The little pigs and their straw college

Here is a vignette for your reading unenjoyment: Teamwork was part of my Catholic education. My group’s combined mental faculties couldn’t power a wristwatch. When asked to construct a freestanding structure with drinking straws, my team decided, against my pleading, to tape the straws together end to end. London Bridge came falling down, and so did our straw tower.

Grouping the disinterested with the motivated is prevalent in all levels of academics, not just my old religious education. It is a trademark of 21st century education in America to cater to the lowest common denominator. SHSU raised admissions requirements recently, but that is only a baby step forward.

The shrinking middle class and widening income gap are chief concerns this election. To remedy this, one of the candidates proposed raising taxes levied against the upper class. Redistribution of wealth may or may not benefit the lower class, but it certainly won’t revitalize the waning middle class. Middle class culture cannot originate by spurring the rich to charity.

America looks on in horror as increasingly packed colleges manufacture decreasingly literate generations. The university system should be the competent navigator of culture, rather than its drunken captain. The blame rests solely on the universities that train our academic, business and political leaders.

The modern public schoolteachers and administrators cater more to students’ morale than their education and future success. Maslow becomes venerated while Shakespeare is forgotten. Where we save these children in skinned knees and hurt feelings, we lower the glass ceiling above them.

In addition, administrations, almost universally, value standardized testing over academic freedom for obvious reasons. State funding is showered upon schools more focused on meeting SAT and GRE standards than training students to become superior people.

Higher education cannot be run like a business. A business (as we are seeing right now) is subject to the fads de juer and whims of its shareholders, in this case taxpayers. Contingency on outside influences adulterates the core of academia.

Sam Houston shouldn’t need to compete with diploma-printing-press colleges, nor should it become one. It is time to wrest the helm from those holding the purse strings. Our university – all universities – needs to start preparing better schoolteachers, businessmen/women and politicians. The responsibility is on us to cultivate a community that reads more than Harry Potter and The da Vinci Code.

The middle class emerged as a result of mass literacy and educated citizens. In 2008, the United States is starting to compete with literacy rates in eighth century England. If higher education becomes guaranteed to all citizens, it can’t be at the cost of lowering the bar.

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