Declining by Degrees: Higher Education at Risk
This is an intriguing series that examines what is going on in higher education. It wants to know what happens before enrollment and graduation. It demonstrates so something has gone wrong. The documentary advocates for reform, demonstrating that the nation is in grave danger if it is done. This are the moments where a college education is critical to one's career as well as the country's economic position around the world. With over 14 million students enrolled in 4200 schools, significant concerns have arisen about the standard of teaching and studying, graduation rates, and the skills of those students who receive their diploma. Many players are calling for a change in the institutions since they are unsatisfied with the skill levels that the workers have.
College Campuses and Nationwide Issues
This documentary takes its audience around college campuses all over the country to hear from understudies, lecturers, and administrators who offer honest insights into the nationwide issues and difficulties confronting higher education in the United States. A former president of college talks of education has to be about the future. It tackles with the way in which people travel to the future by being prepared. Being prepared is one of the problems that first-year students in college experience. Majority of the college students at times are not quite ready for the academic requirements of the college, which is why a straight A student in high school might end up failing in college.
Hindrances in Higher Education
Another hindrance is the size. With Large lectures in large colleges, one can easily get lost. First of all the institution is very large and classes, for instance, might have 200 students; therefore attendance might not be keenly observed. Students in such large classes often fail to attend class and eventually drop out. There are experts who feel that there is little effort put in colleges. Students can sleepwalk through the college and still manage to graduate. Another issue is that rewards are not given out on the basis of quality teaching but rather through research.
Market Forces and Financial Distress
This documentary as well underscores the effects of market forces. The key motivator in college education is money. The government state funding on colleges and university seems to be dwindling, and this establishes a financial distress in institutions. More than six decades ago, the government ensures that children from all background could afford to go to college b providing funding for them, nowadays, there are barely any grants. The federal Pell Grant program, for instance, was the country’s biggest programs whose focus was on low-income students to go to college. In the 1980s it had around $4 billion and covered 95 percent of the tuition for the whole course, at present it is about 57% only. This results in a decrease in enrollments in higher education due to lack of funds, with the most affected being from low-income homes. To balance budgets colleges often have to rely on part-time lecturers who have hard time tailoring lectures to suits each class because the students are too many and the classes too are a lot. Nationwide, almost 50 percent of college faculty are part-timers.
Other Market Factors and the Call for Reform
Other market factors affecting higher education as investigated in the documentary entail competition in constricting and creating campus amenities to draw in more students, raising the significance of college ranking by the media as well as college sports. All in not lost though, there are committed teachers who use technology to engage fully and train understudies in big lecture classes. There was an observation also where students are put into groups to ease learning and understudies who demonstrate the power of higher education in opening opportunities. Many educators and experts all over the nation believe that the time for reform is today. There should not be further aggravation of the situation, but rather a lot needs to be done today.
Education in America
Education in America began as a private affair and Massachusetts led the way. Schools were often religious in its nature. Protestants thought that every person has their own special relationship with God and they must read the bible to interpret the word of God. This resulted in belief that everyone ought to be educated. Massachusetts in 1827 enacted a law making the public schools open to everyone free of charge. Again Massachusetts in 1846 put in place compulsory schooling. Educating in America began with Latin academies, which resulted in grammar schools that later led to high schools and a today's system where there are elementary, middle and high schools.
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
In 1965, there was the enactment of The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This bylaw brought education to the front position of the countrywide attack on poverty and depicted a huge dedication to equal access to quality education. It was a all-encompassing act that funded primary and secondary education, putting emphasis on high standards and answerability. As directed in the act, funds are sanctioned for professional development, instructional materials, resources to bolster different programs and the encouragement of parental engagement. The act was to go for five financial years; however, the government has re-sanctioned this act every five years since its passing. During the re-sanctioning, a lot of changes and amendment have been made. There are different subdivisions with chosen titles. This act was very significant has it helped low-income families to have means of accessing school. The main purpose of this act was to reach out to those children who had been previously neglected before. Truly, this act did that and improved the status of the under-educated and the poor.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is a reauthorization that came from ESEA. This was enacted into law by President George Bush in 2001. This act promotes accountability of all children and needs for transparency. Under this law, the states are mandated to test students in reading and math in high school and in primary school. The main focus of this act is to seal student achievement gaps by offering all children fair, equal and important opportunity to attain a high-quality education. There ought to be accountability which ensures that students who are underprivileged attain academic proficiently. Flexibility as well ought to be present as it permits school destructs versatility to use federal funds to enhance student achievements. There is also research-based education which puts emphasis on educational programs that are effective as shown by scientific research.
Meeting the Needs of Non-Traditional Students
Not every student in college is a young adult with no children or families. There are many people who are parents and are still in college. Having kids while one is going to college can be a reach challenge. It can be even more difficult to prioritize and manage time. A parenting student here at California state university is airing her grievances over some of the challenges she has faced in the university. Child centers are meant to offer excellent care to the children of students, faculty, and staff. The writer in this article is addressing the university talking about a lot of issues that do not seem right. First, the writer talks about how access to child care is quite limited. There are many locations that never bother to establish children center’s knowing fully well that there would be students who certainly have children. This does not foster equal education access at all.
The writer goes on to complain that mothers often fail to complete their education because of an absence of children care. The childcare centers that are present often have too many restrictions, therefore, locking out others. For instance, there are certain limits to some units, and it is not extended or adjusted. The campus needs to know that parenting students ought to have flexible units that they can change to suit their schedule. Often a parent gets stressed not just by lack of access to childcare but also due to missing classes because of inflexible times. The scheduling, therefore, ought to consider non-traditional students like these parenting students. One cannot compare a normal student to a parenting student or a part-time student. The latter has so many responsibilities. Either they are taking care of their kids, or the other have to be at work; therefore institution has to consider the needs of all students.
Another restriction is putting a condition where one ought to be working to be eligible for child care subsidies, and in fact, some states need to parents to work at 20 hours per weeks. This is outrageous there are parenting students who cannot obtain any work or are doing strenuous courses. Additionally working 20 hours a day diminishes the chance of completing college. Community-based childcare is expensive and educational institution rather than offering a better option; it puts in even harsh conditions. It has proven to be difficult for parents with young children to work, imagine even working parents often leave their jobs to raise their children. How then does an institution expect a student to be a parent, work, and study at the same time, no one is a robot, either one responsibility has to suffer, and often it is the education that suffers.
The Institute for Women's Policy Research believes that enhancing child care closes the gaps between the white students and the minorities since almost half of black college women are young mothers. This author of this article is a young mother who is studying in college. There are mixed reactions to this article. Some are agreeing with her that education ought to be made possible to all students both traditional and non-students. Child care needs to be in place to aid these young mothers in raising their children while at the same time facilitating learning. Others, on the other hand, think that her sentiments are unnecessary; they believe that older non-traditional students had even harder time and they managed to complete their studies; therefore she should be grateful for the little that is there. Additionally, they believe that children should not be brought to class anyway and they might distract the other students. The author was writing this letter to the university administrations.
- Dear College Childcare "Powers that Be": An Open Letter. (2017). College Success for Moms. Retrieved 16 December 2017, from https://collegesuccessformoms.wordpress.com/2016/09/08/dear-college-childcare-powers-that-be-an-open-letter/
- Merrow, J., Keuper, J., O'Boyle, M., Andracke, G., Hentoff, M., Films for the Humanities & Sciences (Firm), Films Media Group., ... Learning Matters, Inc. (2011). Declining by degrees: Higher education at risk. New York, N.Y: Films Media Group.
- Thelin, J. R. (2011). A history of American higher education. JHU Press.