Blogging

First Person: House Votes to Cut Education Benefits, Senate Ponders the Bill, Students Fear for Pell Grants

Posted by Rachel Evans on
First Person: House Votes to Cut Education Benefits, Senate Ponders the Bill, Students Fear for Pell Grants

First Person: House Votes to Cut Education Benefits, Senate Ponders the Bill, Students Fear for Pell Grants

First Person: House Votes to Cut Education Benefits, Senate Ponders the Bill, Students Fear for Pell Grants

The House of Representatives recently voted to cut the Pell Grant budget by $5.7 billion, approving a bill that makes over $61 billion in budget cuts to various areas. The Senate will vote on the issue soon. Each student’s Pell Grant amount will be reduced by an average of $754 per grant if the bill is passed. This will have a huge impact on many students and universities.

As a student, this bill scares me. I recently left active-duty military service and joined the Reserves. I have an Associate’s Degree from a local community college, and two more from the Community College of the Air Force. However, I want to finish my Bachelor’s Degree, even though my civilian career is going well. I began college classes at American Military University in the fall of 2009, and am about nine classes from degree completion. In addition, my husband retired from active-duty military service in December 2010 and began working toward his Bachelor’s Degree at AMU. He has an Associate’s Degree in the Ford ASSET program and is pursuing his degree in Human Resource Management.

I currently receive the Montgomery GI Bill, which helps pay my tuition. With being in school full-time and taking four classes per semester, three semesters per year, I rely on Pell Grants to help pay the rest of my tuition and fees and keep me afloat from semester to semester. My husband also receives tuition assistance and GI Bill benefits, but needs his Pell Grant to enable him to work a lower-paying, less-stressful federal government job while he attends school.

If our Pell Grants are cut, we will have to work more, take more student loans out, and sacrifice more to finish our degrees. The stress level is at an all-time high with two adults working full-time and attending school full-time, and two grade-school aged children in the house. If we lose even a portion of our Pell Grants, one or both of us will have to drop out of classes.

The economy in our country is in dire straits, and there is no easy solution. I am open to hear any suggestions that our lawmakers throw out, but cutting education spending is not the answer. If education funding is cut, fewer individuals will pursue higher education, and, as a result, will not be able to get better jobs. This leads to less taxes paid out, and more people needing government assistance. There has to be a better answer.

Blogging

A Change in Technology, a Change in Higher Education

Posted by Rachel Evans on
A Change in Technology, a Change in Higher Education
A Change in Technology, a Change in Higher Education

A Change in Technology, a Change in Higher Education

When I was a kid, we lived in a rural area; actually I still live in a rural area. My parents actually had a rotary phone and even a party line where you had to wait to use the phone if the neighbor was on the other end. Talk about the lack of privacy. So I can definitely see how technology has changed over the years.

In fact, in the last decade, the impact technology has had on my life has been a positive experience that will last me a lifetime. I went from a dial up modem on my first computer to a Wi-Fi connection my newest computer which has given me a chance to learn and research at great speed.

The changing technology that has been developed over the last ten years has allowed me to return to college full-time; a task that I never thought I would be able to complete at this stage in my life. The great aspect of this change in technology is that I have been able to take full time classes on line through an accredited college.

In the beginning I was nervous about taking classes online, the new programs that I needed to use for the classes were intimidating. But through step by step instructions and helpful customers’ service representation, I was able to download the programs for my classes that enabled me to write papers in APA format, use a webcam for speeches and group projects as well as learn how to use video chat to communicate with my peers. I would have never thought this type of techniques could be used in such an efficient manner.

The numerous hours that I have spent on line researching for my class papers, discussion questions and whatever assignments my professors have managed to throw my way has been the best learning experience that I could ever have imagined. Researching online has been a much simpler task since the development of high internet. I can find numerous peer-reviewed and scholarly articles right at my fingertips.

The change in technology has also changed education which has had an impact on my life. In fact the impact will be seen in eight weeks when I receive my MBA from Baker College. I would have never thought this would have been possible. The completion of my degree will be one of the larger goals that I can cross off my bucket list.

Blogging

The Military Should Not Cut Education Budget

Posted by Rachel Evans on
The Military Should Not Cut Education Budget
The Military Should Not Cut Education Budget

The Military Should Not Cut Education Budget

Thanks to sequestration, the military has cut its budget by cutting education programs for active duty personnel. These programs could be used in military personnel’s free time to pursue college, vocational training, or even high school equivalency. Now, these programs are gone in the Marine Corps and army with the air force looking to follow suit. This is a cut that can only hurt us as a nation. This needs to be undone.

Many people who cannot otherwise afford an education join the military in order to get one. If it is available to them while they are in the service, they can take advantage of this program while remaining active duty. If they can’t, they will quit and take advantage of the Montgomery GI Bill. This means that more people will quit after 4 years of service, and we will have fewer people qualified to lead. It means we have fewer combat veterans in each unit when they go into combat. Overall, it means less military readiness.

In addition, one of the benefits of military life is the ability to advance, and increase your pay grade. In order to go from enlisted to officer pay grades, you need a college degree. This means that the options to improve life are dramatically cut if we no longer provide means to get that education to our soldiers. This, again, will lead to more people leaving, and more people needing to be recruited. It will also lead to more difficulty in recruiting people if one of the major perks to service has been removed.

Finally, we are asking our soldiers to take the brunt of the punishment for our government’s inability to behave like adults and cooperate. We spend more on our military than the next 14 countries combined. Certainly we can find places to make cuts that do not ask the poor, and lower middle class soldiers to shoulder the majority of the consequences. We need to prioritize the well being of our men and women in uniform over developing new ways to destroy entire countries. If we made intelligent cuts to the military budget rather than slashing away at programs that actually help people, we would be much closer to a sustainable budget.

Blogging

Columbia to Host New Media in Education Conference

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Columbia to Host New Media in Education Conference
Columbia to Host New Media in Education Conference

Columbia to Host New Media in Education Conference

A free, all day conference will be hosted by Columbia University’s Morningside Campus on Friday, February 1. The conference will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be completely free and open to the public. You can register by visiting this link nme2013.eventbrite.com. The event, in the Faculty House at Columbia University Morningside Campus is being put on by the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning. Those attending will likely include people from Columbia University, their technology higher education colleagues and the general public interested in the conference topic.

Columbia speakers and others are going to talk about things that affect education and technology, including online learning, digital publishing, and social media. The topic of how new media can bolster educational initiatives will also be on tap.

Blogging

Democrats and Republicans on Education: Examining Some Similarities

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Democrats and Republicans on Education: Examining Some Similarities
Democrats and Republicans on Education: Examining Some Similarities

Democrats and Republicans on Education: Examining Some Similarities

As the debate regarding whether or not the Republican and Democratic parties are more alike than different rages on, political pundits and private citizens in search of an answer have turned to the educational arena in an attempt to discern whether or not the two groups are ideologically aligned. While much legislation for various projects and purposes has been submitted by members of both camps, two of the most compelling acts as of late are Governor Georgia Deal’s decision to cut funding for the HOPE scholarship and President Barack Obama’s legislation limiting the amount of Pell Grant money college students can receive. An even cursory examination of this activity sends to lend credence to the notion that both parties have a proclivity for eliding the needs of individuals in need of an education to climb the socioeconomic latter. Let’s examine both cases briefly.

As many Georgians know, Republican conservative Governor Nathan Deal recently revamped the HOPE scholarship after a lack in revenue from the Georgia lottery put funding for the educational program in jeopardy. While the scholarship used to provide full university funding for students who maintained a 3.0 during high school, the revenue shortage from the loterry resulted in Deal changing the scholarship structure into a two-tier system comprised of the Zell Miller Scholarship and a new form of the old HOPE program. With the Zell Miller Scholarship, students must have a 3.7 GPA and score a 1200 on the SAT in order to qualify for total college tuition funding. Its counterpart, the new HOPE scholarship, requires that students maintain a 3.0 as before. Yet this branch of the scholarship will cover only 90% of tuition as opposed to the full funding provided in the past. These changes are problematic on many levels, especially since socioeconomic status is tied to how students perform academically. Deal’s changes to the HOPE program mean that many people who were already more likely to have substantive wealth and access to a quality education will be receiving more money and acceptance into institutions of higher learning. On the other hand, their poorer counterparts will likely lose their opportunity to attain the money necessary to fund their education, thereby perpetuating the cycles of poverty put in place by their uneducated parents. Upon considering Deal’s changes to the HOPE scholarship then, it appears that he is at least somewhat unconcerned about devising solutions for problems indigenously connected to the poverty that results from-and is perpetuated by-a lack of education.

Individuals who argue that the Democrats have a better record of educating the poor than the Republicans may be surprised to note that President Barack Obama was responsible for cutting Pell Grant funding by 33%. According to Obama’s new plan, Pell Grants will be rewarded for 12-rather than 18-semesters. The cuts were reportedly first discovered by Dallas college students who received e-mails regarding the changes. Put in perpetuity by the Consolidated Appropriations Act that President Obama signed into law on December 23, 2011, the federal measure limiting Pell Grant funding took effect on July 1, 2012. These cuts will negatively affect many groups, but its primary victims will be the lower income an at-risk students who may have to scramble for funds to make up for the loss. What makes Obama’s role in imposing these educational limitations on students who need substantive funding particularly problematic is that he did not mention the fact that he was approving the legislation during his campaign. Finally, the fact that the Republican plan for the Pell Grant would have involved deeper cuts than those put in place by the Democrats does not negate the negative impact that the latter party has exacted through the legislation.

As made evident by juxtaposing Deal’s HOPE fund cuts and Obama’s Pell Grant slashing, members of both the Republican and Democratic parties have a proclivity for problematizing the ability of the poor to attain a quality education through government assistance. Whether this is an acceptable way for politicians to govern should be left to informed and thinking citizens, but in a nation where legislators don’t make education a priority, the general populace may not possess the aforementioned attributes to the degree that most would like.

Blogging

Ph.D Who? 5 Life Lessons Learned from Doctor Who

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Ph.D Who? 5 Life Lessons Learned from Doctor Who
Ph.D Who? 5 Life Lessons Learned from Doctor Who

Ph.D Who? 5 Life Lessons Learned from Doctor Who

Doctor Who is a British science fiction series following the exploits of The Doctor, a two-hearted alien from the planet of Gallifrey who travels space and time, frequently with human companions. Here are some vital life lessons that can be learned from their adventures:

5 – When all else fails, improvise!

Should you find yourself in a tight spot, perhaps surrounded by homicidal pepper shaker shaped creatures bent on your destruction, the ability to think on your feet is a positive trait. Always keep your wits about you and approach each situation with an open mind.

4 – Being weird is perfectly okay

Above all else, remember to be true to yourself. It’s healthy to take time to be childish and spontaneous. You may not necessarily choose to wear a bow tie/fez combination out into public, but never be afraid to take a few risks in the name of fun. Try not to allow yourself to become overly cynical and pessimistic.

3 – The bad things in life cannot ruin the good

It’s inevitable that bad things will happen in life and, in some cases, these events can be tragic. It can be difficult to think positively on these events but one should always try to find the silver lining and learn an important lesson. Remember the good times with those who have been lost and do not let the down times take away from those that are good.

2 – No one is unimportant

There are no trivial beings on this (or any other!) world. Every person has their part to play and their change to make. No one person should be wholly disregarded or considered to be below another. One should also make sure to apply to oneself. A feeling of helplessness can be overwhelming, but search deep and you will find the value in yourself.

1 – Compassion for other beings is never over-rated

At his basic level, The Doctor is an alien from another world who, at sometimes random chance, frequently finds himself in a battle to save the earth. What is his reason to do so? Simply, he feels he has to. Even those who battle against the Doctor find themselves spared harm unless no other option presents itself.

The Doctor, anatomically, has two hearts. The most important lesson that we can take from my favorite show is that we humans with just one should not let it be far too small.

Blogging

AntWorks Space Age Ant Farm: Educational & Entertaining

Posted by Rachel Evans on
AntWorks Space Age Ant Farm: Educational & Entertaining

AntWorks Space Age Ant Farm: Educational & Entertaining

AntWorks Space Age Ant Farm: Educational & Entertaining

The AntWorks Ant Farm Space Age Ant Habitat is an incredible, highly educational eco-based item that can be used to teach children about how ants live. Studying them in the wild isn’t always the best way to go about learning about ants; you never know when they are going to be active and most of the action is happening underground. Thanks to AntWorks you can see exactly what these amazing creatures are up to. Unlike ant farms that are made up of dirt, the Space Age Ant Habitat contains a clear, non-toxic silicone based gel. The ants tunnel and dig through it as they prepare the colony for habitation.

How is this educational? It can allow children to see exactly how ants work together for the greater good of their community. Since most ants have a lifespan of about six months, you won’t have to worry about replacing all that often. You will have to find an ant colony to harvest your ants; there are none included with the kit and unlike the Uncle Milton Ant Farm, you can not send away for them. There are sites that sell this ant farm and then send you ants but they are not connected with AntWorks. Most sites that sell ants are going to have Harvester Ants; they are social creatures that are very hard workers so you will see a lot of action in your ant farm.

You do not have to feed your ants or provide them with water; the silicone gel that they are tunneling through is what they consume. It is suggested that you remove the lid from time to time to allow fresh air inside it. We also drop about 20 sugar crystals in the ant farm as a little treat for them. The ants do all the work including removing waste, expired ants and pieces of silicone that may have broken off. It is amazing to see what they can do in a 24 hour period. If you have a digital camera you can set it up in a fixed position and take a photograph of it every day or several times a day. You can upload the photos and see how much progress they have made.

Some hints for a successful Space Age Ant Habitat:
1. Do not place it in direct sunlight as it could super heat and kill the ants.
2. Do not shake the habitat or move it around a lot, it disturbs the ants and their navigation skills.
3. Do not add new ants to the habitat until they have all died off. They will more than likely be from different colonies and that could cause a fight.

You can get the AntWorks Illuminated Combination Ant Farm in three colors; green, blue or red. Of the three the blue is the one that I like best, it is a lot easier on your eyes if you plan on studying the ants for a long period of time. You can get the ant farm for $19.99 or the Illuminated Combination Ant Farm for $29.99; that has an under deck light up module that lets you watch them at night or when you don’t want to have an overhead light on. It isn’t all that bright but it is enough to light up the entire any farm and surrounding area.

If you are interested in this ant farm you can order it directly from AntWorks at their website (www.antworksonline.com).