Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thank for the support

Original Article

Summary goes here!
Now the election is over and I lost the election.

I do see quite few people that vote for me and I hope that my idea of responsibility can be adopted by higher education society.

I like to thank all the people that voted for me and I will continue to write about higher education and give society a voice. If you have something to say, I welcome you to post to the comments.

Thanks.

Duncan

Saturday, November 01, 2008

My response to 10 questions posted by Nebraska's Voters Information Packet

Voters Information Packet

Summary goes here!

1. What has motivated you to seek this office? What do you hope to accomplish?

Response:
Having grown up with my kid and taught at community colleges, I am in the opinion that we can do much better with our education if we emphasize responsibility and, therefore, the accountability. Personally, I have nothing against Southeast community college. But I do believe I can provide different voice and ideas that foster the responsibility and, hopefully, those ideas will spread.


2. What do you see as your most valuable credential for this position? Please include biographical information you consider important for voters to know.

Response:
In general, I considered higher education an integrated part of the society. It connects the K12 system, the 4-year institutions and the workforce. I went through my graduate study at UNL and I taught electronics at community colleges. I wrote programs with hundreds of programmers and I then worked with civic engineers at Nebraska DOR. I later worked for the Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education.
In summary, I understand the differences between a 4-year college and a 2-year college and I understand what it means to be a life long learner. I also understand the structure of the Nebraska Higher Education.


3. What would be your budget priorities? How would spend the money for the college more efficiently?

Response:
My highest priority will always be students’ learning. My goal is to see the institution to spend only on necessities but not luxuries. A fast Internet for learning is acceptable while an unlimited bandwidth to watch video is excessive. If we can’t manage services at a lower cost than commercial entities, we will use the services provided by commercial entities.

As long as the learning of students is not affected, I am open to any idea that can lower the operation cost. The idea can be the sharing of resources with other institutions. It can be the adoption of technologies. It can also be the structure changes of the institution. Personally, I believe there are doubts about structure changes, but I believe we can change it for the better.


4. What plans can you suggest to develop monetary support from sources other than taxes?

Response:
In addition to seek grant money, personally, I believe that you make money by providing services.

In an accountable system, appropriate resources should be allocated for each task assigned. Today, a lot of community colleges take up tasks that may or may not be covered by the state funding formula. It is therefore, only reasonable for community colleges to seek separate funding for these tasks. Communities can have says on what tasks is to be funded through taxes; for any other tasks, community colleges should have the freedom to pursue other funding initiatives or to charge for its services.


5. Describe your vision for the college, what is its niche? And therefore, what do you think are the biggest priorities for the college at this time?

Response:
In the state of Nebraska, the funding formula favors vocational education for community colleges. However, we do see more Nebraska students choosing community colleges as their step-stone for 4 year-colleges. The major reason is likely to be the low price of attending community colleges.
The increase of these students suggests what a responsible institution should do – lower the price by spending public’s money responsibly. By holding to the frugal spending standard, the community college will set a high standard for other institutions.

To continue attracting these students, we also need to improve the quality of our graduates. At this economic down turn, this is of particular importance since only the best-qualified graduates can compete in the tough market.

As I pointed out earlier, my goal is more than an institution. I would like to see Southeast Community College stand out as a model institution to inspire Nebraska’s higher education society. An institution along is not going to move the Nebraska forward and we need the whole Nebraska to secure our good life.


6. Each year, how would you assess your effectiveness as a governing board?

Response:
I do the best I can and let voter be the judge. As a board member, I will disclose everything I do concerning my board duty within the restriction of the law. I will defend my action. But voter will be the final judge. I will establish web access to keep contact with the society.


7. What policies would you support concerning keeping faculty (especially adjunct faculty) accountable?

Response:
This is a very good question and as I mentioned earlier that I am all about responsibility. On the surface level, I will support any policy that will hold faculty accountable. I, however, do like to give faculty chances to defend himself and, if necessary, bring the case to the board.

While at the topic, I do like to remind readers that it is very difficult to link students’ performance to faculty’s performance. In addition, I would like to point out that the most important factor that affects a student’s performance is the student.

That said, I do value a balanced student feedback and I will support an improved internal version of the RateMyProfessor.com.

With the acceptance that students play the major role in their performance, I would also like to encourage faculty to embrace the openness with confidence believing that no one will do better given a specific student.


8. Do you oppose or support requiring sensitivity training for faculty and/or staff?

Response:
I support the requiring of sensitivity training for faculty and staff.

I believe that, in general, people grow up in their own particular environment and that shapes their way of conduct. There will be people that grow up in fortunate environment and end up viewing the world in an ideological way. The person may be just fine if given chances to see other side of the world. We are all adults and we learn.


9. Do you oppose or support, for employee benefit purposes, the recognition of domestic partnerships for college employees (whether heterosexual or homosexual couples)?

Response:
One principle I believe is that if you treat your employee right, they will treat you right.

In the case of marriage, since couple are legally one and they share ups and downs not just personally but also legally. It is reasonable for institutions to treat them accordingly.

The principle of responsibility can be applied here too. If partnerships share the same deep bond of a marriage, personally and legally, I will support to treat them just like marriage. If the bond is anything less, institutions should simply take the fair share of it.


10. Do you or your employer have any business relationships serving the college? Please describe.

Response:
Personally, I don’t. My employer does but my employer is a public entity. We had sought opinion from the Accountability and Disclosure Commission and the opinion is positive. Personally, I understand the need of the law. On the other hand, my position does help me to gain knowledge that I feel is necessary for my candidacy.

My response to 5 questions posted by Beatrice Daily Sun

Beatrice Daily Sun

I see higher education as an integrated part of the society. ...The only way to sustain a society is for everyone to pay for his or her due as long as he or she is capable. ...I will make sure the institution lives to the frugal standard.. spend for the necessary but not for the luxury ...It is particularly important to nurture students’ sense of responsibility – study hard and go and seek answers to questions …I will promote diversities so that all views and ideas are exam objectively and will look into discrimination cases of all kinds.

1) What experience do you have that makes you a great candidate for the SCC Board of Governors?

Response:
In general, I considered higher education an integrated part of the society. It connects the K12 system, the 4-year institutions and the work force. I went through the graduate school at UNL, taught electronics at a community college and worked with hundreds of programmer in a US Air Force weather project. I then worked with civic engineer at the department of road. I later worked for Nebraska higher education agency. I am experienced but I am not an insider and I considered public’s interest my top priority. In summary, I understand the differences between a 4-year college and a 2-year college. I understand what it means to be a life long learner. I also understand the structure of the Nebraska Higher Education. But all of these do not motivate me to come forward. My believe is that even though Southeast Community College is doing a fine job in a lot of fields, I believe we can build a even better model for other Nebraska institutions. I understand that some of my ideas may not be popular at first, but I believe they are heading to the right direction, which is to be open and responsible to the society’s needs.

2) As a board member, how will you deal with financial issues that students will face; such as rising tuition costs and the lack of private loans for college?

Response:
The way I look at this issue is that someone had to pay the bill. So, who should? And to what extend should the society, the State or the Federal Government step in? As we are speaking, increasingly, States are dropping their supports for higher education institutions. Most higher education insiders will simply demand State to provide more money without demonstrating the sustainability. As a board member, I would like to be able to demonstrate our contribution and asked for public’s endorsement. I believe that the only way to sustain a society is for everyone to pay for his or her due as long as he or she is capable. For example, when I attended the graduate school, we call pop and ice cream, the luxuries. We saved pennies for our food and our future. That said, as a board member, I will promote financial aid ideas that consists of family and student efforts. For example, the 529 education-account, the loan and the work study. To make sure we make good use of our resources I will favor aids to students who taking their responsibility (a.k.a. study) seriously. I will also support the idea of establishing an emergency fund that provides short-term loan for students’ financial emergency. And in certain cases, I will support the forgiveness of those loans. But as an old saying said, you can land hands for emergency but you can’t land hands for life. To lower the cost, I, as a board member, will see and make sure the institution lives to the frugal standard. I will spend for the necessary but not for the luxury - A decent Internet access is fine while an unlimited access for video is excessive. Some of my saving ideas may call for institution’s structure changes. But my top priority will always be students’ learning, as long as an idea does not lowering students’ learning, I will take steps that are necessary to lower the cost.

3) One of the current board's guiding principles is to value and support diversity? How have you in the past and how will you in the future, uphold this principle?

Response:
First of all, I think we need make distinctions between diversity and equality. We should realize that the goal of affirmative action is about equality, not diversity. Diversity does have its value of broadening people’s view. But, to what extend, should we allow the diversity to over shadow the equality? Let’s say this, in the name of the diversity, we would like to set a rule that all American football teams have to mimic the population profile of the United State. Understand that, in this case, there will be qualified Whites and Blacks that can’t make the team because quota were created for the Natives and Asian. Would you echo this diversity view? The equality, on the other hand, will make sure that qualified Blacks will not be barred from the game. The distant goal of diversity is actually the equality. The question, however, is if diversity a route to the equality? That said, I affirmed that I will promote diversities so that all views and ideas are exam objectively and I will address all issues with solutions that apply to all race, gender and socioeconomic status. In addition, I certainly will look into discrimination cases of all kinds.

4) To promote student learning through the provision of quality instruction and curriculum is another of the board's guiding principles. How will you ensure that student is not only receiving quality instruction, but also ensure that students are getting the most possible out of the curriculum provided?

Response:
Before I start, I like to, again, emphasis the importance of being responsible. Community resource is limited; we can’t ask institutions to provide unlimited helps. Yes, providing personal tutoring/body-guard will improve students’ learning. But how efficient is that and is this kind of operation sustainable? Besides, you can herd them to pastures, but you can’t make them pasturing. To improve students’ learning, everyone has to do their parts. It is particularly important to nurture students’ sense of responsibility – study hard and go and seek answers to questions … etc. In addition to that, instructors are responsible for providing quality instructions while administrators have the role of overseeing the operation and making sure institutions fulfill its society role.

Through my 2 and half years of teaching at community colleges, I notice that a large portion of the community college students lacking the ability of independent learning. I considered this a very important issue since without this ability, community college graduates will face difficulties when transferred to 4-year colleges and will have difficulties in adopting the on-the-job training or the likely mid-life career changes. In my view, the reading comprehension is a vital part of this. Over the years, I have encounter students that were lacking this ability and, as a consequence, could not unlock their potential. On the other hand, students with this ability are totally capable of studying by themselves. And not only can they zip through courses, there are times they were bored by lectures that were designed for the majority of the students and this leads me to the idea of testing-out mentioned in a later paragraph.

Even though I believe it’s possible to improve the situation within our current higher education practices, I wouldn’t rule out other ways to improve the situation. A possible setup is to test the graduates of certain fields with third party managed certificate tests. For example, in the IT field, there are quite few certificate tests available and some employer do ask for the certificate. In this scenario, students are pressured to take up their responsibility and will see instructors as their ally. With students and instructor on the same boat, there is no stop to it.

**I post several similar comments to articles at www.InsideHigherEd.com and, only recently, the ‘State Higher Education Executive Officers’ published a paper ‘accountability for better results’ call for the use of ‘rigorous EXTERNAL accreditation’.

The idea of allowing students to take tests to acquire credits also rings bell to me. The idea will reduce students’ financial burden and, therefore, provide incentives for them to study hard and take up their responsibility. At the same time, this will build up their ability to learn and study independently. The idea of adopting technology and using pre-recorded lectures to share course material is also a good one. Institutions and instructors should not afraid of all these, they just need to adapt. These ideas will give instructors more time to do other things. It does not eliminate instructors job, it simply change their roles. Some instructors may take up the role of consulting and some of them may take up the role of learning and developing new courses. Institutions can extend their reach to other kinds of students and reducing the cost per services.

As a board member, I will see the institution respond to society’s needs and I will support the call for accountability of our institution. I see this as the only way to advance our higher education system.


5) Another principle is to develop and maintain partnerships, which the board works to do. If elected to the board, what partnerships will you strive to either develop or maintain?

Response:
As I continue to emphasize, I strongly believe that the higher education is part of the society and is responsible to the need of the society. As a member of the society, we are connected to the society in terms of needs and feedback.

Instructors in our institution will continue to advance in their fields and will need to connect to the source of the knowledge. Our students will be hired by industries and will need to continue to advance their knowledge while working. Our institution is connected to the K12 too since our students come from that system. While we are advancing our institution, we would like to help the K12 producing better qualified students since that allows our institution to move our offering to a higher level and help the whole society move to a higher level.

Our relations with University and State colleges are of vital importance. Not only that they are part of our knowledge source; they also set the bar for our transfer students. In addition to that, I considered higher education an essential part of our state’s economy and all institutions are linked. The state of Nebraska do not have unlimited resources and how we use them determines our future. At this moment, Nebraska produces highly trained graduates only to see them leave the state to work for other states. This is particularly true for Ph.D. and Master students. The only way to keep these students is to develop our own industry – a vertical industry where University and State colleges provide the research and developing expertise while community colleges provides the knowledgeable work force. Only with this kind of alignment, we can build an industry that is not only competitive but also sustainable since the whole resource is behind it.

As a board member, I will also see our institution to connect to the public and the legislature. I will seek to demonstrate our contribution and, in return, I will seek appropriate funding for our institution to help advancing the whole state of Nebraska.

Friday, October 24, 2008

5 questions posted by Beatrice Daily Sun

Beatrice Daily Sun

Coming soon - my response to 5 questions post by Beatrice Daily Sun

As some of you might know, this year I am running for the Southeast Community College's board of governance. Because of this, I received request from Beatrice Daily Sun to provide their reader my political view on 5 questions. Today, I finished my response and emailed to the newspaper. Hopefully, it will be printed in the next couple of days. I will post my response here right after it appears on the paper or on Nov. 1, 2008 which ever is earlier.

The five questions asked by the Beatrice Daily Sun are:

1) What experience do you have that makes you a great candidate for the SCC Board of Governors?

2) As a board member, how will you deal with financial issues that students will face; such as rising tuition costs and the lack of private loans for college?

3) One of the current board's guiding principles is to value and support diversity? How have you in the past and how will you in the future, uphold this principle?

4) To promote student learning through the provision of quality instruction and curriculum is another of the board's guiding principles. How will you ensure that students as not only receiving quality instruction, but also ensure that students are getting the most possible out of the curriculum provided?

5) Another principle is to develop and maintain partnerships, which the board works to do. If elected to the board, what partnerships will you strive to either develop or maintain?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sizing Up the Spellings Commission

Original Article

Working...
Need check the real report and see if I can find the Puffer report (1970).

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Achievement Test

BACK TO THE BASICS: In Defense of Achievement (and Achievement Tests) in College Admissions
Analysis Favors Subject Tests Over SAT - InsideHigherEd.com
Related article : Local view: It’s time to end affirmative action

The emphasize on Achievement is the emphasize on responsibility... The sense of responsibility to the society is what will make the talented the servant to the society.

What a wonderful article about Achievement Test! A lot of the findings agree with my ideas expressed over the years.

In addition to the article, here's some of my ideas :
  1. What entered into the high school GPA includes measurements like efforts, consistency and knowledge of topics. This give a good reason why high school GPA is a good indicator of success.
  2. Part of the reason that the achievement test is also a good indicator is that, for most of the students, the achievement can be gained if students put their efforts in studying the topic and finishing homework assignment. The measurement of achievement is, in part, the measure of efforts and hardworking.
  3. As noted in the article, the GPA is not free from subjective influences. At this point in time in the United State, this may not be as serious. But as the competition for higher education admission rise, this will become an issue.
  4. The switching from talent (read I.Q.) based message to Achievement based message is very important. This is not just for the education but for the society. The message is that you can do it if you put your mind to it and there is no excuse about talent. The emphasize on Achievement is the emphasize on responsibility.
  5. It is students' responsibility to learn and to study and it is teachers' responsibility to provide needed help and it is parents' responsibility to see assignments get done.
  6. With responsibilities in the atmosphere and the abuse of social resource out of the way, we can now provide help to those with truly in need and level the play ground.
  7. We don't really know how genetic of race made to the talent. But that is really not the issue. The sense of responsibility to the society is what will make the talented the servant to the society. Talent is to be blessed to serve the society but for personal gain.
  8. The goal of norm-reference is to make test scores compatible between various question sets. I am not sure it really mean to be used to compare students.
  9. It is true that small differences in test scores may in fact have little or no effect on students' performance once in college. On the other hand, students will small differences in test scores will be accepted to schools that have virtually no difference in quality. Affirmed to test scores, however, established an objective measurement that students and society can count out the subjective influences such as race, gender, socioeconomic ranks, personal affiliations, grade inflation ... etc.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Arrival of ‘Merit-Blind Admissions’

Original Article

Summary goes here!

For private institution, I have not much to say. For public institution, we need to have a good debate on what the public really want before we jump into conclusions.

For me, since the public resources is limited, we need spend public's money wisely so that it benefits the society, not the student, the most. So the question becomes how do we know which student will benefit the society and by how much and how can we setup policies that will help us address the problem. The benefit should include preceived social values like promote work ethic and others.

Hey, You! Pay Attention!

Original Article

Summary goes here!
Are people barking on the wrong tree? We should try to solve the problem the right way!

======= My comment on InsideHigherEd
Well. Couple things. For one, these are adults we are talking about. Second, there's more than one way to learn even though the mileage may vary.

I have no rejection on those that saying this is a lesson in civility. But, if that is so, please say so. Otherwise, I think we should accept the fact that there's more than one way to learn and our goal is to advance students' knowledge as much as possible. Of cause, the advance should be evaluated as objectively as possible.

Personally, I know that professors have a lot to offer. The question is if they have spent time thinking about it. For the minimum, they should realize that there is no need for them to repeat what the textbook is saying and should concentrate on explaining points that students have trouble with. Those points could be a very good evaluation material.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

National Mathematics Advisory Panel FINAL REPORT

Original Article

Summary goes here!
Just read the key finding section of the report. I have to say there are good ideas against the current practice in US. The sad thing is that it takes a presidential panel to point out some of the obvious.

Here's my opinion about this topic:
1. Emphasis on responsibility - Teacher is to teach, student is to learn. Teacher present the material and demonstrate the application of it, student is to read the material and do the assignment. Students also responsible for asking for clarifications. In my opinion, teaching responsibility is the most important thing in education. Parents are a major part of this. Parents need to take parts in ensuring assignments get done and in setting priorities.
2. Forget about the smart or not smart. This simply give student excuses of not putting in the efforts. Forget about identifying gifted students by IQ test - let's based it on achievement.
3. Set an aggressive curriculum. When I grew up, I was done with arithmetic by grade 6 and had done geometry, trigonometry and all basic algebra by grade 9. These are the standard of 30 years ago. I would like to see my kids learning more than I did when they reach the 9th grade.
4. Forget about the expensive hard covered books. Producing paper covered text books so students can carry them home for studying and reference. This also give parent chances to work with students, or, learn with them.
5.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Community College and education

Ill-prepared students flood Iowa community colleges
Call for Equity for Community Colleges

Working draft

In today's higher education environment, community colleges were asked to provide more and more services. Part of the reason is the lack of well defined goal for community colleges. The broad mission of supporting the community is leaving the details to be interpreted what ever way you wanted. Without those details been defined, community colleges will be asked to take case of the never-ending responsibilities without been compensated appropriately by the public fund.

Community colleges are supported by public money and is, therefore, respond to public's needs. We, however, must understand that responding to public's need does not necessarily mean to take care of ALL the public's needs. It is, therefore, community's job in defining the mission of a community college and provide appropriate support for it. In the process, remember that there is no such thing as free lunch. Public or the community must decide if assigning a particular mission to a community college server the best interest of the community.

For example, should we assign community college the mission of teaching remedial courses to cover up for the failing of the K12 system? And how should this be funded? Is this the best use of public resources?

At this point in time, a lot of community colleges take on the job of teaching remedial courses without community's direction and specific fundings. Problems created are many. For one, this blur the responsibility line between K12 and higher education.



In order to analyze the problem at community colleges, it is necessary to find better defined

We have to agree that community colleges are in hot spot. Reports on poorly educated K12 graduates are plenty. There are plenty of proposals in how to fix this problem. The thing that is lacking in these proposal is the responsibility piece.

The most important piece in education is to teach students to be responsible. To lead by example, this means that we all have to be responsible - whether you are a parent, a teacher or an institution.

At this point in time, we have an education system that largely ignore the importance of responsibility. For example, parents do not put emphasis on school works, there is no good checks on high school graduates, fund raising become a big events in K12 and there is this open enrollment messages.

We, the American, are way too nice in taking other people's problem in our own hand. Which is nice but does not help addressing the root of the problem. For the community college, with today's environment, I really like to see the community colleges went out and emphases to students and parents that if a students is not doing well in K12, they will be paying for remedial courses that are not to be considered as college works.

The message is that it is parent and students' responsibility to be prepared for the college work. They can pay the fee to take the remedial courses or to go and pound on the K12 system to provide adequate education.

Concerning the funding for community colleges, I see no reason that public should share the cost for the remedial courses. Or maybe, those cost should be provided through the K12 system. The result of enforcing this policy is that the K12 system will have to address the problem by providing proofs that they did the right thing in providing adequate instructions. Please noted that I say 'instructions'! Students and parents are responsible for working out the assignment and asking for help.

The bottom line: We simply have to build a responsible education system.

Beyond the responsibility, we have to understand that all human beings are different and, with the best education system we can have, we can only wish that every student will have a Doctor degree.

Basically, community college's duty is to full-fill society's higher education needs that do not meet the mission of traditional 4 year institutions. Traditional 4 year institutions, in general, are geared toward providing general/humanity education in addition to specialized training.



At this point in time, the mission of community college is not well defined.

The mission of community college is either not well defined or is dynamically defined. It serves the purpose of re-education and bridging the K12 and 4 year college. It also serves the career oriented students. Or serve as a bare bone substitution for 4 year courses. The big problem is to dynamically relocate resources. It is hard to know the need of students and that is what make managing community college challenge. You need to know the community well and it will be hard for community to install fixed assets/durable goods because the dynamic nature of the business.

====================

The biggest problem in education is teaching students the responsibility. Of cause, to lead by example, this means the responsibility are a prerequisite of parents and teachers.

Community colleges are, in general, open enrollment. However, as it is clear by now, this send a wrong message to the general public - you can always have college education as long as you can afford it. Besides, Uncle Sam is going to help you.

I am coming from a different society, in which, if people can't pass the college entrance exam, they are on their own. They are responsible to find a way to finance themselves to prepare for the exam. Today's community colleges fulfill this part of the duty for American citizens - which is a good thing. However, the message is muddled and not clear: You are not here to get your college education! You are here to make up what you missed in higher school and this will cost you! This message should be send loud and clear to parents and students: You got yourself a bargon to the free K12 education. If you screwed up, you will have to pay for yourself.

We should all understand by now, duty free welfare is not the way to go. You can build a society without everyone take their share of the duty. This is the only way to keep the working ethic alive. Just look the reaction of the middle class, they are crying for their share of education cost too. We simply have to build society on a fare ground. This lead to the question of the funding of community colleges.

Friday, March 07, 2008

‘Chic Geek’: Computer Science Major Rebounds

Original Article

Summary goes here!

The bottom line is that the IT job is off-shoring. The reason is, of cause, cheap labor.

However, we need to ask ourself: Is it OK to support/compensate our own labor if people in other country can do the job cheaper? We have to realize that this is no different from buying toys or consumer electronics from other country. We need to ask ourselves, why can't we make it cheaper here in the United State? The answer could point to our social needs. Like we want a better society where employee are protected from employer. These are good causes and sooner or later those other countries will follow the same path and their cost of producing goods will rise.

All of these, however, did not change the fact that our labor is more expensive. We can keep arguing that our IT work force is just as good as those in other countries. But that would not help. We need our engineer/IT to be better than those in other country. And, why shouldn't we expect that? We have spent much more money in our education.

Let's look at other US high tech industry like the fighter jets and the space program. They are the best in the world. We need


========== My comment on InsideHigherEd.com ========
I appreciate the links provided by Scrawed. The bottom line is that the IT job is off-shoring. The reason is, of cause, cheap labor.

However, we need to ask ourself: Is it OK to support/compensate our own labor if people in other countries can do the job cheaper? We have to realize that this is no different from buying toys or consumer electronics from other countries. We need to ask ourselves, why can't we make it cheaper here in the United State? The answer could point to our social needs. Like we want a better society where employee are protected from employer. These are good causes and sooner or later those other countries will facing the same situation and it will cause their products to cost more. The point is this: If we are doing the same thing those people can do, I don't see how can we get paid more. We simply have to do things that they just can't do yet. For example, the Space program - yes, I know they are catching up too.

Anyway, we simply need to do better. We shouldn't even set our goal at the same level as those countries are and we shouldn't! We spent much more money in education than they are.

In the case of IT, we should understand that unless we are talking about highly academic/mathematical programming (pattern recognition, compression, encryption), a lot of them are simply labor intensive jobs. So. How many of us can do those? I think those are the training our work force needs - a REALLY good understanding of math. Same applied to other knowledge.

Sure, it's hard. But don't we think we have the best education system?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The ‘Other’ Transfer of Credit Problem

Original Article

Summary goes here!

==== My comments on InsideHigherEd.com ===
==#1
In addition to "colleges should not have policies that reject a student’s academic credits based solely on the accreditation status of the institution from which he or she earned them" I will add one more "Transfered-in students should be reported as part of the graduation rate." - I understand this will create some technical problem, but it can be worked out.

The idea is to give receiving institution freedom, yet, holding them responsible. By requiring institutions to report the success of transfer students, receiving institutions need look hard to see the impact of accepting a given transfer student. If the student is well prepared, accepting it will simply benefit the school. On the other hand, accepting an ill-prepared students, the receiving college is better prepared to put in extra efforts.

This is an important issue. Opinion welcome.

=== #2
I agree with Math Prof in couple of points.

I taught at community college for a while and I can say that the level required of my students is not as high as I would expected for 4 year college students which, as I said before, could very well caused by students' quality - I can't flunk all my students can I? I do have few students that is independent and is capable of handling high level demands. But quite few of them don't have the adequate reading skill to handle a higher level text book. So. I would say it is important for community colleges to promote students' basic skill and their independence if their students are going to 4 year colleges.

On the other hand, I also agree with points raised by Erika and Jim. My thought on that is that we need more options for students which include new kind of institutions that have different missions.

At this point in time, traditional 4 year colleges are the favorites. People and business seems to give weights on their graduates. However, I believe the trend can change. For IT, with the number of certificates tests available, some business are using them to measure the skill. The difficulty, of cause, is to find measures for other hiring criteria.

=== #3
Anon,

Well. It is just an idea for solving the problem. Personally, I do think all entities are responsible for the society and, therefore, should be regulated by government. However, I don't think it's government's job to get deep control of entities. So the proposal is to address the question raised without heavy regulations.

The question at hand is the protection of students' right - regardless where students obtained their credits. There could be other ways to resolve this problem including heavy hand regulations from government, which I really don't like.

As to the credit transfer within regionally accredited institutions, as far as I know, it seems to be less of a problem than other kind of credit transfer. But even then, there are questions raised by Math Prof.

Like I said before, not all students from the same class of the same community college are equal. The only way I can see fair is to evaluate each of them separately.

As you can see, it will take truck loads of regulations to ensure each student is evaluated separately and fairly.

By the way, I am open to ideas and I am not married to to this accountability thing. It just seems to me that it's a good idea for the problem.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Call to Arms for Private Colleges

Original Article

Summary goes here!

=== My post at InsideHigherEd.com ====
I believe it is wrong for government to go to this depth of interference.

There is no doubt that society had changed. There are jobs that need better education. However, the solution do not need to be higher education per se. A better trained high school graduates could be of help.

Even with higher education, 4 year of traditional college may not be the must - just look at highly motivated Bill Gates, Michael Dell or Jerry Yang.

For a society as a whole, we need to understand that not everyone need to attend traditional colleges. A organization that can provide needed knowledge and skill is what is counted.

The price will come down if we can level the playing field and allow more ways for students to gain knowledge, certificates and jobs. We shall give institutions freedom in operating the organization but insist on objective measure of their graduates. If an institution can produce good graduates that meet employers' need why do you care how they achieving it.

The problem these days is that people insist that the only way to produce good graduates is to go through institutions that operated in the traditional way. This way of thinking killed all possibility of running higher Ed in other possible cost saving ways.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The 5% Non-Solution

Original Article

Summary goes here!

Well. I don't like this. I hope people can come up with better reason and justification in doing this. Otherwise, find a better way to address the problem. I will take time think about this.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mixed Grades for Grads and Assessment

Original Article
Original AACU report

I read the original article and
Well. I read the original article and, in general, it's not biased.

The 'facts' are:
1. There are room for improvement in college education.
2. There are room for improvement in evaluating graduates.
3. Employer don't FEEL standardized test can measure ALL they wanted from a graduates - but so do other way of evaluation.

So. Where should we go from here?
1. Need accountability for school.
2. Develop better evaluation methods.

Faculty evaluation is OK assuming faculty does not yield to pressure from the top. Senior project is good too. But can you trust those from the for-profit institutions? - this may apply to traditional school too. Now. How can you be sure the info you received is not biased? It seems to me we need some independent vendors.

Now. The accountability. This can be done independent from the way of evaluation. As long as the result are published and broke down by school, parents and students can choose school of desired quality (employability) with reasonable price.

My post at InsideHigherEd.com: =============
First of all, I like to thank Scott to bring this report forward.

I suspected that this report is a response to Spellings' committee. In a way, it did - employers don't trust standardized test. But it does not respond to the accountability question.

The report showed that employers do want to evaluate the graduates and this is what is important. In what form is really a secondary question.

Of cause, employers can careless about school rankings if they can evaluate graduates. But the measuring of school is actually a call for accountability. This goal can be achieved regardless of the type of evaluation is used. As long as the result is published, students and parents will have the information to pick a school with desired quality(employability) with reasonable price.

There are opportunities for vendors to work with employers to create good evaluation tools. But I do hope US employers aren't like those described by Scrawed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

International Call for Open Resources

Original Article

The next thing to do is to allow them (students) to test out and charge them (students) just for that service. In doing so, we are not only fair and we promote the importance of 'critical thinking' or, like what I like to put it, the ability to adapt and learn by yourself - isn't that supposed to be the goal of education?

Like what I said before, this is all very well. But the claim: 'we have an opportunity to dramatically improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people' is a bit remote at this point.

For a normal person, the first thing he can improve is get a job by attending school and PAY the (high) tuition. Even though resource is out there, studying it does not give you the job you want since you do not have the degree or certificate. Degree or certificate requires you to sit in the class and pay for the sitting time. I know I am exaggerate a bit. But there are people that can study by themselves whether because he already had other education or he simply smart and possess the critical thinking skill.

The fair thing to do is to allow them to test out and charge them just for that service. In doing so, we are not only fair and we promote the importance of 'critical thinking' or, like what I like to put it, the ability to adapt and learn by yourself - isn't that supposed to be the goal of education?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Staff Salary By Race - University of Nebraksa

Original Article

Disparities are very likely to appear at low-skill jobs where abilities can easily be overridden by personal preferences. In the study, we see that for low-end jobs, where the salary scale begins at bellow 20 thousands a year, there are higher percentages of Whites in the high salary scale. Disparities exist in all minorities. In the Service/Maintenance category, Asian receives the worst salary offering with 85% of them receive the lowest salaries comparing to 53% for Black, 44% for Native American, 46% for Hispanics and 36% for Whites.

Literature Overview

For years, salary differences in the higher education had been a much-studied topic. Most of the studies focused on faculty and gender disparities. These studies provided useful information in recognizing possible gender discrimination inside higher education communities. However, almost all of these studies are focused on faculties and did not examine the possible disparities among staffs. In addition to that, most of the studies are interested in gender disparity rather than race disparities.

Fresh ideas in this analysis

Instead of studying disparities in faculty and gender, this analysis focused on staff and race. Implications of this study are many. For one, we hope this report will encourage a broader discussion on staff disparity since the working staff is a better representation of the working class of American than faculty. Second to that, we hope this study will illustrate that disparities do not appear only in the high paying jobs.

One of the suspicions we had in conducting this analysis was that disparities are very likely to appear at low-skill jobs where abilities can easily be overridden by personal preferences.

Limitation of data and this report

The source data used in this report is the 2005 Staff survey collected via the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System by US Department of Education. The data is available for download from their Peer Analysis Site.

This report is a preliminary analysis. Our focus is on the University of Nebraska campuses. Since there weren't many minorities working in the University of Nebraska when broken down by job categories, some of the analysis in this report may not be statistically sound. We, however, view this as a pilot study that could inspire researchers to work on this kind of data.

Among job categories, the administrator and skilled crafts contain too few minorities to be considered statistically sound.

We also like to point out that we have no intention in singling out the University of Nebraska. We believe the problem could well exist in all parts of our society.

Notes in handling of data

Since Hispanic is considered an ethnicity and can, therefore, have the appearance of any race, this report aggregates minorities in two ways in hope to identify if discrimination is an act based on the perceived appearance of minorities. One aggregation is labeled Minority_1 and does not include Hispanics. The other one, labeled Minority_2, does include Hispanics.

High lights in the analysis

In general, we see that for low-end jobs, where the salary scale begins at bellow 20 thousands a year, there are higher percentages of Whites in the high salary scale. For high paying jobs, except at the very top salary scale, there are usually higher percentages of Whites at higher salary scales. In the Service/Maintenance category, Asian receives the worst salary offering with 85% of them receive the lowest salaries comparing to 53% for Black, 44% for Native American, 46% for Hispanics and 36% for Whites.

Charts


Clerical
Administrator
OtherProfessional
ServiceMaintenance
SkilledCrafts
Paraprofessional
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