A Response to “Dear #sachat”

Tim St. John had an interesting post this morning. The part that’s getting a lot of shares on Twitter is:

“Our students and our academic colleagues do not care about your favorite icebreaker. They don’t care about what you think “professionalism” means. They care that you show up to work, do your job, and do your damn best for your students and your campus community.”

That is a great comment. But it then goes on to say

“When articles comment on the inflation of administration – they are talking about us! Yet, we are too busy talking about other things to notice. “

Um… actually I do. See here. or Here. Or honestly any article I post.  I rarely talk solely about student affairs, because student affairs doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

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Soft Skills and Standardized Tests

The governor of New York recently proposed that 50% of teachers evaluations be based on the results of standardized tests. I’m not going to go into great detail about how much of fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of standardized tests that is. The short version is that standardized tests give the most useful information when disaggregated, so for example looking at a district by district sample, or by selecting randomized classrooms from the entire state/province to give an overall picture. Other people have explained what a problem it is to hold teachers responsible for things they don’t have full control over. I’m not going to go into that today. Instead I’m going to focus on the labour market.

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The Problem with “College Costs” Articles

Everyone associated with the Higher Education field, and a lot of people who aren’t, seem to like to talk about the cost of Higher Education. From Kevin Carey’s book “The End of College” to New York Times opinion pieces and their responses, and more responses this is a hot topic. For a Canadian perspective I find a lot of interesting thoughts on the topic with this blog too.

Having read too many articles which explicitly ignore points which contradict their narative I’m going to propose two New Rules:

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Aboriginal Access to Post-Secondary

Aboriginal people make up 6% of BC and the percentage is rising quickly.

From an economic standpoint there’s a huge wage gap between aboriginal and non aboriginal workers pay based on looking at full time workers with the same career classification. But the good news is that the more education an aboriginal person has the closer that gap is. In fact the gap almost disappears for aboriginal people with a masters degree or higher. But Aboriginal people are less likely to go to post secondary, with only 45% of working age aboriginal people having a post secondary certificate diploma or degree compared to 62% for non aboriginal residents.

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How is this a threat?

Last week NASPA’s blog had a post called “Five Megatrends Threatening Student Affairs (and How to Turn Them Into Opportunities)” written by Laurence N. Smith and Albert B. Blixt. It was an interesting read, but I have to take issue with one of their points.

Trend #3: Changing student demographics

Overall competition for students will increase over the next decade as the number of high school graduates declines while the racial/ethnic/socio-economic makeup of entering students will shift. By 2020, 45 percent of the nation’s public high school graduates will be non-white compared with 38 percent in 2009. Students will be more likely to be the first in family to attend college and will have fewer economic means. In addition, more of those entering college will be foreign-born including immigrants and international students recruited actively by colleges and universities. Adult learners, often with jobs and families, are becoming a greater percentage of the student body. Finally, we are seeing the end of the millennial generation and a new “touchscreen” generation coming to campus. All of these emerging segments have different needs and expectations that have direct implications for what services student affairs needs to provide.

Here’s my issue: how is this a threat to Student Affairs? Now, I understand that they’re trying to make a rhetorical point to springboard into their ways to take advantage of opportunities but hear me out with my issue.

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