Academic Economics and Reform


               All across the United States there has been a surge in reform.  Though the propaganda involved is designed to give the people a sense of ease (even the word reform is often seen as beneficial) the reality of these changes is far from beneficial, especially to students.  This alteration in the process of economics within Academia exist on every stage; elementary school, junior high, high school, and college.  Though some schools have always had this corrupted sense of entitlement, it seems as though nearly every other institution  within Academia is following suit.

                Look at the public education system in the western U.S. for example.  California public schools are placing greater and greater demand on students to be present in class, yet, attendance does not always correlate with an increase in academic performance.  We might ask ourselves why this is and sadly, there are several pieces.  First of all, between 4th and 9th grade, there is very little deviation in curriculum; meaning that the books which students are exposed to at the high school freshmen level contain the same information that they were encountering in the 4th grade.  Typically, the only difference in these books will be the cover art and the names of chapters.  The initial idea behind this being a belief in repetition. 

                It is a provable fact that repetition does assist in the learning process.  However, the one major factor that fails to be taken into account is this, often a student will learn an incorrect way to find a solution or memorize a passage and that same process will continue throughout those 5 years.  In this way do students get left behind academically.  The only thing repetition has taught them was an incorrect or ineffective method.  Attendance at this point is fruitless for the fallible method is the only thing being learned regardless of whether or not the student shows up for class.

                Another issue which is deeply related to the above statement is, again, rooted in attendance.   If, under the best circumstances, a student can chronically attend class as recommended, what difference can it truly make?  The average human only needs to repeat a method 2 or 3 times for that method to be instilled into long term memory.  This means, even if a person doesn't use a certain piece of information over a long period of time, that person can recall that information with far less effort then it originally took them to learn.  So why is every student subject to  five years of minimum repetition?  Additionally, how can any society expect any academic advancement if their youth is constantly doing the same thing over and over again without reasonable change?

                What we are left with is a systemic decline in overall performance and intellectual capability which is integrated into a mind that was originally designed for much more.  By not altering the curriculum to advance as the student matures, we are effectively teaching a complete lack in ability to adapt.  This also inhibits the ability to imagine and deprives the student of the motivation to expand.  In doing so, the public education system effectively removes three of the primary methods for human survival and evolution; Adaptability,  Imagination, and Motivation.

                Why would the various boards of education do such a thing, one might be tempted to ask?  Simple, money.  Though teachers may be put under scrutiny based on student test scores, administration remains immune to such things.  All that matters to school administration is that students are in their seats.  If the students learn nothing while in those seats, administers still gets paid.  If the teachers are unable to teach because they are forced to use out-dated materials, the teacher can lose their job.  Administration on the other hand gets paid just for students showing up.

                This problem also follows the student well into college.  Most of a student's college experience is paid by other means.  These means can be either or a combination of, Family support, financial aid, scholarships, work, etc.  Simply put, the money doesn't just automatically come in based on seats filled.  However, this new method of payment doesn't stop administration from being corrupted.  At this level, administration will often force teachers to work at several locations or in several different positions in order to keep the bulk of teachers on part time status.  Though in states like California such methods are illegal, they non-the-less occur more often than not.  How can this be one might ask?  Simple, the punishment for breaking this law is a fine that is often far less than what would be paid out for more full time teachers.

                Another method is the abuse of financial aid.  Many administrators, especially in our current economic climate, will keep federally granted financial aid (such as Pell Grants) for up to 2 months after a reasonable disbursement time.  By the time students get their financial aid, they are already half way through a semester , 2/3 of the way through a quarter, before they have the money to purchase books.  In this way can Administration receive an injection of extra interest on the accounts which these funds go into.  It makes no difference to them if a student fails a class the first time around because they couldn't get their books because that student already gets three try's before the must find a different district to retake the class.  Of course they already have the book for their second attempt because, if they are good students, they will try again because they have already spent to money on the materials.  It makes no difference to Administration of a students have a poor academic record.  All that matters is that administrators keep their pay check and can have enough left over to continue unnecessary aesthetic projects such as office remodeling, administration parking cover, break area's and other superficial projects which are of little benefit to students.

                What is the solution?  There could many ways to solve these problems in academia.  However, all of them would require us to continue at least one tradition; reform.  However, instead of reforming the system to be even more mechanical in teaching methods and testing, we will to reform the problem from the top going down.  We need to establish a general pay cap on all administration positions with a civil vote by the state population regarding what that cap should be.  We need to establish a mandatory maximum in number of administrators per full time teachers (perhaps 1 administer per 50 or 100 teachers) and actually enforce the laws regarding numbers of part time teacher per full time teacher (which in most area's is a 1 to 1 ratio) while putting more severe caps on the amount of money which can be used for projects which do not directly benefit the student body.  Finally, if we can find a way to correlate the number of classes offered scaled by the amount of teachers there are and administrators to handle this work load, then these school officials may be more inclined to offer the classes necessary for their students instead of simply skimming off the top of accounts to give themselves pay raises and other benefits. 

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