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Tag: chronicle-of-higher-education

Double Spaced Stupidity

Double Spaced Stupidity

More than forty colleges and universities will be denied Upward Bound funds for violating strict technical rules on spacing, fonts or the like.

That I have to write that first sentence is appalling. That I live in a world where we have an administration denying aid to the neediest among our college students on grounds of line spacing implies a world of arbitrarily applied rules and government officials run amok.

The quote below is from the Chronicle of Higher Education article – Dozens of Colleges’ Upward Bound Applications Are Denied for Failing to Dot Every I. Read with astonishment about the “rules.” I did.

For the want of double spacing in a small section of a 65-page grant application, 109 low-income high-school students will be cut off from a program at Wittenberg University that has been providing them with tutoring and counseling to prepare them for college. And they’re not alone. Over the past few weeks at least 40 colleges and organizations with similar Upward Bound programs have also had their grant applications summarily rejected by the U.S. Department of Education for running afoul of rules on mandatory double-spacing rules, use of the wrong font, or other minor technical glitches.

The affected colleges, whose programs serve at least 2,400 low-income students, and the members of Congress who represent them are furious, especially because their appeals to the department for reconsideration have so far been met with little sympathy or indication of any sort of resolution.

The program director for Upward Bound at Wittenberg, Eddie L. Chambers, said he did have a conversation with Linda Byrd-Johnson, acting deputy assistant secretary for higher-education programs. It was “gracious,” said Mr. Chambers, who has overseen the Wittenberg program for 40 of its 50 years. “But in the end, she told me, ‘A rule is a rule.’ She told me, ‘Eddie, I too have to abide by the rules.’”

What’s going on here? Yes, there have to be rules but rules have to be applied with intelligence and judgment, things that have apparently simply ceased to exist at the Department of Education. Some of these colleges have received these benefits and run these programs for twenty years and didn’t have any problems with their applications until now.

Why now? You have to wonder? What is it about these applications that suddenly caused the Grammar Gestapo to leap into action? Is this just some innocent application of the rules or is it more sinister?

Is there something about helping poor people find their way into college that the our government finds upsetting? You have to ask what’s driving this? I don’t know but this is just nonsense and people are going to miss out because of incorrect spacing in an attached infogram on a grant request and that is just not right.

James Pilant

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Academic Freedom and Online Classes

Academic Freedom and Online Classes

Jerry Brown

Jerry Brown

A Governor’s Attack on Academic Freedom – Ethics Sage

This blog first appeared as an article on February 18, 2013 in The Chronicle of Higher Education. It challenges California Governor Jerry Brown’s recent intrusion into the process of academic freedom. Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2013-14 budget for California intrudes on academic freedom in a way that could harm the 23 campuses of California State University and the 10 campuses of the University of California—but the impact of his attempt to control academic decision-making threatens every public college and university in the country.

Putting aside for the moment the fairness of Brown’s proposed $250-million increase for both the CSU and UC systems, and an additional $10-million to each one to develop online courses, the governor’s budget attempts to dictate how the increased funds should be spent. That is a violation of academic freedom, the bedrock of colleges and universities.

Universities exist to promote the public interest, not to further the interests of individual professors, the institution as a whole, or, in this case, the governor of California. The public interest is not served by Brown’s inserting himself into education decision-making.

A Governor’s Attack on Academic Freedom – Ethics Sage

Online education has its uses. I teach online classes myself. But to mandate that colleges and universities devote certain resources to this is silly. It appears that the “very serious” people, the “villagers,” the Washington elite, etc., have decided that online education is a wonderful way to cut costs and is roughly equal to regular classroom education. It isn’t. It’s a different kind of animal. It takes different teaching methods and different student attitudes to work. It is not applicable to every field and endeavor. It’s limitations and advantages are not yet fully understood. Using it as a broad means of cheapening education without enough experience in its use is madness.

The processes of education in Western civilization have taken many centuries to develop. However, there are more than a few people who want to throw all those centuries of educating the “whole” man away and replacing it with the fastest, cheapest vocational training possible. Didn’t Rick Scott explain the logic …

Spending money on science and math degrees can help Floridians find work and provide a return on taxpayers’ investments, Gov. Rick Scott said today in an interview on “The Marc Bernier Show” on WNDB-AM in Daytona Beach.

Scott said Florida doesn’t need “a lot more anthropologists in this state.”

“It’s a great degree if people want to get it. But we don’t need them here,” Scott said.

“I want to spend our money getting people science, technology, engineering and math degrees. That’s what our kids need to focus all of their time and attention on: Those type of degrees that when they get out of school, they can get a job.”

(Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2011/10/scott-florida-doesnt-need-more-anthropology-majors.html#storylink=cpy)
Actually, we need whole human beings who can appreciate civics, art, architecture, literature, history, etc., those subjects that develop judgment and intellectual power. Those people are effective citizens.
So, let’s keep academic decision making at the college and university level.
James Pilant
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Battling Plagiarism and Student Evaluations (via Diary of a Mad Professor)

A college professor battles plagiarism. Good story – good read.

In my classes, I have 100% opinion papers. The students have to explain their thinking about an important issue. I don’t think it makes plagiarism impossible but it does make it more difficult.

James Pilant

There was an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education recently about a professor would was diligent about dealing with plagiarism, only to find that it affected his course evaluations and eventually his reappointment. I knew it was only a matter of time, when I would be kicked in the behind with the same problem. Yesterday, my Department Head contacted me about my fall schedule and he said he noticed my evaluations were not as strong as in th … Read More

via Diary of a Mad Professor

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