If Cornell West is unhappy with the removal of western thinkers from the college curriculum, then perhaps we should reconsider cancelling Homer and Socrates.
Even as students in the mostly white suburbs in New Jersey return to the classroom, some of our smaller cities, which serve a more diverse population, have not. 400-450 teachers and administrators in Jersey City declined to return to the classroom, so Jersey City schools will remain closed until September.
Biden’s definition of Infrastructure spending includes spending on the childcare system and our community colleges. That works for me. Randi Weingarten, the president of the UFT, has been promoting childcare spending, because she wants to de-couple education from childcare. Women left the workforce last year, she said, because of childcare issues [and has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that schools closed, and women had to homeschool their kids.]
It always bugs me how elite colleges and K-12 schools get so much attention from the press, while the majority of Americans study are educated elsewhere. Reporters love to write about themselves. With that said, there’s been a ton of response to the teaching of critical race theory at private schools. Bari Weiss’s newsletter started the conversation with two posts by parents at Brearley and Grace Church. I think parents and students are mostly ignoring these discussions at their schools. They regard these mandatory classes as mostly a performance, like anti-bullying lessons, which are temporary and not serious.
Louis Menand says that literary criticism is in trouble – students aren’t interested in taking those classes, and there are no jobs for PhDs. “But if we don’t adapt, we will wither away.” He thought that maybe all those students could get jobs writing online articles. hahahahah. Still, his new book – The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War – looks interesting.
“Mr. Fleming knows that he sees the world differently from other people. As he explains in his new book, “How to Be Human: An Autistic Man’s Guide to Life,” which will be published by Simon & Schuster on April 20, he often feels like he is on his own small island, visible from the neurotypical mainland but without a bridge.” Ian suffers from the same problems with small talk and translating the pictures in his head into words. I’ll read this book.
Can Prince Harry and Prince William really reconcile without an apology from Meghan?
Picture: The George Washington Bridge. From last weekend’s biking trip through Manhattan.
17 thoughts on “SL 832”
I don’t know if Laura’s seen this, but it’s a nice walk-through problems with highly competitive college admissions:
“The Abiding Scandal of College Admissions:
The process has become an intrusive and morally presumptuous inquisition of an applicant’s soul.”
Good opinion piece, AmyP. And, OMG.
I am so glad my children are adults. The process is out of control. Add to the madness that I’m sure private counselors are coaching applicants for wealthy families–now, from 9th grade on!
Cranberry said, ” Add to the madness that I’m sure private counselors are coaching applicants for wealthy families–now, from 9th grade on!”
Yeah, that bit was really crazy. The work portfolio opened in 9th grade must have sounded like a good idea, but it’s so much more likely to favor kids who are being heavily “managed” by parents and professionals. My mind boggles at the amount of time administrators would need to read through a monster portfolio with 4 years of sample work, or to properly weigh hundreds of those against each other. As I was writing elsewhere, graduate admissions at my husband’s department is much more streamlined (grades, GREs, recommendation, writing sample and interview) and it’s still an enormous ordeal to whittle the pile of applicants down to the handful of applicants who get offered spots.
I was mentioning some of this stuff to my college freshman and she said, “How are standardized tests worse than that?”
There’s a belief out there that “holistic” evaluations are somehow fairer, but they’re totally not, in that it takes ridiculous amounts of family resources to create a “holistic” applicant. (Note that a lot of highly selective colleges tend to have average family income north of $170k.)
I agree with Feeney that there’s some point in figuring out who is qualified and then having a lottery, rather than engaging in tea leaf reading with regard to which is a better candidate–when you really know nothing about them. You’d deprioritize a lot of narcissists and oversharers, too, which would be a plus…I don’t think people understand to what degree the college essay process rewards liars and the overconfident–why expect so much of 18-year-olds when college is supposed to help them develop, rather than be a 4-year victory tour for people who have already learned everything they need to know?
I had the very frustrating experience with my oldest a year ago of finding that she just didn’t have the amount of self-consciousness/self-awareness/narcissism you need to write a good college admissions essay. I’ve found myself agreeing with people who argue that the college admissions essay should not be an exercise in navel gazing, but should have a prompt focusing on a subject other than the applicant. Also, 17 and 18-year-olds mostly haven’t had the opportunity to process even the life experience they’ve had, even if they’ve had a lot!
Like Feeney, I question the ability of admissions officers to weigh applicants’ personal virtues, especially since it sounds like the “must-have” personal qualities change from year to year.
I just heard a story from my 10th grader.
Our overcaffeinated busy bee school counselor told my kid’s class, “Build a narrative!” That might have been back in 9th grade.
I was telling the 10th grader about the new app where you create a personal archive starting in 9th grade. 10th grader says, “But you’re terrible in 9th grade!”
Way back in the 90s or so, Michele Hernandez wrote a book about college admission, in which I believe she wrote about shaping students’ academic careers from early high school, if not middle school. (I may be confusing her with a different private admissions advisor.) So this proposal was perhaps an attempt to even the playing field with the students who are being treated as puppets by the adults in their lives.
I don’t think this is a step forward; instead, it’s doubling down on crazy.
Also involved in the craziness is the gradual paring back of the SAT/ACT. Doing away with analogies, reducing the difficulty of the vocabulary, adding an essay, etc., made it much, much easier to prep for. And people did. In addition, the abysmal lack of test security, the reusing of test items, etc, made it easy for there to be organizations teaching students to memorize SAT editions.
I think the movement away from the achievement tests by colleges was likely driven in part by the tests no longer finding the sort of students it found in the ’60s and ’70s.
Right now, the process selects for the sorts of “excellent sheep” William Deresiewicz wrote about. When you assemble masses of such people together on campus, and they feel they must compete with each other, of course you get mental breakdowns.
I don’t have any idea how to change things for the better. Any measure can and would be gamed. Perhaps the best would be to institute a lottery for admission, not that it would ever, ever happen.
I don’t remember exactly what the Hernandez book said, but the book I remember, which I read when my kids were fairly little, and which horrified me, was “What High Schools Don’t Tell You (And Other Parents Don’t Want You to Know): Create a Long-Term Plan for Your 7th to 10th Grader for Getting into the Top Colleges” by Elizabeth Wissner-Gross.
Yes start out being horrified by the 7th-10th grade. She’s insistent about that. It’s too late when they are juniors.
It’s a very practical book, with specific programs to aim for (starting in 7th grade) based on your child’s interests (which, of course, they know in 7th grade): “Science” kid trajectories, “Theater” kid, etc.
It was probably about the same time that Laura wrote something along the lines of “I can’t do that [mold him like a puppet for college] to Jonah without breaking his essential spirit” and I reminded myself of that thought a lot.
The highly-rejective schools are trying to impede the effectiveness of those guides (and the advice of ex-admissions officers like Hernandez who start multi-million dollar business). But, as the article states, they are not accepting their own complicity in the process that reaches into the childhoods of 12 year olds. Middle schools, high schools, parents, kids are supposed to draw the line (as Laura did, admirably). But, people, including parents and children and high schools, respond to the incentives. High cost college prep schools are judged by their admissions to Harvard.
But turning to the emphasis on character, authenticity, virtue, and trauma and resilience just changes the game and encourages lying (as with the other college admissions scandal in which a prep school in Louisiana that made up stories about kids to get them admitted to highly-rejective colleges.
A follow up, though, was that those students, whose counselors had lied about them did fine in college once they got there.
I do believe that the only solution from the point of view of creating puppet children is a lottery and have for a long while. I think the evidence that high stakes evaluations result in significant changes of behavior designed to optimize results without optimizing the underlying goals (character, academics, virtue, . . . ) and that people are only effective of ranking complex evaluations into quartiles (from a study of grant evaluation, which is easier than whole child evaluation, that showed that experts could pick the top 25%, but not much beyond that) means lotteries are fairer than the current system.
I wonder if this admissions season has actually resulted in an effective lottery, and wonder if some schools will consider a lottery. Probably not. They’ll just implement a lottery but still pretend, resulting in people trying to continually guess the optimization strategy. I tell people to just assume it is a lottery and choose what you want to do. Even if its not a lottery, not knowing and not being able to predict the evaluation system creates an effective lottery.
I worry less about “excellent sheep”, because the kids I know (though their childhoods have been warped by the focus on college admissions) are not sheep. Maybe we did something right, but, also, maybe it’s just easier to imagine undifferentiated masses when you don’t know the students.
Cranberry said, “I think the movement away from the achievement tests by colleges was likely driven in part by the tests no longer finding the sort of students it found in the ’60s and ’70s.”
Back in the day, people didn’t really prep for the SAT, and they didn’t take it multiple times, so the test was testing something completely different than it does today.
Also, aside from specific SAT prep issues, I suspect high schoolers from the 1960s and 1970s were way less savvy about standardized tests than kids today. It’s a very familiar format to kids today.
“I don’t have any idea how to change things for the better. Any measure can and would be gamed.”
Right. They keep moving the goal posts, and families keep figuring it out and catching up with them. And then they move the goal posts again.
“Perhaps the best would be to institute a lottery for admission, not that it would ever, ever happen.”
With a cut-off for qualifying, it could be much more fair.
But then that destroys the mystique of selectivity, once you acknowledge that 30-40% of the applicants really are good enough, it’s just that you don’t have places for all of them.
The Scottish government is going to be providing home COVID test kits…
I really wish the US had got into gear and done this before Nov. 2020, but it’s not too late to do this.
Every household should be able to do a home test kit for a suspicious sniffle.
No-prescription, home rapid COVID testing has finally arrived in US pharmacies, for around $24 for a two-test pack.
“The National Institutes of Health is supplying free rapid antigen tests for up to 160,000 residents of Pitt County, North Carolina, and Hamilton County, Tennessee, to evaluate communitywide interest. Residents in those communities will be able to access the Quidel home coronavirus test to test themselves three time each week over one month.”
“The FDA’s emergency authorization of the BinaxNOW coronavirus self-test allows home use for people with or without symptoms of COVID-19. The test is recommended for serial screening twice over three days with 36 hours between tests. The FDA also authorized the Quidel QuickVue coronavirus test, which delivers results in 10 minutes and also can be used without a prescription.”
It would have been better to have this 6 months ago, but it will be nice to have this winter.
The Jory Fleming book looks interesting (I just read an interview of him). Will be on my radar.
“Can Prince Harry and Prince William really reconcile without an apology from Meghan? ”
TBH – there is a *profound* lack of trust on William’s part – he’s been badly burnt by confidential talks with Harry being broadcast by Meghan (via carefully selected leaks – Gayle King, for example). And by agreements with H being overturned or twisted the minute M gets involved (the ‘title’ for Archie is a great example: I’m certain that H knew that A wasn’t entitled to ‘Prince’ – and had expressed his own egalitarian preference for no title; but status-conscious M wanted the highest title possible for A.
There will be a very long period of testing, before W will trust H again. And, with M in the mix, I doubt that reconciliation is going to happen – though I’m sure that they’ll be polite on the surface.
No ‘apology’ from M will be worth anything – it would simply be a puff piece for the news – nothing will change her self-centred attitude – she truly believes that she is in the right…
“..If Meghan had hung around for a few more years and had the opportunity for some fabulous photo-ops, she could have solidified the royal brand and then taken it on the road. Instead, it’s Kate..” Meghan must understand that she is almost out of time. The whole Hollywood discard of women who stop being absolutely toothsome – she is 39. Much of her ability to stir up trouble has come from her babe factor, and – unless you are Sophia Loren – that’s generally gone by 45. That’s when they start calling women ‘handsome’ or, worse, ‘well preserved’. So I think she really couldn’t count on making the kind of splash she has so obviously enjoyed making unless she did it now. I don’t think it’s going to turn our to have been a successful strategy, but it might, and it wouldn’t have been an even halfway plausible strategy later.
dave said, “Meghan must understand that she is almost out of time. The whole Hollywood discard of women who stop being absolutely toothsome – she is 39. Much of her ability to stir up trouble has come from her babe factor, and – unless you are Sophia Loren – that’s generally gone by 45.”
“I don’t think it’s going to turn our to have been a successful strategy, but it might, and it wouldn’t have been an even halfway plausible strategy later.”
The best that a TV actress Meghan’s age has to hope for is a downward-spiraling career path of playing step-moms, cougars, bosses, and eventually nosy neighbors and sit-com MILs.
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