Charting Our Nation’s Prosperity

Submitted by Lori Ioannone


Stanley S. Litow

President, IBM International Foundation

Posted: October 12, 2010 09:00 AM

With Washington focused on reducing unemployment and the budget deficit, it may seem counterintuitive to state that now is an ideal time to invest. But when it comes to the education of our future innovators, such investment is warranted, if not imperative.

Now is exactly when our nation should be developing the highly-skilled workforce that we need to make us more competitive and spur a sustained economic recovery. U.S. global competitiveness depends on our ability to produce highly educated, creative individuals who are prepared to address the challenges of the 21st century. Smarter, more focused investments are needed in all levels of education, including graduate programs, where our future scientists, researchers and innovators are developed.

I have served for the past year on the Commission on the Future of Graduate Education in the United States, which examined the role graduate education plays in maintaining and strengthening U.S. innovation. The Commission found that the global economy will increasingly demand the advanced knowledge and skills acquired in graduate school.

Companies want to hire employees who: have broad, advanced education; can learn quickly as they are trained in specific jobs; and have a hunger for continuous education and skill development. At IBM, for example, we need people with technical skills in areas like business analytics and cloud computing. We also need deep thinkers who can help address business and societal problems and build solutions for a smarter planet.

Recent national studies show that jobs like these pay well and are in high demand. Those with master’s degrees earned 23 percent more in 2009 than those with only a bachelor’s, and PhD recipients earned almost 50 percent more. The Labor Department has forecast that the number of jobs requiring a master’s degree will increase by 18 percent through 2018, and those requiring a doctoral degree will grow by 17 percent. However, another report projects a deficit of three million college graduates in that same time frame.

You don’t need a graduate degree to know that this does not add up. The United States is simply not producing sufficient talent required to compete globally. We lack the national talent development policy required to increase supply. Establishing one should be a top priority.

In addition, the preeminent position of our nation’s graduate schools, which have been the world’s best for decades, is being threatened as never before. Other countries — especially India and China — are expanding and improving their higher education systems as a fundamental part of their economic growth strategies. This growing international competition makes the need to develop our own domestic talent pool even more urgent.

The Commission on the Future of Graduate Education believes that partnerships between universities, policymakers and the private sector can strengthen graduate education through a variety of initiatives that fall into three basic categories.

First, there must be deeper collaboration between business and academia. Employers have an opportunity to work more closely with graduate schools to develop clear paths to careers outside academia, especially for doctoral students. Conversely, university curricula need to more accurately reflect changes in the workforce and current demands for specific skills.

At IBM for example, we have done a good deal to shape course content, particularly in the area of service sciences. We have partnered with the State University of New York to create their new Nanotech Center. And we recently announced an innovative partnership with the New York City Department of Education and the City University of New York to create a grade nine to 14 program that will prepare students for jobs in the technology sector.

Second, universities must improve degree completion rates at all levels. At the doctoral level, attrition rates range from 40-50 percent. At Community Colleges, the drop out rate is even more alarming, with only about 20 percent of students completing their degree programs. The situation can be improved if universities create professional development programs that focus on the skills valued by business, government, and nonprofit employers.

Third, we should enact policies to encourage the world’s best students to pursue their graduate studies here in the United States International students consistently make the significant scientific and economic contributions that our nation needs. The percentage of foreign graduates of U.S. doctoral programs remaining here to work or pursue research has steadily increased. It appears that if we can get them here, most will stay.

By producing graduates who can innovate and think both creatively and critically, U.S. graduate education plays a central role in charting our nation’s prosperity. Our ability to address the challenges facing our nation and the world, both known and unknown, will depend on our ability to produce a highly-skilled workforce. We must invest now in high-quality graduate education that will allow the United States to secure our place in the 21st century global economy.

Follow Stanley S. Litow on Twitter:

Rationing Knowledge: The ‘College for Some’ Movement

Submitted by: Lori Ioannone


by: Kati Haycock

President, The Education Trust

Posted: October 12, 2010 05:51 PM

Concerned about soaring college tuition, low graduation and high remediation rates, and growth in U.S. jobs that do not require bachelor’s degrees, an increasingly vocal crowd has adopted a “college for some!” mantra.

Instead of seeking to contain costs, boost retention and graduation rates, and increase the level and quality of jobs available, the “college for some” movement advocates rationing access to college. They say we should be investing more in high school vocational programs and apprenticeships. And, they tell us, these policy proposals have young people’s (and taxpayers’) best interests at heart.

Don’t be fooled.

In reality, we already ration college-going opportunities far too much in this country, especially for the growing numbers of low-income students and students of color. High school graduates from poor and minority backgrounds are still less likely to enter college than their more affluent counterparts. In fact, despite gains in recent decades, low-income students still attend college at lower rates than did wealthy students 30 years ago. And if the “college for some” crowd gets its way, this divide would continue to grow and damage our democracy.

Consider some of their flawed arguments:

Flawed Argument #1: Not all students are interested in going to college nor do they have the capacity to attend. We should college-prepare only those who are interested and capable.

Interest and capacity are not innate; they are developed over time. Recent research indicates that the best predictor of student enrollment in college is attending a high school with a strong college-going culture. The same goes for “capacity”: Talent grows best when cultivated.

And yet low-income and minority students continue to be clustered in K-12 schools where we spend less, expect less, teach them less, and assign them our least qualified teachers — so even when they do develop college aspirations and qualifications for admission, they end up enrolling at a less selective institution or they do not attend college at all. More than half of America’s low-income students “under match” when picking a college, which is double the rate among their wealthier classmates.

Flawed Argument #2: There are more college graduates than there are jobs requiring college, while many fine-paying jobs are out there that don’t require a degree. Do you know how much I had to pay an electrician to rewire my garage door? That guy is making a darn good living.

The competitiveness of the United States depends to a great extent on the educational level of its workforce. It determines the flow of investments and where the best paying jobs remain. Projections indicate that by 2018, 63 percent of new and replacement jobs will require at least some college, and more than half of those will need at least a bachelor’s degree.

Educating students for college means educating them well, which is good for all students, not only those who end up going. In fact, according to ACT, the math and reading skills required by electricians, construction workers, upholsterers and plumbers match what’s necessary to do well in college courses. A solid K-12 education is a good public investment that will result not only in a better prepared workforce but also in a citizenry better prepared to participate effectively in a democratic society.

Flawed Argument #3: Bill Gates didn’t graduate from college. Heck, Walt Disney didn’t even graduate from high school. And they both did just fine.

And some people smoke four packs of cigarettes a day for 50 years and live to be 100 years old. In the same way we acknowledge a statistical connection between smoking and many illnesses, we must acknowledge that a postsecondary degree increases the number and quality of one’s job opportunities. Median annual earnings for bachelor’s holders are $55,700 compared with $42,000 for those with an associate’s degree and $33,800 for high school graduates.

Flawed Argument #4: If everybody goes to college, degrees will lose value. Unemployment will increase and personal income will decrease.

Unemployment isn’t caused by lots of people studying — it grows, instead, when the economy is not doing well. In fact, the unemployment rate among Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree is less than half the rate of those who only graduated from high school. As it turns out, a better-educated workforce is good for the economy.

Lagging other countries in educational attainment won’t benefit the United States. And rationing knowledge won’t preserve the value of existing college degrees. Their argument is an example of the sort of conclusion that can only be reached when the perverse logic of a spreadsheet is taken at face value without factoring in who is being prepared and who is not, who is being admitted to college and who is not, who is being given the supports needed to graduate from college and who is not — and how all of these issues impact America’s competitiveness.

The reality is that we can’t afford to continue restricting college opportunities. Between 2010 and 2050, the Hispanic population is projected to grow by 167 percent, the black population will grow by 43 percent, and the white population will grow by about one percent. If we don’t create opportunities for access and success, the global competitiveness of our workforce will continue to slip and the American middle class will disappear.

Granted, college costs need to be managed and graduation rates need to be improved. But that does not mean we should limit college-readiness efforts. I challenge the “College for Some” crowd to join those of us advocating a different solution:

  • K-12 systems must prepare students for both college and careers — not one at the expense of the other.
  • Higher education must be more cost effective — and not just for those who can absorb the cost.
  • Higher education institutions that produce lower quality degrees (and fewer of them) at a higher cost must cease abusing our social investment.

This is America. We should be committed to expanding knowledge and opportunities for all, not just the chosen few.


Follow Kati Haycock on Twitter:

Where For-Profit and Nonprofit Meet

Submitted by: Courtney de Lacy


Where For-Profit and Nonprofit Meet

October 13, 2010

The line between for-profit and nonprofit education continues to blur in Massachusetts.

Earlier this year, the Princeton Review signed a deal with Bristol Community College, in Fall River, to offer accelerated health science degree programs to students willing to pay a higher tuition. These programs are offered in hybrid fashion, combining online coursework with in-person lab time. They are taught by Bristol faculty members but delivered by the Princeton Review, which pays for the expensive lab equipment and new teaching facilities. Otherwise, the only difference between these and traditional health science programs at Bristol is that the Princeton Review-sponsored programs can be completed in about half the time, but only if students fork over $100 more per credit hour — $246 instead of $146. This tuition differential is then given to the Princeton Review.

After months of planning and negotiations with concerned faculty, the accelerated classes in medical information and coding, massage therapy and general health science began last week at Bristol. While officials there defend their decision to team up with the Princeton Review — arguing that they have found a way to expand access for their students in tough economic times without surrendering their academic integrity — administrators at other institutions around the state are considering whether they should enter into similar agreements with the for-profit company. Faculty groups, however, remained concerned about Princeton Review’s plans to expand within Massachusetts, arguing that those plans threaten the traditional public mission of community colleges.

Considering Collaboration

This summer, the Princeton Review approached Quinsigamond Community College, in Worcester, about entering into a health science partnership similar to the one with Bristol. As in that one, students would pay a higher tuition for an accelerated program.

Gail Carberry, president at Quinsigamond, noted at a Board of Trustees meeting in July that the partnership is “still in the early exploratory stage” and is “not without controversy.” She added that once college officials had the opportunity to “discuss the concept” and meet with relevant officials at the Princeton Review and Bristol, she would return to the trustees with a recommendation. This has yet to be done.

Upon hearing of the idea at the board meeting, the college’s union representatives expressed concern about any partnership with the Princeton Review. Andria Schwortz, physics professor and president of the Quinsigamond Community College Professional Association — a local union chapter affiliated with the National Education Association — wrote in a letter to faculty last month that she had heard two main concerns: a “philosophical aversion to a for-profit model of education” and the “retention of ownership of course material.” For instance, in the Princeton Review’s deal with Bristol, the company gains ownership over all course materials after paying faculty members a stipend for creation of these materials.

In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Schwortz further explained the faculty opposition to any partnership with the for-profit company.

“It’s the union’s opinion that it’s never a good idea to go looking into these types of partnerships,” Schwortz said. “Our president might see this as a good source of revenue during tough economic times. But the worry I have is, if we show the state legislature that we can find funding for expansion of our programs elsewhere, then they would see that and say they don’t need to bother funding us at all. Also, there’s a lot of concern among community college faculty that partnering with Princeton Review is against the philosophy of community college, against the philosophy of public higher education. Charging that extra tuition differential is all about making money for their shareholders.”

Schwortz is encouraging Quinsigamond’s administration, instead, to consider partnerships with nonprofit entities to expand health science capacity, such as working with a local hospital or medical school. So far, though, union faculty members have had no voice in the college’s discussions of a potential partnership with Princeton Review, she said.

Dale Allen, Quinsigamond’s vice president for community engagement, confirmed the lack of union involvement so far but cautioned that the college’s administration had only had cursory discussions about the partnership’s viability. He added that if the conversation proceeds beyond that to issues of curriculum, faculty voices would be included.

As for the college’s immediate interest in the Princeton Review’s offer, Allen noted it was mostly because of ballooning enrollment and concern about crowded facilities. Quinsigamond’s enrollment has grown 49 percent in five years. Allen also noted that the college has been considering expanding its health science programs in some way for at least two years, but lacked the funding to do so.

“If there’s a private partner that would provide increased access for our students and provide new facilities … we would be very interested in that conversation,” said Allen, explicitly noting that the college’s administration had no upfront aversion to working with a for-profit entity. “As long as we’re doing it for the greater good.”

Though Allen admitted he was aware of the controversial nature of such a partnership, he said the college was interested in at least gathering some more information about how the deal has played out so far at Bristol.

“We want to gather the facts, first and foremost, and present the pros and cons in a way so that we can understand what they are,” Allen said. “We agreed that once this was up and running at Bristol we’d get down there and see how it’s working.”

Defending the Deal

After hammering out a 37-page contract with Princeton Review and negotiating a three-year agreement with the state’s faculty union, Bristol Community College was finally able to offer accelerated delivery of its health science programs this semester.

Sally Cameron, Bristol spokeswoman, noted that about 100 students have started classes in three degree programs so far. Many of them, she said, are students who would not otherwise have been able to enroll in the college’s traditional face-to-face programs.

For instance, Carin Doyle is a 32-year-old single mother of two who works as an assistant at an alcohol and drug rehab center in the area. She is studying to earn a certificate in medical coding. Eventually, she hopes to pursue an associate degree in medical technology so she can help her rehab center with digital conversion of its medical files.

“If it weren’t for this option, I wouldn’t have been able to take any classes here at the college,” Doyle said. “With a job and kids, I just couldn’t go to school normally for four or five days a week. Being online, this makes the classes flexible. But also, I like being able to go in and have my lab in person every now and then to interact with my professor and classmates.”

Doyle, who did stints at two online for-profit institutions, Katharine Gibbs College and Ashford University, without earning a credential, said she probably would have considered yet another online offering if not for Bristol’s new program. She also said that between financial aid and some assistance from her parents, she has been able to cover the program’s higher tuition.

Without support from the Princeton Review, Cameron said, the college would not have had the resources to expand its health science program in this way, potentially leaving working students like Doyle with fewer options to further their educations. Ultimately, Cameron believes that Bristol has found a way to work with a for-profit entity in a way that serves students while upholding the college’s traditional academic mission.

“Princeton Review has not interfered with any of our academic decisions,” said Cameron, noting that, for example, admission criteria for the new accelerated programs are identical to those for Bristol’s traditional offerings. “I hope we’ve found a way to make this work. … This is not a for-profit looking to come in and hijack our academic integrity. They want this to be a program that works to address work force needs in various communities, which is what community colleges also want.”

Cameron, who calls herself “community college born and bred,” admitted that a sour financial situation had encouraged Bristol’s consideration of this deal. Still, she defended it.

“That’s been the biggest challenge for us, showing that we can lead our state in making this happen and show it’s possible to maintain academic integrity and maintain our soul as an institution,” Cameron said. “We’re in a new world. There’s just not enough state money to do what you’re needing to do. It’s to the private sector’s benefit to have well-trained nurses. I, myself, would prefer that these students not have to pay extra, but to make expensive projects run, that’s what we need to do.”

Concerns Remain

Princeton Review officials could not be reached for comment. Statewide faculty union representatives, however, question the partnership at Bristol and have significant concerns about the expansion of Princeton Review-sponsored programs to other Massachusetts community colleges.

“I’m still not crazy about the idea,” said Joe LeBlanc, president of the Massachusetts Community College Council, which is affiliated with the NEA. “In the purist world, the state would give us all the aid we required and we would have all full-time tenured faculty. But after meeting with Bristol faculty in a big group — not saying that there weren’t some folks who were opposed to the concept — it appeared that instructors in the allied health fields were on board. So, we tried to negotiate a [mutual memorandum of agreement] to protect them in the best way that we could.”

Though LeBlanc and the statewide union finally agreed to a deal, he still has some reservations about it. For instance, he said he would prefer it if full-time faculty members could count any courses taught in this Princeton Review model as part of their regular load. Under the current deal, they cannot. Also, like the faculty union at Quinsigamond, he does not like that Bristol faculty lose ownership of their course materials when they teach a Princeton Review-sponsored course.

Still, LeBlanc noted that the current deal with the faculty union only lasts three years, at which point it can be either renewed or discontinued, and that the union will have a seat at the table when it comes to reviewing the program. Also, he said the deal reached by the statewide union only concerns Bristol. If other community colleges around the state wish to enter into similar deals with the Princeton Review, there will have to be similar union negotiations for permission to be granted.

“If [the Quinsigamond union chapter], for example, wants to dig in its heels on this issue, the Princeton Review won’t have a program at the college,” said LeBlanc, noting that he was not sure whether the partnerships had any possibility of working elsewhere in the state. “If there wasn’t broad-based support for it and they couldn’t find folks to teach the courses, then they’d pass it up and take away the idea entirely. Right now, we just have to wait and see what happens.”

David Moltz

Lauded Harlem Schools Have Their Own Problems

Submitted by: Laura McLaughlin


Lauded Harlem Schools Have Their Own Problems

Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

Promise Academy II is an elementary school run by the Harlem Children’s Zone in public school space.

Published: October 12, 2010

President Obama created a grant program to copy his block-by-block approach to ending poverty. The British government praised his charter schools as a model. And a new documentary opening across the country revolves around him: Geoffrey Canada, the magnetic Harlem Children’s Zone leader with strong ideas about how American education should be fixed.

Last week, Mr. Canada was in Birmingham, England, addressing Prime Minister David Cameron and members of his Conservative Party about improving schools.

But back home and out of the spotlight, Mr. Canada and his charter schools have struggled with the same difficulties faced by other urban schools, even as they outspend them. After a rocky start several years ago typical of many new schools, Mr. Canada’s two charter schools, featured as unqualified successes in “Waiting for ‘Superman,’ ” the new documentary, again hit choppy waters this summer, when New York State made its exams harder to pass.

A drop-off occurred, in spite of private donations that keep class sizes small, allow for an extended school day and an 11-month school year, and offer students incentives for good performance like trips to the Galápagos Islands or Disney World.

The parent organization of the schools, the Harlem Children’s Zone, enjoys substantial largess, much of it from Wall Street. While its cradle-to-college approach, which seeks to break the cycle of poverty for all 10,000 children in a 97-block zone of Harlem, may be breathtaking in scope, the jury is still out on its overall impact. And its cost — around $16,000 per student in the classroom each year, as well as thousands of dollars in out-of-class spending — has raised questions about its utility as a nationwide model.

Mr. Canada, 58, who began putting his ideas into practice on a single block, on West 119th Street, in the mid-1990s, does not apologize for the cost of his model, saying his goals are wider than just fixing a school or two. His hope is to prove that if money is spent in a concentrated way to give poor children the things middle-class children take for granted — like high-quality schooling, a safe neighborhood, parents who read to them, and good medical care — they will not pass on the patterns of poverty to another generation.

“You could, in theory, figure out a less costly way of working with a small number of kids, and providing them with an education,” Mr. Canada said. “But that is not what we are attempting to do. We are attempting to save a community and its kids all at the same time.”

Few would deny that a middle-class renaissance is under way in the sections of Harlem where Mr. Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone have focused their efforts. The zone extends from 116th to 143th Streets, between Madison Avenue and Frederick Douglass Boulevard.

All children who live in the zone have access to many of its services, including after-school programs, asthma care, precollege advice and adult classes for expectant parents, called Baby College. The organization has placed young teaching assistants, known as peacemakers, in many of the elementary school classrooms in the area and poured money into organizing block associations, helping tenants buy buildings from the city, and refurbishing parks and playgrounds. By linking services, the program aims to improve on early-childhood programs like Head Start, whose impact has been shown to evaporate as children age.

Amid the facades of new condominiums that signal gentrification, however, deep poverty remains. So does low student performance in most of the neighborhood’s public schools, despite modest gains over the past decade and a growing number of better-performing charter schools, a development Mr. Canada helped pioneer.

Last month, the Obama administration awarded $10 million in grants to 21 neighborhood groups around the country to help them plan their own versions of the Harlem Children’s Zone, and the president is seeking $210 million for next year, although appropriations committees in the Senate and the House have earmarked only $20 million and $60 million, respectively.

But there has been some criticism. Grover J. Whitehurst, a co-author of a Brookings Institution analysis of the zone, said there was still too little evidence that its approach, of linking social services to promote student achievement, justified an investment of federal education dollars, and urged that a more rigorous study be conducted.

“My quarrel is not with an effort in Harlem funded largely by philanthropy, it’s with the federal approach to scaling this up,” Mr. Whitehurst said. “It just doesn’t rise to the level of evidence the president and the secretary of education said they were going to apply in determining their investments.”

In awarding the grants, Education Secretary Arne Duncan emphasized, the government hoped neighborhoods would coordinate and stretch their existing services, while asking the private sector to step up and match financing.

“The cost is going to vary community to community,” Mr. Duncan said, “but we think this is an absolute investment.”

In 2009, the Harlem Children’s Zone had assets of nearly $200 million, and the project’s operating budget this year is $84 million, two-thirds of it from private donations. Last month, the Goldman Sachs Foundation pledged $20 million toward constructing an additional school building. With two billionaires, Stanley Druckenmiller and Kenneth Langone, on the board, its access to capital is unusually strong.

Gary Cohn, the president of Goldman Sachs, who also sits on the children’s zone board, said that while test scores were important, so was treating Harlem’s childhood asthma crisis, which is a cause of absenteeism. “What it’s about to us is dealing with all of the issues these kids encounter,” Mr. Cohn said.

The zone’s two charter schools are open to all city children by lottery. Officially, the schools spend, per student, $12,443 in public money and $3,482 in private financing each year. But that does not include the costs of a 4 p.m.-to-6 p.m. after-school program, rewards for student performance, a chef who prepares healthy meals, central administration and most building costs, and the students’ free health and dental care, which comes out of the zone’s overall budget, said Marty Lipp, the zone’s communications director.

Regular public schools in New York City spend about $14,452 each year per general education student, less than half of which is generally for classroom instruction.

In the tiny high school of the zone’s Promise Academy I, which teaches 66 sophomores and 65 juniors (it grows by one grade per year), the average class size is under 15, generally with two licensed teachers in every room. There are three student advocates to provide guidance and advice, as well as a social worker, a guidance counselor and a college counselor, and one-on-one tutoring after school.

The school, which opened in 2004 in a gleaming new building on 125th Street, should have had a senior class by now, but the batch of students that started then, as sixth graders, was dismissed by the board en masse before reaching the ninth grade after it judged the students’ performance too weak to found a high school on. Mr. Canada called the dismissal “a tragedy.”

On a recent Thursday, the current high school students, neatly attired in blue and white uniforms, got special help in college note-taking skills, and chatted animatedly about velocity in an advanced physics class. Most were well below grade level when they first got to the school and took three or four years to catch up; many are now ahead.

“You really have to put money into personnel,” said Marquitta Speller, who has been the high school principal since January. “I don’t think you can experience the same level of success without the same level of resources.”

But most of the seventh graders, now starting their third year in the school, are still struggling. Just 15 percent passed the 2010 state English test, a number that Mr. Canada said was “unacceptably low” but not out of line with the school’s experience in lifting student performance over time. Several teachers have been fired as a result of the low scores, and others were reassigned, he said.

Giving administrators the ability to fire teachers for poor performance is one of the central suggestions of “Waiting for ‘Superman.’ ” Over all, 38 percent of Promise Academy I’s students in third through sixth grade passed the 2010 English test under the state’s new guidelines, placing it in the lower half of charter schools citywide, and below the city’s overall passing rate of 42 percent. In Harlem as a whole, just 29 percent of children passed.

Promise Academy II, an elementary school that occupies part of a public school building, did better, with 62 percent passing in English, among the top 10 percent of charters. But because it lost more ground than comparable schools, it got a C from the city on its annual A-to-F report card, and an F in the student progress category. Both schools continued to outperform the city in math, with 60 percent passing in one school and 81 percent in the other.

A few recent studies have broached the question of what was helping the zone’s students raise attendance and test scores: the interlocking social services, or what was going on in the classroom? But they were based on state test results in years when the exams were easier to pass, and they may now be less conclusive.

One study, by the Harvard researchers Will Dobbie and Roland G. Fryer Jr., found that while Promise Academy students who entered the sixth grade in 2005 had raised their test scores so much by the eighth grade that they had “reversed the black-white achievement gap in mathematics” and reduced it in English, there was “at best modest evidence” that the social programs were driving that success. In 2009, nearly all the students passed the math test.

“The challenge,” the researchers wrote, “is to find lower-cost ways to achieve similar results in regular public schools.”

Mr. Whitehurst’s 2010 Brookings analysis went further, noting that test performance at the two charter schools was only middling among charter schools in Manhattan and the Bronx, even though higher-performing schools, like those in the lauded KIPP network, had no comparable network of cradle-to-college services.

Dave Levin, a co-founder of KIPP, took issue with the study, noting that most of his schools already had counselors and college-advice programs, and all were expanding to serve kindergarten through grade 12, just like Mr. Canada’s. But KIPP schools do try to stick to the per-student spending of the surrounding district “to demonstrate what schools can do on the money that they have.”

“I think there are differences, but we are both deeply committed to meeting all of the children’s needs,” Mr. Levin said.

The Harlem Children’s Zone is not the only block-by-block effort to ease poverty, though it is unusual in its intensive focus on children. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, for example, is wrapping up projects in seven cities called Making Connections Neighborhoods that promoted a “two-generation approach” with job-training programs for parents. An effort that turned around the East Lake Meadows neighborhood in Atlanta used the construction of mixed-income housing and the renovation of a golf course as the fulcrum.

While it is still years away from confirming its broader theories about poverty, the Harlem Children’s Zone has already had some impact on thousands of children. Its after-school college advice office has helped place 650 students in college, and it supports them until they graduate. Its asthma initiative has drastically reduced emergency room visits and missed school days among its 1,000 participants. Preschool students have made bounds in kindergarten readiness. Parent satisfaction in the charter schools, as measured by city surveys, is high.

And Mr. Canada has achieved superhero status among those who admire him for his vision. Lisbeth B. Schorr, a senior fellow of the Center for the Study of Social Policy in Washington, said, “The fact that the impact has not been proven doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.”

Find a Niche or Vanish

Submitted by Erica Manczuk


Find a Niche or Vanish

October 7, 2010

Too many universities lack a distinctive mission and risk being eaten up in the “bloody” competition that may follow a review of British higher education. That warning comes from Julian Beer, pro vice-chancellor for regional research and enterprise at the University of Plymouth, who is leading a sector-wide project on university strategy.

Speaking to Times Higher Education just days before Lord Browne of Madingley was due to report his findings to the government, Beer said that an analysis of every institution’s mission statement shows that about 70 are trying to cover too many bases and are spreading themselves too thinly.

Too many universities simply state a desire to “achieve excellence in teaching and research” and ­appear unable to carve out a market niche, Beer said.

Although elite institutions would flourish if an unregulated tuition-fee market was unleashed, thanks in part to their history and reputation, 30 to 40 institutions — about a quarter of the sector — could struggle.

It would be “inevitable” that some would disappear, he added.

It is expected that Lord Browne’s review panel will suggest a hike in fees among a raft of proposals for the academy. Universities will then turn their attention to how much income they will lose in the Comprehensive Spending Review on Oct. 20.

Some reports have suggested that the review has looked at raising the fee cap — currently fixed at £3,290 a year — to £10,000 so that a market can flourish, with institutions allowed to charge even more if cash is set aside for student support.

Beer said that the existing funding model for higher education had encouraged homogeneity in the sector, and a market would drive more institutions to specialize.

He said that although some universities had developed distinctive approaches — by focusing on postgraduates, internationalization or vocational training, for example — he was surprised that so many ­others were attempting to achieve excellence in all areas across both teaching and research.

“It is harder in that grouping in the middle to distinguish between provision,” he said.

“Some of them will win. Obviously there are institutions that — if you had a fee to pay — you would choose over others because of history, heritage and everything else, but that is where it gets very bloody in terms of competition.”

The problem could be exacerbated for institutions that rely more heavily on public teaching funds because they are likely to be hit much ­harder than research by the spending review.

Some figures quoted in recent weeks suggest that up to 75 percent — or £3.5 billion — could be wiped off the annual teaching grant, with the expectation that higher fees would help to plug the funding gap.

This figure is partly based on speculation that the Treasury may entirely remove public support for the teaching of lower-cost subjects such as the arts and humanities.

Political Hurdles

At the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham this week, there was growing concern that the fee level necessary to meet the loss of government funds would be ­impos­sible for the coalition to force through Parliament.

Most Liberal Democrat MPs signed a pledge before the general election not to support a rise in fees and can abstain from voting on the issue. Meanwhile, the Labour Party is set to vote against a massive hike, citing the damage it would cause to widening participation. A crucial Commons vote could come as ­early as next month if the government ­decides to put up fees as an interim measure while also promising to ­reform student finance in the longer term.

It has been suggested that Lord Browne’s review is being linked with fee levels as high as £10,000 a year so that a cap of £7,000 would appear moderate if put forward by the government.

However, vice chancellors say that even at this level, fee income would struggle to meet the pre­dicted shortfall in funding.

Speaking last week, Geoffrey Crossick, vice chancellor of the University of London, said: “We will have to have a charge of £6,000 to £7,000 just to stand still – and not everyone is in a position to pay that.”

Keith Burnett, the University of Sheffield’s vice chancellor, said that any proposal to cut teaching funding from entire subject groups would be a major surprise.

“It is such a huge withdrawal of public funding from higher education, and I don’t think we’ve actually had a moral debate about that yet,” he said.

Speaking at a fringe meeting during the Tory conference, David Willetts indicated that the government was still examining how to change the system to make higher contributions acceptable.

The universities and science minister said that the “challenge” ­facing Liberal Democrat MPs was not only a matter of parliamentary arithmetic, but “also a real-world issue [that] tells us that there are people who are very anxious about the idea, in the old model, of fees going up.” Nicky Morgan, the Conservative MP for Loughborough who was recently appointed as Mr Willetts’ parliamentary private secretary, said during the same event that cultural change was necessary.

“People need to think about investing in a higher education college fund from a very early age,” she said.

Ms Morgan also appeared to dismiss talk of a 75 percent cut to teaching funding, saying: “I haven’t heard that one before but that seems on the high side to me.”

Unpleasant Surprises Ahead

Others at the Tory party conference echoed Beer’s argument that the sector was about to be thrown into turmoil by the likely change in funding arrangements.

Malcolm McVicar, vice chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire, said: “There are a number of universities that think they are sitting pretty, but in a market they won’t be and there will be some surprises.”

On Oct. 7, Universities UK published its submission to the Treasury on the CSR. It again warns that the UK risks destroying its growth strategy by slashing university funding.

The submission calls for any necessary cuts to be “back-loaded” towards the end of the CSR period (2014-15) to make it easier for ­higher graduate payments to replace lost teaching funds.

Meanwhile, the Sutton Trust warns in a report published this week that unregulated tuition fees could lead to English students paying up to five times more than they do today.

A separate report from the University and College Union, published last week, warns that increasing the fee cap to just £5,000 a year would make England the most expensive place in the world to study at a public university.

Simon Baker for Times Higher Education

Honor Among Scholars

Submitted by: William Cole-French


October 3, 2010

Honor Among Scholars

By Steven G. Kellman

Praising Caesar as a Colossus who “doth bestride the narrow world,” Shakespeare’s Cassius tells Brutus that “we petty men … peep about to find ourselves dishonorable graves.” Of course, it is not the graves that are dishonorable but the men who end up in those graves, after leading lives tainted by skulduggery. Nevertheless, there can be honor even among thieves, and dishonor even among scholars, men and women who have been intimate with Shakespeare, Spinoza, and the Scriptures.

Dishonor in higher education is possible only because honor is so fundamental to the idea of a university. Honor is the engine that drives us to make and share discoveries. We volunteer to cover an ailing colleague’s classes or give a book to an indigent student because it is the honorable thing to do. And we shudder at revelations that Marc Hauser, a professor of psychology at Harvard, may have fudged data in his studies of primate behavior; that several books by James Twitchell, a professor of English at the University of Florida, appropriated others’ words verbatim without attribution; and that Alexander Kemos, the third-ranking administrator at Texas A&M University, lied about his doctorate.

While we are appalled but not shocked to find fraudulent bankers and deceitful politicians, disgraceful behavior within a university is especially distressing. It is a betrayal of the trust that is essential to a community of scholars. “Say it ain’t so!” we want to shout at the eminent historian who concocted sources, the college president who faked his credentials, the coach who channeled illicit payments to student-athletes. A discovery that one experiment has been misrepresented or one manuscript forged can begin to erode the entire body of collective knowledge.

“The most tragic thing in the world is a man of genius who is not also a man of honor,” notes Sir Colenso Ridgeon in George Bernard Shaw’s The Doctor’s Dilemma. There is, of course, no necessary correlation between intelligence and virtue, and to find examples of brilliant scoundrels, it is not necessary to look to the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. Just look around the nearest university.

“What is honor?” asks Falstaff, who concludes that it is a vacuous abstraction, merely “a word.” Yet, even though John Dryden dismissed it as “but an empty bubble,” the word has spread. Particularly on college campuses, honor echoes like a carillon—in honors courses, honors colleges, honor societies, honor rolls. Graduation ceremonies dispense honorary degrees as well as diplomas inscribed cum laude—with honor. It is true that, in Book 9 of The Republic, Plato has Socrates divide humanity into three classes: “lovers of wisdom, lovers of honor, and lovers of gain.” And if the categories are mutually exclusive, then the university, while a magnet for lovers of wisdom, would not be a natural home for lovers of honor (or, especially in these lean times, lovers of gain). Nevertheless, the principle that there is honor even among scholars, that the love of wisdom is itself worthy of honor, is proclaimed by the mottoes of the University of Kiev—“Utilitas honor et gloria” (Utility, honor, and glory)—and the U.S. Military Academy (“Duty, Honor, Country”). The college fraternity Kappa Delta Rho pledges “Honor Super Omnia” (Honor Above All Things), and students at Texas A&M University recite by heart the “Aggie Code of Honor”: “Aggies do not lie, cheat, or steal nor tolerate those who do.” In Boulder, Colo., students submit completed exams along with an affirmation: “On my honor as a University of Colorado student, I have neither given nor received unauthorized assistance.” But what is the honor of a University of Colorado student? Members of academic communities are forever avowing their honor, despite and because of contrary evidence.

In his new book, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen (Norton, 2010), Kwame Anthony Appiah answers Falstaff’s question by defining honor as “an entitlement to respect.” An entitlement, to be sure, is not the same as respect itself. One can conclude from Appiah’s definition that to be honorable is not to subordinate everything to reputation but rather to act so as to be worthy of respect, regardless of whether anyone actually grants it. Appiah distinguishes between two kinds of honor—”positive recognition respect” and “esteem.” Positive recognition respect is what we accord individuals simply because they belong to certain peer groups—vintners, dental hygienists, firefighters, knights of the Round Table—regardless of whether they have in fact individually done anything extraordinary to earn our respect. Esteem, by contrast, is a matter of merit, and it is inherently hierarchical. While we might accord all baseball players positive recognition respect, a batter who hit below .250 would not earn enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. We can respect all violinists but acknowledge that there was only one Heifetz.

To the extent that higher education aspires to be a meritocracy, in which the best students receive the highest grades and the best professors the most illustrious titles, universities are excellent laboratories for the study of honor. Appiah, who has been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among other honors, is himself among the most esteemed of contemporary academics. But, though he holds a prestigious chair in philosophy at Princeton University, in his book he does not address questions about honor in higher education. Instead he devotes a chapter to each of three “moral revolutions” whose success he ascribes to the reversal of honor codes. Dueling among English gentlemen, foot-binding in China, and slavery along the Atlantic were each, Appiah notes, initially supported by appeals to honor. In 1829 the Duke of Wellington challenged the Earl of Winchilsea to pistols at 12 paces because it was considered the honorable response to calumny. Until the demise of the Manchu dynasty, just after the turn of the 20th century, Chinese women signaled their refinement by contorting their feet into a lovely but painful lotus shape. And until the trade was banned by Britain, in 1807, white slaveholders purchased African laborers in part to advertise their own elevated rank. Appiah devotes a fourth chapter to an incomplete revolution, the campaign to end honor killing—the murder of a woman whose alleged sexual activity brings opprobrium on her family—in contemporary Pakistan.

Honor and morality, as he notes, are independent variables. Even as slaveholding was considered a badge of honor by the colonial elite, cogent arguments were made against it as morally repugnant. However, Appiah argues, it was not until honor was recruited to assist morality that the peculiar institution was dismantled on the plantations of the Western Hemisphere. Slavery was—and is—wrong, but what caused the moral revolution against it was the novel conviction that owning human beings was also dishonorable. William Wilberforce’s abolitionist movement became a struggle to restore England’s national honor. Similarly, opponents of both dueling and foot-binding spelled out their iniquities. Yet those claims, while necessary, were insufficient without a belief that the practices also violated standards of honor.

When that belief took hold, the conversion was rapid and complete, like a chemical reaction in which the introduction of a trace element instantaneously transforms the entire contents of a test tube. Within decades, dueling was being ridiculed for bringing dishonor to an effete aristocracy, and gentlemen who previously would not have married brides with unbound feet now considered women with bound feet unworthy mates. In the case of honor killing, Appiah contends that moral suasion in itself will not end the loathsome practice unless that suasion serves to alter the culture’s honor code: “Honor killing will only perish when it is seen as dishonorable.” If and when that time comes, as it has for dueling, slavery, and foot-binding, earlier attitudes will seem bizarre. People will ask, says Appiah, “What were we thinking? How did we do that for all those years?”

Let’s apply to academe Appiah’s analysis of how honor and morality can be wed, and of the mayhem that can result when the two are severed.

A sense of personal honor motivates individuals to do what is worthy of respect and avoid doing what induces shame. However, we can talk about national honor—for Americans, it was affirmed when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, and it was besmirched by the officially sanctioned torture at Guantánamo—because honor is conferred and denied within communities that share a code of honor. To the extent that we identify with a group, our honor is invested in the actions of our cohorts.

Yet, within the grouping called academe, just as I would not take credit for a colleague’s discovery of the mechanism behind Alzheimer’s, I would not accept blame for another’s arrest for arson. Collective dishonor is not the same as collective guilt. When Binghamton University’s basketball team became embroiled in scandal last year, specific Bearcat players who were arrested for theft and drugs and administrators who looked the other way were guilty of serious infractions, but the entire community of students, faculty members, administrators, and alumni felt the dishonor. On the other hand, William H. Gass’s novels and essays bring honor to everyone at Washington University in St. Louis, where he is a professor emeritus.

Misdeeds are not necessarily more rampant on college campuses than in brokerage houses, law firms, or shopping malls. But some seem common: plagiarism; grade-fixing; doctoring sponsored research to please the sponsor; sabotage of rivals; conflict of interest; abuse of laboratory subjects; fabricating credentials. Most of these are illegal and unethical as well as dishonorable.

However, echoing the examples that Appiah discusses, a few invidious practices are still considered honorable within certain academic subcultures. Binge drinking is not only widespread; a famous national study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health in 1997 found that almost half of the students surveyed reported downing four or five drinks in rapid succession within the previous two weeks. It also distinguishes the “well rounded” undergraduate from the “nerd” on many campuses. At colleges with high drinking rates, 34 percent of other students reported harassment from binge drinkers. Hollywood celebrates college life as a long, merry bender; a poster advertising College (2008) shows a hung-over student bent above a toilet bowl. In popular culture, the bespectacled grind supplies papers and answers to his less bookish fellows, but, though he gets the grades, it is the smooth—and bibulous—guy who gets the girl. Many consider it more shameful to be seen in the library than at a beer bust and take pride in their alma mater’s designation as “party school.”

Though not universal, such attitudes are pernicious. Inebriation endangers physical and psychological health and obstructs learning. Binge drinkers squander educational opportunities that others are denied. Such arguments can and must be made, but they are not likely to end binge drinking unless they are joined to a change in the culture’s honor code. If students begin to believe that not only is it not awesome to be soused but that it is dishonorable to put themselves out of commission and into a stupor, then declining an additional drink will be deemed worthy of respect. Sobriety will suddenly become the new cool.

Similarly, 75 percent of American undergraduates admit to cheating during their college careers. In other countries in which I have taught, education is conceived of as communal, and it is honorable to share answers with fellow students, dishonorable to withhold assistance. In the United States, collaborative test-taking, when not just a lazy river to a passing grade, is more a matter of flouting fussy rules. But there are sound reasons to discourage cheating. It makes a mockery of individual responsibility and subverts the integrity of academic credentials. It encourages slipshod learning, producing graduates unqualified to teach a class, prepare taxes, or perform surgery. It is inherently dishonest. But the way to reduce its incidence is to make it dishonorable, to convince test-takers that relying on themselves is worthy of esteem. The “gentleman’s C” is not worthy of a gentleman; true gentility earns its grades. As with dueling, foot-binding, and slaveholding, cheating will end when the honor code is altered, when respect is accorded those whose work is their own.

In cynical, selfish times, honor, like Rodney Dangerfield, gets no respect. Though it is itself founded on a decent respect for the opinions of mankind, honor comes to seem like a foppish posture. Wisely defined, however, in universities and elsewhere, it is applied ethics, a standard and strategy for living as we should.

Steven G. Kellman is a professor of comparative literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio and vice president for membership at the National Book Critics Circle.

Are American College Professors Religious?

Submitted by: Will Cole-French


by: Amarnath Amarasingam
Doctoral candidate, Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario, Canada

Are American College Professors Religious?

Many sociologists of religion, as well as the general public, seem to take for granted the causal relationship between higher education and the decline of religion. The more educated someone becomes, the theory goes, the less religious they are likely to be. As European and American universities broke free from the control of the church in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, science and the scientific worldview arose to become the prime competitor to religious authority. With this historical trend, it was assumed that those who occupy these elite places of learning would also shed the trappings of irrational religious belief. However, more and more sociological evidence reveals that this may not be the case.

In a recent article published in Sociology of Religion, sociologists Neil Gross and Solon Simmons use data from a new, nationally representative survey of American college and university professors to test the long-running assumption that higher education leads to irreligiousness. Based on their research, they argue that “while atheism and agnosticism are much more common among professors than within the U.S. population as a whole, religious skepticism represents a minority position, even among professors teaching at elite research universities.” This has been a long-running debate amongst those who study religiosity in higher education and pay attention to trends in societal secularization.

Gross and Simmons worked with a sample size of 1,417 professors, providing an approximate representation of the more than 630,000 professors teaching full-time in universities and colleges across the United States. It should be noted that they limited their study to professors who taught in departments granting an undergraduate degree. As such, professors teaching in medical faculties and law schools were not part of the sample.

According to their study 51.5 percent of professors, responding to the question of whether they believe in God, chose the response, “While I have doubts, I feel that I do believe in God,” or the statement, “I know God really exists and I have no doubts about it.” While atheists and agnostics in the United States make up about 3 and 4.1 percent of the population, respectively, the prevalence of atheism and agnosticism was much higher among professors: 9.8 percent of professors chose the statement, “I don’t believe in God,” while another 13.1 percent chose, “I don’t know whether there is a God.” In other words, religious skepticism is much more common among professors than in the general American population. However, the majority are still believers.

How do these numbers break down by discipline? Gross and Simmons explore how belief in God is distributed among the 20 largest disciplinary fields. In terms of atheists, professors of psychology and mechanical engineering lead the pack with 50 percent and 44.1 percent respectively. Amongst biologists, 33.3 percent were agnostic and 27.5 percent were atheist. Interestingly, 21.6 percent of biologists say that they have no doubt that God exists. In contrast, 63 percent of accounting professors, 56.8 percent of elementary education professors, 48.6 percent of finance professors, 46.5 percent of marketing professors, 45 percent of art professors, and 44.4 percent of both nursing professors and criminal justice professors stated that they know God exists.

Gross and Simmons also attempted to discover the proportion of professors who think of themselves as religiously progressive, moderate, or traditional. They found that professors in the social sciences and humanities are more than twice as likely identify themselves as religiously progressive (32.5 percent and 35 percent, respectively), while a larger number of physical and biological scientists see themselves as moderate (32.2 percent) as opposed to progressive or traditionalist.

The research also describes the religious affiliation of professors in the United States: 37.9 percent can be classified as Protestant, 15.9 percent identify themselves as Roman Catholic, and 9 percent as “Other Christian.” Jewish professors make up about 5.4 percent of the sample, and 2.6 percent are Muslim. Overall, 18.6 percent stated that they were “born-again Christians.” Around 46 percent of professors who identified themselves as “traditionalist” were also born-again Christians. Although, as noted above, 51.5 percent of professors say they believe in God, 31.2 percent claim to have no religious affiliation. In other words, they don’t belong to any particular religion, but still believe in a higher power.

Professors in the United States also have a complex understanding of the Bible. According to Gross and Simmons, only 5.7 percent said that the Bible was the “actual word of God.” In contrast, 48.3 percent answered that the Good Book was an “ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts,” and 39.5 percent note that it is the “inspired word of God.”

What all of these data make clear, and future studies are sure to further complicate, is that the simplistic association of “intelligent” with “atheist” is not backed by the evidence. “Our findings call into question the long-standing idea among theorists and sociologists of knowledge that intellectuals, broadly construed, comprise an ideologically cohesive group in society and tend naturally to be antagonistic toward religion,” write Gross and Simmons. The idea that “the worldview of the intelligentsia is necessarily in tension with a religious worldview, is plainly wrong.” In contrast, the evidence seems to suggest that instead of leaving religion behind, the intelligentsia, like the rest of society, rationally wrestle with ideas, scientific and religious, and attempt to find answers to the big questions that plague us all.

The Research at the Summit

Submitted by: Jackie Boyle


The Research at the Summit

October 7, 2010

The White House Summit on Community Colleges led several scholars to release new analyses. And while the official gathering did not focus on the papers, some of the themes of the conference were consistent with the work. The emphasis of the papers: partnerships with businesses, not new federal cash, are the key to improving job training.

Louis Soares, director of the postsecondary education program at the Center for American Progress, wrote a paper for the summit about how relationships with local businesses can help integrate “vocation and employment-oriented goals in academic educational programs” at community colleges. Soares explains that the three missions of community colleges — “university transfer, vocational and developmental education” — are often at odds with one another. He suggests that these institutions look to local industry to help untangle this common internal conflict.

“Community colleges have the scale, pedagogical diversity and access to the student body to improve the postsecondary attainment of many Americans, but they must find ways to integrate their three missions to do so,” Soares writes. Community college-industry partnerships, “as a new [vocational] innovation, hold forth the promise of leveraging these assets with those of partners to promote institutional innovations [that] yield better results in terms of relevant knowledge and skills and degree attainment.”

When community colleges and local business work together to offer career-training programs, Soares says, it is essential that leaders on both sides understand the “what’s in it for me” in the partnership.

Soares cites the Metropolitan College program in Louisville, Ky. as one example of this mutual benefit. The program is a partnership among the United Parcel Service, Jefferson Community and Technical College and the University of Louisville. It began in the mid-1990s after UPS, the largest employer in Kentucky, threatened to move its hub from Louisville if it could not find new ways to recruit workers for its Next Day Air operation, which was experiencing major staffing troubles at the time.

UPS provides part-time jobs with full-time benefits to students in the program, who then take classes at the local community college and university. The company pays for half the cost of their tuition and reimburses them for textbook purchases; the state and local government pay for the rest of their tuition. The program also has unique “workforce preparation activities,” such as courses in financial literacy, resume preparation and mock interviewing.

The program’s success has benefited both UPS and the state of Kentucky, Soares says. “At the start, only eight percent of UPS workers had a postsecondary degree,” Soares writes. “By the spring of 2009, 2372 Metropolitan College students had earned some kind of postsecondary credential. The retention rate of Metropolitan College participants at Jefferson Community and Technical College was more than 50 percent in 2007. UPS enjoyed an increase in job retention as the annual turnover rate for new hires went from 100 percent in 1998 to 20 percent, and a 600 percent return on investment in its students.”

In an interview with Inside Higher Ed after the summit, Soares acknowledged that some faculty members and education scholars are highly critical of corporate partnerships like this. Still, he defended their value in providing college access to students who otherwise might not have it. “My point of view on alternative higher education is, look, unless we think tomorrow we’re going to invest in traditional higher education so that everyone who wants an education can get one, then we need to consider them,” Soares said. “I’m frank in my belief that we’re still learning about these methods, but that’s the nature of innovation at the front end. It’s messy.”

Soares added that critics of these nontraditional programs should embrace them in an effort to improve their rigor. “Instead of saying, ‘We’re matter and they’re anti-matter,’ traditionalists should say, ‘If there are types of learners who benefit from this, then how can we help deliver it in a way we consider higher education?’ ” Soares said.

Soares’s paper also cites Northrop Grumman’s Apprentice School of Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., as a value-adding partnership between community colleges and local industry worth emulating.

Apprentices at the school receive “paid, on-the-job training” in one of 19 separate programs with full benefits that can last for up to five years. They take a “fundamental” shipbuilding curriculum with numerous courses related to the specific trades. Those students “who show particular aptitude and academic achievement” in their apprenticeship are picked to attend either nearby Thomas Nelson or Tidewater Community Colleges and earn an associate degree in either business administration, engineering, marine engineering or electrical engineering technology — all paid for by Northrop Grumman.

The company also offers tuition reimbursement to students who wish to continue on to earn a four-year degree. Finally, and perhaps most unusual, the company offers remedial education to all apprentices at its school who may not be college ready — which Soares argues “alleviates the burden on the community college system.”

Soares notes that more than 2,500 Apprenticeship School graduates still work at Northrop Grumman today and that more than 32 percent of the most recent graduating class of apprentices earned an associate degree with their training. Though Northrop Grumman estimates it spends about $100,000 per student at its Apprenticeship School, Soares argues that the investment is paying off.

“Rather than simply training frontline employees and hiring mid-level workers who earned credentials elsewhere, [Northrop Grumman] makes investments in its apprentice … students that go beyond what is necessary for an entry level position,” Soares writes.

In a set of policy recommendations, Soares points out a concern that many attendees at Tuesday summit brought up during the day’s discussions. Federal and state funding policies and regulations, he argues, often “stifle good practice when partners are building an alternative education program.” If policymakers can ensure that these regulations are less confusing to those in education and industry, he says, a community college-industry partnership can “become an institution-transforming catalyst” in helping institutions integrate “the three missions of academic transfer, occupational and developmental education.”

Robert Lerman, senior fellow at the Urban Institute and an economics professor at American University, also contributed a paper to the summit’s packet of distributed-but-not-discussed materials. Expanding upon Soares’s overview of successful education-business partnerships, Lerman calls for the expansion of apprenticeship training — a method that, he argues, “can and sometimes does serve as a foundation for completing further education.”

“A federal subsidy for expanding apprenticeship makes sense on several grounds,” Lerman writes. “First, while apprenticeships significantly increase human capital at least as much as community college, they receive no government support, except for some indirect subsidies based on low community college tuition. Subsidies to the general education component of apprenticeships are justified as subsidies to college and university education. Second, the expected benefits from subsidies to stimulate added apprenticeships are likely to far exceed the costs.”

Other scholars who contributed to the packet of reports distributed at the summit included Michelle Cooper, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, who highlighted successful student support services at community colleges; Elisabeth Barnett and Katherine Hughes, staffers at the Community College Research Center, who wrote about how state and local policymakers can encourage better transitions between high school and community college; and Pat Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, who provided a comprehensive overview of transfer policies around the country.

David Moltz

BU’s Long Distance Learners

Submitted by: Dr Cronin & Erica Manczuk


BU’s Long Distance Learners

Online program wins plaudits

By Rich Barlow

Craving a BU education after learning about its academic reputation and strong interdisciplinary curriculum, Hillary Blazer-Doyle faced a hurdle: she was living in Singapore, where her husband’s insurance company job had posted him. But Blazer-Doyle, a voiceover actress, was determined not to let the 9,400 miles that separated her from campus stand in the way. She began studying online through BU’s Distance Education program, one of 2,500 “distance learners” enrolled at BU.

On the program’s accelerated schedule, Blazer-Doyle (MET’10) studied from her laptop (and occasionally in her pajamas) for two and a half years while nation-hopping for her husband’s or her own business—Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia, and on visits home to the United States. But when it came time for graduation last May, she was determined to do one thing in person, not online: sit with her class on Nickerson Field and pick up her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. Blazer-Doyle says the experience was so positive that she wants to get involved with BU’s alumni association in London, where she now lives. And she plans graduate studies somewhere: “I fell in love with education through this program,” she says.

Similar satisfaction is expressed by 92 percent of BU’s distance learners, according to Jay Halfond, dean of Metropolitan College and Extended Education. That satisfaction has won BU a nod from a nonprofit that promotes online education: the Sloan Consortium has given the University its Award for Excellence in Institution-wide Online Education, which will be presented November 4 in Orlando, Fla.

For BU, the award spotlights the University’s role in what the Chicago Tribune has dubbed “a white-hot education trend.” No longer Jetson-age exotica, online education is mushrooming, from public grade schools to private universities.

In August the Boston Globe cited a report putting the number of higher education students taking at least one online course at 4.6 million in fall 2008, 17 percent more than the previous year.

The Globe reported that the for-profit University of Phoenix, which specializes in online education, has the largest enrollment of any North American university. Yet traditional colleges have embraced the field so rapidly that they offer the majority of courses-by-computer, according to the newspaper. BU, which created its first online program in 2001, now offers 35-plus programs (a list can be found here) tutoring students in 43 nations and all 50 states. Most of the University’s distance learners are enrolled in MET or the College of Fine Arts.

Launching instruction into cyberspace “allows us to expand the educational reach of Boston University,” says Nancy Coleman, BU’s director of distance education. Online students tend to be working professionals in their 30s doing graduate study part-time, Halfond says. (Declining to give her precise age, Blazer-Doyle says it’s a little north of 34.) They average 20 hours per week on course work and 10 weekly posted comments to course discussions. “They would never get this airtime or find this time to work independently in a conventional course,” says Halfond.

Online students pay the same tuition as on-campus students, as well as a $50-per-credit technology fee, Coleman says. She also says she’s discussing new online degrees with several of BU’s colleges. That’s not to say that teaching via computer monitor doesn’t pose challenges.

“Online courses need to be fully designed before they even begin,” says Halfond. “Faculty put in hundreds of hours before the semester starts, working closely with an instructional designer to author a course that is pristine, impressive, and fully developed.”

For students who might miss traditional faculty face-time, the University provides a brief, preenrollment questionnaire, online, of course, to help them assess whether distance learning is right for them.

For her part, Blazer-Doyle says she “loved the unorthodox nature of online learning. It could all be done in my pajamas! There was no rushing to a class or perhaps finding a parking spot.” That doesn’t mean her courses were a breeze. “This program is not easy. People have the idea that an online degree is not a real degree. Perhaps when it is given from other schools, but here we do the same amount of work for each class that every student on campus does, just at an accelerated rate.”

The Sloan Consortium has handed out awards since 2001, and although the competition was stiff this year, “the selection committee felt that Boston University’s online program was exemplary,” committee chairman Burks Oakley wrote in his award notification to BU President Robert A. Brown and Provost David Campbell.

Rich Barlow can be reached at

Western Schools Sprout in South Korea


Submitted by: Will Cole-French

Western Schools Sprout in South Korea

Published: August 22, 2010

EOGWIPO, South Korea — Here on Jeju Island, famous for its tangerine groves, pearly beaches and honeymoon resorts, South Korea is conducting a bold educational experiment, one intended to bolster opportunity at home and attract investment from abroad.

By 2015, if all goes according to plan, 12 prestigious Western schools will have opened branch campuses in a government-financed, 940-acre Jeju Global Education City, a self-contained community within Seogwipo, where everyone — students, teachers, administrators, doctors, store clerks — will speak only English. The first school, North London Collegiate, broke ground for its campus this month.

While this is the country’s first enclave constructed expressly around foreign-style education, individual campuses are opening elsewhere. Dulwich College, a private British school, is scheduled to open a branch in Seoul, the capital, in a few weeks. And the Chadwick School of California is set to open a branch in Songdo, a new town rising west of Seoul, around the same time.

What is happening in South Korea is part of the global expansion of Western schools — a complex trend fueled by parents in Asia and elsewhere who want to be able to keep their families together while giving their children a more global and English-language curriculum beginning with elementary school, and by governments hoping for economic rewards from making their countries more attractive to foreigners with money to invest.

“We will do everything humanly possible to create an environment where your children must speak English, even if they are not abroad,” Jang Tae-young, a Jeju official, recently told a group of Korean parents.

By inviting leading Western schools, the government is hoping to address one of the notorious stress points in South Korean society. Many parents want to send children abroad so they can learn English and avoid the crushing pressure and narrow focus of the Korean educational system. The number of South Korean students from elementary school through high school who go abroad for education increased to 27,350 in 2008 from 1,840 in 1999, according to government data.

But this arrangement often resulted in the fracturing of families, with the mother accompanying the children abroad and the father becoming a “goose” — by staying behind to earn the money to finance these ventures and taking occasional transoceanic flights to visit.

This trend has raised alarms about broken families and a brain drain from a country that is already suffering from one of the world’s lowest birthrates. Many of the children who study abroad end up staying abroad; those who return often have trouble finding jobs at Korean companies, regaining their language fluency or adapting to the Korean way of doing business.

Lee Kyung-min, 42, a pharmacist in Seoul whose 12-year-old daughter, Jeong Min-joo, attended a private school in Canada for a year and a half, said she knew why families were willing to make sacrifices to send their children away.

“In South Korea, it’s all rote learning for college entrance exams,” Ms. Lee said. “A student’s worth is determined solely by what grades she gets.” She added that competition among parents forced their children to sign up for extracurricular cram sessions that left them with little free time to develop their creativity. “Children wither in our education system,” she said.

So Min-joo’s parents believed that exposing her to a Western school system was worth the $5,000 they paid each month for her tuition and board, 10 times what they would have spent had she studied at home.

But Ms. Lee said her heart sank when Min-joo began forgetting her Korean grammar and stopped calling home. Still, she did not want to leave her husband behind to join her daughter, because she had witnessed in her own neighborhood how often the loneliness of “goose” fathers led to broken marriages.

“Our family was losing its bonds, becoming just a shell,” she said.

In June, they brought Min-joo home, and they plan to enroll her in one of the international boarding schools in Jeju, often romanized as Cheju, next year. For Ms. Lee, this is the closest she can get to sending her daughter abroad without leaving the country.

“There is an expressed desire in Korea to seek the benefits of a ‘Western’ or ‘American’ approach to pre-collegiate education,” said Ted Hill, headmaster of the Chadwick School, whose Songdo campus has been deluged with applicants to fill the 30 percent of slots reserved for Korean students. The balance of the student body will be recruited from expatriate families living in South Korea and China.

“When we explain to Korean parents what we try to do in the classroom, we see their eyes light up,” said Chris DeMarino, business development director at Dulwich College Management International, which has a government-set 25 percent ceiling on Korean students at its Seoul school. “There is a tremendous demand for what we offer, but, unfortunately, we have to turn many of them away.”

In South Korea, English proficiency and a diploma from a top American university are such important status markers that some deliberately sprinkle their Korean conversation with English phrases.

The country sends more nonimmigrant students — 113,519 in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, 2009 — to the United States than any other country except China, according to the United States Office of Immigration Statistics.

In a 2008 survey by South Korea’s National Statistical Office, 48.3 percent of South Korean parents said they wanted to send their children abroad to “develop global perspectives,” avoid the rigid domestic school system or learn English. More than 12 percent wanted it for their children as early as elementary school.

Critics say that the Jeju schools — with annual tuition fees of $17,000 to $25,800 and their English-language curriculum, aside from the Korean language and history classes for Korean students — will create “schools for the rich.” But Kwon Do-yeop, a vice minister of land, transport and maritime affairs whose department oversees the project, said it could save South Korea $500 million annually in what is now being spent to educate children overseas.

“Jeju schools cost half what you spend when you have your children studying in the United States,” said Byon Jong-il, the chief of the Jeju Free International City Development Center, which is managing the education project as part of an overall plan for the island. “Not everything goes right when you send your children abroad.”

Some of the things that can go wrong have been highlighted by the economic downturn.

“Many of the students who were sent abroad in the 1990s have since returned home,” said Shin Hyun-man, the president of CareerCare, a job placement company. “Despite their foreign diplomas, they were unable to find jobs abroad because of the global recession. But their Korean isn’t good enough, and they don’t adapt well to the corporate culture here.”

Jimmy Y. Hong, a graduate of Middlesex University in London and now a marketing official at LG Electronics in Seoul, said that when he returned to South Korea in 2008, he enrolled in a business master’s degree program at Yonsei University in Seoul to help compensate for his lack of local school connections, which can be critical to making friends, landing jobs and closing deals.

“I feared I might be ostracized for studying abroad,” he said.