The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Posts Tagged ‘education

Feds offer lower payments on some existing student loans

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Today’s New York Times includes a story detailing a new payment plan available to people with lower incomes who are paying off student loans.

Perhaps it would be a help to you, or to someone you know.  Here are a few excerpts and links:

clipped from www.nytimes.com

New Plan Ties Reduced College Loan Payments to Income

For the first time in years, there is good news for college students who borrow to pay for their education.
Starting Wednesday, the federal Education Department will begin offering a repayment plan that lets graduates reduce their loan payments, based on their income.
While the interest rate cut applies to new loans, the new repayment option is available to borrowers who took out federal loans or who used a federal consolidation loan to combine their higher-education debts.
The extended payment program, called “income-based repayment,” limits what borrowers have to pay to 15 percent of the difference between their gross income and 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines. After borrowers make payments on loans for 25 years, the balance is forgiven. (The Education Department already offered an “income-contingent” repayment plan, which was similar, but less generous.)
the Education Department has set up a Web site with a calculator
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Colleges accepting more rich kids, limiting middle class and poor admissions

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Prestigious schools are eager, this year, to admit students whose parents pay full price. Needier students get bumped.
clipped from www.nytimes.com

Colleges Are Accepting More Students Who Can Pay Full Fare

In the bid for a fat envelope this year, it may help, more than usual, to have a fat wallet. […]
Facing fallen endowments and needier students, many colleges are looking more favorably on wealthier applicants as they make their admissions decisions this year.

Institutions that have pledged to admit students regardless of need are finding ways to increase the number of those who pay full fare in ways that allow the colleges to maintain the claim of being need-blind — taking more students from the transfer or waiting lists, for instance, or admitting more foreign students who pay full freight.

[T]hey say the inevitable result is that needier students will be shifted down to the less expensive and less prestigious schools
“There’s going to be a cascading of talented lower-income kids down the social hierarchy of American higher education, and some cascading up of affluent kids,” […]
giving more seats to higher-paying students […]
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ClipMarks commenters (Boniface) wrote: “There’s the death of the middle class! The upper and lower will become more and more distant as time goes by.”

Could be.  The least, last.

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The less we know, the better we think we are

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Practice Cartoons
Image by J Wynia via Flickr
While cruising Can’t See the Forest, I ran into this remarkable article:

The Dunning-Kruger effect is “‘an example of cognitive bias in which “people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it.'” They therefore suffer an illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average.”

Here’s a bit more:

clipped from en.wikipedia.org
[I]n skills as diverse as reading comprehension, operating a motor vehicle, and playing chess or tennis, “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” […]
[Dunning and Kruger] hypothesized […]

  • Incompetent individuals tend to overestimate their own level of skill.
  • Incompetent individuals fail to recognize genuine skill in others.
  • Incompetent individuals fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy.
  • If they can be trained to substantially improve their own skill level, these individuals can recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill.
  • Kruger and Dunning examined self-assessment of logical reasoning skills, grammatical skills, and humor. After being shown their test scores, the subjects were again asked to estimate their own rank, whereupon the competent group accurately estimated their rank, while the incompetent group still overestimated their own rank […]
    [P]articipants scoring … in the 12th percentile … on tests of humor, grammar, and logic … estimated themselves to be in the 62nd … Meanwhile, people with true knowledge tended to underestimate their competence.

    A follow-up study suggests that grossly incompetent students improve both their skill level and their ability to estimate their class rank only after extensive tutoring in the skills they had previously lacked.

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    Boy oh boy; we have Pandora’s Box here.

    Some make their case with “I think that … ;” others insist “I don’t think so, I know so“—often to the point of mocking uncertainty.  Yet the former often have the better argument; they don’t have to “know so.”

    Think of places where certainty-covering-questionable-thinking crops up:

    • politicians (“I know how to …”)
    • web conversations (ever see a troll write “I wonder if  …?”)
    • sermons ([blush] How much I once knew!)
    • ratings-driven media personalities (Rush Limbaugh? Bill Maher?)

    “Illusory superiority” looks like a pretty common commodity, eh?

    Should such black and white arguments be yellow flags?


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    Written by Monte

    December 21, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Poverty impairs brain function like a stroke

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    I wonder how many potential Einsteins—or Beethovens or Marie Curies or Mother Teresas or Mohandas Ghandis or Martin Luther Kings—struggle for survival, unable to follow the yearning of their hearts.  I wonder how many millions of good, productive, loving people—people who would bless their world—are locked into spending all their strength battling desperate personal conditions.

    Are we not all poorer when one of us is poor? Is there anything that would improve us all as much as dragging poverty to its knees?

    clipped from www.usatoday.com

    Life Expectancy at birth (years) {{col-begin}}...
    Image via Wikipedia

    A new study finds that certain brain functions of some low-income 9- and 10-year-olds pale in comparison with those of wealthy children and that the difference is almost equivalent to the damage from a stroke.

    “It is a similar pattern to what’s seen in patients with strokes that have led to lesions in their prefrontal cortex,” which controls higher-order thinking and problem solving, says lead researcher Mark Kishiyama, a cognitive psychologist at the University of California-Berkeley. “It suggests that in these kids, prefrontal function is reduced or disrupted in some way.”

    Research has shown that the neural systems of poor children develop differently from those of middle-class children, affecting language development and “executive function,” or the ability to plan, remember details and pay attention in school.
    “It’s really important for neuroscientists to start to think about the effect[…] of people’s socioeconomic status […] on their brain function […]
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    It wasn’t a black student who bumped your kid’s college admission

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    Wanna know who did?

    I sometimes hear white friends express anger that their kiddo didn’t get accepted at the U. The assumption quickly follows that he or she got bumped by someone nonwhite.

    grads

    Turns out the data support another conclusion: It’s more likely your kid got bumped by a white kid with a rich daddy. Privileged white kids account for nearly twice as many substandard admissions as do kids of color.

    The Boston Globe’s Peter Schmidt, in an article headlined At the Elite Colleges – Dim White Kids, reported on research by the Educational Testing Service, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Educational Trust. A few excerpts: Read the rest of this entry »