playing down their intelligence in class, or Fox News accusing Barack Obama of being an “elite” because he went to Columbia and Harvard, people are a little distrustful of those who have brains, an education, and the desire to work hard in their studies.  (more…)

Will Education Become Unaffordable for Most Americans?

Here’s a really disturbing article in the New York Times about educational affordability. According to the New York Times, if the price of education rises as the same rate that it has, a college education will become unaffordable for the majority of Americans.

Yes, you read that right.  The majority of Americans.

The Times cites a report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, which found that:

  • In the past 25 years, college expenses have increased 429 percent, while median family income has increased 147 percent.
  • In 2007, the average cost of a year at a public university amounted to more than a quarter of the median household income.
  • In 2007, the average cost of a year at a private school amounted to more than three-quarters of the median household income.

So are we actually going to reach a point in American history where a college education will become a luxury?  We certainly seem to be moving in that direction, huh?

See President-Elect Obama‘s plan to support college education.

Teacher Sells Ads to Pay for Tests

Here’s an issue I feel strongly about: ads in the public schools. Since the late 1980s, it’s become commonplace for schools to alleviate budget shortfalls by selling ads in the schools, and by getting corporations to purchase much-needed equipment in exchange for a promotional plug.

When I was a professor, I used to discuss this with my media studies students, and I was stunned by all the examples of ads they encountered in the public schools. These ads and plugs are everywhere. In exchange for equipment, athletes wear uniforms loudly emblazoned with the donor company’s name. In the cafeteria, students can buy cans of soda from the company who has an exclusive contract with the school. Even everyday items like book covers are now sponsored by a company.

And now, to offset the copying costs for his exams — which he would otherwise have to pay for himself, due to budget cuts — a calculus teacher in California is selling ads on his exams. (more…)

Protect Music in Public Schools

As I sit here listening to my best friend play away on her flute, practicing for college auditions that are coming up in February, it makes me not only wonder how many hours she has devoted to her playing, but also why music has been removed from elementary schools and why fine arts seems to be so under funded.

It amazes me that not only is my friend an incredible flute player, in my opinion, but there are also many other skills that can be learned from practicing as much as she and my other friends who play instruments have obtained. Such skills and traits as dedication, perseverance, and attention to detail. Such dedication many of my friends exhibit through their practicing is also exhibited in many other aspects of their lives, such as school. They are able to balance between school and their instruments and other activities, and many of them are also in International Baccalaureate, so it amazes me how much time some of them can find in their crazy schedules to practice as much as they do. For example, my friend I are currently listening to practices on average of two hours a day. Many days it’s much longer, until she can no longer move her hands! (more…)

Secretary of Commerce Bill Richardson’s Educational Background

Last week, Barack Obama nominated New Mexico governor Bill Richardson to the critical position of Secretary of Commerce.

Richardson was born in California, but spent most of his childhood in Mexico City.  When he was 13, his parents sent him to preparatory school in Massachusetts, where he was the only Hispanic student.  In high school, he became a star varsity baseball pitcher. Richardson went on to play baseball as a student at Tufts University, where he earned a degree in political science and French in 1970, after taking some time off to play in an amateur baseball league. Richardson stayed at Tufts and earned a master’s degree in international affairs.

Nittany Lion in the Slammer

The student who plays the Nittany Lion — Penn State’s beloved mascot — has been arrested for a DUI.  James Sheep may lose his scholarship and has lost the privilege to play in the Rose Bowl.

Here’s a previous performance where the Nittany Lion is not inebriated.

America’s Best High School Basketball Players

Much like the football rankings I have shared with you before, now has the top 150 high school basketball players ranked from across the nation. At Rivals you can see the complete list, as well as their school, position, size, and the college they plan to attend.

Here are the top 10 of these star athletes. Definitely names to watch come draft season.

1. John Wall – Raleigh, NC – Word of God Christian Academy – Position: Guard

2. DeMarcus Cousins – Mobile, AL – LeFlore – Position: Forward

3. Xavier Henry – Oklahoma City, OK – Putnam City – Position: Guard

4. Derrick Favors – Atlanta, GA – South Atlanta – Position: Center

5. Jordan Hamilton – Los Angeles, CA – Dominguez – Position: Forward

6. John Henson – Tampa, FL – Sickles – Position: Forward

7. Kenny Boynton – Plantation, FL – American Heritage School – Position: Guard

8. Avery Bradley – Henderson, NV – Findlay Prep – Position: Guard

9. Lance Stephenson – Brooklyn, NY – Lincoln – Position: Guard

10. Renardo Sidney – Los Angeles, CA – Fairfax – Position: Forward

So congrats to all the boys that made the top ten! And of course to the rest of the boys that made the list for the top 150, keep up the hard work and we hope you’ll go far with the game you obviously love!

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Educational Background

During the presidential campaign, we ran a series of posts highlighting the educational background of the presidential and vice presidential candidates.  So now that Barack Obama is choosing members of his cabinet, we’ll be doing the same, starting with his surprising pick for Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Rodham graduated from Wellesley College, a prestigious all-women’s college in Massachusetts, in 1969 with a degree in political science. Although her GPA is not available, she graduated with honors. Like many college students, her years in school strongly influenced her political opinions.  She came to college as a conservative, and even served as the president of the College Republicans. By the time she left, she was the author of an honor’s thesis about a left-wing political organizer.  Along the way, she was very active in campus politics, and became so much of a leader that she was asked to give the commencement address.  After Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968, an event that moved her deeply, Rodham organized a two-day student strike.

After leaving Wellesley, Rodham went to Yale Law School, where she graduated in 1973.  Rodham served on the editorial board of the Yale Review of Law and Social Action.  Her studies and related volunteer work focused largely on underprivileged children.  In 1971, she began dating fellow student Bill Clinton, whom she met at the library.  They married in 1975.

Student Loan Debt Rises to Over $20,000

These days, it’s common for college graduates to enter the workforce while burdened with overwhelming amounts of debt.  And it’s probably no surprise to anyone that the total amount of debt for the average graduate is rising.

Here’s a great resource for students and anyone else who’s concerned about student loans: The Project on Student Debt, a watchdog organization. In a recent study, here’s what the Project on Student Debt found out about student loan debt in America:

  • Between 2006 and 2007, the average total loan debt of graduates rose from $18,976 to $20,098, which is an increase of six percent.  Yep, that’s right, the average student now graduates with over $20,000 in loan debt! (more…)


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