Higher Education

Sixty Years Of The Space Age: A Time Of Great Achievements And Technological Advancements

Yesterday, October 4, was the 60th anniversary of the Space Age, as the Soviet Union shocked the world by orbiting an artificial satellite, Sputnik I, beginning the Space Race, leading to the United States landing on the moon on July 20, 1969, after promotion by John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. It was the age of Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, and so many other heroic astronauts.

It transformed American thinking, and helped to promote science, math, and technology, and the importance of promoting higher education.

So under President Eisenhower, we saw the enactment of the National Defense Education Act in 1958, and the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, with headquarters in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and later in Houston, Texas.

The Space Age promoted patriotism and excitement, as millions of Americans watched all of the launches of satellites and of astronauts on television.

This blogger remembers the uniqueness of the Space Age, and is still saddened by the lack of commitment to go further into space, with the argument that we could not afford the expenditure.

If we had continued the pace of the Space Age after the last mission to the moon in 1972, America would likely now have explored Mars, which now is a goal for the 2030s, after many lost decades.

The loss of interest in science, is a great tragedy, as many ignorant people have worked against it, instead advocating religion over science, to the detriment of the nation.

Donald Trump’s Attack On Truth, Facts, Knowledge Leads To An Alternative History And Science, Detrimental To America And Its Future!

Donald Trump has mounted an attack on truth, facts, knowledge, and in so doing, it has led to an alternative history and science, detrimental to America and its future.

His ignorance on both history and science undermines the future of American education, as we see distortion of both areas of knowledge being advocated as reality, when it is just the opposite. The fact that Betsy DeVos is Secretary of Education only undermines true education in history and science, as well as in other areas of the curriculum.

We also see a large number of Trump supporters in the Republican Party and the conservative movement attacking the nature of, and need for, higher education.

This is all part of a plan to promote ignorance, propaganda, and disdain for educated people, and that kind of trend endangers the long term future of the nation, as other countries surpass us in the competition for educated people to deal with the future of the world economy.

The attack on how American history is taught is an alarm bell, reviving the old focus on only white male accomplishments in government and the economy. We have been enriched by teaching and analyzing about the role of minorities, women, and working people in our American history curriculum, on both the public school and college and university level.

The attack on science promotes Christian doctrine, and denies evolution, climate science, environmental protection as important, instead promoting preposterous theories on the age of the earth, and the concept that there is no need to protect the earth and its natural wonders for the long term future, only focusing on profit and capitalism for the present, and ignoring the long term implications. The fact that Ryan Zinke is our Secretary of the Interior, and Scott Pruitt is the head of the Environmental Protection Agency is tragic in so many dimensions.

The struggle to fight the Donald Trump emphasis on alternative truth, which are simply lies, must be continued, no matter how arduous the battle!

The Battle For America: The Past Vs. The Future, Old Vs. Young

It is becoming very clear that the crisis in America regarding its future is centered around age, the past vs. the future, the Old Vs. Young.

The past is an America of the 1950s, when most women, except for the poor, stayed at home; when African Americans were segregated and treated in a very discriminatory manner; when Jews and Catholics and Puerto Ricans were considered the only minorities other than African Americans in a nation dominated by white Anglo Saxon Protestants; when very few Americans had attended and graduated a college or university; when the military draft existed; when Americans believed that nuclear war was an imminent possibility; when young people had not yet rebelled against a society in which suburbia was developing, as whites escaped cities for the “better life”; when the total number of sports teams in the four major sports numbered only 42; when Americans knew little about the dangers of tobacco, liquor, and illegal drugs on their health; and where very few families took vacations, because the concept of vacation for most Americans was going to the beach or a local park.

The future was one of almost all women working, and many making greater incomes than their husbands or male family members if they remain single; an African American populations no longer willing to face police abuse and mistreatment or other denials of equal treatment under the law; where Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Middle East immigrants have created a very mixed population, both racial and religious; where a majority of Americans have attended college and a third have graduated college; where there is no military draft but constantly growing threats to national security from international and domestic terrorism; where young people accept diversity of all kinds willingly and openly, including that of gays and lesbians being part of society and having the opportunity to marry; where more people are abandoning the suburbs and moving back to the cities; where the number of sports teams in the four major sports numbers more than 120 in number; where health knowledge is greater than every before, but marijuana is becoming legal in different areas across the country; and where many Americans do extensive travel and tourism as routine parts of their lives; but where poverty, homelessness and deprivation still exist, and the aim seems to be to punish those who are poor!

When one examines the changes, one realizes that, to a great extent, this is a battle of the past vs. the future, the Old Vs. the Young, and the way society is advancing is the elimination of the old ideas by the reality of the aging process, and the demise of the elderly generations over time and their 1950s image, which is so out of date, and counterproductive in the second, and soon to be third, decade of the 21st century! So the opposition to change is rapidly being eliminated by the passage of time.

It is therefore ironic that it is two old billionaires in their 70s (Charles and David Koch), and an old billionaire in his 80s (Sheldon Adelson)–all three of whom will be dead likely in the next decade to 15 years—who are distorting and corrupting our government and politics and being pursued by Republican Presidential wannabes, when they are so old fashioned and out of tune with changing times, which will erase their influence by 2030!

And it seems clear that it is the Democratic Party which is looking into the future with a progressive vision, which insures their ultimate triumph long term over the Republican Party, which so represents the ideals of the 1950s, which are rapidly in decline, taking with them the “Old” America and being replaced by the “New” America!

The Purposes Of Higher Education

Why should one pursue higher education, and gain one or more college degrees?

Higher Education promotes appreciation of the world around us, and makes us better able to understand who we are and where we are in the universe.

Higher Education makes us able to communicate our thoughts and ideas in oral speech and in writing on a much higher level.

Higher Education opens us up to new areas of knowledge, even those we may think we have no interest in, but often return to later in life.

Higher Education assists in making each of us better conversationalists when with others in any social setting.

Higher Education helps to assist in overcoming prejudices, stereotyping, and judging people without forethought.

Higher Education teaches us to question and challenge and to work against propaganda and dogma of any kind.

Higher Education makes one willing to be skeptical about organized religion, wanting documentation, rather than simply accepting doctrine as reality.

Higher Education opens up our eyes to exposure to the brilliance of men and women who have made major contributions of all kinds to human endeavor.

Higher Education makes one a better partner in marriage, and a better parent.

Higher Education promotes tolerance, open mindedness, empathy, compassion, and appreciation of others who are different from us.

Higher Education enriches us for a lifetime of thought, besides providing a career in an occupation, so that we can provide for ourselves and our families.

Higher Education is attacked, sadly, by those who tell us that it is a bad investment, when there is no better investment for a lifetime. Even when it creates a financial burden for many years, it is so urgent, and since it does so much not only for oneself but also for society as a whole, it is urgent that a plan to cut college loan costs be instituted. By doing so, it will encourage more students to see the value of higher education for the long term.

So when any politician, particularly those on the conservative and Republican side of the political system work to undermine higher education, realize that it is a ploy to keep people ignorant and under one’s control. Higher education must continue to be a goal for more people, rather than an effort to promote ignorance and narrow mindedness!

With Mitt Romney Out Of Race, Scott Walker Vs. Jeb Bush Seems Like The Presidential Race Leaders For The GOP!

With Mitt Romney out of the race; with his statement that a new generation of leadership (a knock against Jeb Bush) should lead the Republican Party to victory; and with Scott Walker seen as impressive at the Steve King promoted Iowa Conference of Tea Party and Right Wing forces; and new polls showing Walker gaining by Romney’s dropping out, it seems clear that the frontrunners for the moment, at least, in the Republican Presidential race are Jeb Bush as the Establishment figure; and Scott Walker as the Koch Brothers-Tea Party-New generation inspired alternative.

The situation will, probably, change often over the next year, until the Iowa Caucuses on February 1 and the New Hampshire primary later that month, but for now, we seem to have a choice between another Bush, who is clearly competent but turns many people off on the fact alone that he is a Bush; and the arrogant, cocky, egotistical Governor Scott Walker, who now has declared his desire to destroy the “Wisconsin Idea” concept of higher education developed under Governor Robert LaFollette Sr a century ago, and pursued for the past century by both Republican and Democratic Governors, and supported by most Wisconsin members of Congress and the state legislature, putting Wisconsin in the forefront of educational standards nationally.

Instead, Walker wants liberal arts education to be dropped, and instead promote “work force” education only, a system that would fulfill the Koch Brothers desire to move young people away from an education that promotes thinking, analysis, interpretation, evaluation, tolerance, and open mindedness. This is the equivalent in many ways of the thought control process in the old Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, and must be opposed with every last ounce of strength by those who see the danger to education presented by Scott Walker and his cronies!

Even if one finds Jeb Bush objectionable in many ways, the goal must be, IF the choice is between Bush and Walker for the Republican Presidential nomination, to defeat Walker at all costs, as a man dangerous to our future, and totally unqualified in foreign policy, as proved in a recent interview. The man is a menace to our future political system!

The Importance Of Higher Education Over A Lifetime Worth The Investment!

Propaganda has been going around, promoted by conservatives and Republicans, that higher education is not worth the investment, that many students end up with a debt that will take many years to pay off, so that, instead, it is better to avoid college education. Their goal, ultimately, is to promote ignorance and apathy among the masses, so as to advance their agenda of impoverishing the middle class and the poor!

Yes, college debt is a major problem, and the interest rates charged are ridiculous, and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts wants to promote legislation to lower rates, stating that an investment in the long term future should not become victim of greedy lenders!

While it is true that many college and university graduates cannot find work in their chosen field, and that it has become particularly difficult for recent college students to find appropriate work, one must think in the long run, not the short run, and the evidence is clear that a college education, over a lifetime, pays dividends in higher pay, a better lifestyle, and a much more enlightened citizenry!

College graduates on the average make at least double the income of non college graduates, and over a lifetime, about a half million dollars is lost if a person has not attended and graduated a four year degree.

Also, the level of satisfaction at work, and the knowledge base of a college graduate, is far greater than a non college graduate. A four year college degree is still the best ticket to the middle class for anyone who is struggling to make ends meet!

College Graduates Now One Third Of Those Ages 25-29: The Highest Percentage Ever

Higher education has reached more and more Americans over time, and now among those 25-29, one third have at least a four year undergraduate degree.

More Americans have started and graduated college in recent years, spurred on by the Great Recession, and the recognition that unemployment levels among college graduates is 3.3 percent for those ages 25-34, compared to 11.8 percent for high school graduates.

Still, too many students fail to finish a four year, or even a two year degree, and in many states, the graduation rate is much lower than in others, with the trend being that the “Blue” states have higher graduation rates than the “Red” states, another indication of two Americas in our midst, one in the 21st century, and the other moving back socially to the 19th century in many ways, sadly!

And low income American families still see only about one out of ten of their children going on to college and graduating in a six year period, while high income families see seven out of ten children gaining a college degree.

And women are graduating at higher rates than men, another disturbing issue regarding the emotional maturity of young men, many seeing just having any job as enough, making more women more highly educated than men, and in many cases, choosing not to marry someone of lesser educational attainment.

And Asian Americans continue to have higher percentages of college degrees, followed by whites, blacks and Hispanics, respectively.

The road to the future in a technology based and digital economy is higher education, so those not attaining that goal are at a long range disadvantage in the American economy of the future.

Politicians And Interference With University Education: Totally Wrong And Inappropriate!

A disturbing trend which has emerged lately among Republicans is to promote the idea that higher education should be in the business of promoting certain fields of study, certain majors, because there are more job opportunities in some areas of the curriculum.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has been speaking about this, and now House Majority Leader Eric Cantor did the same in a speech about “rebranding” the Republican Party.

The idea that politicians should be promoting any interference in the pursuit of education, the advancement of knowledge, and the encouragement of an open mind that might question the established ideas of a ruling class, is totally horrifying and unacceptable!

Yes, there may be more jobs in computer science, medicine, nursing, and accounting. But over time, every field of study has become oversupplied, and a college education is not just designed to promote certain job skills or trades. If one wants that, they can go to a technical institute or vocational school, and there is nothing wrong with that.

But a university or college education is designed to promote THINKING, ANALYSIS and TOLERANCE, and to be exposed to knowledge that otherwise might never be explored!

To discourage those who are interested in English, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Foreign Languages, Art, Music, and other liberal arts fields is to deny the development of an intellectual class, which can interpret and evaluate information, and be motivated by more than just materialism. And students who have majored in these and similar areas are often the best employees, because they have developed higher intellectual skills! There is no guarantee in today’s world that anyone will remain in the same field of work, no matter what one majors in while in a college or university.

We all need to make a living, and yes, some people in certain fields will make more money, but the goal of life should be to be happy, contented, enjoy one’s life work, and to assume that everyone who goes into “desirable” higher paying fields is happy or successful, is to live in a delusion!

All fields of knowledge are desirable, and exposure to as many as possible is a good thing, and politicians should stop any interference in the funding or advocacy of certain areas over others.

Anyone who gains a college or university education may not appreciate the exposure to many fields of knowledge in the short run, but as the years go by, one realizes the benefits of exposure to fields of knowledge, often not appreciated until many years later!

So Rick Scott, Eric Cantor, and anyone else considering interfering in higher education, back off!

Fact Of Life: Education Beyond High School Is Essential And Also Fulfilling In Other Ways Than Just Employment!

There has been a lot of talk recently about the burden college graduates face in paying off college debt.

There has also been the growth of an anti-intellectual backlash by those who are not educated, and resent the power and influence of educated people.

But the reality is that educated people tend to find it easier to become employed, stay employed, and make a much higher income over a lifetime, by any statistic one uses.

New government figures prove that education gives a person seeking employment many more opportunities for fulfilling work, and with less likelihood of being laid off, and if so, easier to find another job.

This is not equivalent of the past, when many people without any education could obtain a good manufacturing job and support a family.

But it is not only the economics of education that is significant, but also the fact of the “liberation” of one’s mind from myth and ignorance, as a college education promotes higher skills, including ability to analyze, evaluate, and interpret information; as well as encourage tolerance of others, and a desire to learn and improve one’s social and intellectual being.

A learned population is far better than an ignorant population, and it engenders an increased sense of satisfaction and happiness as well.

So the answer is to pursue higher education as the ticket to success long term, and open mindedness throughout one’s life, making one a better person, a better husband or wife, a better dad or mom, a better friend, a better human being!

Rick Santorum Critical Of Public Education And Higher Education As Promoting Indoctrination

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has now criticized public education and higher education as promoting indoctrination in what he considers liberal, secular, humanistic thought and learning.

Santorum touted the advantages of home schooling, which all of his children have experienced, as the way to counteract public education and promote parental values.

He complains that higher education institutions advocate challenges to religious values, and are out to propagandize liberal, secular values and concepts.

It is clear that Santorum does not see organized religion as indoctrination, promoting obedience and acceptance without open analysis, evaluation, and interpretation. He is disturbed that many young people move away from organized religion as they get older, and blames it on the secular humanism which challenges men and women to THINK, to come to conclusions, to JUDGE, to refuse to accept dogma, whether religious, political, or any other type of learning.

Santorum would rather have people accept religion without challenge, reject a worldly view, accept authority of all kinds without question, and keep women in a subservient role, as all religions promote.

The answer is that IF someone wishes to follow what Santorum advocates, then send your children to religiously based schools and universities, or keep them engaged in home schooling below the college level. But if one chooses to isolate his or her children from contact with others of a different religion, race, or ethnicity, those children are losing a valuable opportunity to learn about the real world out there. And if they do not learn to think, to evaluate, to analyze, to interpret information and challenge established institutions, then they are not able to accept the responsibilities of adulthood in a full sense!

Above all, separation of church and state, when it comes to public schools and public colleges and universities, must be maintained, as we are not a theocracy.

Religion is appropriate in churches and synagogues, but not in public education, and religion should not be taught in public schools or forced at the college and university level, unless one chooses independently to study it as a subject of inquiry.

This does not mean that religion as part of history should not be introduced and taught, but no indoctrination or advocacy can be allowed, despite the desires and wishes of Rick Santorum!