Paragraph to Ponder

“Fifty years ago, 90% of black postsecondary students attended historically black schools. In 1990, it was close to 17%. Today, around 9% do.”

From “Historically black colleges, including Bennett in Greensboro, locked in fight for survival”.

Why does it matter? Because nationwide, black students tend to do better overall at historically black colleges. They are more likely to graduate within six years than black students at predominantly white institutions. Also, black students at HBCUs are more likely to go on to graduate school than those who attend other schools.

In recent years, historically black colleges and universities have seen enrollments plummet and endowments decrease. The students in this article highlight the primary challenge the HBCU’s face, initially very enthusiastic about their choice, the students bail as soon as their college’s or university’s accreditation is threatened.

Sadly, apart from 8 figure donations, enlightened financial leadership, and continuing accreditation, I don’t know how the HBCU’s stem the race for the exits.

Why Travel?

Asking why travel is like asking why exercise. Just as it’s a lot easier to be sedentary, it’s a lot easier to stay home.

I have less travel energy than in decades past, but every time I do take off for distant lands, I’m better for it. Better because my understanding of differences expands, which pay dividends long after I return home. Most everyone makes different choices than me about not just where, but how to live. Traveling helps me understand that while I would not make some of the same choices, theirs work out well for them.

Early in our recent trip to Spain, I noticed one of my travel companions saying “That’s weird” on multiple occasions. “That’s different,” I suggested as an alternative.

I’ve been fortunate to see half the world and that one subtle difference may be the most fundamental travel insight of all.

Consider that the Spanish:

  • are more honest about their meat, openly displaying deer legs and dead rabbits in open air markets
  • close most things up from about 2-7p and begin thinking about dinner around 8p
  • pronounce words with an “s” sound—z, s, c for example—as “th”

Not weird, just different. Overtime, if you don’t travel, you run the risk of thinking other ways of life are odd, even inferior to your own. The social scientific term for that is ethnocentrism, but arrogance suffices.

The classic example is the American in London who can’t believe Brits “drive on the wrong side of the road” as if there’s one right side. Actually, that’s not the best example, because most of the time, our arrogance is more subtle and nuanced. When we travel very far at all, we regularly see or hear things that we’re unaccustomed to. We label them weird because we have a hard time assimilating them into what we’re most familiar with. But if we take any time to consider the unique positive aspects of the cultural context, the contrasts in daily life are not weird at all, just different.

College Math

I sat next to a fresh faced Seattle teen and her dad on the flight back from New York City. They were perusing a Columbia University brochure. “Shopping colleges” I asked and the father was off and running never mind that I really needed some sleep.

His story is deserving of a separate post, for our purposes today, he said a year at Columbia costs $73,000. The dad makes bank and the daughter is the best 16 year old archer in the country, but last I checked, archery scholarships weren’t too generous. Meaning the fam has to come up with at least $325,000 given projected tuition inflation, air travel, and NYC incidentals. A fan of dark humor apparently, he said, “And then they need a masters to get a job.”

She wants to “be a doc for professional athletes” so rather than a masters, she’ll have four years of med school tuition.

Compared to a degree from the University of Washington, will a Columbia degree (or Stanford or UCLA* or Berkeley where she’s also applied), increase the odds of her achieving her career objective, which of course, she’s likely to tweak if not completely change? Her older sis pays $11,000 a year to study public health at “UDub”, one of the top programs in the world.

If I was the dad, I’d make Younger Daughter a proposition. Follow in Older Sister’s footsteps and I’ll give you the money saved from Columbia that you can then use to travel the world and fund medical school, and/or start a business, or to buy a large luxe house in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Here’s the final tally:

$325,000 – $50,000= $275,000 + 4 years earning 3% compounded annually = $309,515

What should she do, cash the check for $275,000 and allow it to grow to $309,515 by graduation, or take a very expensive bite out of the Big Apple?

*in this one case, the obvious answer is; yes, definitely

 

Rick Steves Wants to Save the World

One vacation at a time. Lengthy profile of the travel guru, but really well written and well worth the time. In the spirt of Steves, I’m off on a two-week vacation, during which I’ll be pressing pause on Pressing Pause.

I’m agnostic on marijuana. Apart from that difference, I’m down with damn near every other aspect of Steves’s worldview. At the same time, I get tired just reading about his frenetic pace. I’m far too slothful to aspire to be Steves-like, but his non-materialism and associated generosity are definitely inspiring.

I’ll post pics to Twitter, @PressingPause, of my travels. First person to guess the correct country wins an all expense trip to North Korea.

How Committed Is The Tacoma Public School District To Its Mission?

The district’s mission:

“Our mission is to develop competent, contributing citizens. We will be an outstanding school district in which all students exhibit high standards of achievement and critical thinking skills, and are socially responsible, contributing members of their community.”

A couple of weeks ago, Mike Jankanish, an AP History teacher at Tacoma’s Wilson High School, wrote an op-ed titled, “Diversity education is a divisive education.”

As reported by King5.com, Jankanish is opposed to HB 1314, a Washington State legislative proposal to incorporate ethnic studies as a course elective in its public schools.

Jankanish contends:

“This increasing emphasis on cultural diversity is not just about school curriculum but part of a larger agenda to implement the goals of identity politics. This way of thinking is based on the assumption that a certain group of Americans are inherently marginalized in our society and are the victims of ongoing discrimination.”

Unlike Jankanish, I fully support the passing of HB 1314 and believe certain groups of Americans are inherently marginalized in our society and are the victims of ongoing discrimination.

However, unlike some Tacoma teachers, journalists, and residents; I also believe in Jankanish’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Because Jankanish questioned whether anyone, which includes Tacoma’s students of course, are victimized by ongoing discrimination, some Tacoma teachers immediately labeled his thinking racist and associated it with White Supremacy. Others in the community expressed anger at the Tacoma paper for even publishing Jankanish’s op-ed. Still others pledged to remove their children from his classes.

Despite being an educational organization, it doesn’t appear as if anyone in the Tacoma School District asked Jankanish why he doesn’t believe in institutional racism.

One can’t help but wonder if the outraged Tacoma teachers ever travel to Eastern Washington or anywhere more politically conservative. Lots of people feel identity politics have gone too far. Hell, in his 1991 book, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner in history and adviser to the Kennedy and other administrations, Arthur M. Schlesinger argued against identity politics in The Disuniting of America.

As an advocate of multicultural education, I used to assign Schlesinger’s slight book not because I agreed with his thesis, but because it provoked deeper thinking about the need for multicultural education. More specifically, I used it to challenge my university pre-service teachers to deconstruct Schlesinger’s anti ethnic-studies point of view.

Upon the publishing of Jankanish’s editorial, one teacher said, “This is a chance for the community to say, ‘We don’t put up with this rhetoric, we don’t want this kind of thinking in our classrooms or affecting what our students are hearing.'”

Rather than offer cogent counter arguments, silence him? Is the mission of the school district more accurately to protect students from overtly conservative political opinions deemed offensive by a majority of teachers?

Again, I don’t agree with Jankanish at all, but he appears to have stated his views calmly, meaning he’s not incited anyone to violence. I may be labeled a reactionary for daring to write this, but tying Jankanish to White Supremacy without knowing anything about his teaching record or personal life, strikes me as an egregious leap of misguided activism.

It also strikes me as disrespectful of the exact students the teachers obviously care for so deeply in that it underestimates their capacity to thoughtfully weigh contrasting points of view in light of their life experience and their study of history and related social studies courses.

I don’t understand how the district seeks to silence teachers for unpopular political views while simultaneously claiming to be a place where “all students exhibit critical thinking skills.”

 

Apple’s Bundled Services

I pay $120/year for one of the 300 periodicals highlighted in Apple’s new Apple News+, so I will likely subscribe to the $10/month service.* However, this launch crystallizes a contemporary conundrum, more is not always more.

I would rather pay half price for 5% of the periodicals. Let me pick 15 of the 300 I truly value. I don’t value having access to 300 periodicals, just like I don’t value having access to 100 television channels. It only distracts me further.

Steve Jobs, who famously honed Apple’s focus on far fewer hardware products upon his return to the company,  understood less is almost always more. Today’s launch is decidedly non-Jobsian.

But that won’t stop millions from biting and Apple from transforming news, gaming, and television. And me, as an AAPL investor, making even more money.

*although I’ll lose access to the hard copy, and most likely, the website