How undocumented students go to college

In the heated debate about mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, some anti-immigrant groups are demanding that they not be given any services at all, including education. Some student groups in colleges are calling for them to be made ‘sanctuary colleges’, similar to proposed ‘sanctuary cities’, that will protect such students from being thrown out of the country.
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The dirty little secret of preferential treatment in US higher education

Affirmative action in public higher education in the US is a lightning rod for criticism, repeatedly targeted for legal challenges. The issue is whether colleges can consider a person’s race and ethnicity as a factor in granting admission and to what extent it can be done. In the US, of all places, this should not be such a major issue. Unlike in those countries where it is only scores on some kind of national exam that are considered (as was the case when I took my university entrance exams in Sri Lanka back in medieval times), here the goal of colleges, especially elite ones that have considerable choice over whom to admit, is to shape a student body that meets the goals of the institution and for many colleges that involves having students with diverse backgrounds. At my institution, there were many discussions about how to attract more potential arts and humanities majors, more women into engineering, and so on so as to create a more lively and varied intellectual climate.
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‘Shined’ versus ‘shone’

As part of my long-running series on the quirks of the English language, I have been struck by the frequency of the use of the word ‘shined’ in the US in situations where I would have used the word ‘shone’. For example, one frequently hears the sentence “He shined a bright light on topic X” whereas I would have said “He shone a bright light on topic X”.
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Origin of bellwether

During elections, the word ‘bellwether’ often crops up and is assigned to a state or county or other region or to this or that indicator as people decide where to focus their attentions on. Given the many factors at play, people try to identify things that have in the past been good indicators of the larger mood. Most people know the meaning of this word as signifying a leader or indicator of trends. But where does this strange word come from?
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Supreme Court upholds University of Texas Affirmative Action program

The US Supreme Court issued an opinion today that rejected the claim by Abigail Fisher that she had been denied admission to the University of Texas because she was white, thus ending an eight-year long saga in which her case twice went to the high court. The ruling was 4-3 with justice Elena Kagan recusing herself because of her prior involvement with the case while she was Solicitor General. Justice Anthony Kennedy joined with justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer in the majority opinion.
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Cracking down on for-profit education

There has been a concerted attack on public education for some time now. Business interests have recognized that the total public education budget is huge and, especially in the K-12 sector, is under the control of local school boards. They have seen the opportunity for making huge amounts of profits if they could only siphon that money away into for-profit entities.
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Excessive academic pressure

In Sri Lanka entrance to the university is determined by a single nationwide examination that is held at the end of the 12th grade. Students choose a set of subjects depending on their prospective field of study. I, for example, took physics, chemistry, pure and applied mathematics as my four subjects. Since the number of spaces at universities is highly limited, there is intense pressure to study to get in and this leads to a proliferation of things like private tutoring and commercial tutoring centers.
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