Restructuring U.S. Education

Help Us Improve The faulty U.S. educational System

Improving Knowledge in America

5 Ways To Improve Our Educational System

  1. Equal distribution of capital in our public schools
  2. Study Abroad Opportunities
  3. Move from Affirmative Action to alternative methods
  4. Enact Legislation that limits the tuition increase rate for colleges
  5. Reform of the STEM Curriculum

1.

Equal Access

Currently, the U.S is faltering when it comes to providing an equal access to education. Sure, we may all be able and required to attend public school when we are young. However, have you thought that some students have lower opportunities than others when it comes to education. Well it is true, and it is happening right now in several impoverished districts that lack some educational resources and unequal equity. In the article "America's Classist Education System" posted by Huffington Post and written by Peter Dreir, a distinguished Professor of Politics, Occidental College, stated that the average US per-student expenditure is $10,938 for public K-12 schools, but within states they vary from $19,752 in Vermont to $6,949 in Arizona. Meaning that there is a huge disparity between affluent school districts and poor urban and rural ones. Resulting in unequal access to education.


The lack of educational resources include:

  1. Certified teachers
  2. Variety in AP courses and duel enrollment
  3. Unequal capital spending per pupil
  4. Unequal capital for school districts
  5. Shortage in recreational and advanced classes (SAT prep classes, 3-D printing, clubs, robotics, engineering, ext)



Hector R. Menchaca Jr.

Consequences

Imagine not being able to read street signs, read a drug prescription label, read the vaccination administration record of your child, or understand job descriptions . This is happening to 24 million Americans who are below average literacy skills. This is due to the failure in providing equal education which guarantees a student with higher probability in advancing academically and gaining the basic skills in life.


That is not all! As a result of the illiteracy in America, it has caused several losses.

These include:


  1. $80 billion in lost work productivity
  2. $106-$236 billion in added annual health care costs
  3. $225 billion or more in unemployment benefits, lost taxes and crime.


Hector r. Mencahaca Jr.

Benefits By Making A Change

You might ask yourself if this affects you? The answer is yes, and everybody else in the U.S. According to Literacy Partners for every dollar invested in an adult literacy, it yields $7.14 dollars in return. Meaning that if you invested a dollar for those 24 million illiterate individuals, $171,360,000 will be retuned in revenue. If we assured that these 24 million illiterate individuals would of obtained a high school diploma, there would of been a decrease of up to 3.5% of unemployment from the current 5.5%. This means less health care costs, unemployment benefits, lost taxes and crime. In other words, less money from your own pocket taken away.


Hector R. Menchaca Jr

What Should You Do?

These losses in our economy, as well money from your own pocket, can be saved by simply pushing the government to act on these deficiencies. With this we can help our future generation not follow the same footsteps, but create a better path and allow the bright minds of our kids prosper and ensure success.


Hector R. Menchaca Jr.

2.

Studying Abroad

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” -St. Augustine


"Studying abroad has great benefit. I am already receiving me right now." -Yucheng Guo (me) :-)


Yucheng Guo

1. Experience a Foreign Culture

One of the important reasons to study abroad is that it will allow you to get to know another culture firsthand. Cultural differences are more than just appearances, food, language, and personal habits. A culture reflects beliefs, perceptions, and values that influence their way of life and how they view the world. Students who experience a foreign culture personally will come to truly understand where other cultures are coming from and have a greater appreciation for their own surroundings.

2. Become More Independent
It truly is a great way for you to learn how to become more independent, before you venture off to college or the real world. The Irish Life Experience believes in giving students the perfect balance of freedom and supervision. Maturing is simply a natural growth process of the program and another one of the valued reasons to study abroad.

3. Expand Your Worldview
One of the reasons to study abroad is that when you return home, your worldview will be more informed and you will have a much less biased perspective toward other cultures and people.

4. Communicate across Cultures
In today’s increasingly global society, it’s important to possess skills to communicate across cultures-and this means understanding more than just a different language. By interacting with locals, you can develop an appreciation for the culture and its differences from your own, which makes this one of the important reasons to study abroad.

5. Enrich Your Education
The Irish Life Experience will help you develop skills and give you experiences a classroom setting will never provide. Being immersed in an entirely new cultural setting is scary at first, but it’s also extremely exciting. It’s an opportunity to discover new abilities, strengths, conquer new challenges, and solve new problems. You will encounter situations that are unfamiliar to you and will learn to adapt and respond in effective ways. One of greatest reasons to study abroad is that it will make you richer-mentally.

6. Discover Your Passions
Getting out of your comfort zone will allow you to realize what is important to you. Many students become compliant in their lives. The Irish Life Experience will give you a chance to be reborn into what matters most to you and this is yet another one of the many reasons to study abroad.

7. Develop Lifelong Connections

You might meet not only natives to the culture in which you are studying, but also other international students who are as far from home as yourself. You might create lifelong bonds with cherished friends and experience memories with each other that are unforgettable.

8. Enhance Your Resume
Only 4% of US students study abroad. Through an employer’s eyes, a student who has studied abroad is self-motivated, independent, willing to embrace challenges, and able to cope with diverse problems and situations. Your experience living and studying in Ireland and learning about another culture will make your resume stand out in a stack of thousands. Impressing colleges and employers is one of the key reasons to study abroad.

9. Live the Dream When You Are Young
When you get older, get a job, and settle down, you will realize how important it was for you to study abroad when you were younger. Many adults will never have the privilege to see the world. What better time then now to take advantage of an an incredible opportunity, explore a new country, take classes and learn the culture and traditions of Ireland, and live with your peers for half the cost during a magical summer called the Irish Life Experience.


Citation: "Top Ten Reasons To Study Abroad." 14 Feb. 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <http://irishlifeexperience.com/6048/top-ten-reasons-to-study-abroad/>.


Yucheng Guo

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source: irishlifeexperience.com

Suggestions for You

Please study abroad if you have the chance. Stepping out of the homeland and embrace the world is perhaps one of the most important life experience. By living in another country and interactive with people that have different background will surely benefit you in multiple ways. You will become a more educated person with fruitful memory!


Yucheng Guo

3.

America's Future Without Affirmative Action in Higher Education

Prediction for the future:


"The Supreme Court’s ruling will significantly limit the use of race in college admissions,' and he urges college presidents to face this likelihood and begin exploring alternative, race-neutral methods of ensuring diversity in college admissions." - Richard D. Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow at Century Foundation


Alex Lim


Source: Potter, Halley. "Affirmative Action Alternatives." Blog of the Century. Century Foundation, 13 Mar. 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.

A Better Affirmative Action

"Since students of color are disproportionately low-income, programs that consider students’ socioeconomic backgrounds have the power to increase both economic and racial/ethnic diversity." -Halley Potter


Alternatives with successfully implemented race-neutral programs:


1) Make changes to admissions to increase low-income students’ access.

Programs like the Texas Top Ten Percent Plan increase representation of low-income students and students of color indirectly; Texas’ plan guarantees admission to public universities in the state for all Texas high school seniors in the top 10 percent of their graduating class (a group that includes wealthy suburban valedictorians as well as top graduates from under-resourced inner-city schools). But colleges can also ask direct questions about students’ socioeconomic backgrounds and use that information to give low-income students a leg up, considering their achievements in light of obstacles overcome. The statewide ApplyTexas application, for example, asks “Do you have family obligations that keep you from participating in extracurricular activities?”


2) Boost financial aid.

Changes to financial aid can serve as a way of attracting and retaining low-income students. The Collegebound Nebraska program, for example, offers free in-state tuition for Nebraska residents who are Pell Grant recipients and maintain minimum credit-hour and GPA requirements.


3) Develop recruitment and support programs for low-income students.

At Florida State University, the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement recruits first-generation and economically disadvantaged students through outreach in high schools and supports these students once enrolled with programs such as summer orientation and extra academic services.

Our report examined ten public flagship universities that eliminated the use of race in admissions at some point in the past two decades. At seven of them, the race-neutral admissions policies adopted to replace affirmative action either maintained or increased representation of African American and Latino students on campus.


4) Adding Socioeconomic Factors to Admissions

Colleges also added socioeconomic factors to admissions decisions, looking at measures such as family income, wealth, single parent status, neighborhood demographics, parents’ education level, and high school performance. The University of Washington, for example, started asking applicants to answer questions about any personal hardships or work or family obligations they’ve faced. And the university gives a leg up to students who faced disadvantages but showed impressive academic performance in light of those challenges.


5) Dropping Legacy Preferences

Legacy preferences, which give a leg up to children of alumni, disproportionately benefit white, wealthy applicants—indirectly harming the admissions chances of disadvantaged applicants. The University of California System, the University of Georgia, and Texas A&M University all dropped legacy preferences after ending affirmative action.


Alex Lim

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Further Research

Opponents of affirmative action have often supported alternatives, like socio-economic based admissions and targeted outreach.


Here you can listen to a discussion between David Greene and University of Washington professor Mark Long concerning alternatives of Affirmative action:

http://www.npr.org/2014/04/25/306718048/alternatives-emerge-to-affirmative-action


Here you can watch a debate about the harm of affirmative action policies:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bm5eph0g_Ag


Alex Lim

Final Thoughts

I encourage you all to review the arguments in favor of affirmative action, those against it, and the alternatives presented above. Then, decide for yourself which is the best option for the future of American Education.


Arguments for: https://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=43428


Arguments against: https://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=43448


Alex Lim

4.

The Increasing Tuition in American Colleges

Why the Tuition Increase Rate is so High

We as Americans were told from an early age that college is the best way to be successful. Because of this, colleges have been able to increase tuition at an alarmingly fast and unregulated rate. According to a Bloomberg article, the consumer price index has increased by 279% compared to the tuition increase of 1225% over the last 36 years. This is astronomical! Coupling the fact that many students are unemployed out of college with the fact that tuition has risen by 1225%, it is clear why change must occur. I have compiled some of the biggest reasons that colleges increase tuition rates below:



  1. Inflated salaries
  2. Construction projects
  3. Students demanding luxury amenities
  4. State funding cuts
  5. Technological changes



While some of these reasons (like technological changes) are positive, others are not as constructive to a learning environment. Colleges have increased tuition rates to pay for services that are not needed, and students are taking these tuition rate increases far into life as debt. So what can be done to stop this?


Evan Roback


Source: Jamrisko, Michelle and Ilan Kolet. “College Tuition Costs Soar: Chart of the Day.” Bloomberg Businesses, 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.

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Regulating College Tuition: The Proposed Law

In order to stop colleges from increasing tuition at a rate disproportional to the rest of the economy, legislation must be enacted. This new law would state that colleges can not increase their tuition by a rate greater that the national inflation. If they wish to increase tuition to pay for a project that is extraneous, they must offset these costs though financial aid. If they did not comply with these rules, a university would lose their "non-profit" status. However, according to Steven Goodman, many colleges would fight this legislation. Below, I have compiled a list of pros and cons to enacting legislation that will help you form an opinion.


Pros:


  1. Transfers more power to students
  2. Ensures that tuition is attributed primarily to education
  3. Allows students to graduate with little or no debt



Cons:


  1. Does not respect the academic freedom of universities
  2. Restricts the ability for colleges to grow and improve


It is clear that there are very distinguishable pros and cons to this legislation, although I believe that it is necessary. For anyone who is interested and would like to read more pros and cons to legislation like this, visit http://www.debate.org/opinions/should-the-government-control-the-cost-of-college-tuition.


Regardless of the pros and cons, any legislation like this would take years to pass through the government. For active citizens who want to know how to solve this problem now, consider education other than the traditional 4 year college. For many, a 2 year college or trade school can get you on a good path to success without having to accumulate a vast amount of debt. If you are considering going to college soon, you can use the following website to estimate the total cost of college to you: http://www.finaid.org/calculators/costprojector.phtml.


Evan Roback


Source: Goodman, Steven. “Why College Tuition Should Be Regulated.” Time. 27 Oct. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.

5.

A Pedagogical Reform

What’s the point of Math?

The quality of the U.S educational system is the current envy of the world. We have world renowned professors and Universities that attract professionals and scholars from all over the world. We have private sector that is booming with innovation and yet according to a US News article American “Students Still Lag in International Comparisons.”(Bidwell) The problem here is that many Americans just aren’t passionate about the STEM fields. They are dispassionate about math and the sciences and as a result are create a shortage of workers for STEM employers. I believe that the primary cause of this dispassionateness is the unnecessary and painstaking approach of information regurgitation that is being enforced in the school system.


Sig Salinas

Science Is An Art So Teach It As Such!

In his 2002 essay “A Mathematicians Lament”, Paul Lockhart comments on the detrimental nature of the modern day math curriculum in grade school. Lockhart’s comments of course can be extended to the science since; after all, science is math in practice. The problem with the curriculum is not the content but rather the way it is taught. The main argument here is that just as an artist or a musician doesn’t spend years memorizing colors and hues before picking up a paint brush neither should a student of the sciences have to spend years memorizing formulas before learning what they are really doing.(Morella) The sad truth is most kids who make it through grade school do not actually have a good understanding of what the math, physics, and other sciences they were engaged in actually meant. How can we expect a prosperous and innovative workforce when the workers don’t actually have a clear idea of what they are doing?


Sig Salinas

What the Classroom Should be like...

If we actually plan to engage kids in the STEM fields the school day must be restructured.(Hutchinson) One such way a typical elementary school day might go for example is as follows. The children arrive at their math class. There are no rulers, calculators, or formula sheets in sight instead there is a large image on the whiteboard—a triangle inscribed inside of a rectangle. The teacher poses a question: “How much of rectangle is taken up by the rectangle?” Without any numbers to crunch or values to be assigned a simple problem like this has been reduced to its purest form and now children are encouraged to work together using intuition and mathematical induction to derive the fact that the area of a triangle is half of a quadrilateral. From this the students will gain a concrete understanding as to the meaning of a formula because they themselves will have derived it. There was no memorization and they were simply told what the formula was and asked to plug in values.


Sig Salinas

We Can Change Things!

The system is broken and the republic is burning but it is not too late to put out that fire. We can change things. As of right now some changes are taking place at the college level but we can do more.(O’Brien) We can let our representatives in congress know that the system is broken especially nowadays with social media and mass communication at our fingertips. We can also let our universities know how they can better improve they’re forms of teaching through feedback and surveys.


Sig Salinas

Open Letter to the President: Physics Education

Location

John R. Blocker Bulding (BLOC)

Thursday, April 23rd, 4pm

155 Ireland Street

College Station, TX

Speeches will be held in BLOC 135 from 4:00 PM - 5:10 PM. Please arrive 5 - 10 minutes in advance, seating is first come first serve. However, you are required to make a reservation through the google sheets by clicking on the button below. You will not be admitted if you do not reserve a seat.

For directions please see link below:

http://www.math.tamu.edu/contact/blocker.html



Hector R. Menchaca Jr.

Reservation

Hector R. Menchaca Jr.

Guaranteed to Challenge Your Perspective

Frequently Asked Questions

Will there be a Q&A session?

Unfortunately, no. Our Speakers are college students with some time constraints and other responsibilities. However, feel free to contact them via email or phone for more information.


How long will the speech be?

There will be 5 speakers, each taking around 5 minutes to present there speech. The speech will not take any longer than 30 minutes.


Can I stay for other speeches?

Yes! Please feel free to stay for any other speeches that will be presented during the time period.


Is it Free?

Yes. Just reserve a seat and your set!


What if I want to do my own speech?

You would need to talk with our coordinator, Travis Cox, to receive confirmation and time and date of speech. To contact him email him via coxt@tamu.edu.


I want more information on future events and speeches?

No worries, if you scroll down you will see a button that says "Add your email today". Click on it and add your email. This will provide you with a monthly newsletter of new events and speeches.


Hector R. Menchaca Jr.

Speakers for Rebuilding Educational System

Hector R. Menchaca Jr.

Topic 1:

The disproportionate capital distribution to districts, which lead to unequal access to education.

Yucheng

Alex

Evan Roback

Topic 4:

The Increasing College Tuition in America

Sig

Topic 5:
A Reform of the STEM Curriculum
Add Your Email Today!!!

Add email to get updates on future speeches and events. Hector R. Menchaca Jr.

Work Cited

Videos

Separate and Unequal. PBS, 2015. Film.

<http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/separate-and-unequal/>


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Information

Bidwell, Allie. “Students Still Lag in International Comparisons.” US News. US News and World Report LP, 09 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 Apr.2015. < http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/09/11/us-chamber-of-commerce-students-still-lag-in-international-competitiveness>


Flournoy, Brandon. "Education Failure Leads to Low Literacy." The Globe. Point Park University, 24 Mar. 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

<http://www.pointparkglobe.com/news/view.php/863244/Education-failure-leads-to-low- literacy>.


Hutchinson, Nick. “How to Educate the Next Generation of Googlers: Two Lessons from the White House Science Fair.” The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, 16 Apr.2015. Web. 16 Apr.2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nick-hutchinson/how-to-educate-the-next-g_b_7055484.html>


"Impact of Illiteracy." Literacy Partners Inc. Web. 20 Apr. 2015. <http://www.literacypartners.org/literacy-in-america/impact-of-illiteracy>.


"New Initiative to Provide All Students Access to Great Educators." New Initiative to Provide

All Students Access to Great Educators. U.S. Department of Education, 7 July 2014. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

<http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-education-secretary-announces- guidance-ensure-all-students-have-equal-access-educational-resources>.


Lockhart, Paul. “A Mathematician’s Lament.” Mathematical Association of America, 2002. mma.org. Web. 22 Apr. 2015


More Education Leads to Greater Earnings, Less Unemployment." Heritage.org. The Heritage Foundation, 15 May 2014. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

<http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2015/01/28/us-education-still-separate-and-unequal>.


Morella, Michael. “Learning the Language of Numbers.” US News. US News and World Report LP, 05 Sept. 2014. Web. 21 Apr.2015. <http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2014/09/05/how-to-excel-in-stem-math-and-science>

Alex Lim:


Source: Potter, Halley. "Affirmative Action Alternatives." Blog of the Century. Century Foundation, 13 Mar. 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.


Potter, Halley. "What Can We Learn from States That Ban Affirmative Action?"

Education. The Century Foundation, 26 June 2014. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.

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Statistics from Recent Research