Higher education article

February 29th, 2012

Higher Education Is Just Another Special Interest

During the past year, policy experts have raised important issues about the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, including the need to act quickly to renew the legislation, to define what constitutes higher education, and to determine the appropriate level of federal support.

Throughout the debates, Washington-based higher-education associations have voiced concerns about their ability to influence the education policies of Congress and the administration. Yet seldom, if ever, do we hear comments from those groups suggesting that they’ve recognized and evaluated the changes that have fundamentally reshaped the policy-making environment.

Too many advocates for higher education still operate in a policy arena of the past — one that emerged following the initial passage of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and continued for the next three decades. In that arena, legislators and government officials developed long-term relationships with each other and took a bipartisan approach to higher-education policy. Whatever their political bent, they were committed to equal opportunity and to removing barriers that might prevent otherwise qualified students from going to college.

Since the late 1990s, however, the public’s declining trust in government, growing demands for accountability in higher education, and a general shift toward viewing college as a private benefit instead of a common good have altered the political context for higher education. At the same time, some of higher education’s key supporters in Congress have retired. And, as neoconservatives and neoliberals have sought to control the policy-making process, ideological divides have replaced bipartisanship.

Such divisions have been exacerbated by domestic spending limitations; government funds are now, and will be in the foreseeable future, diverted to the war in Iraq, Social Security, homeland security, and other priorities. Even if the players change again, and legislators who actively support higher education emerge, a depleted national treasury makes it unlikely that we will see leaders like John Brademas, Claiborne Pell, Paul Simon, or Robert T. Stafford reappear.

Higher-education associations and the institutions that they represent need to understand that what was valued in the last decade is not valued today. The Congressional leadership and committees responsible for higher-education legislation are not interested in equity, access, social justice, or spending public tax dollars for what they see as a private benefit. Higher education has become just another special interest seeking a federal handout, and those who lobby for more public support must develop new rationales and strategies.

College lobbyists seem to have forgotten that public discourse over higher education is not about conversation or messages. Discourse is about the relationship between power and knowledge, and should be seen as a contest to impose meaning. That is best seen in the success of neoconservatives in changing the meaning of affirmative action in higher education to “quotas” and “preferential admissions” — thereby shifting the entire debate about access and equity. The Washington-based higher-education associations and colleges themselves must redefine the policy agenda.

One does not have to abandon a belief in social justice to see that it is not high on most legislators’ lists of priorities. Higher-education advocates need to remain true to their beliefs but must reframe their arguments in terms of the development of human capital, increased economic competitiveness, and improved national defense and homeland security. Congress and the Bush administration will support such issues, and higher education will receive its share of that support to the extent that it links its goals and activities to those issues.

Critics of such an approach will do well to remember that the passage of the National Defense Education Act of 1958 opened the gates to federal support for higher education. Congress appropriated money for mathematics, science, and language education, as well as campus facilities, because of the relationship of those academic areas to national defense. In fact, the legislation ultimately benefited all of higher education as the notion of defense was expanded to include most disciplines and fields of study.

In addition, advocates of higher education should be more inclusive. Too often in the past, lobbying for the Higher Education Act was an insiders’ game. That worked well when the insiders were a small, homogeneous group with a long, shared history of policy making from which emerged common beliefs and values about the importance of higher education to society and how students and institutions should be supported. The higher-education policy arena of the last century has fragmented into multiple arenas, with many different groups pursuing many different interests and priorities — Pell Grants, TRIO programs, and so on.

The American Council on Education still tries to play the role of a coordinating group that speaks for all of higher education, but today higher-education associations are the outsiders. The legislators who control higher-education policy making are more likely to see college leaders as part of the problem and are not interested in inviting them into the decision-making process. Thus,higher-education advocates can continue to wait for an invitation, or they can create a competing presence that influences policy from the outside.

Higher-education lobbyists who work at every level of government need to make their case to the public and involve more participants in making policy. For example, the blame for rising tuition costs has been placed on the campus doorstep because college leaders have not responded effectively. An effective response would require advocates to consistently and intelligently communicate with taxpayers about the costs of higher education, how those costs are being transferred from the state to their sons and daughters, and what that will mean as public higher education becomes public in name only.

How different it might be in my home state of Florida if the 11 four-year public universities invited their alumni to join a united lobbying campaign for higher education in the state. Thousands of calls and letters to Tallahassee from voters would not go unanswered by state leaders. Project that to the national level, and you can begin to imagine the untapped power of college graduates to build support and influence legislation.

Historically the Washington-based associations have seen themselves as purer than common lobbyists. But to succeed in the new environment, they will need to broaden their policy networks to include civil-rights groups, labor unions, state public-interest-research organizations, and others interested in education and social justice.

For instance, civil-rights groups would be willing to unite with higher-education associations on issues of access and equity. Members of labor unions are the ones whose sons and daughters face the burden of rising costs and would probably support expanding student aid. Working with those and other groups would not dirty the hands of the associations but instead strengthen their arguments for public support. They would seem to have ample opportunity to expand those networks, given that access to higher education has swelled from the elites to the masses in a relatively short time.Higher education is now more important to more individuals, groups, and organizations than ever before.

A third change that college lobbyists should consider is making campaign resources more available to elected representatives at the state and federal levels. David V. Evans, who was a Democratic Congressional aide on the Senate and House education committees, and others have called for colleges to form political action committees, but that is not the right approach. Higher-educationassociations and colleges will never be able to compete on a dollar basis with groups like the Consumer Bankers Association and should not try to do so. Instead they should be more strategic in how they marshal the distinctive resources that they do have.

For instance, how recently, or often, has your institution invited an elected representative to speak at a major campus event? Has your college asked a Congressional representative and his or her staff members to teach a class from Washington by distance education? Has it arranged for legislators to tour the campus, meet with students, dine with the trustees? Other institutional resources include honorary degrees, briefings for legislative-staff members, tickets for campus cultural events, and the ability to connect legislators with other leaders in the community.

Of course colleges should use their resources carefully so that prestige and honor are not diluted. Often those are the most precious resources that institutions can offer policy makers. The bankers’ association can give money, but when was the last time you heard anyone boasting about being an honorary banker?

My recommendations will undoubtedly have critics. But some of those critics can be dismissed as simply living in the past. The era that produced a golden age of federal support for higher educationis over.

Critics will probably also note the seemingly contradictory nature of these proposals. How can higher-education associations and institutions become neoconservative in their rationales, to grab the attention of the current administration, while becoming populist in their actions — reaching out and engaging a wider cross section of the public in higher-education debates?

The answer is that the nature of the policy arena for the foreseeable future requires such an approach. Fragmentation, conflict, and coercion will mark policy making in the next decades. Advocates for public support for higher education will need to operate on many levels. They will have to become more like “common lobbyists,” looking to form coalitions that change from issue to issue.

Michael D. Parsons is a professor of higher education at Florida International University and an editor, with Edward P. St. John, of Public Funding of Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004).

My interview with my friend

February 28th, 2012

An interview with my friend

Do you come from a big family?

1. Yes I have 8 siblings.

2. I have 3 sisters and 4 brothers.

3. Were a very close knit family.

Tell me about your family

4. Well coming from a family with 8 kids most people would think that it would be hard to have close connections with everyone but that’s not the case with my family.

5. No matter what whenever I come home there’s always someone to talk to and not only are they my family but each and every person is my best friend.

6. I don’t know many people that could say that about their families.

Have you ever gotten into a fight?

7. Yes

8. the most recent one being with my brother in law.

9. I had gotten into an argument with my sister, his wife, as most siblings do.

10. It was not a big deal but harsh words were exchanged and he had gotten upset

11. He began to scream at me in front of my entire family taking every insecurity and flaw that I had and exaggerating it tenfold berating me until I felt worthless.

12. My brother in law and I had never gotten along from the start.

13. And normally I would fight back with him but this time somehow I knew that it wouldn’t make a difference.

14. This was the time though it broke me down.

15. It took a lot of my siblings to finally calm me down after crying in the other room.

16. We didn’t talk for 3 months after the fight.

17. And finally my sister begged me to apologize because she knew he never would.

18. So against my will I did and he acted as though it was so benevolent of him to forgive me.

19. Were on good terms now but what I won’t forget the things that he said.

Lines 1-6: Introduction

Lines 8-10: Rising action

Lines 11: Climax

Lines 12-17: Falling action

Lines 18-19: Conclusion

Reliability of websites

February 27th, 2012

After looking at these websites I came to the conclusion that the website about the Tree Octopus in the Pacific Northwest could be a reliable website if someone were searching all about the rare Tree Octopus and it looks like this website would have all the information. I’ve never heard of the tree octopus before but after seeing the website it is possible that they do exist even though they are rare. There is a lot of information on this rare specie and pictures and where they are located and that’s what makes the website look reliable.

The moment I looked at the Weekly World News website I could immediately tell that it’s not a reliable website for real news. I came to this conclusion because some of the tabs on the website that were labeled “aliens” or “mutants”. I really don’t think this website could be used for legitimate research.

The Onion, is a great newspaper which I find extremely hilarious. The Onion takes the news, sports, politics and more and turns it into “funny news”. It’s definitely not a reliable news source given the fact that everything is twisted into something funny. But it is definitely a good read.

In general, you must be careful where you get your information from especially if you’re conducting serious research. Although some websites may look legitimate you have to look at all the information provided on the website and see what is really true and what isn’t.

Cliques at Queens College

February 21st, 2012

In high school, cliques were always looked down upon because they seemed exclusive to only some people, at least in my opinion. I think that concept is different now in college. I associate cliques with groups of people just hanging out, definitely not a bad thing.

Taking a look around Queens College I’ve noticed a few different groups. Some groups are consist of people with the same religious background, or the same classes, or even the same neighborhood. You can find cliques all over campus, like in the cafeteria, in the library, in the science building by the cafe and where the couches are, by the cafe outside the library, and even in the lounges in the other buildings, like Powdermaker Hall. In my point of view I could determine who’s in the clique by seeing the similarities between each person, whether they all share the same religious background or they all look like they’re heading to the same class. I could also determine who’s in the clique by seeing who’s standing around and if they’re contributing to the conversation or listening intently.

Like everything cliques have ups and downs. They could make someone feel left out and unwanted or they’re just simply a group of people who have some things in common and always hang out. Cliques are every where, in school, at work, sometimes even at home.

I took a picture of the cafe in the science building and there’s a table with boys hanging out and studying. It seemed to me that this group was a result of a class they all have in common.



Yeshiva University High School for Girls

February 21st, 2012

The Yeshiva University high school for girls is a high school that caters to Jewish girls and offers an education of Judaic studies and general studies. The Judaic program instills a love of Torah (Bible) and learning in the Jewish girls. The program also helps teach the girls an in depth learning of the commandments of the Bible and how to fulfill them correctly. The general studies department consists of all subjects such as math, English, science, fine arts and many more. The students have a variety of classes they could chose to take throughout their four years of high school.

In addition to the curriculum the school also offers the students fun clubs to join. Clubs such as, choir, dance, drama, costumes and scenery, political action, chamber music, arts and crafts, and more. What I like about this school is that it has a balance between good academics, which are important for the students future, and extra curricular activities which also helps tremendously in a students development.

Here is just a snippet from the school’s mission statement:

“The Yeshiva University High Schools has as its educational mission to teach and perpetuate the values of Torah and secular studies We are thus dedicated to preparing our students for adulthood both as knowledgeable and committed Jews and as broadly educated, intellectually curious, and caring members of the general society.”  

And here are some pictures of students doing different activities:

 - click for larger image     - click for larger image   - click for larger image   - click for larger image

My Best Educational Moment

February 14th, 2012

My best educational moment was two years ago when I spent a weekend in a hospital watching a baby with special needs who’s parents couldn’t be with her. The hospital wasn’t just any regular hospital, it was a hospital for special diseases and surgeries for children. The hospital was very colorful. Each wall a different bright color from the rainbow and on top of the bright beautiful colors were paintings of children and their family. The children and their families that were on the walls seemed so perfectly happy not like the real families who were staying at the hospital, who all looked so tired and just wanted to be home.

On Saturday of that weekend, I was lucky to have met a family who had a three year old daughter who was staying at the hospital. Chava Nessa, was the sweetest little girl with short brown hair and big brown eyes and she wore the cutest red mini dress. As the mother and I started to talk she told me the reason why her daughter was in the hospital, because she was due for her third surgery due to her heart condition she was born with. Of course I got curious and asked what was wrong with her heart. Her mother responded and told me that her daughter was born with half a heart. That was when I really sat down and realized how amazing the human body is. This little girl was able to be totally normal and her body could function with just half a heart. She looked like any other three year old and she knew all about her heart condition and how the process of the surgeries worked. Talking to Chava Nessa didn’t seem like a three year old to me. Had I not asked her age I would’ve thought she would be at least six. She was running around playing, tugging on her mom’s skirt to read her book and everything else a three year old would do. It’s amazing how other parts of he body could take over the function of the part of the heart that’s missing. At that point I knew that I wanted to go into the medical field and help people.

I also always really liked psychology and biology and meeting Chava Nessa really gave me a better insight into the biology of the body and I’ve always just really liked psychology and learning it. I recently found a medium between psych and biology and that’s when I chose to go into neuro psychology where I could do clinical psychology and also specialize in the brain.

Chile Students Protest over privatization

February 6th, 2012

Students in Chile protest against privatization of the school system. I chose this video because the Chile school  reminded me of the CUNY school system, because it’s government funded like CUNY. Hope you enjoy!


Queens Students Criticize O’Dwyer

February 6th, 2012

In 1923, 165 Queens College students along with the Student Council rallied against Mayor O’Dwyer’s involvement in the Board of Education and hiring a president for Queens College. Mayor O’Dwyer made the Board of Higher Education go to City Hall in order to approve who would be hired for the position of the president of Queens College. The students felt that the Board of Higher Education should fill the position with the students best interest of the the school and students and not with political involvement. What’s different now is that, at least from my knowledge, we as students do not have this issue of political involvement in QC also its so different because back then there were 165 students and now there are over 18,000 students. However, what is similar is the fact that students are still protesting for what they believe is right and for what they deserve. The fact that students are still protesting shows that nothing is going to make them sit back and ignore what needs to be dealt with.

youtube video 1

February 1st, 2012