Find ways to reduce 4-year college costs
It is to be questioned if Obama’s free two-year college plan with a skeptical $60 billion price tag will be enough to make the big push for higher education.
Though the idea is a step in the right direction, the barriers that keep students from completing the first two years of college will be the same that will bar them from finishing out the last two. And with the percentage of jobs requiring a four-year degree growing, just going for an associate degree, that could be completely covered, will not be enough.
After transferring to a four-year college, students will have to take on the cost of tuition, books, and many times, on-campus housing, all of which were either avoided or reduced by going to a community college.
In order to help cover the cost of school and basic needs, 71 percent of undergraduate students in 2011 held a job, according to Census.gov, with 20 percent of students working at least 35 hours a week. Another 40 percent worked at least 20 hours weekly. Though budgets will be less stressed for the first two years, if transferring to a four-year college, these trends will continue.
At the higher level, class times become more restrictive and homework more time consuming, taking away from making money at work. Financial aid can help, but with students clocking in so many hours, the money they earn can hurt their ability to receive such funding.
Though four free years of college may be too much for the taxpayers to bear, something should be done to make higher education accessible and more affordable for all.
Failing-school figures don’t tell whole story
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his minions at the state Education Department have flooded the media with the concept of schools in New York state that are “failing.” Like most of the rhetoric Cuomo spews out about education, the concept of a failing school is not founded upon any valid or reliable metrics and does not paint an accurate picture of what is happening in those schools on a daily basis.
A public school is a large organization that serves children from 4 or 5 years old up to the age of 21. Children come to the schools from all areas of a community. They hail from all races and religious beliefs. They range from one end of the socioeconomic scale to the other. Some live in opulence, while others live in squalor and abject poverty. Some are brilliant, while others have significant learning impairments.
Some come from warm, loving homes with two parents providing leadership and support, while some have seen both of their parents incarcerated or murdered. Some are physically and mentally healthy, while others deal with physical and mental illness every day.
Public schools and their teachers and administrators welcome these students into the schools every day, regardless of their backgrounds or situations in life. They take children from where they are and work to move them forward every day. This is what educators call growth. It can be easily followed, measured and recorded.
The growth model is the only one that can be used in education. It speaks for itself. The concept of using one or two high-stakes standardized tests to measure student growth, teacher effectiveness or school efficacy is not founded in any educational research.
Labeling a school as failing that does not take into consideration any of the aforementioned student conditions is odious at best. It is tantamount to labeling a medical facility as failing without first investigating the presenting condition of the patients and the care and treatment provided by the facility.
One number, such as a test score, can never represent the complexity of the process of education. It takes much more in-depth scrutiny to rate the success or failure of a school. Cuomo and like-minded politicos want people to believe it is as simple as producing an average of test results and then drawing a line that separates the successes from the failures.
It just does not work that way. While it might be true that figures don’t lie, it is also true that liars figure.
Dr. John Metallo
The writer is a retired teacher, principal and superintendent.
ZIP code change had effect on insurance
I live in Halfmoon and I fully support its recent request for its own ZIP code. There are many reasons for my support, but because of space issues for the editorial page, I must limit my thoughts to one key reason and it is an economic one.
When I moved to Halfmoon 27 years ago, my first mailing address was Clifton Park 12065. I received my car insurance premium at this address and it was a fair one based on my good driving record with the company. I moved to a different area in the Halfmoon community nine years ago and my new mailing address become Mechanicville 12118. I received my car insurance premium at this new address and the insurance premium increased. There was no change in my driving records and no change in my policy.
I called a rep from my car insurance company and I asked why there was an increase. She explained that because my ZIP code was 12118 and not 12065, that the ZIP code governed the cost of my insurance. I explained that I did not live in Mechanicville but Halfmoon, and there is no ZIP code. There was nothing she could do to change the billing procedures base on ZIP code.
I then called the town of Halfmoon and spoke with a helpful staff member and inquired about the ZIP code issue. She understood my concern and told me that the town had tried several times to secure a ZIP code, but unsuccessfully.
I then wrote to the postmaster general of the U.S. Post Office, and he replied that the address to which I was attached was governed by the Mechanicville Post Office. There was nothing he could do for me.
My hands were tied. Because I need car insurance, I accepted the increase in my insurance premium. But trying to make sense of ZIP code differences left me puzzled.
So, thank you Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Kathy Marchione and Supervisor Kevin Tollisen for your outstanding efforts in at least bringing the Halfmoon ZIP code up for discussion.
Carmel M. Loffredo
GE researchers need in-depth knowledge
The VScan pocket-sized, hand-held and low-cost ultrasound instrument developed by GE Global Research is a major accomplishment (March 12, Daily Gazette). GE needs many more innovative products like VScan.
Mark Little, Global Research senior vice president, is quoted in the same article that: “At Global Research, our scientists and engineers don’t work for one business — they work for all of them.” This statement is not reassuring for creating successful new products and businesses.
The 2,000 Global Research scientists and engineers need in-depth knowledge of a technology to transition it to a successful product.
GE used to have product department laboratories that supported manufacturing with new materials and technologies. These small but focused labs also had the manufacturing know-how to assist Global Research in turning inventions to profitable products. For example, the intractable heat resistant PPO plastic invented at Global Research was turned into the successful NORYL by the Major Appliances Laboratory in Louisville.
Jack Welch, GE’s former CEO, nuked these valuable labs for short-term financial gains. Welch’s recklessness diminished GE manufacturing businesses.
The product department labs were small and successful because the small number of scientists and engineers worked for one business. Global Research scientists who work for all businesses do not acquire the in-depth knowledge and know-how of those who spend their careers in one business.
This leads to the powering down of the Schenectady battery factory announced a couple of months ago. It opened with much fanfare in July 2012. GE invested $170 million in the plant that was started and run by Global Research. It was predicted to generate $500 million in sales by 2015 and $1 billion by 2010.
What went wrong in the battery factory? It appears that Global Research lacked the in-depth knowledge of the technology, markets and manufacturing to start a successful new business. The problems probably resulted from the mindset that Global Research scientists and engineers can be effective in any business without years of immersion in the technology.
In-depth knowledge from years of experience in all aspects of a business still counts for manufacturing success.
The writer is a retired GE employee.
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