The Fracking Prostitutes of American Colleges (part 3 of 3)

  by Walter Brasch    [Part 1: Lackawanna College, a two-year college in Scranton, Pa., accepted a $2.5 million endowment from Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. to strengthen that college’s programs and ties to the oil and gas industry. Part 2: Problems with academic integrity in other Pennsylvania colleges.] Among the mission statements of the University of North Dakota Department of Geology and Geological Engineering is that it “strives to develop in its engineering graduates keen insight and abilities to design an environmentally sound and sustainable future for humanity.” Like most college mission statements, it’s a broad and vague goal, one that may not reflect reality. The Department is one of the better ones in the country, especially in training … Continue reading

The Fracking Prostitutes of American Colleges (part 2)

(part 2 of 3)  [Part 1: Lackawanna College, a two-year college in Scranton, Pa., accepted a $2.5 million endowment from Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. to strengthen that college’s programs and ties to the oil and gas industry.] by Walter Brasch   Two of the reasons Pennsylvania has no severance tax and one of the lowest taxes upon shale gas drilling are because of an overtly corporate-friendly legislature and a research report from Penn State, a private state-related university that receives about $300 million a year in public funds. Opponents of the tax cited a Penn State study that claimed a 30 percent decline in drilling if the fees were assessed, while also touting the economic benefits of drilling in … Continue reading

The Fracking Prostitutes of American Colleges

  (part 1 of 2) by Walter Brasch   Lackawanna College, a two-year college in Scranton, Pa., has become a prostitute. The administration doesn’t think of themselves or their college as a prostitute. They believe they are doing a public service. Of course, streetwalkers and call-girls also believe they are doing a public service. Lackawanna College’s price is $2.5 million. That’s how much Cabot Oil & Gas paid to the School of Petroleum and Natural Gas, whose own nine building campus is in New Milford in northeastern Pennsylvania.  On the School’s logo are now the words, “Endowed by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation.” That would be the same Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation that has racked up more than 500 … Continue reading

Taking on the Great God of Exceptionalism

American Exceptionalism

Time was when the U.S. was really truly exceptional in many areas — in the 1950’s and 1960’s  —- after the rest of the world’s manufacturing was destroyed in World War II. But in those years, there wasn’t much talk of American Exceptionalism. It was so obvious, especially in the economic sphere, when the U.S. accounted for 50 percent of the World’s GDP. But, America was also clearly superior to the rest of the world in terms of education, civil liberties, social mobility, science, health care, and a host of other areas. And most importantly, the ideas — our ideas,  that were at the formation of the American Revolution: liberty, equality, free trade, the rights of the governed, etc — … Continue reading

‘A’ is for Average: Grade Inflation in America

by Walter Brasch About 1.8 million students will graduate from college this year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. At least one-third of them will graduate with honors. In some colleges, about half will be honor graduates. It’s not that the current crop is that bright, it’s that honors is determined by grade point average. Because of runaway grade inflation, the average grade in college is now an “A.” About 43 percent of all college grades are “A”s, according to a recent study by Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healy, and published in the prestigious Teachers College Record.  About three-fourths of all grades are “A”s or “B”s. Throw out the universal curve that applies to everything from height to … Continue reading

America’s Culture is Signing on the Dotted Line

by Walter Brasch The signing season has begun. Look through your local newspaper for the next few weeks, and you’ll see a lot of posed pictures of high school athletes. Everyone will be at a desk or table. Around each one will be their parents and their coach. In some cases, add in an athletic director, a principal, and someone representing a college the young athlete is planning to attend. It makes no difference if it’s a Division I or Division II school; sometimes it’s even a Division III school. Star athletes at the end of their high school careers get photos and applause. They can even get special financial aid and scholarships just for being able to play a … Continue reading

Poll Finds Positive Outlook on Obama’s Second Term as Inauguration Day Approaches

Republicans may be worrying about their future, but most Americans overall have a positive outlook as President Obama prepares to begin his second term. As President Obama prepares for his second inauguration on Monday, findings from a recent Harris poll show that a slight majority of Americans are feeling hopeful about the president’s second four-year term in the Oval Office. Just over half (52 percent) of U.S. adults describe themselves as very or somewhat happy about Obama beginning his second term, considerably more than indicate being very or somewhat upset (39 percent). Similarly, nearly half of Americans (47 percent) believe things will be better for the country at the end of the president’s second term, putting this sentiment well ahead of feelings … Continue reading

University Governance Doesn’t Represent the People

  by Walter Brasch   About 800,000 Pennsylvanians are members of labor unions, and the state has a long history of union rights and activism, neither of the two largest university systems has a labor representative on its governing board. The only labor representative on the Board of Governors of the State System of Higher Education (SSHE) in its 29 year history was Julius Uehlein, who served 1988–1995 while Pennsylvania AFL–CIO president. The appointment was made by Gov. Robert P. Casey, a pro-worker Democrat. The SSHE, a state-owned system, has 120,000 students enrolled in 14 universities. Only three persons have ever represented labor on Penn State’s Board of Trustees. Gov. Milton Schapp, a Democrat, appointed Harry Boyer, the state AFL–CIO … Continue reading