Daily Archives: April 24, 2012

High school students jump into college classes

In one corner of Miami-Dade College’s sprawling Kendall, Fla., campus, Tiffany Pineda slips into class. Attenzione! It’s time for Italian pronouns and grammar.

In jeans, a black tank top and red sneakers, she looks like a typical college student. But she’s a 16-year-old high school junior.

Like Tiffany, a growing number of high school students are taking college courses before graduation, a practice called dual enrollment that rewards them with tuition-free college credits.

For high schools, it gives students a way to accelerate. It can also help lift the schools’ academic standing; in 2010, Florida started to factor dual enrollment into state-issued letter grades.

That has created a surge in dual enrollment through Florida International University, according to FIU Provost Douglas Wartzok—an eight-fold over the last three years.

Across Florida, the number of students who participated in dual enrollment rose 23 percent last year.

In Miami-Dade, students can participate in a number of ways.

They can take a college class at their home school, taught by a Miami-Dade teacher who has been credentialed by FIU. FIU saw about 5,500 students enroll in classes at high schools last year.

A university professor can come to the high school to teach.

Students can take classes at a college campus.

Students can apply for early admission and take their senior year at a university.

At Westland Hialeah Senior High, about 230 of the 1,950 students—nearly 12 percent—take classes through FIU. Another 94 go to Miami-Dade College for courses. Those programs not only helped Westland Hialeah lift its grade to an A from a B, said Principal Guillermo Munoz, they also reflect a change in culture at the young school.

Dade schools and FIU share the expense of dual enrollment, which costs the public university about $250,000, Wartzok said. “As the school system gets better, the community gets better, and that’s good for everyone, including the university.”

The demand of dual enrollment programs in Broward, Fla., has grown so much that two high schools _ Coconut Creek and South Broward in Hollywood—are starting programs in which teachers accredited by Broward College will teach at the schools.

The two new projects will try to mimic the success of McArthur High School in Hollywood, Fla., where students can enroll in the “Mustang Academy,” a section of college-level courses. Several teachers at Cooper City High and Coral Springs High are also licensed to teach dual enrollment courses.

The Broward School District has also established the College Academy at Broward College, where more than 300 juniors and seniors report to the Davie, Fla., campus instead of a traditional high school.

“We’re developing some very strong partnerships,” said Cynthia Park, director of advanced academic programs for Broward County Schools.

Park said that last year, about 2,000 students completed dual enrollment courses at Broward College and the Broward campuses of Florida Atlantic University and FIU.

“Most of them leave with their associate’s degree, and it helps cut the cost of college in half,” she said. “Financially, it’s a good reason for many families.”

Two Miami-Dade programs—the School for Advanced Studies at Miami-Dade College and the Academy for Advanced Studies at FIU—allow students to split their course load between college classes with university students and accelerated courses with other high schoolers.

“I like how I get to pick my own college classes. I get to pick classes I actually like _ the freedom of it,” Tiffany said.

While Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Miami Dade College launched SAS in 1988, the program has grown in recent years.

Some 520 juniors and seniors study at its four Florida campuses, in Homestead, Kendall, North Miami-Dade and downtown Miami. The Kendall campus is the biggest, with 213 students. More than 800 people showed up at a recruitment event last fall at the Kendall campus—for 100 spots in the junior class. It draws students from public, private and parochial schools and home schoolers.

Several seniors in the School for Advanced Studies at the Kendall campus said they were looking for a challenge, like Ivan Cuartas who used to attend G. Holmes Braddock Senior High. “Now I’m getting humbled,” said Cuartas, 18, who wants to be a chemical engineer.

“It’s rigorous, but there’s a small learning community where they can not only help each other but get help from their teachers,” said Dennis Lindsay, a spokesman for SAS. “That alleviates some of the pressure.”

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Laura Isensee/
McClatchy Newspapers

 

Students learn history of humanitarianism

During a April 16 lecture, Dr. Michael Barnett, a scholar of international relations and humanitarianism, asserted that humanitarianism hasn’t changed since the Cold War.

Students gathered in Ice Auditorium to hear Barnett’s presentation titled “Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism.”

During his lecture, Barnett shared the research he began working on in 1994.

At the beginning of his research, Barnett focused on the causes and consequences of humanitarianism after the Cold War.

According to his findings, it seemed that humanitarian agencies were prominent more than ever and wanted to make the world a humane place during the post-Cold War Era.

Barnett hypothesized that the increasing popularity of humanitarian projects was because of the negative attention the United States’ government received for the complexities of the Cold War. Such increasing popularity revealed humanitarian agencies straying away from their principles and moving toward politics. Barnett explained that because humanitarians had such elaborate goals to solve root problems in our world, they chose to involve themselves in politics to achieve their goals.

Two years into his research, Barnett realized that there was not a change in humanitarianism after the Cold War.

“Humanitarianism always had great ambitions,” Barnett said.

Humanitarians throughout history strived to make the world a better place, and they were also always involved in politics. From that point, Barnett conducted research to discover why humanitarianism is tied with politics.

“The modern idea of humanitarianism, to help strangers across the world, creates contradictions,” Barnett said.

He said that the first contradiction was that humanitarianism is simultaneously universal and circumstantial. A humanitarian agency chooses what problem most needs their attention and overlooks the other problems.

“Any act of intervention, no matter how undermining, is still an act of power,” Barnett said, describing the second contradiction he found.

Barnett said that humanitarians, even when they are acting with good intentions, must be careful of dominance.

He went on to reveal that humanitarians acted in ways that not only helped others, but also helped themselves. Whether it was superiority or guilt, people often times desired to contribute to a good cause to demonstrate that they were good people.

In the final part of his lecture, Barnett said that humanitarianism has not been climbing upward throughout time, but that its presence has been more visible during times of despair. He explained that humanitarianism has been used to convince the people in the world that they are good and will continue to improve. Barnett concluded his lecture by saying, “It’s proper to call humanitarianism an empire. It defends its power by helping the helpless.”

Barnett is a university professor of International Affairs and Political Science at The George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs. He formerly taught at the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin, Macalester College, Wellesley College and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He has published numerous works on global governance and humanitarian action and has written books, such as “The Empire of Humanity” and “A History of Humanitarianism.”

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Carrie Skuzeski/
Staff writer
Carrie Skuzeski can be reached at linfieldreviewnews@gmail.com

Professor discusses the power of social media

A Facebook page created by Ahmed Maher and Issra Abdel-Fattah, supporting a worker’s strike in Egypt, played a key role in Egypt’s youth movement, journalist and author David Wolman explained during his lecture April 17. This movement showcased the power of social media in inspiring real-life revolution.

Wolman’s lecture depicted his journey as he followed the movement.

He originally picked up the story in 2008, when the Facebook page “April 6 Youth” was created in support of the strike. The page had gained more than 70,000 people in three weeks.

“My job as a journalist is to tell interesting stories,” Wolman said. “I know it when I see it.”

He knew that this was an important story that needed to be told.

Wolman wanted to find out who these young people were. He traveled to Cairo that summer, and after a “failed” protest, the youth movement went underground.

With the help of the Internet, the youth involved in the movement began researching other movements and protests, including speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. They began to realize that they had the power to go against the regime.

“They came up with protest techniques that put the authorities in a pickle,” Wolman said.

The protests and riots brought media attention, and the regime’s action or inaction would both have reflected poorly on the authorities.

Facebook and social media had proven to be successful tools, but the next step in the protest was to figure out how to move from the keyboard into the streets.

“Tools are great, but they are just tools,” Wolman said.

Many people did not have Internet access, and they knew that using the Internet was not enough to make the necessary changes in Egypt.

After the police brutally beat and murdered Khalid Mohamed Said, and an image of his mangled face leaked online, another Facebook page was created called “We Are All Khalid Said.” This online memorial quickly gained 180,000 fans.

The two online groups began to collaborate on further protests.

“[The protesters] had an almost militaristic commitment to nonviolent protest,” Wolman said.

If they saw someone becoming agitated and potentially violent, they would form a circle around that person and move them away.

This was important because the military would not open fire on nonviolent protesters. They used nonviolent strategizing to ensure the success of their protests, Wolman said.

Wolman explained that thugs with machetes on the backs of camels would kill protesters and foreign journalists.

Eventually, the regime shut off the Internet in an attempt to end the communication and collaboration of these groups. This attempt backfired.

After the Internet was shut down, people were forced out of their homes in order to communicate. It sent them out to the streets and infuriated many who were not originally participating in the protests.

Wolman returned to Cairo in March and joined protest leaders at a café.

When Wolman mentioned the original failed protest, they referred to it as a “beautiful day, a great day.” Wolman asked why, since the protest didn’t go anywhere and was stopped by the police before they were able to accomplish what they wanted.

The answer was simple. That day had shown the protest leaders how powerful they really were because the regime was scared of them.

When looking back on the protests, Wolman said that many of the people he spoke with had a similar response: “We were all one hand.” The Internet and Facebook allowed these young people to unite, work together and realize their power to create change and revolution.

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Samantha Nixon/
Staff writer
Samantha Nixon can be reached at linfieldreviewnews@gmail.com

Graduates face better job prospects as well as angst

Meredith Ballard is an economics major at Colorado College. But when she began her senior year last fall, she started feeling she was spending more time traveling to job interviews than going to class.

“It got stressful,” said Ballard, 22, of Green Oaks, Ill. “I had to work on my thesis on top of having a very difficult class while trying to land a job.”

The employment market may be picking up, but graduating seniors like Ballard—who landed a job with a Chicago advertising agency and will start next month—have in many cases known nothing during their college careers but economic turbulence and high unemployment.

“Nowhere has the economic impact been as traumatic (as) for college seniors graduating in the last four years,” said Richard Berman, director of career services at Oberlin College.

To forestall entering the job market, many soon-to-be graduates are taking unpaid internships or social service work, going to graduate school, or even trying to start their own businesses.

Those who are searching for jobs are making it a higher priority than schoolwork. Gone is the luxury of taking it easy senior year.

There are some glimmers of hope. The unemployment rate for recent college graduates is 6.2 percent, lower than the overall rate and the lowest since the start of the recession. And employers surveyed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers said they planned to hire 10.2 percent more new  graduates this year than last year.

Still, the odds for job-seekers in many fields remain long.

“This year’s seniors are landing more interviews, but I think it’s more a function of their tenacity” than an increase in the number of jobs available, said Lisa Kastor, director of career services at the College of Wooster in Ohio.

Jacob Meyers of Elyria, Ohio, for example, applied for 35 jobs and got three interviews, but no offers.

“I just don’t want to be floating around after college,” said Meyers, 22, who is job-huntinging while finishing requirements for his triple major in English, theater, and gender, sexuality and feminist studies at Oberlin. “There just seems to be this pressure from everywhere. Everyone is looking for a job. Even my mom is dead set on me finding one. She’s scared, too.”

At Washington and Lee University in Virginia, 15 students applied to meet on campus with a recruiter for an investment bank. Six got interviews. The bank has one position available.

“The employers are doing a lot more screening,” including remotely by Skype before even entertaining the idea of an in-person interview, said Beverly Lorig, director of career services at Washington and Lee. “There’s less willingness to consider a ‘maybe’ candidate.”

Meanwhile, students and their families have been subjected to unrelenting bad news from the job front.

“It bruises the psyche of your graduating class,” Lorig said. “There’s stress with seniors, and there’s stress with parents. It’s really important that we teach students to be resilient in these times. I fear that a lot of seniors withdraw after they get roughed up a bit with the rejections.”

Many students have reason to be worried. Those who took out loans for college are graduating with an average debt of more than $25,000—twice the 1996 figure—according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Some students say they are beginning their job searches a year before graduation, and they are networking more often with college alumni.

“Just because the front door to an organization is tighter, and therefore harder to open, doesn’t mean that there aren’t side doors into it,” Berman said. “One has to build networking opportunities through recent grads and alumni.”

For Lauren Martinez of Redmond, Wash., the time she took to job-hunt last semester paid off: The senior economics major at Macalester College in Minnesota found a job at a financial consulting firm in California.

But Martinez said the offer came at the expense of time and energy she could have applied toward schoolwork.

“My grades suffered at the beginning of the semester when I was spending so much time traveling to interviews, practicing interviewing and filling out applications,” Martinez said. “It was all so overwhelming.”

Still, she’s glad she has a job. “It’s definitely a relief to know that I’ll have a paycheck,” she said. “With that in mind, the rest of my senior year will be a lot easier.”

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Meghan Farnsworth/
The Hechinger Report

Bike Co-Op encourages sustainability, community involvement

Linfield’s Bike Co-Op has recently become sustainable in more ways than one. As one of the school’s leaders in sustainability efforts, the Bike Co-Op encourages the use of bicycles.

On April 13, the Bike Co-Op partnered with the community to donate old bikes and bike parts for the Community Connect Event in June. The event provides resources that impoverished and homeless would not normally have access to; however, the resources are free to the entire community. Everything provided is completely free and is donated by individuals or groups like the Bike Co-Op.

Sophomore Zane Carey who is the bike shop manager, was contacted by Ashlee Carlson of Linfield’s Office of Community Engagement and Service, who was helping with the Community Connect Event this June.

“It was great that this opportunity presented itself because I was in the process of looking for the best way to get rid of some bikes and parts that weren’t of any use to the co-op,” Carey said.

Carey said that bikes are especially valued in events like these because it can be some people’s only form of transportation, so the transaction ended up being incredibly helpful to both the co-op and to the community event.

“We were able to donate about two truck loads of bikes and parts to the man behind the whole project, Dean,” Carey said. “Dean has already refurbished over 100 bikes and has donated back into the community to similar events such as this one.”

As one of the fundamental values of the Bike Co-Op is sustainability, it was a perfect opportunity to promote and practice it through reusing their parts and sharing with the community.

“This opportunity was a great way for the Linfield Bike Co-Op to be involved in giving back to the community,” Carey said. “I couldn’t think of any better place I would like to see those parts and bikes to be donated.
We were able to free up some much needed space in the shop while knowing that our donations will really be making an impact in the community and in someone’s life”

Carey said that this was a great opportunity for the co-op to get in touch with community partners and push them to create similar projects in the future.

“It is nice to know now that if we are presented with any donations ourselves it is great to know of such a great way to give the bikes a second life,” Carey said. “I would like to see in the future Linfield and the co-op getting involved with this project or something similar.”

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Andra Kovacs/Senior reporter
Andra Kovacs can be reached at linfieldreviewnews@gmail.com