29Apr

    There’s a Global 100 Year Education Gap

    As all parts of the world continues to advance and modernize, albeit at different speeds, the importance of education is becoming stronger and stronger. This emphasis on education isn’t just limited to modern countries with first world utilities either; third world countries with booming economies and rapid growth are possibly even more in need of educated people to take control of these new economies and guide them towards financial success. While primary education is quickly on the rise in developing countries (due to it being that much more accessible to people than it once was), the education gap really kicks off when it comes to both the levels of individual attainment as well as simply how many years of schooling people have. marilyn gardner milton, marilyn gardner, milton ma, massachusetts, education gap

    Unfortunately, as it stands, most developing countries have reached education and achievement levels that the west had reached around 100 years ago. If the current attitude towards global education continues on the path that it’s currently going down, this gap will never decrease and the world will constantly be faced with differing levels of education in different countries. While this doesn’t necessarily sound like the worst thing in the world, countries are becoming more and more interconnected as technology continues to advance and put everyone in closer and closer contact with each other. This means that this education gap might very well cause problems as economies become more and more reliant and involved with these developing countries; having a lack of highly educated and trained people could put strain on delicate economic ties.

    So how can this massive problem be tackled? The first thing that needs to happen is a global shift in attitudes towards education. While this is already beginning to happen, many people around the world get distracted from their educations by family or societal pressure that can spring from both cultural and economic sources. The ability to take time away from one’s family and livelihood is necessary to achieve any sort of educational standard and so more emphasis needs to be placed on programs the promote and reward educational attainment and make it possible for people to take time away from their jobs so they can get educated. While this is easier said than done and only a start to addressing the century-long education gap, it’s still a start. Even a marathon can be completed with baby steps, you just need to get started.

    If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

    03Mar

    White House Announces “Let Girls Learn” Initiative

    Education levels vary around the world and heavily depend on both the wealth of a country as well as its cultures and traditions. Some cultures place a higher emphasis on the education of their children while others feel as though children should stay and work and help the family. However, even in the cultures that value education, it is frequently seen that the education of women and girls takes a much lower precedence than the education of men and boys. While this isn’t true of all societies and all countries, there is no denying the fact that women and young girls have a much harder time finding education in many parts of the world.marilyn_gardner_milton_female_education

    Why is this important? Well aside from the obvious fact that everyone deserves education, multiple sources have claimed multiple times that the education of women should be seen as much more important than it currently is. Even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agrees that the educating of women isn’t only good for them, but for their countries as well. Human intelligence is split 50/50; women are just as smart as men (regardless of what tradition might say) and by keeping women uneducated, you’re literally halving the intellectual resources of your country. It’s time for these misguided and antiquated ideas of the past to disappear once and for all!

    It seems as though the White House is in strong agreement with these sentiments. The Obama administration has announced a new world-wide education initiative called “Let Girls Learn” that focuses on increasing educational access to women and young girls all across the world. With over 60 million girls, of which half are still adolescents, unable to access education, the initiative has its work cut out for it. Michelle Obama is visiting Japan and Cambodia to begin promoting the plan and that’s just the beginning. The First Lady’s office will work in coordination with the Peace Corps to focus on community-lead and supported plans that will increase the number of girls and women in school as well as helping to keep them in school. While the US does much to support female education programs abroad, this is the first time that all the efforts are going to be coordinated under a single strategy. This program is now going to be a linchpin of foreign policy and President Obama has said that if any country wants to partner with the US, they need to work on increasing the number of girls in school.

    If you’d like to learn more, the link is here.

    03Feb

    22 States Don’t Require Measles Vaccinations for Colleges

    Measles are back. While this might not be news to people who regularly spend time on the internet, the once eradicated disease is making a forceful comeback due to parents who refuse to get their children vaccinated against the disease (as well as a host of other diseases) thanks to debunked misinformation about vaccines causing autism. While measles might not be an issue for those who are vaccinated (obviously) or unvaccinated but older and healthy, it can actually cause death and other complications in young children who haven’t been vaccinated due to age or health reasons as well as in people with compromised immune systems. The main reason to get vaccinated for diseases like the measles is to prevent any occurrences from happening, regardless of how deadly the diseases might be.vaccine

    Measles is an incredibly infectious disease and can be spread even before symptoms show up. Did you know that 22 states allow students to go to colleges without any sort of vaccine? This is becoming a huge issue now that people are actively catching and spreading measles, especially in California. The news of measles first broke in Disneyland and now it seems to have continued to spread. Students at three California campuses — Moorepark College, California State University at Channel Islands, and California State University at Long Beach — have caught measles and are now included in the 90 people who have caught it in California so far. This is a worrisome development in the fight against a disease that was once eradicated in the United States and proof that anti-vaxers, those who are against vaccines, are actively threatening the health of our society.

    Now California is fighting back by requiring that anyone who wants to go to college in the state must be up to date on their vaccines and fully vaccinated against all of the standard diseases. The program would begin in 2017 and even that is already drawing criticism from scientists and health professionals who believe that it should’ve already been implemented. Hopefully this anti-vaccine movement is just a phase and that it will die out after parents realize that they’re being selfish by refusing to vaccinate their children; that it puts the rest of society in harms way.

    If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

    07Jan

    Fixing Education Starts in the States, Not Washington

    There is no denying that the education system of the United States of America has been failing more and more as we continue to slide in basically every educational ranking on a global level. As our children continue to suffer and not reach their true potentials, politicians have been arguing and trying to figure out ways to fix the issue. One of the attempts to combat our slow decline in educational standards was the No Child Left Behind policy that has failed in almost every aspect and which both sides of the political spectrum are looking forward to revise in 2015. However the issue with our system isn’t a federal one, it begins at a state level and repairs should start there.

    While the once-proposed solution to our educational woes was focusing on increasing budgets and reducing the average class size, the numbers show that this approach is clearly flawed and that we’re missing something important. The US has 7,000 students drop out of high school every day and of those in prison, 65% dropped out of high school. The reason that we haven’t been able to change the path that we’re going down comes down a matter of attitude and the people who work at the schools that are currently failing. While there are obviously teachers and administrators who care and do fantastic jobs, there is clearly something toxic about the current attitudes of the educational establishment.

    There are some simple and cost effective steps that can be taken to help turn the tide that is threatening to overwhelm us. The first is to simply improve the quality of our teachers by making it more difficult to become a teacher. Colleges with the lowest SAT scores are teaching schools and that’s completely unacceptable. Certification laws mean that education schools are able to certify who they want, regardless of skill or desire. This means that those best poised to become teachers don’t want to because of the low quality in peer and education. Improving leadership is also necessary, especially seeing as how the basics to become a school principal are about as low as those for becoming a teacher. If we are able to fix our system at the top and populate it with professional and caring teachers and officials, we will see a drastic change in dropout rates and the quality of student who graduates.

    If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

    01Dec

    Ukrainian Children Are Using the Internet to Learn at School

    As the war in eastern Ukraine continues, people are starting to focus on those who aren’t fighting and whose lives have been ruined by, depending on who you ask, Vladimir Putin and his ambitions for a new Soviet Union or Petro Poroshenko and his desire for a Ukraine that’s more integrated into the greater European economy and the EU. While most of the media focus and scrutiny has been aimed at those fighting, those commanding, and those who are not-so-subtlety influencing and arming (here’s looking at you, Vlad), people are now starting to look at how those who are living in the conflict zone are struggling to survive as winter approaches. Amongst all of the truly tragic and heartrending stories, the death of education in eastern Ukraine is easily one of the most touching as well as one of the most worrying. Just like children living in and fleeing from Syria who are called the “Lost Generation”, eastern Ukrainian children are struggling to avoid becoming a “Lost Generation” in and of themselves.

    In the struggle to continue learning in the face of all of violence, students in eastern Ukraine have been turning to something that is quickly picking up speed in the west, distance education and learning over the internet. In the rebel-held and currently besieged city of Donetsk, city officials estimate that 50 out of 150 schools have switched to distance learning and that about 45% of the city’s children (around 32,000 students) are being educated online through distance education. Another interesting tidbit of information is that most of the city’s education officials completely agree that it is the students who have been pushing for and embracing technology and distant learning in an attempt to continue their education and improve their lives. It’s as though living in a warzone has shown them the importance of educating yourself so that you can either leave a bad situation or return to help fix it.

    While classes such as maths and the sciences have proven more difficult to adapt to these new technologies and ways of learning, the children and teachers of Ukraine are making sure that the work is still getting done and is checked and graded in person, when circumstances allow. The current fighting, along with the fact that the Ukrainian government has cut all funds and support of any kind to the city since it is currently in the hands of rebel separatists, means that many of the teachers are working for free or relying on the tiny amount of money that the rebel government can actually scrape up. That being said, the current mood in the air makes it obvious that as long as the students are willing to learn, the teachers will be there to teach, regardless of pay.

    If you’d like to learn more, the link is here.

    28Oct

    UC Berkeley Protests Bill Maher Commencement Speech

    Bill Maher is a comedian and talk show host known for his outspoken and liberal views about a number of different topics ranging the political and economic spectrum. While he usually toes the line without insulting anyone except for the truly conservative and republican, he has inflammatory views that were eventually going to offend other groups of people. It seems as though the people he has most recently offended are other liberals and it seems as though forgiveness is going to be difficult to get; Maher recently had Ben Affleck on his show and it dissolved into a yelling match about militant Islam and extremism with Affleck calling Maher a racist for lumping all Muslims together. While this might not be too different than Maher’s usual rhetoric, the fact that he insulted everyone in the world’s second largest religion while engaging in a yelling match with a popular actor means that Maher is facing some heavy criticism, even from his own side.

    It turns out that Bill Maher angered so many people that there are now protests against his speaking engagements. Maher was recently chosen to give the commencement speech at the University of California, Berkeley and is now facing student protests and a petition with over 2,000 student signatures against his speaking. While he doesn’t get called out for his comments on Muslims specifically, some of the organizers of the protests and petition are from the Muslim student body and most definitely felt hurt by his callous comments.  All of the protest and petition documents make sure to say that there is no issue with freedom of speech and Maher’s ability to engage in it. What they take issue with is his using of freedom of speech to spread and promote hate speech and intolerance; regardless of whether someone is an extremist or a moderate. Hopefully this is a wake-up call for him and he changes his ways, he’s doing no one any good by acting like he does.

    If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

    30Sep

    Should Fraternities and Sororities Be Banned?

    It seems as though every year brings about new stories of fraternities and sororities engaging in dangerous behavior that results in physical, emotional, and potentially fatal consequences. This month has been a truly awful one for Greek life around the country as a number of colleges and universities have punished Greek institutions by either banning them, forcing them to go co-ed, or simply suspending all Greek life on campus. Fraternities and sororities have a very mixed reputation that have both good and bad things about them and even some alumni see them in a mixed light. The questions remains whether Greek life is going to see a country-wide ban and how it might affect higher education institutions with storied history behind some of the houses.

    Sororities and fraternities are best known in the public for binge-drinking and hazing incidents that frequently send students to the hospital but that also sometimes result in death. While many sororities and fraternities have strong undercurrents of familial bonds and community service, it’s very simple to say that the majority are used as places where students can get drunk and party with each other. While Greek institutions were started off as a way to improve school life, community life, and personal life through community service and brother/sisterhood, the original messages have been corrupted and founding members wouldn’t recognize the racist, sexist, violent, and alcoholic institutions that have replaced them. Many universities hold on to Greek life for the history the houses impart and the generous alumni donations that they bring in but there eventually comes a point when you need to realize that the toxic environment that accompanies Greek life is too much. Between rapes, sexual assaults, brawls, overdoses, and deaths, it might be time to either institute a culture-wide change (perhaps taking lessons from the founding statements and the Greek houses and chapters that still believe in community service and respect for all) or ban them altogether. Either way, something needs to be done before more people get hurt.

    If you’d like to learn more, the link is here.

    29Aug

    College Sexual Assaults Are Finally Being Taken Seriously.

    There’s no denying that one of the largest failings of our entire educational system in the recent years has been the failure to enforce punishment against sexual crimes and the complete lack of care and understand for the victims who are usually forced to continue to go to school with their attacker. While this lack of any attempt to actually punish the perpetrators has been known to victims and advocates for years, it has only recently surfaced in the eyes and minds of the public, thanks to a series of scathing reports from both victims and journalists that point out how most higher educational institutes are more concerned with protecting reputations and alumni donations than the students they claim to care for.

    The government has finally taken notice of the massive failings amongst these institutions and is now taking action. In a rare show of working together, a bipartisan group of congressmen and women are pushing for legislation that will punish offenders as well as punish schools for not taking the proper action against offenders. By using a combination of fines and reducing educational grants and federal money, the government plans to make colleges and universities more accountable for mishandling cases that deal with sexual crimes of any nature. Due to the massive failing in terms of both punishing attackers and supporting victims, many universities are most likely going to fight against these laws so that they can maintain their status. That being said, it’s good news for everyone, especially victims, that the government has taken notice and is involving itself.

    If you’d like the read more, the link is here.

    28Jul

    Higher Education for Wives Doesn’t Lead To Divorce

    A new study has been released that will finally put that pesky “educating women leads to divorce” argument that has apparently been raging unbeknownst to the majority of the country. While the study only looks at trends in marriage, it has come to the conclusion that couples aren’t more likely to get a divorce if the wife had more education than the husband. In what seems to be a throwback to the more openly sexist days of the 40’s and 50’s, the fear was that women who had more education than their husbands were more likely to face divorce and marital unhappiness. Thankfully, this study goes to prove that this isn’t the case in any way and that we have certainly made strides towards gender equality seeing as how men are no longer intimidated by intelligent women.

    Along with the original discovery, the study also found out the couples with equal education were less likely to divorce than those in which the husband is better educated. This move towards egalitarian relationships is a great thing for a wide number of reasons, first of which is the fact that men and women deserve to be equals in every way possible. It also means that people are moving away from using marriage as a status symbol and as a way to keep women subservient to men. People are now marrying for love and whoever is seen as the “provider” is becoming less and less important.

    If you’d like to read more, the link is below:

    http://www.philly.com/philly/health/HealthDay690025_20140727_Wives__Higher_Education_May_Not_Affect_Divorce_Rate.html

    18Jun

    Colleges Might Soon Experience Some “Tough Love”

    It is no secret that the United States are quickly falling behind when it comes to international educational standards. We have been consistently slipping in basically every category as other countries overtake us in humanities, math, and the sciences. It seems as though educational critics of the government has finally noticed the lackluster performances of our educational institutions and have written a paper calling for the government to enforce a minimum standard of quality for any higher educational institutes that are looking for federal funding and support. While this doesn’t get to the root of the problem (that our public school system needs to be supported and revamped as opposed to slashed and left to rot), it would help set a precedent and will hopefully lead to higher quality college and university graduates that will be able to join the workforce in a more effective and efficient manner.

    The paper was written by the Education Trust and is titled “Tough Love: Bottom-Line Quality Standards for Colleges”. Education Trust is a non-profit that focuses on educational equality and the paper goes lengths to promoting that. It calls for a system of accountability that sets requirements for the enrollment of lower-income students, graduate students, and the ability for colleges to produce graduates that can pay back their student loans. The paper also argues for penalties to be imposed on those 4-year colleges that end up in the bottom 5% of all schools. The paper also pushes for more scrutiny of “for-profit” colleges and universities as well as attacking elite institutions over the fact that they allow so few low-income students to attend.

    The paper actually agrees with many of the governments ideas about how federal funding of higher education institutes should be run. Both the paper and government want more accountability and for colleges and universities to produce better, harder working, and more intelligent graduates who won’t be as saddled by student debt as the current generations students are. However it remains to be seen whether this can be realistically implemented and whether congress and the senate will actually take an attempt to fix things seriously.

    If you’d like to read more, the link is posted below:

    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/06/18/report-calls-tougher-federal-standards-four-year-colleges#sthash.zaqx6J9G.dpbs