Education

Can 'Grit' Save American Education?

Grit, privilege, and American education's obsession with novelty. 

AP Photo/Pat Sullivan
Twice a week for thirty minutes, fifth graders at KIPP Washington Heights, a charter school in New York City, attend “character class.” Each lesson is divided into three parts, according to Ian Willey, the assistant principal who teaches it. First, students find out what specific skill they’ll be focusing on that day. “This morning we’re going to learn how to set a long-term goal,” Willey might tell them. Next, students are asked to practice the skill. In this case, students may imagine they have a long-term project to complete, and then work to construct a timeline with incremental deadlines. In the final part of the lesson, students would take time to collectively reflect. “What was hard about this exercise?” Wiley might ask. “What went well? Did anyone feel nervous? What did you do when you felt nervous?” And because part of KIPP’s mission is to help build character, the students would then classify their new skill as one or more of KIPP’s seven targeted character goals . In this...

Faculty Join Fast Food in the Fight for $15

On campuses across the country, adjunct professors are starting to organize against rock-bottom pay and tenuous job security. 

Faculty Forward USC
Faculty Forward USC Adjunct faculty march for better pay and working conditions at the University of Southern California on April 15, 2015. A s yesterday’s Fight for $15 protests wound to a close across the country, it’s become clear that this movement is not a fleeting effort—it’s here to stay. The focal point has primarily been on the most visible low-wage workers: fast food and retail workers whose pay perpetually hovers around minimum wage. And their employers seem to be taking a small, yet encouraging, step in the right direction as both McDonald’s and Wal-Mart recently announced increases to their respective minimum wages. However, another employment sector that’s not typically associated with low wages was prominent yesterday as well: the American professoriate. Higher education institutions in the United States employ more than a million adjunct professors. This new faculty majority, about 70 percent of the faculty workforce , is doing the heavy lifting of academic instruction...

When the Student Movement Was a CIA Front

Bob Wands
Bob Wands/AP Images Gloria Steinem went from willing CIA accomplice to feminist icon. This book review appears in the Winter 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Patriotic Betrayal: The Inside Story of the CIA's Secret Campaign to Enroll American Students in the Crusade Against Communism By Karen M. Paget 552 pp. Yale University Press $35 I n its March 1967 issue, Ramparts, a glossy West Coast muckraking periodical that expired in 1975, and that strongly opposed American involvement in the war in Vietnam, published an exposé of the close relationship between the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Student Association. This other NSA—not to be confused with the National Security Agency—was then the leading American organization representing college students, with branches on about 400 campuses. Its ties with the CIA were formed in the early years of both institutions following World War II, as the Cold War was getting under way. According to Ramparts...

Why the Feds Can't Seem to Rein in For-Profit Colleges -- Or Stop Giving Them Money

For-profit colleges have mastered predatory lending while still relying heavily on federal dollars. 

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) Makenzie Vasquez, from left, Pamala Hunt, Latonya Suggs, Ann Bowers, Nathan Hornes, Ashlee Schmidt, Natasha Hornes, Tasha Courtright, Michael Adorno and Sarah Dieffenbacher, pose for a picture in Washington, Monday, March 30, 2015. Former and current college students calling themselves the “Corinthian 100” say they are on a debt strike and refuse to pay back their student loans. The name comes from Corinthian Colleges Inc., which operated the for-profit Everest College, Heald College and WyoTech schools before agreeing last summer to sell or close its 100-plus campuses. This article was originally published by Demos . L ast week, after some dogged journalistic legwork by Inside Higher Ed ’s Michael Stratford, the Department of Education released a list of 560 colleges that have been placed under a level of extra scrutiny—known as “Heightened Cash Monitoring”—due to concerns about a college’s finances or administrative capacity, or as the result of an...

March Madness: How Title IX Just Totally Rocked Your Sunday

During Women's History Month, it's important to remember how recently female athletes were excluded from college basketball.

(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome) South Carolina's Tiffany Mitchell (25) and Alaina Coates (41) react after defeating Florida State in a women's college basketball regional final game in the NCAA Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina, Sunday, March 29, 2015. A t two minutes to go, Tiffany Mitchell dribbles to the top of the court and passes to teammate Aleighsa Welch . Welch takes the ball through the middle for an inside layup. South Carolina is up on Florida State, 69-67. Then with a little more than a minute on the clock, Mitchell makes a three-pointer. South Carolina is leading 72-67. Taking on Florida State in this year’s March Madness competition, South Carolina is the first of the elite eight to make to the final four, with a final with a score of 80-74. Over the length of the entire game, South Carolina led for less than four minutes. Mitchell went into the final two minutes of the game with 14 points under her belt. Then she scored seven more. Seeing the sport played at such a high...

5 Ways to Bring Fairness Into College Basketball

Icon Sportswire via AP Images
Icon Sportswire via AP Images Wisconsin Badgers forward Frank Kaminsky (44) puts up a shot during the Div I Men's Championship - Third Round - Wisconsin Badgers v Oregon Ducks at the Centurylink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Wisconsin defeated Oregon 72-65 (Icon Sportswire via AP Images) This article originally appeared at Yes! magazine . D id you fill out your office bracket for this year’s NCAA basketball tournament? I did. Although, for a couple reasons, I don’t feel great about it. For one, I don’t know who’s going to win just about any game, so my chances of winning the pool are basically zero. And two, the event has lost most of its luster as the economic inequities of college sports have become exposed. March Madness is now a bigger cash cow than the Super Bowl, but it’s also college league, which means the only people not getting a piece of the billion-dollar pie are the players. There’s a word for that: exploitation. The entire economic foundation of college sports is built on...

America's Willful Ignorance of Our History of Lynching Feeds Racial Hatred

It's easy to focus on individual racist acts and condemn the actors. But that doesn't get us closer to solving the problem of racism.

iStock © ftwitty
iStockPhoto/© ftwitty N ational condemnation of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Oklahoma has a cruel irony that highlights a painful truth: By singly condemning individual racist acts and refusing to talk openly about our country’s complex relationship to anti-black violence, we allow racial hatred to fester under our noses. As a nation, we need to do two things in response to the SAE scandal: Take a long hard look at the history of state-sanctioned, anti-black violence, and recognize that this violence has been an integral part of our nation’s culture for quite some time. When the racist chant that fraternity members sang on their way to a party came to light, condemnation of SAE was understandably swift and sharp: Two fraternity members identified from the video have been expelled . The university has soundly denounced the fraternity’s actions and shut down its campus activities. In all likelihood, the O.U. SAE members knew their chant was racist. That’s why...

NYU Graduate Students Win Historic Victory

After over a year of tense negotiations, a tentative agreement is a major win, and the result of a renewed push to mobilize the Manhattan campus.

(Photo: NYU AWDU)
(Photo: NYU AWDU) New York University graduate students rally for a fair contract in Manhattan on November 21, 2014. This article originally appeared at Waging Nonviolence . I n the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Graduate Students Organizing Committee of the United Autoworkers, or GSOC, reached a historic, tentative agreement with administrators at New York University, averting a strike that was scheduled to begin just hours later. After over a year of tense negotiations, the agreement is a major victory for graduate students and the result of a renewed push to mobilize the Manhattan campus. As GSOC member-organizer and sixth-year sociology Ph.D. candidate Daniel Aldana Cohen put it, “We definitely have the feeling that organizing is working right now.” Under the prospective new contract , NYU will cover 90 percent of graduate workers’ health premiums , and provide basic dental insurance along with wage increases for Ph.D. students. The agreement further includes a 75 percent...

Photo Essay: Vigil for Slain Chapel Hill Muslim Students

While the media lit up with arguments over whether or not Craig Hicks's execution-style killing of three young Arabs was a hate crime, the UNC community gathered to commemorate the lives of the slain. 

(Photo / Jenny Warburg)
This editor's note has been corrected to accurately state the academic affiliations of the slain students. O n February 10, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha was in her apartment in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, when a man came in and shot the three of them, execution-style. The newlywed couple was in their early 20s; Razan Abu-Salha was 19. Barakat was a student at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, where his wife, Yusor, was recently accepted for admission. Razan Abu-Salha attended North Carolina State University. Neighbor Craig Hicks was subsequently charged with the murders. Law enforcement officials said that Hicks's actions stemmed from a parking dispute; Barakat's father and many others called it a hate crime motivated by the murderer's contempt for either his targets' Islamic faith, or against Muslims, period. Family and friends of Barakat and the Abu-Salbas gathered on the university...

Gertner Responds to Brodsky on University Rules for Campus Sexual Assault Justice

The author took issue in the Prospect with Harvard's new guidelines for disciplinary proceedings in campus rape cases. Alexandra Brodsky offered an opposing view on our website. 

(Photo/Omer Kabir via Flickr)
On January 21, we published Alexandra Brodsky's article, Fair Process, Not Criminal Process, Is the Right Way to Address Campus Sexual Assault , which included criticism of the point of view taken by Nancy Gertner in her longform essay, Sex, Lies and Justice , which appears in the Winter 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Herewith, Gertner's response to Brodsky. I applaud Alexandra Brodsky’s very thoughtful piece, although her account of my perspective is skewed. I did not suggest that campus investigations of accusations of sexual assault “look like trials,” that they be the functional equivalent of a criminal trial model. And I surely agree that procedural protections run along a sliding scale: The more serious the stakes, the harder we make it to prove a case. My point was that with the Harvard proposals [for procedures adjudicating sexual assault on campus], those “protections” slid all the way to the proverbial star chamber—an administrative proceeding, within a single...

Obama's State of the Union Preview Serves Up Pretty Weak Brew

whitehouse.gov/video screenshot
whitehouse.gov screenshot President Obama delivers remarks about his new community college proposal at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, January 9, 2015. "Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized." —Daniel Burnham I recently got an email invitation from a Democratic congressional office to come to a "watch party" to view President Obama's State of the Union address. His "fourth-quarter priorities," according to the White House-inspired talking points of the message, are "home ownership, free community college, and high-paying jobs." That sounds pretty good. But if you unpack the specifics, the president is offering pretty weak tea. Free community college sounds terrific. Community college is the great American institution of the second chance. Obama proposes to have the federal government cover 75 percent of the cost, if states will participate. This could save students an average of over $3,...

The True Cost of Teach For America's Impact on Urban Schools

Why are school districts paying millions in "finder's fees" to an organization that places people without education degrees to teach in urban schools—even where applications from veteran teachers abound?

(AP Photo/Andy King)
(AP Photo/Andy King) In a February 4, 2011 photo, Erin Gavin, a Teach for America teacher, listens to students during a group discussion with seventh-graders at a Brooklyn Center School in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. In 2013, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed a line item that would have granted $1.5 million to TFA. In debates over education policy in urban school districts, few topics are more contentious than the role played by Teach For America, the national organization that recruits elite college graduates to teach in low-income urban and rural schools for two years. It is not uncommon to hear veteran teachers, who majored in education and often have advanced degrees, complain that their profession is diminished by what they see as a preference for TFA recruits who did not study education. Parents are heard to question the qualifications and commitment of TFA’s novice educators, given the assumption that their sign-up for a two-year stint suggests only a fleeting interest in...

We Let Bill Cosby Into Our Homes, So He Owes Us an Explanation

America's once-favorite TV dad needs to take his own advice.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke) Entertainer and former classmate Bill Cosby speaks during a public memorial service for Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz Wednesday, June 4, 2014, at Temple University in Philadelphia. W hile the natural inclination is to separate Bill Cosby’s television character from his real life persona, the show we remember so fondly was not called The Huxtable Show . It was The Cosby Show . We did not really welcome Heathcliff into our homes. We welcomed Bill. It is Cosby, the accused serial rapist of 15 women from whom we await an explanation. He has the time: His planned NBC project was just pulled in the face of these resurfaced allegations. He won’t be cashing any residual checks from shows streamed on Netflix because like any contagion, everything Cosby is associated with is now contaminated. This reckoning particularly stings because of Cosby’s decades-long campaign of respectability politics within the black community. For years he has offered a socially...

Red State, Blue State: Polarization and the American Situation

The country is stuck but it is not stationary. Some things are changing—just not at the federal level.

(Map: Angr/Wikimedia Commons; Flag: AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip) A racing fan waves an American flag as they wait for the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix auto race at the Circuit of the Americas, Sunday, November 2, 2014, in Austin, Texas. This article appears under the title "The American Situation" in the Fall 2014 issue of The American Prospect magazine. A merica, it seems, is stuck—unable to make significant progress on critical issues such as climate change, rising economic inequality, and immigration. To explain that inaction, people often point to political polarization. Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, are now so sharply opposed to each other that they are unable to find common ground. But while the country is stuck, it is not stationary. Some things are changing; it’s just not at the federal level that the changes are emerging. Polarization leads to stalemate only under certain circumstances—when the two sides in a conflict are closely balanced, and political institutions and procedures (such...

Tragedy, Privation and Hope: Joy Boothe's Inspiring Journey to Moral Monday

Horrifically orphaned and raised with prejudice, she built a house and a new life with her own hands. Now hers are among many building a movement for justice.

©Jenny Warburg
©Jenny Warburg Joy Boothe (in black pants) at a sit-in outside the office North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger in June 2014, protesting Republican education cuts. W hen Joy Boothe showed up at last week’s Moral Monday rally in her hometown of Burnsville, North Carolina, she was fighting both sleep- and sun-deprivation. Boothe had just driven in from Asheville, 35 miles away, where her husband was recovering from a double knee replacement. “Despite my fears of leaving my husband’s hospital room for the first time in four days,” she told the small crowd gathered in the town square, “I’ve come to stand with you today. It’s that important. It’s that important. ” Boothe, a vice president of the local NAACP branch, was referring to the ongoing political upheaval in Raleigh, the state capital, four hours east of this small mountain town. There, an emboldened Republican legislative majority had cut unemployment benefits, turned away federal Medicaid funds, slashed education...

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