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Educating Engineers Across All Fields

The United States is in the midst of an infrastructure crisis. The nation is also in the midst of an innovative boom in the digital sphere. Educators, investors and urban planners see a need for engineers in fields beyond technology, some going so far as to redefine exactly what a software engineer might be – and they don’t think “engineer” is the best term.

In a recent Forbes piece Marilyn Wait, a civil and environmental engineer, and Connie Bowen, who works with venture capitalists, argue that “When ‘engineers’ are mentioned in the startup world, people tend to mean ‘software engineers’… confusing coding with software engineering and software engineering with physical engineering. We need to stop confusing the term engineer with a computer programmer or coder.”

This miscategorization can confuse students who are interested in pursuing physical engineering degrees, causing them to think that the only kinds of engineers are those who build apps, wear casual clothes and make millions of dollars. In reality, the market is open for those with physical engineering degrees simply because of a failing infrastructure and the need to innovate in the physical world. Waite and Bowen point to several physical world startups in agriculture, bioplastics and cold-plasma technology. These innovations can help secure a safe and stable food supply and can improve recycling strategies.

Sebastian Turbot, former curator of the World Innovation Summit for Education, also sees a need for creative entrepreneurs within real-world scenarios. For urban centers to thrive and make use of new technologies, city planners and civil engineers must receive an education that rewards collaboration, emphasizes critical thinking and questioning, deductive reasoning and real-world applications of mathematical knowledge. Fostering a U.S. education system that achieves these goals can solve future infrastructure challenges and channel young talent into all areas of engineering.

Tebow Bill Shot Down, Southeasterners Want To See Public School Spending Go Up

The Education Poll of the South recently surveyed educators, parents, and community members from the twelve states it serves regarding their attitudes towards public education. Collectively, the Southeastern think tank found that the average voter was in favor of beefing up spending on public education.

Public Education Is Highly Valued In 2018’s Southeast

Of 2,200-odd respondents, a whopping 84 percent indicated their respective states should account for financial differences between low-income and wealthy communities’ public schools, in terms of beefing up financing for disadvantaged schools.

The survey found that respondents were in favor of increasing funding even if government agencies were forced to tone down their respective budgets in areas outside of education.

57 percent of all individuals polled were OK with paying higher taxes if it meant more schools in low-income areas would receive higher funding.

Tebow Bill Shot Down In Virginia

Tim Tebow, quarterback for the Florida Gators over a decade ago, was able to play football in high school, despite being homeschooled. Named after the two-time Heisman Trophy winner himself, the “Tebow bill” was recently voted on in Virginia.

Students would have been able to compete in public school sports, although they’re unable to do so, as Virginian bill was recently shot down.

The only Republican in Virginia’s state congress to vote against the Tebow bill was Gordon Helsel.

Formally named House Bill 496, the education committee, the committee responsible for voting on the so-called Tebow bill, originally supported the bill. However, after a tied vote, the Tebow bill was directed to the House of Delegates, which was promptly shot down.

Rob Bell, a Republican out of Charlettesville, originally sponsored House Bill 496. The Richmond Times-Dispatch was the first to report on the outcome of House Bill 496.

USA Education Department Headed By DeVos Reverses University Regulations

For profit universities in the United States have long been a point of debate in the USA education sector because many feel that the tactics used to enroll and get students to agree to rising costs is predatory. Recent developments under the new administration has seen an alarming number of regulations protecting students and consumers reversed, and new rules and proposals being adopted. Many claim that the new rules and regulations only serve to benefit the universities and no longer allow any protections or benefits to students that are currently enrolled or who have already bought into their education.

DeVos’ education department is responsible for the current panels and talks, which though include both parties involved in determining these new rules, are almost entirely led and followed through on the side of the university representatives. Education officials and reformers have pointed out that the education of the nation is at stake, but for profit individuals and parties fill the new administration’s education department and they appear to be rewriting all the new proposals.

The rollbacks to already existing relief plans have also been rolled back, reversing orders and reductions in repayments that were already agreed upon. This change in policies is significant because it changes the outcome of rulings made and settlements that were already established. Now, the same former students will be required to repay the debt that they accrued, and they need to do so on a scale determined by the same panel that is loosening the regulations these universities must now follow.

U.S. Leads the World in Most Expensive Tuition

The U.S. Education system is far from perfect, ranking somewhere around 17th out of the top countries in the world. It does not come as a surprise however that as far as the amount of spending to attend school for students, the tuition costs, the U.S. ranks at the top of the list with an average of $8,200 per year for an undergraduate degree program at a public school(private schools are several thousands of dollars higher) according to a report by the OCED released in 2017. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is an intergovernmental economic organisation founded in 1961. The main goal of the group is to help grow the world economy. Thirty-five countries currently participate OECD membership.

Chile came in second-highest on the OCED produced list at $7,654 a year in tuition. Japan ranked third with an average of cost of $5,229. Canada was 4th, $4,939. Australia was 5th, $4,763. South Korea was 6th, $4,295. New Zealand, Israel, and the Netherlands were also high on the list, with tuition of over $2,000, while Spain, Italy, and Portugal also made the list with tuition of under $2,000 but well above $1,000.

One saving grace that many students in the U.S. may benefit from compared to students of other nations is that they are elidgable for many forms of financial aid not available other places, nearly $6,000 a year in federal pell grants, to scholarships, to several thousands of dollars a year in multiple forms of student loans.

The Abandonment of the American Public School System

The American public school system, while funded like no other nation in the world, is in an extremely poor state of being. With the Republican appointed new U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos cutting funding to the failing system and redirecting focus specifically to the private sector there may be little hope for any real repair in the near future. Since taking office in 2017 the Trump administration has proposed over $9 billion in cuts to the education system in general and while it effects on everyone it impacts the poor of the nation more than anything.

DeVos has criticized the public school system, calling it a dead end, and seems to have little, to no plans at all, to even attempt to fix the issues causing it to be so lacking. She has attack the system and teachers of the public school system, claiming they care more about a system than the actual students they are teaching – which is quite the opposite of what actually is. Public school teachers have proven time and time again that they put priority on individual students than anything.

Despite the negative outlook on the system by the average American, test scores from public schools are higher than they have ever been. Statistics from the past 40+ years prove that student abilities, like reading and writing for example, have risen by almost 5% despite the fact that in the same amount of time the public school system has taken on more challenged students who previously would have been denied access to public schooling due to their physical or mental disabilities.

Teacher Arrested After Inquiring About Superintendent’s Pay Raise

A teacher has been arrested after questioning the pay raise of her school district’s superintendent.

The woman, identified as Deyshia Hargrave, is an English instructor at Rene Rost Middle School in Kaplan, La. The incident occurred at the Vermillion Parish, La. school board meeting Monday night.

In a video posted on YouTube, Hargrave is seen questioning superintendent Jerome Puyau’s pay increase during the meeting.

“A superintendent or any person in a position of leadership getting any type of raise, I feel like it’s a slap in the face to all the teachers, cafeteria workers and any other support staff we have,” Hargrave told the board in the video.

School board president Anthony Fontana silenced Hargrave, saying her concerns weren’t relative to the board’s agenda for that night. Hargrave was then approached by an officer, who asked her to leave. The YouTube video shows Hargrave obeying the male officer, but once off camera, she can be heard screaming.

In video obtained by Shreveport, La. station KTBS taken the night of the incident, Hargrave is seen outside the board meeting being placed in handcuffs on the hallway ground. As she is escorted, still cuffed, out the door, she can be heard asking the officer, “Why are you pulling me?”

The disturbing video of Hargrave’s arrest attracted the attention of national media, and reaction to it was swift. One teacher who retired last spring from the same school district where the incident occurred told the Huffington Post that the arrest was “absolutely ridiculous.”

The school district said it was not pressing charges against Hargrave, though she was booked into the local city jail.

On Tuesday, Vermillion Parish board president Fontana told local television station KATC he thinks the incident with Hargrave was a “set up.”

Research Shows That US Students Need More Motivation for Math Tests

The United States economy is the strongest in the world. Since that is so, you would expect that United States students are the best in math, since education is correlated to the economy. However, many people are baffled as to why students in the United States seem to do worse at math than students in other countries around the world.

The United States is the 39th in the world at math when it comes to the PISA test. However, researchers think that it is not because students in the United States are not competent, just that they are not motivated enough to do well. They did research by giving out fake PISA tests. By these fake tests, they gave half of the students in different schools money. They said that they would take away $1 for every incorrect answer. In the end, the students that were bribed did well. In fact, researchers say that if there was enough motivation, the United States would move up 20 places on the list of countries in regards to math.

Now, you might think that you can do this trick in other countries as well and the students there will also do better in math. However, researchers did the same study in China. There, students who were bribed did not do better than the students were not bribed.

The truth is that the PISA tests do not have any real consequences for students. It does not help them get into college. Students cannot even see their scores. That is why students are so unmotivated to do well on this test.

Although previous studies have shown that bribing kids with money does not help them improve their performance, there are ways that it does help. For example, in this study, students were giving money right away and then threatened with losing it if they did poorly.

Common Misconceptions About Choosing a College Major

When going to college, many students have trouble choosing their college major. Sometimes, they get advice from friends that is not accurate. Other times, they will switch their major a few times. The truth is that there are many myths about college majors, according to the New York Times.

The first myth is that you have to go into certain majors in order to get a good salary. The truth is that different majors can pay almost as much as a business major or even majors in the STEM field. Another myth is that women are doing better than men in colleges. Although women are the majority of college students these days, many of them are choosing to go into majors that offer lower paying careers. It is not clear as to why they are doing this and what we as a society can do to change this.

Another myth is that it is more important to choose the right major than it is to choose the right college. However, studies have shown that people who graduated from more elite colleges earn more than those who graduated from less elite colleges. This is true even if those who graduated from more elite colleges had a lower paying major than those who graduated from less elite colleges. This is because those who graduate from elite colleges have a better network of acquaintances and connections and can land better jobs even if they have a major that is not as advanced.

Another myth is that liberal arts majors do not bode well for finding jobs. However, the truth is that many liberal arts majors give you great skills that employers in various industries are looking for.

African-American Students Perform Better at HBCU Institutions

African Americans who go to colleges and universities geared primarily to them do better than those who attend institutions in which they represent a minority of the student body. This is the finding of a study recently released by a nonprofit educational advocacy organization.

The study was conducted by The Education Trust and involved a review of the graduation rates at 676 public and private institutions throughout the country. On the negative side, the review showed that the African-American graduation rate at these schools of higher learning was nearly 20 percent lower than that of white students. However, the graduation rate for minority students who attended institutions that comprised the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) system and who also received federal financial assistance was nearly 6 percent higher than for minorities who sought schooling elsewhere. More about the black college graduation rate is available at www.reddit.com/r/education/.

One reason given for the disparity was the fact that African-American students simply attend colleges and universities that generally have lower rates of graduation. Noting that there are disparities in the graduation rates between students at different HBCU institutions, the authors of the study expressed the desire to improve the educational outcomes at these colleges and universities. An independent academic observer said he believed that many minority students would have greater success in their educational endeavors if they had fewer difficulties and distractions outside of college.

An HBCU is defined as an institution that was established before 1964 and is dedicated to serving the educational needs of blacks, but which is open to students of any race. Significantly, the enrollment of white and Hispanic students at these colleges and universities has increased in recent years. More than 100 such institutions exist in the United States, most of which are located in the South and were established after the American Civil War.

 

Louisiana Continues to Struggle with Education Reforms

Despite measurable improvements, recent reports indicate that Louisiana schools continue to rank lower than other states. While some officials believe everything that should be done is already being done, others propose that broader measures be taken to alleviate the problem. What everyone seems to agree on is that the problem is significant and causes a major detriment to children in the state.

 

Louisiana has been ranked as the 50th school in the nation consistently over the last two decades. Only about 4.6 percent of students in Louisiana public schools earn AP high school credit, compared to 26.4 percent in Maryland, the national leader by this metric.

 

Part of the problem is the reduced funding for Louisiana schools. An annual increase of about 2.75 percent occurred regularly for years but has recently been neglected. Without the annual increase, officials report that maintaining progress is difficult at best.

 

Unfortunately, to rise in national rankings, Louisiana would need to not just improve, but improve at a greater rate than the states who are ahead of them. The chairman of the Senate Education Committee urged officials to stay the course in demanding high expectations and parental engagement. While charter schools and vouchers have been proposed among viable solutions, Louisiana School Board Director Scott Richard indicated skepticism for costly reforms that he does not view as helpful. Instead, Richard emphasizes early education, higher teacher to student ratios, and a focus on instructional basics in a safe environment.

 

Everyone agrees that the task before the state of Louisiana is a challenging one. Two-thirds of students in the state are eligible for free or reduced lunches, and poverty is a significant issue. State educational officials remain committed to continuing to push forward and develop their state in this area.