Posts tagged ‘Colleges’

02/27/2012

Tech School Students Deserve Respect

While Sen. Santorum is absolutely wrong about a lot of things, including the tone he used while castigating President Obama for encouraging young people to graduate from four-year colleges, he did make a point, as Democrats have in fact drifted recently from the working class, (even though they should be the core of the party), by implicitly diminishing technical school training, though an almost exclusive emphasis on the virtues of four-year degrees.

For President Obama, who worked his way to the top by becoming Editor of the Harvard Law Review, the ticket to success from his perspective was the university system, and while high school students should be encouraged to reach for the stars, as he did, at some point, reality dictates not everyone can be accepted at scholarly universities, many will drop out, only a small number will go into the professions, and fewer still will earn Ivy League degrees.

The best advice for young people is to adopt a dual track as to education. While they should study topics that interest them, without regard to real world implications, they should simultaneously prepare for life, by gaining employment skills, in the event their dreams don’t come true. In other words, history, philosophy, or political science classes are just fine, as long as the student also studies disciplines like accounting, nursing, or engineering, which may more easily convert into real world jobs.

Politicians should recognize there are many jobs that do not, and should not, require four-year programs. We should acknowledge the value of technical schools, and those who attended them.

We need technical schools, so we have an ample supply of trained auto and airline mechanics, electricians, plumbers, cooks, barbers, beauticians, bookkeepers, first-responders, and practical nurses. We need repairmen of all kinds. Can you clean a laptop? Can you fix a furnace, refrigerator, lawn mower, or TV? The list goes on.

While Presidents Obama and Kennedy attended Harvard, and Bill Clinton went to Yale, other Democrats, who studied at public institutions, along with ordinary people, understood the working man a little better. Truman’s only diploma was from Independence High School. Johnson graduated from Southwest Texas State. Carter attended Georgia Southwestern State, and Georgia Tech, before finishing at the U.S. Naval Academy.

President Obama, who should be re-elected, needs to take a couple steps down from the Ivy League mountain top, and mingle a little more with blue collar workers, who should be supporting his re-election bid. The Democrats should never let Santorum, or any other Republican, hijack the issue or those who attended the tech schools.

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02/25/2012

Founders’ Colleges Were Not Sectarian

Right-wingers like to promote the mythology that everything our Founders did was extremely religious, but the truth is, the colleges they founded, in the 26 states east of the Mississippi, from the birth of Harvard in 1636, through the next 200 years, were largely secular, or public universities, and not faith-based colleges.

Many States had only Secular Schools:

MASSACHUSETTS: Harvard (1636), our oldest university, was founded without religious affiliation. Over the following 200 years, Massachusetts witnessed the opening of four more private colleges: Williams (1793), Amherst (1821), Wheaton (1834), and Mt. Holyoke (1836). The first religious-based school in the Bay State did not appear until 1843, when Holy Cross accepted students.

CONNECTICUT: Yale (1701), a secular Ivy League school, was Connecticut’s only university for 122 years. Trinity (1823) and Wesleyan (1831), both private, were the next to break ground, followed by Central Connecticut (1849), a state school.

NEW YORK: Early New Yorkers introduced Columbia University (1754) to the Ivy League, without religious ties. It was followed by private colleges at Hamilton (1793) and Union (1795). After the U.S. created a public Military Academy (1802) at West Point, four more secular schools appeared: Colgate (1819), Rensselaer Tech (1824), Rochester Tech (1829), and NYU (1831). Not until 79 years after Columbia was first opened, did St. Joseph’s (1833), a religious school, begin taking students.

RHODE ISLAND: Brown (1764), an Ivy League university, was not connected to any church. 90 years after their chartering, the state added a public school named Rhode Island College (1854).

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Dartmouth (1769), another Ivy League college, was not faith-based. It was the state’s only university, until Colby-Sawyer (1833), a private school, appeared 61 years later.

MAINE in the early years had two private schools, Bowdoin (1794) and Colby (1813), and they gained no other, until Bates (1855), a secular university, was added just before the Civil War.

Public Universities founded before Independence:

DELAWARE: Our Delaware forefathers chartered the University of Delaware (1743), as a public institution. It remained the state’s only school of higher education for 98 years, through 1841.

NEW JERSEY: After Princeton (1746) opened, as a private Ivy League institution, the New Jersey Founders started Rutgers (1766), as a state-run college. It would be 90 years before students would be accepted at Seton Hall (1856), a Catholic school.

GEORGIA: Shortly after the Revolution, the Georgian Founders broke ground at the University of Georgia (1785), a public college. 46 years later, Methodists launched a school named La Grange (1831), followed by Baptists at Mercer (1833), private interests at Oglethorpe (1835), and Methodists again at Emory (1836).

Public universities under President Washington:

NORTH CAROLINA: Although the first in North Carolina was a small Moravian women’s school named Salem (1772), during President Washington’s first term, the state created the University of North Carolina (1789), as a public school. Baptists followed with Wake Forest (1834), as the Society of Friends founded Guilford (1834), and the Presbyterians opened Davidson (1836).

VERMONT: As Washington was in his third year, the Founders of Vermont molded the University of Vermont (1791) into a public school. Following appearances by secular Middlebury (1800) and Norwich (1819), Johnson State (1828) was added.

TENNESSEE: During Washington’s second term, the Tennessee legislature appropriated funds for the University of Tennessee (1794), as a public institution. Tuculum (1794), a private school, also took students that year. Sectarian interests finally broke ground at religious-based schools, when the Presbyterians opened Maryville (1819), and the Baptists founded Union (1825).

Public universities under Adams and Jefferson:

KENTUCKY: After private parties opened Transylvania (1780), and Baptists created Georgetown, KY (1787), the Founders of Kentucky voted, during John Adams’ presidency, to start the University of Louisville (1798), as a public institution. Early Kentucky was rounded out with a Catholic school named Nazareth (1814), and a private one called Centre College (1819).

SOUTH CAROLINA started with the private Charleston College (1770) and funded the University of South Carolina (1801), early in Jefferson’s presidency. Baptists added Furman (1826).

OHIO started with a private college named Marietta (1797). It was soon joined in Jefferson’s time, by the Ohio University (1804), a public school. When James Madison was inaugurated, Miami of Ohio (1809), another public college, was chartered. As James Monroe became President, the University of Cincinnati (1819) started as a municipal institution. Kenyon (1824) and Western Reserve (1826), both private, completed early Ohio.

MARYLAND: Two private schools, St. John’s (1696) and Washington (1706), were the first to open. 83 years later, the Catholics introduced Georgetown (1789) in Washington, DC, and St. Mary’s (1791) in Maryland. While Jefferson was still President, the state’s Founders launched the University of Maryland (1807), as a public school. Catholics soon followed with Mt. St. Mary’s (1808), and St. Joseph’s (1809), as other private interests broke ground at the George Washington University (1821), in the District of Columbia.

Public Universities under Madison and Monroe:

MICHIGAN: While James Madison was ending his second term, the University of Michigan (1817) appeared, as a public school. 16 years later, the Baptists first accepted students at Kalamazoo (1833), followed by the Methodists at Albion (1835).

VIRGINIA: A royal charter established William & Mary (1693), as a secular college. Washington & Lee (1749) followed, as a private institution. 83 years after William & Mary was first opened, the Presbyterians organized a religious-based school at Hampden-Sydney (1776). During James Monroe’s first term, Virginia appropriated funds for a ground-breaking at the University of Virginia (1819), a public school. Methodists next opened Randolph-Macon (1830), as Baptists gave birth to Richmond (1830).

ALABAMA: While James Monroe was still President, the Alabama legislature funded the University of Alabama (1820), as a public school. Northern Alabama (1830) followed, as Methodists launched colleges at Athens (1822) and Livingston (1835), and Catholics created one named Spring Hill (1830).

INDIANA: The Founders of Indiana organized the University of Indiana (1820) while James Monroe was still President. After Presbyterians introduced Hanover (1827), private interests started Wabash (1832), and Baptists accepted students at Franklin (1834).

Public universities under Van Buren, Tyler, Polk, and Fillmore:

WEST VIRGINIA remained a part of Virginia, until the Civil War. They had just two colleges before the split, namely Marshall (1837), and West Liberty (1837), both public institutions, which were chartered, while President Van Buren was in office.

MISSISSIPPI, a conservative place, started with Mississippi College (1826), a Baptist institution, before the state agreed in John Tyler’s time, to fund the University of Mississippi (1944).

WISCONSIN: Upon joining the union during the Presidency of James Polk, the Wisconsin Founders broke ground on a publicly-funded school named the University of Wisconsin (1848). Carroll College (1846), a Presbyterian school, also organized then, along with two private universities, Beloit (1846) and Lawrence (1847).

FLORIDA: The first universities in Florida, launched during the Presidency of Millard Fillmore, were Florida State (1851), and the University of Florida (1853), both public institutions.

Some had private and sectarian schools:

PENNSYLVANIA: The secular University of Pennsylvania (1740) appeared as a member of the Ivy League. Although a religious order founded Moravian (1742), the next four to break ground were private: Dickinson (1773), Washington & Jefferson (1782), Franklin & Marshall (1787), and the University of Pittsburgh (1787). Lyconing (1812), a Methodist college, was followed by three secular schools: Allegheny (1815), Pennsylvania Military (1821), and the Philadelphia Pharmacy College (1821). While the Presbyterians added Lafayette (1826), Lutherans opened Gettysburg (1832). Haverford (1833) became a private school. Public colleges were not chartered, until Cheney State (1837) and Bloomsburg State (1839) appeared.

ILLINOIS commenced with McKendree (1828), a Methodist school. They next added Illinois College (1829) and Knox (1837), both private. Four more secular colleges and six sectarian would follow, before Illinois St. (1857) would first break ground.

As the evidence clearly shows, the Founders supported secular colleges, and actually appropriated funds to create public non-sectarian universities. While some may have had religious beliefs, they were careful to separate church and state.

02/20/2012

Wisconsin College Names: Good & Bad

While researching Wisconsin universities, I looked at their names and asked: Do they matter in terms of attracting students or gaining national recognition?

Wisconsin has 40 public universities and technical schools, including, 13 four-year and 13 two-year University of Wisconsin campuses, as well as 14 two-year state-funded technical schools. Of the state’s 20 non-public institutions, Lawrence, Beloit, Ripon, and the Milwaukee School of Engineering, are well-known secular schools, while the other 16 have religious affiliations. [1]

Best Wisconsin College Names

MARQUETTE, in Milwaukee, has a good name, as it conjures up images of Father Jacques Marquette, the French missionary who canoed down the Fox and Wis. Rivers in 1673.

LAWRENCE, a private university, has a nice ring to it. It’s named after philanthropist Amos Lawrence, an Episcopalian, who along with two Methodist ministers, established the college in Appleton in 1847, in what was then the Wisconsin territory.

BELOIT is a strong name. It is easy to locate, as it is in the city bearing the same name. When founded in 1946, it was linked to the Congregationalists. Those ties were cut to become secular.

RIPON, founded in 1851, was originally affiliated with the Presbyterian and Congregational churches. They became a secular private college in 1868.

The MILWAUKEE SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING, founded in 1903, has a good name, as it clearly indicates where the college is located, and what studies they emphasize.

EDGEWOOD, a small Catholic college in Madison, has a pleasant sound. SILVER LAKE, just west of Manitowoc, on a water body bearing the same name, also has a title worth keeping.

CARROLL, founded in 1846, is a Presbyterian university, named after Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

CARTHAGE, a Lutheran college that opened in Hillsboro, Illinois, adopted their current name in 1870, when they moved to Carthage, Illinois. They relocated to Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1962.

CONCORDIA, in Mequon, Wisconsin, has an acceptable small college title, as it is named after a branch of the Lutheran Church.

NORTHLAND COLLEGE, up in the north woods at Ashland, with only 700 students, might be better off as Ashland College, so people could find it, but Northland sounds rugged and refreshing.

LAKELAND COLLEGE, in rural Plymouth, WI, just west of Sheboygan, should take a more specific label, like Sheboygan College, to make it easier to locate, but anything with lake is fine.

UW COLLEGES AND TECH SCHOOLS WITH CITY NAMES: Eleven 4-year, [2] and eight 2-year [3] campuses of the University of Wisconsin system, did it right, when they inserted their city names in their titles. Three state-funded tech schools also made the smart move by incorporating city names on their banners. [4]

Colleges that need Name Changes

MARANATHA, a very small Baptist bible college in Watertown, wins the award for the absolute worst Wisconsin college name. Doesn’t it look like it’s misspelled? Change it now, please.

MT. MARY, a small Catholic college in Milwaukee, should change their name. It’s like Martinez in Mexico, or Chin in China. Too many schools have the word “Mary” in their titles. Mary is not unique, and will never stand out. Catholics in the U.S. have: six St. Mary’s Colleges, three called Mount St. Mary’s, one labeled the U. of Mary, and another known as St. Mary Magdalen. The parade continues with: Marymount, Marywood, Maryhurst, Marygrove and Maryhurst. Let’s not forget Mary Manse. If you don’t like English, there’s always Maria, Ava Maria and Villa Maria. Mt. Mary should come up with an entirely new name, for themselves, Cardinal Stritch, and Alverno, all in Milwaukee.

CARDINAL STRITCH, a Catholic college in Milwaukee, has a very unattractive title, as it conjures up images of an old crusty man, dressed like a bishop, certain not draw persons of other faiths to the school. Mt. Mary, Alverno and Cardinal Stritch, all in Milwaukee need to consolidate, under an entirely new name.

ALVERNO, a small Catholic college in Milwaukee, started out as St. Joseph’s in 1887, and made the error of changing to Alverno Teacher’s College in 1936. While “Alverno” is a mountain in Italy, Milwaukee’s South Side, where the college is located, is predominantly Polish-American, and it has no hills, let alone mountains. A better name would be South Milwaukee College.

VITERBO, a small Catholic university in La Crosse, started out in St. Rose’s in 1890, and was renamed Viterbo in 1937, in honor of an Italian province near Rome. Viterbo is simply not a good fit for Western Wisconsin, where there are no Italian-Americans. Nobody out there has a name ending in O, except Domino’s Pizza. Change the name to La Crosse-Viterbo College, and after five years, drop Viterbo altogether, to make it La Crosse College.

MARIAN, another small Catholic college in Fond du Lac, should change their name, as it is derived from the word “Mary,” which as we know, should never be used. See Mt. Mary, above. Fond du Lac University would be more unique.

ST. NORBERT was founded in 1898 by a Norbertine priest in West de Pere, outside Green Bay. It’s named after Norbert of Xanten, born in Germany in 1080. It would have made more sense to name it after Jean Nicolet, the first French settler in 1634, but since the college has used the name for 114 years, maybe all we can do now is drop the word “Saint,” as it must surely depress non-Catholic enrollment. Let’s just call it Norbert College.

UW-PARKSIDE is in Kenosha, but I had to look it up to be sure. It was named Parkside to please the City of Racine, to the north, and Kenosha, to the south. Since it’s technically in the City of Kenosha, get over it Racine, and just rename it UW-Kenosha.

UW-STOUT, originally a private college in Menomonie, is named after James Stout, the man who founded it in 1891. It became a state college when Stout died in 1911. Who would object if the school was now renamed UW-Menomonie?

Two-year campuses in the Fox and Chippewa River valleys also need relabeling, as their titles make their locations too vague. UW-FOX VALLEY should become UW-Menasha, FOX VALLEY TECH should be Appleton Tech, and CHIPPEWA VALLEY TECH should be relabeled Eau Claire Tech.

The 2-year campuses in the UW system named after counties, should also adopt city names. UW-BARRON COUNTY should become UW-Rice Lake, UW-MARATHON COUNTY should be UW-Wausau, UW-ROCK COUNTY should be UW-Janesville, and UW-WASHINGTON COUNTY should be UW-West Bend.

The name LAKESHORE TECH is too vague, as it doesn’t specify a body of water. When I looked it up, I found it exactly halfway between Manitowoc and Sheboygan, in Cleveland, Wisconsin, a tiny place, selected to appease both cities. While it would be too confusing to rename it Cleveland Tech, it could become Manitowoc Tech, in recognition of the County where it is located.

Six technical schools should abandon their regional Wisconsin labels, and adopt city names: WESTERN TECH should become La Crosse Tech, MID-STATE TECH should be Wis. Rapids Tech, SOUTHWEST TECH should be Fennimore Tech, NORTH-CENTRAL TECH should be Wausau Tech, GATEWAY TECH should be Kenosha Tech, and MORAINE PARK TECH should be renamed Fond du Lac Tech. Two technical schools, BLACKHAWK TECH, named after a Native American tribe, should become Janesville Tech, and INDIANHEAD TECH should be renamed Rice Lake Tech.


[1] Carroll College (Presbyterian), Lakeland and Northland (both United Church of Christ), Maranatha (Baptist), Carthage, Concordia, and Wisconsin Lutheran (all Lutheran). Marquette University, Edgewood, Silver Lake, Marian, St. Norbert, Viterbo, Mt. Mary, Cardinal Stritch, and Alverno (all Catholic).

[2] UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Platteville, UW-Green Bay, UW-River Falls, UW-Superior, and UW-Whitewater.

[3] UW-Baraboo, UW-Marshfield, UW-Richland Center, UW-Fond du Lac, UW-Manitowoc, UW-Marinette, UW-Sheboygan, and UW-Waukesha.

[4] Milwaukee Area Technical College, Madison Technical College, and Waukesha Technical College.

10/05/2011

College Admissions: Not by the Numbers

As universities opened another semester this fall, the usual complaints were heard regarding admission procedures that selected qualified black and Hispanic students on the basis of more than just grade point averages and test scores. At UW-Madison, ACT scores for blacks and Hispanics averaged 25 and 26 respectively, while 29 and 30 was the white and Asian norm.

Those who attack admissions procedures designed to accept a qualified but diverse student body, base their entire case on grades and test scores, and they argue university officials must remain blind to all other factors. The U.S. Supreme Court has however ruled it is not unconstitutional to consider more than just GPA and test scores. While the Court found unconstitutional in Gratz v Bollinger (2003), a Michigan undergraduate admissions process that gave blacks 20 extra points due to the color of their skin, as it violated Equal Protection, they simultaneously upheld a Michigan Law School approach in Grutter v Bollinger (2003), that allowed race to be taken into account, since the Constitution does not prohibit the consideration of the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.

The problem with the Numbers School, that is, those who worship test scores and GPAs to the exclusion of all else, is their approach is flawed. Half of their argument is premised on the tenuous assumption that standardized scores are necessarily valid, reliable, and infallible. Whatever these tests measure, they certainly do not mean persons whose ACT scores were 25 or 26 are unqualified. Even test administrators admit that. To suggest a 29 is necessarily better than a 26 goes too far, since the outcomes could easily be reversed, if both repeated the test. Standardized results are just not that reliable to allow a conclusion that a 26 will always be a 26, or a 29 will always yield a 29. They are just a snapshot in time. The differences between scores of 25 thru 30 are just distinctions without differences, since all applicants in that range are qualified.

The other half of the Numbers School argument, based on grades, is perhaps a better indicator of success, but also not fail safe. Since grading standards differ from school to school, teacher to teacher, and course to course, a cumulative GPA from one place cannot be reliably pitted against a GPA from another. Schools in different towns may have entirely different ethics when it comes to grading. Some may give out As like candy, while others may cling to old-fashioned notions of C meaning average. Everyone had a teacher who was known as tough, and heard of others who were soft. Some avoided hard courses for fear of a bad grade, while others took their lumps, and signed up for challenging, but difficult subjects. To suggest a 3.6 GPA from one school is necessarily better than a 3.5 GPA from another is absurd. Who can say a 3.8 student in Art Appreciation is necessarily more intelligent than a 3.2 in Nuclear Physics? While grades should be used, they should never be viewed as infallible.

The bottom line is the numbers game is loaded with flaws, and the Constitution does not mandate the use of only test scores and grade points. While colleges should reject unqualified persons, applicants with tests scores of 25 or better are clearly qualified, and universities should continue to consider a range of factors.