Friday, June 22, 2012

New Mexico’s Failing Grades for Higher Education

Here are the sponsors for the Institute for Competitive Workforce, which is the group that puts out the report that graded New Mexico Higher Education Institution.

While large corporations have a vested interested in the quality of the product (I.e. the students) put out by colleges and universities across the country, we must also weight that desire with producing a well round individual who can think for themselves. We need individuals who will be productive citizens for our country.  

Many of the areas pointed out by this group are in need of improvement. Funding should be directed at helping students finish their higher education both successfully and in a timely manner. Students should not be weight down with excessive loads of debt either. Companies will also want employees who are able to think for themselves without being told the answer to every problem.  

Educational Administration has been making some cuts to overhead during the recession due to public pressure. With the sights of improvement, the administrators have fallen back into bad behaviors of large pay increases to top administration while still cutting both services and materials to students.

Nothing improves an instructor’s skills like being a full-time employee. With time employees can improve upon delivery skills. The move toward more part-time instructors has only harmed our current educational system.  

Textbooks continue to be an obstacle for many students since the price has reached outrages dollar amounts. Pell grants fail to cover the cost of anything but tuition. So students are forced to find another method of paying for their schoolbooks.

Colleges are coming up with more and more expenses called lab fees that are not covered by Pell Grants. These fees are for upkeep of equipment, classroom supplies, and printing cost. Student printing cost often excesses the small dollar amount allotted to students at the beginning of each term. Students are forces to pay for printing out of pocket each term.

Standardized exams were a failure in our K-12 system. Making colleges an extension of that failed policy will do nothing to improve the quality of the future workers who enter the workforce. If anything standardized, exams will do more harm than good at preparing our students for the workforce. The answer for how to better train our workforce will come with advanced training of our educators with more creative ways of teaching their classes. We need to teach students that they are responsible for their educational outcomes. We need to raise the expected achievement level to encourage students to perform at higher levels without moving the bar out of their reach entirely.