Saturday, October 20, 2007

Diploma Requiring College Application

"Education Commissioner Susan Gendron said Friday that she wants every high school senior to apply to college before being eligible for a diploma." ~ Sun-Journal
Apparently it is being recommended to the legislature that in order to graduate from high school, the student must apply to a college.

See full Sun-Journal article.
Bangor Daily News article
Portland Press Herald: College Aspirations the Key to Maine's Future Prosperity - George Mitchell & Speaker Glenn Cummings
Maine Government News: College Applications to Become High School Graduation Requirement

Should governments have this power? What do you think?

Some background information: The Maine Compact - College for ME

Who's Who - Board of Directors List, Staff - Executive Director: Henry Bourgeois, Sponsors/Funders
University of Maine System Online Application for Admission
Informational Letter # 31 saying that the requirement would be to fill out the application, not necessarily actually apply to a college.

Another Viewpoint:

The Big Con in Education: Why Must "All" High School Graduates Be Prepared for College?

Center for the Study of Jobs & Education in Wisconsin and United States - Dennis W. Redovich
Interview with Dennis W. Redovich
Is University Necessary for All?
Google Answers: Is College Necessary?


David Buck said...

To my mind it is consistent with every other abuse of power perpetrated by this governor and this commissioner of education. They make me embarrassed to be a Democrat. Perhaps I should just consider myself a small-d democrat.

This is they kind of big government that allows conservatives to get traction whenever they criticize Democrats for overstepping their bounds : while it is certainly a commendable goal to apply to college, it is not something that should be enforced or imposed as public policy. Furthermore, imposing this requirement would fly in the face of standards-based education. At some point the state must have faith in the individual to act responsibly in his or her best interest. Not to do so undermines the very standards in which we've invested so much time and money.

Mrs. W. said...

This also assumes that college is the optimal placement for every student immediately following high school. Obviously, this is a fallacy because many learners successfully choose other paths after high school.

Will the state fund all these college applications?

Ed Latham said...

David I believe you are correct in some of your views about the politics of these actions. Mrs W I agree completely that not everyone needs to go on to college. I would like to state an opinion that may not be popular in addition to these ideas.

If anyone looks at the last 10 years of college admission levels and the increases in college tuition rates, you may see a BUSINESS model that has been anxious for new clients for some time. The idea of colleges being businesses is not a comfortable one for many people because the goals of any educational institute seem so worth pursuing. Yet, if people were to stop going to our colleges and universities, there would be add campaigns in radio and T.V. extolling the virtues of a college education, there would be political financial support run through state agencies, standardized testing (which feeds another business) would become mandatory and state sponsored, and maybe we might even see a requirement that a portion of our population attend these business institutions. Colleges have to have clients in order to stay running. Financially, it is not even very important that all of their clients even are successful. It is a business in which pride is one of the only factors that motivate the business to have successful clients. Failure can lead to repeat classes and more semesters and maybe even the occasional life time client.

I have heard the charge from some reports that there needs to be more business interaction with education to help support "real world" learning. I don't think any of those suggestions were aiming for businesses to infiltrate into the drive and policy of education. We currently offer loans and other financial aid that is state, federal and locally funded and as a recipient of these funds I can appreciate their worth. In addition to funded financial aid, we have added testing practice over multiple years of high school that are "free". These tests are still being paid for by state or other agencies. These testing are not donated to the betterment of society. Bates college released their findings a few years ago that showed that standardized tests (SAT in particular) were not relevant indicators of success for students at their college over a 10 year period. They compared students that submitted SAT scores to those that did not (it was optional). Just as many people failed and succeeded academically in each of the study groups. Net result, we subsidize a testing industry that may or may not help our students.

Now we are going to be subsidizing a college system that needs more clients. The goals are noble in that more people need a quality education these days for our society to survive. What does not fit this business model is that people often learn in different modes. Almost all of the standardized tests hit up a couple of modes only and some could argue cultural biases abound on those tests. Our School grading systems have tended to concentrate almost exclusively on students that have strengths in reading/writing/math abilities and almost discounting any other abilities as "extra credit". Many of the vocational programs that were best able to reach some students have been declining due to lack of funding for years. Very few schools have business programs and any existing home economic programs are running on duct tape and bubble gum.

So our students that struggle in school because we can't offer them learning experiences more in line with their abilities and goals are now expected to succeed in college? If anything the amount of lecture at the college level increases a little at the community college level and can exponentially increase in some of the four year programs. I have seen little from post secondary education programs to address diverse learners. The formats are almost extensively lectures with some technical schools actually providing hands on training that can help students get a job.
Political and business forces are always working to get the most out of every dollar. I worry that these forces are moving into take advantage of our children more and more every decade. What percentage of parents and student fret over grades for 12 years because of the need to get their child into "the best schools" Some of these schools are in need of more clients and yet the society mental drive is that students have to have the best grades to get into college. This mentality is left over from a time when colleges were filled and had huge waiting lists that in many schools do not exist any more. All those years of grade anxiety when the reality is that a student that simply passes through school can attend a post secondary institution , and we can even offer them loans.
Maybe this mandate that everyone will apply to college will help people realize that our colleges need people in them in order for their doors to stay open. I strongly believe that our college systems have been influential in preparing some of our best and brightest of our society. Those people chose college and were very successful. We have people that choose college and are not successful, so what can be the goal of forcing people to now apply to these schools?

Maybe the state will start taking over post secondary education. Maybe the state will now start paying tuition much like we now pay for standardized testing that used to cost people to take. Maybe people will get angry with all of this and start sharing their concerns and a new solution arises.

There will be political strife over issues like this. There are almost always economic issues. Meanwhile there is a population of our students that sit there every day in our schools wondering how anything being done to them will help them later in life. I guess those individuals better get ready for at least a couple more years of wondering before they can actually get on with their life now. For those that struggle with school, are we now looking to extend their education "sentence" from 12 to 14 years...Has anyone asked them?

Ed Latham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ed Latham said...

My friend Nancy Hudak shared with me the following link
State Informational Letter NO:31
She has asked me to offer this link into the conversation that started up this last weekend.

In that link it is stated that the proposal is to have students go through the process of applying. It is not required that the students actually submit the applications (unless you go to Poland High School).

I agree that the process of applying for college is a daunting process and financial aid can be even more overwhelming. I do question whether these applications are more important than students being able to complete a resume and fill out a job application accurately. If the goal is to help students learn the process of filling out applications, I strongly feel that students should be allowed to complete a job resume and application to substitute the required college application.

Are there other vitally important forms or applications that might be missing?

Thank you Nancy for adding the link to the state informational letter!

Jim Burke said...


Thank you for the update on this issue. I've added the link to Informational Letter # 31 to the original post.

I'm still concerned that technocrats are increasingly moving into territory that is, quite frankly, none of their business. And this is from a longtime liberal Democrat. To me it is fine that Poland requires a application. It is in local hands, close to the people. The school board can easily change the requirement.

Do we really want the military-industrial-bureacratic-corporate complex running the show?

My favorite Republican, Dwight D. Eisenhower said it best:

"A distinguishing characteristic of our nation — and a great strength — is the development of our institutions within the concept of individual worth and dignity. Our schools are among the guardians of that principle. Consequently . . . and deliberately their control and support throughout our history have been — and are — a state and local responsibility. . . . Thus was established a fundamental element of the American public school system — local direction by boards of education responsible immediately to the parents of children. Diffusion of authority among tens of thousands of school districts is a safeguard against centralized control and abuse of the educational system that must be maintained. We believe that to take away the responsibility of communities and states in educating our children is to undermine not only a basic element of our freedoms but a basic right of our citizens. "
—President Dwight D. Eisenhower

There is in our affairs at home, a middle way between untrammeled freedom of the individual and the demands for the welfare of the whole nation. This way must avoid government by bureaucracy as carefully as it avoids neglect of the helpless.

• State of the Union Address, Feb. 2, 1953

CROSS OF IRON Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children...This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

• From the Chance for Peace address delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953. (Regarded as one of the finest speeches of Eisenhower's presidency.)

" . . . In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. . ."

- Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.

~Dwight D. Eisenhower

It is time to end this atmosphere of fear and hysteria, and to focus on providing an adequate safety net for our citizens while at the same time promoting hopefulness for the future.


bob mcIntire said...