Thursday, October 4, 2007

UMass student sues over grade

Do I even have to note how ridiculous this story is?

Brian Marquis, a 51-year-old student at UMass-Amherst is suing the university for a grade he got in his Problems in Social Thought class, the Boston Globe reported. Marquis, a paralegal seeking his bachelor’s in legal studies and sociology, thought he should have received an A minus in the class, but received a C because the professor graded on a curve. His case was dismissed by the US District Court in Springfield, so he’s taking it to the federal level, saying the school violated his contractual and civil rights.

Being arrested for the color of your skin is a violation of civil rights. Not receiving a C in a course that your professor felt you deserved.

Marquis said based on his scores on tests and papers that he should have received an A minus, but his professor graded on a curve and gave him the grade that he thought reflected Marquis’s work. Marquis said he’s suing the university because the C could bring down his GPA and make him less attractive to law schools.

I can understand feeling as though a grade is unfair, and in this case maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t. Marquis, who enrolled in UMass-Amherst in spring 2006, said his GPA is about a B-plus. This C will bring it down, but not enough that it’s going to destroy him and his prospects for law school. If the professor says he’s not going to change it, it’s time to suck it up and put it out of your mind.

The reporter on this piece, Jonathan Saltzman, does a good job of summarizing how ridiculous lawsuits have gotten out of hand these past few years:

"In an era when the courts are asked to decide who owns a record-setting home run ball and who is to blame when a cup of hot coffee from a fast-food restaurant scalds a person, it seems perhaps only modestly surprising that a grade dispute leads to litigation."

I know it’s disappointing to not get the grade you felt you deserved, but grades and GPA aren’t everything and at that point it’s time to suck it up and move on.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

UNH professors vote for possible strike

Professors at the University of New Hampshire have voted, 194-55, in favor of a strike if contract negotiations cannot be reached with the university, reported the Boston Globe yesterday. The main concerns of the strike are opposing views on health care benefits and pay. The vote doesn’t necessarily mean the professors will go on strike, but serves as a way to bring the administration’s attention back to negotiating, said Dale Barkley, the president of the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

Whether the union will actually strike or not, I always get a bit angry when I hear stories like this. I don’t know the particulars of this situations or what it’s like to be a professor at UNH, but teachers and professors striking to better their contract negotiations just seems wrong to me. I do someday aspire to be a teacher and know that I’ll most likely be in a union, which is one thing I don’t particularly like about the profession. Unions like these need to consider who they’re hurting most when they strike: not the administration, but the students.

Is better pay and/or health care benefits really worth putting students’ educations in jeopardy for however long the teachers are striking? For some teachers I think the answer is yes, for others, teaching is really all that matters to them. Obviously in a union if a teacher is outvoted they have to go along with the strike, but unions should do all they can to avoid a strike because the real losers in the deal are the kids

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Rutgers helps out

I read on the Chronicle of Higher Education news blog that Rutgers University has announced a program that give assistance to economically disadvantaged eighth graders from local school districts. Rutgers will pay for students to attend campus events, give them college-planning advice and test preparation, and guarantees the students with a full-ride if they are admitted in the future.

I love hearing about programs like these that give hope for college to economically disadvantaged students. Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty, but if a student can’t pay for school or has to work to pay tuition, there is a much lower chance of successful higher education for these students.

I wrote in my blog post from Sept. 16 that I hope more schools will follow Northeastern’s lead in trying to help out students with less than ideal situations and it looks like Rutgers is doing just that. Hopefully these students will gain some insight into the importance of education through the aid of Rutgers and conquer their life circumstances.

Monday, October 1, 2007

More Blacks and Hispanics in jail than college dorms

I read on the Diverse Education website that more Blacks and Hispanics live in jails than college dorms, according to a government report, although the number of commuters combined with those who live in dorms do outweigh the number in prison.

Reading this makes me sad and is another reminder of how important education is and why I want to get into the field of urban education. The president and CEO of the National Urban League, Marc Morial, had this to say on the report:

“It’s one of the great social and economic tragedies of our time. It points to the signature failure in our education system and how we’ve been raising our children.”

I couldn’t agree with him more. Our society’s values are so messed up that we idolize sports stars and rappers and trivialize the importance of education and values, which frequently makes children feel embarrassed about being good at school and not good at something like sports.

It is so important for teachers and parents today to try and instill the “right” values in children. I use the word “right” in quotes because there can be many different values that contribute to the intellectual and compassionate development of children and adolescents and not everyone’s values are the same, but some, such as the importance of education and striving to be a good person, are unquestionably the kinds we should be teaching our kids.

I’m a sports fan and enjoy watching TV or listening to music, but I try not to place these people above the real heroes in our society. This is part of the reason why I’ve moved away from sports journalism as my career choice into am now exploring the possibility of being a teacher. I’m not interested in other fields of journalism besides sports writing, but I feel like I’ll have more of a positive impact on society by being a teacher, especially in an urban environment where the lack of caring, qualified teachers is astounding.

Hopefully in the next couple of generations we’ll see a shift in some of these socioeconomic inequalities and start teaching kids the values that matter.