Friday Five

Five links that made us think this week
Friday, November 9, 2012

Five links that made us think this week:

Now that the election is over, the real work begins. Election results show that voters are still deeply divided over education issues. Proposals to introduce merit pay and limit teacher’s rights to collectively bargain were rejected in Idaho, while Arizona, Missouri, and South Dakota all rejected tax increase proposals that would benefit public education. On the flip side, charter school supporters won a major victory in Washington state, where voters finally approved a ballot initiative to allow charter schools.

Shakespeare famously said, A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I'm not sure critical race theorist Dr. Camika Royal would agree with him. In a provocative op-ed for Good, Dr. Royal argues that “the cross-racial comparison” inherent in the term “achievement gap” is problematic because it “blames the historically marginalized, under-served victims of poor schooling and holds whiteness and wealth as models of excellence.” She challenges ed reformers (including her alma mater, Teach For America) to “watch their mouth” and avoid using the “inflammatory" term. Definitely worth a read.

According to a newly-released census, the number of people pursuing higher education in America has increased in the last few years, due in part to the economic recession and the challenges in finding a job. The study shows that “a third of the nation’s 25 to 29-year-olds have earned at least a bachelor’s degree.” Not only has the number of college graduates gone up, but the general belief that a higher education is important has also gone up. Despite this favorable trend, the U.S. is no longer the world leader in education attainment, falling behind many European countries.

Academic Building and Lawn and Two Students at Cornell University sitting in front of a statue.

Photo by Tomwsulcer via WikiCommons

Wondering how affirmative action affects Asian Americans? The answer is: It’s complicated. A New York Times article offers an in-depth look at Asian American perspectives on this thorny issue in higher-ed. According to research cited by the Pew Center, “Some ambitious and disciplined students from India, South Korea and China see themselves as victims of race-conscious admissions,” while “Filipinos, Cambodians, Pacific Islanders and other Asian Americans continue to benefit from policies that take ethnicity into account.” Whatever their perspective, more and more Asian Americans are speaking out on the issue making it clear that when it comes to affirmative action in higher-ed, the stakes are high for everyone.

Hablas español? It turns out there’s more than one good reason for every North American to learn Spanish. . .17 to be exact. Top of the list is the fact that it makes you smarter. According to Yudhijit Bhattacharjee,“It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.” Yowza! Considering the fact that the U.S. will be the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world by the year 2050, there’s plenty of incentive to start brushing up on your vocabulario now. Get the full list here.

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, everyone! 


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