Tag: huffington post

The Lake Wobegon Effect at Cal State

WILLIAM G. TIERNEY, professor of higher education, USC’s Pullias Center.

This op-ed originally appeared at the Huffington Post on Sept. 27.

Garrison Keillor has long told stories about Lake Wobegon, his mythical home out there on the edge of the prairie “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” California State University is inventing its own Lake Wobegon in dealing with entering freshmen who need to take remedial classes in math and English.

For years, Cal State University has had a significant remediation problem, spending about $30 million annually – or 2 percent of its instructional budget — on preparing entering freshmen for college-level work. In spring 2004, it rolled out the Early Assessment Program to reduce its remedial burden. Prospective students take a test before their high-school senior year that tells them if their English and math skills are college-level. If not, they are encouraged to take courses to correct their deficiencies before enrolling in the fall.

How Community Colleges Can Keep Sacramento Pols Off Their Backs

ALICIA DOWD, associate professor, Rossier School of Education, and co-director for Center for Urban Education, and ESTELA MARA BENSIMON, professor of education, Rossier, and co-director of CUE.

This op-ed originally appeared at the Huffington Post on April 30.

The recently released California community college system’s Student Success Scorecard has rightly drawn praise. The web-based scorecards contain comprehensive information on students’ performance at each of the state’s 112 community colleges, making details about student outcomes the most easily accessible in the nation. The Scorecard reveals how colleges are doing in retaining and graduating students, remedial education and job-training programs, with data broken down by gender, age, race and ethnicity. The added information about race and ethnicity, new to this accountability report, is crucial in a system in which latinos and other students of color form the majority.

While students can use the scorecard to pick a campus, its main purpose is to provide data to community college leaders that they can use to zero in on what is impeding students’ performance and design remedies. But as important as the Student Success Scorecard is as an accountability tool, it does not ensure meaningful change because neither rewards nor penalties are attached to using the data or to improving scores.

The Fourth Science Domain

PAUL S. ROSENBLOOM, professor of computer science, Institute of Creative Technologies, Viterbi.

This op-ed originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

Introductory science courses, whether in physics, biology or psychology, typically span the discipline’s core ideas, along with glimpses of its past and future. Not so with computer science. Students either learn how to use basic applications — browsers, text editors, drawing programs — or acquire beginning programming skills. They may also be introduced to some key components of working computer systems, but the full scope and diversity of computing is not taught.

Unfortunately, what occurs in the classroom is just part and parcel of a larger problem: Computer science can’t seem to get any respect as a stand-alone science. To students, it’s simply programming. To scientists in other fields, it’s a tool that helps them in their research. To the public, it’s a source of productivity in the workplace and entertainment apps. Even many computing professionals see computer science as just a form of engineering.

Making Universities and Colleges More Military Friendly

RON AVI ASTOR, professor of urban social development, Schools of Education and Social Work

This op-ed originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

Relations between academia and the military services are not known for their cordiality. The flash point was the Vietnam War. Campuses across the country were incubators of the anti-war movement and arenas for major protests. Many units of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps were shut down, especially at the Ivies. More recently, the government’s “Don’t-Ask-Don’t Tell” policy for gays was a source of friction at some universities.

Heredity, Diet Driving Health Crisis in Hispanic Community

MICHAEL GORAN, director of the USC Childhood Obesity Research Center, Keck School of Medicine, and EMILY VENTURA, fellow, UCLA Department of Cancer Prevention and Control Research.

This op-ed originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

A combination of heredity and diet is driving a potential health crisis of liver disease in the Hispanic community.

Obesity is a growing problem among Hispanics, especially children and adolescents. In Los Angeles County, obesity levels among Hispanics are among the highest (25.5 percent), especially hitting those with low incomes. In some communities, some 35 percent of children are obese.

How to Save the Euro: A Little More Inflation in Germany, Please

ARIS PROTOPAPADAKIS, professor of business and finance, USC Marshall School of Business.

This op-ed originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

Euro zone leaders’ latest plan to rescue the euro, agreed to late last month, focuses on two crises: the continent’s ailing banks and the sovereign-debt woes of Europe’s southern peripheral economies. Unfortunately, their blueprint neglects a third crisis that continues to grow and could bring down the euro zone: Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain are becoming increasingly uncompetitive economically relative to Germany.

Most economists agree that renewed economic growth is essential for saving the euro. The problem is that the effects of measures such as creating a banking union, the centerpiece of the recent summit’s rescue plan, may save the banking system but will do nothing to reverse the loss of competitiveness among the region’s economies. The euro zone can’t wait much longer, as the steadily rising borrowing costs of Spain and Italy demonstrate. It needs to start growing now, and the fastest and surest way to stimulate growth without increasing deficits is for Germany to accept a much looser monetary policy and the consequent higher inflation to help restore the competitiveness of Europe’s peripheral economies.

The Price of College Affordability

WILLIAM G. TIERNEY, university professor, USC Pullias Center for Higher Education.

This op-ed originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

The political standoff in Washington over extending low interest rates on student loans would have been unimaginable a generation ago. Back then, there was an unwritten compact between government and higher education. Everyone largely assumed that if government — that is, taxpayers — financially helped more people attend and graduate from college, we would all be better off in the end. A college education was considered a “public good.” Now it’s a “private good,” and the individual student is increasingly picking up the tab.

This shift in responsibility began in the mid-1980s, but it has exploded during the Great Recession. Revenue-starved states have slashed their higher-education budgets, forcing public universities and colleges, where three of every four students enroll, to dramatically raise tuition and fees. There is a limit to all this, and we may already be at the tipping point of affordability. Student debt, at $1 trillion, is now greater than credit card debt.

Political Ads Are Hazardous to Your Mental Health

MARTY KAPLAN, professor of entertainment, media and society, USC Annenberg

This op-ed originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

This is the disclaimer that Britain’s Public Interest Research Centre recently proposed for inclusion on billboards:

“This advertisement may influence you in ways of which you are not consciously aware. Buying consumer goods is unlikely to improve your wellbeing, and borrowing to buy consumer goods may be unwise; debt can enslave.”

For this buy-buy-buy holiday season, those words are a spritz of pepper spray.

Imagine, then, that advertisers were required to admit that the underlying premise of

How to Prevent Another Titantic

COSTAS SYNOLAKIS, professor of civil and environmental engineering, USC Viterbi.

his op-ed originally appeared at the HuffingtonPost.

The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is now with us. Dozens of events have been planned and the story keeps enthralling us, despite the fact that so few of us travel by large ocean liners anymore. For the record, the beginning of our fascination with disasters of titanic proportions started with the great Lisbon tsunami of 1755, which changed the way Europeans viewed nature and God, as candidly described by Voltaire over two centuries ago.

Recent events provide clues why ship disasters captivate us. In January’s sinking of Costa Concordia off Isola de Giglio in Italy, 30 died, a surprising number given that the ship was only 5 years-old, and the accident occurred within a few hundred feet off the nearest port. Survivors described harrowing scenes before evacuating, conflicting

The Night Anita Hill Changed America

CINNY KENNARD, senior fellow, Annenberg Center at USC: “After Clarence Thomas was narrowly confirmed, I knocked on the door again. Anita Hill finally opened it and came outside. I begged her to say something. America’s women, I said, wanted to…