The Economy and Education

One topic has been on everyone’s
minds for quite a while now: the economy. While most businesses and people have
been hit pretty hard by the recession, the education system seems to be the
most recent target. Problems started off simple with cuts in school funding and
have since spiraled out of control with state testing scandals, lawsuits, bribes,
and a problem so big even Sesame Street
is talking about it.

An article on edweek.org
discussed one of the most common impacts the recession has had on school
districts: a restructuring of schools from the loss of funding and faculty
members. What has been left in several school districts is the bare minimum in
staff positions being kept. The loss of secretaries, janitorial staff, school
specialists, and other support staff has caused many faculty members to step in
and pick up the slack – this means dealing with more paperwork, cleaning, and
maintenance issues previously relegated to more experienced staff members.

Budget cuts and reduction in aid
have caused a backlash from school districts, some who have decided to take
matters into their own hands. Such as several schools in California, whom
edweek.org reports are suing the state for unlawful budget cuts.

While schools in California hope
to win back funding through the court system, some New York City Schools are at
a loss as to how to remedy their situation. Several news reports from The New York Times have recently highlighted layoffs in New York City that
are affecting the schools that need the staff members the most. Almost 700
employees
 (mostly full and part-time support staff) lost their jobs in NYC
schools just last week. To make the situation even more stressful, intimations
have been made that had the workers unions compromised more some workers may
have been able to keep their jobs.

The New York Times also reported that to combat the continuing cuts
in educational funds, some educational commissioners may even be involved in what could be considered amoral tradeoffs with a major educational group. With
the increasing number of cuts comes an increase in the number of commissioners
accepting free offers from the Pearson Foundation.

The recent surge of the questioning
of ethics in education seems to over shadow the stories that put educators in a
good light. For instance, many schools in Oakland California are enlarging
their free meal programs. A recent article in The New York Times  discusses these schools and their
dedication to helping families in need. Another article from The Washington Post discusses the
role poverty plays today in our schools and how it will continue to undermine
any educational reforms set in action.

School districts aren’t the only
ones taking action against hunger either. The PBS show Sesame Street has stepped up with a new character that will
relate to the growing hunger epidemic children are facing.

These tumultuous times are not
solely for the k-12 educational world either. College students may be seeing a
change in their financial aid packages that could potentially affect the number
of students able to complete their degrees.

The Pell grant  – along with
several other programs – may be cut. While the same amount will be dispersed to
students, the qualifications would become stricter and the number of years of
eligibility would be reduced. This would force some students to complete their
degrees – both bachelors and masters in some cases – in a more crunched time
frame of six years (although breaks may be taken).

Although this proposal seems to
be aimed at reducing funding for students who may not be serious about their
studies – part timers just looking to take a few interesting courses or
students staying in college for lack of anything better to do – this may
actually end up hurting the college students who need the aid the most; such as
those who can only go part-time because they don’t qualify for scholarships or
are unable to secure loans, or those who have decided to double up on degrees
or take an intensive eight year course track (doctorate programs). Thankfully
this plan has yet to be put into action, and according to educationnews.org it
is being opposed by many.

What do all of these stories
have in common? They were set into action due to lack of funding in schools and
in students’ homes. While budget cuts and job losses have caused some schools
and even TV shows to step up to the plate they have also caused others to use
less favorable means in order to save money.

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The Worst Salary Year

April 12, 2010- As the economy struggles to regain much of its strength after this past years recession, an article from Inside Higher Ed called, “The Worst Salary Year” explores a survey collected by the American Association of University Professors that  found the average salary of a full-time faculty member in 2009-2010 is only 1.2 percent higher than it was a year ago.

While this survey only covers full-time faculty members, many reports suggest that part-time faculty were not seeing any salary gains this year as well. This article urges professors to increase their knowledge of higher education finance and John Curtis, director of research and public policy for the AAUP stresses the importance of staying involved.

In The News

Below you will find articles from online resources pertaining to teaching

Inside Higher Ed:

The Uninsured Adjunct  With health care continuing to be debated nationally, many adjuncts are trying to draw attention to their status among the well-educated professionals who sometimes received little to no coverage. (Nov. 30, 2009)

Shift in Researcher Population  According to a new report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization the share of the worldwide research population in the United States has decreased from 23.2 to 20.3 percent between 2002 and 2007. This article explores the reasons for the decline. (Nov. 25, 2009)

Be a Tech-Aware Adjunct It is important, as an adjunct, to demonstrate proficiency in “new” technology because,”you are already two steps out the door with a long line of newly minted graduates waiting just outside.” This article explores ways in which new media can be integrated into the classroom, as well as whether or not technology is good pedagogy. (Nov. 18, 2009)

Boost for Liberal Arts Technology? With the help of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE) Liberal Arts colleges will be brought up to speed on advanced networking. The NITLE announced a partnership with network provider Internet2 in hopes to allow liberal arts colleges to expand cirriculur offerings, attract top faculty, and provide remote access to digital collections. (Nov. 17,2009)

The New Literacy and the CMS The ability to write for a web audience is argued in this article as the new literacy. This article explores the ways in which new media and social learning are opportunties for students rather then obstacles. (Oct. 13, 2009)

E-Books and Colleges Will electronic and digiatal books replace printed books? This article explores ways to avoid repeating the “Napster” experience on campus’ with e-books. (Oct. 4,2009)

Define “College Ready’ Nationally The amount of students out of high school who are ill-prepared for college or the work force is not very disputed. This article focus’ on how to fix this problem. The idea of a nationally embraced code of standards for high school students, is currently being reviewed by college faculty with one goal in mind, allow students to get to the next step. (Sept. 21, 2009)

Can We Discuss This? The article navigates through what discussion groups should not be, as well as good practices of discussion groups. Suggestions provided in order to conduct an effective group include maximizing student involvement and creating a separate syllabus for discussion. (Sept. 9, 2009)

Managing The Admissions Challenge With 90% of colleges reporting an increase in financial aid applications this year, and 74% of colleges reporting an increase in number of students offered grant aid, this article offers strategies used by colleges in 2009 or planned for 2010. Such strategies include admitting more applicants, awarding larger grants, and offering grants to more students. (Sept. 25, 2009)

New York Times:

Students Protest Tuition Increases Protests continue on several campuses after the University of California Board of Regents announced a 32% increase in fees equivalent to tuition. (Nov. 20,2009)

Barred From Field, Religious Signs Move to Stands After a parent expressed concern over banners at a high school football game in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. which read, “Commit to the Lord,” a first amendment lawsuit may be underway. Due to the new policy, the article explores the unexpected results  that came from this incident. (Oct. 26,2009)

M.I.T Taking Student Blogs to Nth Degree Many colleges are beginning to embrace student blogs on their websites, seeing them as a marketing tool for high school students. This article talks about the pros and cons to publishing untouched student writing. (Oct. 1,2009)

The College Calculation “How much does a college education, the actual teaching and learning that happens on campus, really matter?” (Sept. 24, 2009)     

College Officials Brace for Hit from Economy This article explores the shift from “will my child get into college?” to ” can we afford to send my child to college?” (Sept. 25,2009)


Additional Websites & Blogs:

Academic Commons 

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education