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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The subtle snobbery of elite education

William Deresiewicz has written a book titled Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and The Way to a Meaningful Life, critiquing the education that elite universities provide, and followed up with an article in the New Republic titled Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League: The nation’s top colleges are turning our kids into zombies.
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Why education is not a business: The University of Phoenix example

In the US it is not uncommon for business people to regularly claim that they know how to ‘fix’ education and that if the educational system were run like a business, then it would produce much better outcomes than it currently does. School districts sometimes fall for this line and hire business executives and companies to run systems. In fact, some wealthy business people like Bill Gates use their financial clout to muscle their way into school policy making and get their pet theories implemented (the ‘small schools’ model for one) that have very little research backing.
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The difficulty of teaching tolerance

Omar Currie is a 25-year old second-year third-grade elementary school teacher in Charlotte, NC. He noticed that one of the children in his class was being bullied and called ‘gay’ in a derogatory way by fellow students. In order to make the child feel that he was not alone and to teach children tolerance and acceptance, he recalled that he had heard in his teacher-education program about a book called King & King by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland that is a fable that tells the story of two princes who fall in love and get married. Since the class was reading fairy stories, he thought that book would make for a timely inclusion. The book was not available in his school library but his assistant principal had a copy and he borrowed it and read it to the class.
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A ‘free market’ solution to college debt?

In order to address the problem of many students graduating from college with huge debts, Bernie Sanders has proposed that all state universities provide free education as an investment in the nation’s future by enabling the creation of a more educated work force. The idea is that freed from such debt, graduates will be able to choose worthwhile careers rather than ones that pay a lot so that they can retire their debt. Sanders points out that many developed countries provide free higher education to their students. Even some developing countries do so. For example, my own university education in Sri Lanka was completely free.
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The letters that colleges should send to applicants

This is the time of year when high school students in the US await anxiously the results of the college applications. Since I work in a university and have had two children go through the college application process, I am well aware of the anxiety that it produces in young people as they wonder if they will get into the college of their choice and what failure to do so might say about them.
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