Forget About That Other Kid, Because You’ll REALLY Hate this Kid

Perhaps you remember young Moshe Kai Cavalin, 14 year-old math whiz, college graduate, and better person than you. Perhaps you’ll also remember that I encouraged you to admit that you hated him just a little bit. Well, prepare to forget that shit and become drinking buddies with Moshe, because you’re really going to hate this other kid.

Meet Anastasia Megan, who just won the right to attend Lake Sumpter Community College (go Groupers!) in dead-central Florida:

Anastasia Megan, who goes by “Annie,” had nearly finished high school when her parents, both retired engineers, tried to enroll her in the college’s dual-enrollment program. She already had scored above average in reading, sentence skills and algebra on three college placement tests required for the college’s dual-enrollment students.

Now, at first you’re going to think that the college’s reason for denying her entrance is idiotic. And you’ll be right:

But Sumter officials said the campus might not be safe enough for students like Annie and that young students might overhear adult conversations.

“You never know what would be said…,” Margo Odom, chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees, said.

Don’t ever be surprised by someone in Florida saying something stupid.* And like I said, that is definitely one of the most special-needs reasons a person could possibly give for barring a student’s attendance at a college. But allow me to present to you her parents’ rejoinder:

Annie’s parents argued that their daughter, a triplet, had traveled the world and was mature enough for college. Annie had done well on her online macroeconomics and U.S. government courses, and her father offered to accompany her to class.

Perhaps I could have allowed myself to side with this girl if her parents weren’t complete bougie douchebags, but alas, I cannot. Especially since it’s likely that through their homeschooling they’ve transferred their knobbish values.

Thus, it looks like I owe Moshe a beer because hell–that kid’s all right.

*Disclosure: I lived in St. Augustine, Florida, for a while, and so I have first-hand knowledge of the stupid things Floridians sometimes say.

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My Brain Just Exploded: Colleges Are Going to Offer Free, Open-Sourced Textbooks

Many of us have suffered the indignity of $100 used copies, or worse, the spiteful look of the buyback agent as they offer us $30 for a book that cost $190, brand new. There are myriad humiliations to be felt at the hand of textbook purveyors–humiliations that would not be offered in even the most unsavory sex dungeons. But there is hope in sight, as an initiative out of Rice University aims to provide open-sourced copies of textbooks for the top fields that undergraduates are forced to suffer through:

Books will be available free online via computers, tablets and smartphones. Connexions’ print-on-demand feature will also make it possible for students to order low-cost print copies. A series of partnerships with companies providing testing, tutorials and other services will be announced at the Connexions conference in Houston on Wednesday.

Best of all, the content can be modified to suit the course, thus granting the professor freedom to make chapters 5, 6, 8, 12, and 57 relevant to your education. Huzzah!

Alas, tuition at most universities will soon cost several billion dollars per year, so this doesn’t really matter. But it will be nice while it lasts!

University of Hawaii Orders Porn Site You’ve Never Heard of to Cease and Desist

And thus ensures that you’ll visit that porn site, driving their previously lackluster traffic through the roof.

Today, the University of Hawaii sent a cease and desist letter to the operators of hawaii.xxx, demanding that those pornographers stop sullying the good name of their institution. Apparently, many universities purchase their domains with the “.xxx” extension, but Hawaii did not.

In other news, The University of Amateur Sorority Sluts IX just received accreditation and is accepting applications.

Congratulations, Your Bank Account Has Been Admitted to the University of Washington

It’s nice to see that the University of Washington is continuing the fine, American higher-ed tradition of bilking students no matter their place of origin. And at the University of Washington, they seem to be taking this practice to new heights: 6,000 Chinese applicants last year, with 42% deciding to enroll. Roughly 18% of incoming freshman are international students, and most of them are from China. Michael Young, president of the University of Washington, seems to elaborate the typical higher-ed vulture point of view quite well:

There is a widespread belief in Washington that internationalization is the key to the future, and Mr. Young said he was not at all bothered that there were now more students from other countries than from other states. (Out-of-state students pay the same tuition as foreign students.)

“Is there any advantage to our taking a kid from California versus a kid from China?” he said. “You’d have to convince me, because the world isn’t divided the way it used to be.”

Having taught a student from China and a student from California in the same class, I can say, based on my observational evidence in that case, that the advantage in taking a student from California over student from China is readily apparent: the student from California has more proficiency with English, which is the predominant language of academic discourse in America.

But wait, we can’t admit any poorballs without ripping off the Chinese:

If the university’s reliance on full-freight Chinese students to balance the budget echoes the nation’s dependence on China as the largest holder of American debt, well, said the dean of admissions, Philip A. Ballinger, “this is a way of getting some of that money back.”

It’s nice to see a dean of admissions concerned about student quality; oh, wait, that’s not what he said at all. But speaking of student quality, how should we approach the education of these walking bank accounts?

“We recognize that people from other countries often speak with an accent,” said John Webster, director of writing at the university’s College of Arts and Science. “If we’re truly going to be a global university, which I think is a terrific thing, we have to recognize that they may write with an accent as well.”

Yes, often students from other countries speak with an accent. And often, because their native language was not English, their writing bears the hallmarks of an ESL student. But why should an American university accept students that cannot communicate effectively in English? Who in fact may have paid someone to write their admissions essay for them? Oh, that’s right: we should admit them because those kids are cash cows. Correspondingly, we should lower–I mean recalibrate–our standards:

Given that Chinese students’ writing will be “accented” for years, Mr. Webster believes that professors should focus less on trying to make their English technically correct and more on making their essays understandable and interesting. But he knows this could be a controversial issue, reminiscent of the Ebonics debate decades ago.

Yes, ensuring that their incoherent ramblings are somehow interesting is far preferable to ensuring that they can communicate effectively in English. I want to slap this asshole really bad.

Not surprisingly, political equivocation rules the day:

“My constituents want a slot for their kid,” said Reuven Carlyle, a Democrat state representative from Seattle. “I hear it at the grocery store every day, and I’ve got four young kids myself, so I get it.

“We are struggling with capacity, access and affordability,” he said. “But international engagement is part of our state’s DNA. We have a special economic and social relationship with China, and I am happy to have so many Chinese students at the university.”

In other words: “Yeah, I totally get what you’re saying–it’s a shame that students from Washington will be replaced by ill-prepared Chinese students because they can pay full price, but also globalization is awesome and we want those Chinese trade dollars, and Chinese students are awesome, but it’s totally a bummer that because your kid can’t afford to pay full price he can’t go to U-Dub, but Chinese people are so awesome and I love China, but yeah, that sucks, man…”

You get the idea.

This is not an issue of whether English ought be a mandated language; it shouldn’t be. Nor is this an issue of whether American universities should accept international students; of course they should. This is the issue: American colleges and universities are ripping international students off, and as a side bonus, screwing over American students.

Chinese students, many of them ill-prepared in the English language, are accepted to American schools because they can pay their tuition in full (or qualify for some sort of financial aid–regardless, the college gets paid up front). Then, when they cannot keep up with the other students, the university mandates a separate course of education, billing them for extra classes in “English Prep.” Whether these students receive a quality education or actually graduate is not important, so long as their checks clear.

I taught a class at a college that admitted unprepared Chinese students solely because those students could pay. And do you know what? Those Chinese students could barely speak English, and certainly could not write in English. When I asked my student what he did for papers, he admitted that he used a translator application. During class, he generally sat in the back and watched Chinese TV shows on his iPad because he could not understand the class discussion. I felt bad for this kid because the college was ripping him off. There’s no way he was going to graduate; but they were going to shuffle him through until his bank account ran dry.

I’m not saying that every Chinese student is incapable of communicating in English. That’s ridiculous. But for the head of the writing program at a major research university to basically admit that you should lower your standards for these Chinese students implies that there are many students who cannot, in fact, communicate effectively.

This country’s higher-ed system needs an enema.

Mind Controlled Music Science Fair Project Rules All Over My “Does Nintendo Increase Coordination” Project

The students at a St. John’s County (Florida) science fair are doing some impressive stuff. Like mind controlled music. And building a solar-powered emergency communicator. And insulating stuff with mud. Well, maybe that last one is kind of dumb. But sadly, as dumb as that is, it’s still way better than my efforts (I’m not kidding about the Nintendo-coordination project). Or my sister’s efforts (which shampoo leaves my hair the softest? Ha, Meaghan, you suck!). Oh, yeah, and the kid who built the mind control thing? He did it because he was inspired by his grandfather’s multiple sclerosis. So he’s clearly a better person than anyone reading this right now (or writing this right now).

These kids are the scientists and/or nerd bloggers of the future, so be prepared for their awesome intellectual contributions and/or nitpicky readings of Whedonverse spin-offs!

California College Fires Immigrant Employees

Recently, Pomona College in Claremont, California, fired roughly 17 employees when they could not produce documents that proved they were allowed to work in the country legally. Most of the workers had been employees at the college for at least a few years.

It gets interesting when you consider that several of the employees were considering forming a union; naturally, the college denies that was the reason they were fired.

According to the college, a complaint about their hiring practices prompted the investigation, not union rabble-rousing. After they received the complaint, the administration began a lengthy investigation, culminating in problematic files for several employees. They asked the employees to rectify the situation, and they could not; thus, the college fired them.

The reaction from students and professors was predictably bleeding heart (damn socialist higher education!), with furious email exchanges and some students threatening to warn prospects away from the school.

Can’t a school just fire a bunch of hardworking individuals for no ostensible reason other than a bunch of shitty paperwork that was the school’s responsibility anyway? What has this country come to?!

Shocking News: A College Juked its Stats to Look Better for U.S. News’s Bullshit Ratings

On Monday, Claremont McKenna, a small Catholic college, admitted that it sent false SAT reports to U.S. News & World Report (as well as other publications, such as the Princeton Review). Seemingly, the college pinned the whole thing on a former Dean of Admissions, who clearly did not want to be bothered by the Times.

U.S. News ranks Claremont McKenna as the 9th best liberal arts college in America, and first as “College Most Likely to Juke Their Stats” (that’s a recent category addition, and also features law schools–all law schools).

In other shocking news, the Earth revolved around the Sun today.

It’s Time for Little Muffy and Chauncy to Get a Job

Well, it appears that rampant tuition inflation affects even the most outstandingly rich. According to the New York Times, some private elementary and secondary schools are charging close to $40,000 per year in tuition:

…this year’s tuition at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory ($38,340 for 12th grade) and Horace Mann ($37,275 for the upper school) is higher than Harvard’s ($36,305)…

The median 12th-grade tuition for the current school year was $36,970, up from $21,100 in 2001-2, according to the national association’s survey. Nationally, that figure rose to $24,240 from $14,583 a decade ago.

Sadly, it appears that even the ultra-rich are not immune to the price-gouging practices of educational institutions. And, as the article points out, individuals are unlikely to sacrifice on spending for little Muffy and Chauncy because their education is the highest priority. While my sympathies are reserved for individuals with actual problems, it’s pretty clear that education institutions, both public and private, secondary and post-secondary, are chewing the balls off of the American family budget.

I will, however, point out that the 2010 defense budget was $691 billion dollars. That’s enough to send about 1.5 million kids to Columbia Grammar for their elementary and secondary. Which is kind of sad, if you think about it. And not because we spend so much on the military, either.

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