‘Education’ Category


Higher Education: College Degrees Increasingly Worthless

by: John Tamny, Economist Editor of www.realclear-markets

Orange County Register, Apr. 24, 2011.

“If an equal proportion of people were educated at the public expense, the competition would soon be so great, as to sink very much their pecuniary reward.”   Adam Smith, “The Wealth of Nations”

An all-too-predictable headline blared recently from the front page of the Wall Street Journal.  Though the article was titled “India Graduates Millions, But Too Few Are Fit to Hire,” it would be easy to substitute “U.S.” or some other country with a politically correct worship of the college degree.

The opt-cited correlation between a college degree and higher income has driven politicians on the left and right to make attending university a “right” for everyone.   The fact that knowledge gained in college, on its very best day, has little to no relationship with the work performed after graduation has not deterred a mad political rush to make a college education as universal as health care.

Though politicians, educators and their media enablers would have us believe that the act of earning a college diploma makes short people tall, reality, happily, is intruding.  What’s going on in India is a good example.

As Geeta Anand reported in the Wall Street Journal, though call-center company 24/7 Customer Pvt. Ltd is eagerly searching for “recruits who can answer questions by phone and email,” it’s found that “so few of the high school and college graduates who come through the door can communicate effectively in English, and so many lack a grasp of educational basics such as reading comprehension, that the company can hire just 3 out of every 100 applicants.”

This is our future.

Indeed, with politicians aggressively promoting advanced education with the tax payers’ money, the inevitable result will be universities handing out more and more worthless diplomas to marginal attendees who will enter college with no skills and depart without the skills prized by employers.  Worse for the victims of this supposed compassion, many will emerge with a great deal of debt as their reward for having wasted four years.

Those who emerge debt-free won’t be much better off.  Having spent four years daydreaming through classes on Greek mythology and feminist art history, they’ll have lost four years of real work that actually teaches them how to get by in an advanced society.

Taking nothing away from the fun that is college, if it does, in fact, serve a purpose, it’s as a source of talent for private companies eager to grow.

Importantly, there’s not much learned in college or graduate school that is applicable to what’s done in the working world, so their real purpose is as a signaling device.  The thesis written senior year at Harvard is not what appeals to Goldman Sachs, Google and Microsoft, but the fact that the student got into Harvard means this person is most likely both hardworking and smart.  Companies figure they can train such individuals to do any number of productive, wealth-creating activities in the real, working world.

Some students, of course, take accounting and finance classes, for example, with an eye on working in those areas.  True, but if so, it would be even more worthwhile to skip the nosebleed tuition and simply get to work on passing the CPA and CFA exams.

Back to college education, just as over-issuance of a currency relative to demand ultimately reduces its value, the drive to make college a pedestrian right has made the diploma increasingly worthless.  Soon enough , if not already, the wage disparity between those with and without degrees will be hard to discern.

As for India, the story of untalented college graduates is a reminder that, rather than something that makes us smart, college is at best what smart people have traditionally aspired to.  Try as we might to make everyone above-average, these attempts, as revealed by the Indian experience, are vain.

End of Register Article

Maybe we need to ask ourselves some questions such as….

Was higher education set up for every single individual to increase knowledge? 

Is this our future in higher education? 

Are we spreading ourselves too thin?

Does everyone, although entitled, belong in higher education?

If everyone was a college graduate with a BA or BS and the majority of those are not fit to work in the field in which they majored, what is the purpose for this student or students to spend time in the classroom wasting teachers time?  Are they taking a seat that a deserving student should have?  It is things like this that causes dumbing down of the system.  

Why is the college system admitting students who need remedial classes?   They are not prepared nor ready and to provide these classes is a waste of tax payers funds that could be used for students who worked hard to prepare themselves and are qualified  to be there.    

If a student does not pass the SAT test, why pass him on, that is, until he can pass?

I do believe higher education should be available to all but the student must meet the requirements to attend these classes.  They must come prepared.  Would we allow a student to fly an airplane just because he has a dream to be a pilot but he can’t pass the entry test to take the course? 

We should have measurements to determine the ability for all students to go beyond the 12th grade….many of those may pass then there would be another test to go beyond the community college.  Along the way there could be tests to find different kinds of jobs for these students.   Many of them could be successful in sales such as real estate, loans, investors…the point I’m making is not everyone belongs in a classrooms for a degree that is worthless to the student once he graduates or worth the taxpayers funds.  There are many people into internet marketing who make more money than PhD’s.   This is what we need to think about.  We also need mechanics, housekeepers, maintenance, janitors and the list goes on and on.  Not everyone is qualified to be an M.D., a pilot or even a teacher.  According to the report on community college that has a 70% dropout rate and they accept students who need remedial classes.   My question is why are we accepting students who are not qualified for this level of education?   It makes sense to send them back to adult education to learn the skills needed. 

Bobbi Barras, educator


70% Community College Drop Out Rate

70% of Community College Students Statewide Drop Out

The Headlines in The Register, Orange County California reads:  2 out of 3 Don’t Finish Community College.  This is a study on local students’ graduation rates and is found to mirror the pattern statewide and nationally.

According to Scott Martindale, Register Writer, college students intending to earn a degree either drop out or do not graduate within 6 years based on research from the above study.  This study examines how elusive college success remains for many local students.

That’s just one in four community college students that transferred to a 4 year university during the 6 year period studied and Latino students were less than half as likely as their white counterparts to transfer.

The study, released this week by the Campaign for College Opportunity coalition and the Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy at Sacramento State University, mirrors trends observed statewide and nationally.

Raul Rodriguez, chancellor of the Santa Ana-based Rancho Santiago Community College District, stated “We’ve known this for a long time.  Our students are very different from the stereotype of the college student.  They’re not all under 26, coming out of high school.  They stop for a variety of reasons and then come back to us at a future time.  They work, have families, don’t want to come out with a big debt.  Also, it’s very hard when a student comes to us 3 or 4 grade levels below college level and we have the job of bringing them up.   It seems they are doing “catch up” all the time and they get discouraged and a lot of them just give up.”

The study tracked 6,131 Orange County students who indicated upon enrollment in 2003-04 that they intended to earn a degree or certificate, finding that 6 years later, 68% of them hadn’t completed a degree and/or had dropped out.   Orange County fared only slightly better than California as a whole.

After 6 years, 70% of students statewide didn’t complete a degree or dropped out.  Community college officials emphasized that challenges are immense.  Unlike K-12 education, community colleges must allow almost anyone who walks through the doors to enroll.   “Open access is a valued part of the community college mission and there are no restrictions to enrollment.  All students are processed as if they will be full time students but some student don’t always have a pathway.  We are trying to balance access with success and find out where we can be the most successful in helping our students,”  according to Ms. Parham, a spokeswoman for the Costa Mesa-based Coast Community College District.

Only 14% of Orange County Latino students transferred to a 4 year university in a 6 year time span vs.

30% of the County’s white students for an average 24% transfer rate countywide, according to the study.   According to Genoveya, president of the Hispanic Bar Association of Orange County, “in a county where over 34% of the population is Latino, it is unacceptable that the vast majority of degree-seeking Latino students are falling short of their career goals.  This study is a real call for action for those in the community who have the means, knowledge and ability to effect positive change for these students.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education, California ranks 16th among U.S. states for its 3 year graduation rate.  That’s according to 2008 figures from the U.S. Department of Education. 

Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, the 6 year graduation rate is 62% nearly double the countywide average of 32 % and Amy Wheeler is not satisfied with that rate.  They are trying to improve that rate according to Wheeler.    She further states, “We really are trying to reiterate to our staff that whatever you do, keep student success in mind.”

Most Latino’s speak Spanish in the home and when they get into a classroom they are being taught in English.   English is not the easiest language to learn and it can be confusing for those who use English as a second language.  If we provided captionsverbatimpro services in all the classrooms each student could receive a complete verbatim printout in their computer in their own language or in English or both.   This service is incredible and can enhance the learning curve for all students who have language problems.  And, all without students feeling they are different, slow learning or just simply language difficulties.   This service would not only keep student success in mind it would balance access with success for all students. 

For more information contact the writer:  smartindale@ocregister.com or 949 454 7394.

Bobbi Barras

April 20, 2011


CaptionsVerbatimPro & Dyslexia

CaptionsVerbatimPro : Dyslexia

This A.M., March 30, 2011, in The Register newspaper was an article about Dannel P. Malloy, the new

Governor of Connecticut.  The headline caught my attention:  “Governor Shines Large Spotlight On His Dyslexia”.    It went on to say, “Teachers said he was mentally retarded.  Some classmates called him dummy.  Today, Dannel P. Malloy is called something else:  Governor of Connecticut!

I’m always looking for ways CaptionsVerbatimPro can help others…help themselves.   The entire purpose is to help all be independent and CaptionsVerbatimPro can do that.   I have 2 adult sons who have dyslexia.   Both experience the same educational problems Dannel Malloy talks about in his growing up years. 

Things have changed a lot in the last 20 years and people are more understanding about those with disabilities, such as dyslexia and hearing impairment,  than they were back before the 50’s when I was growing up and up through the 80’s when my boys were attending school.   Malloy is 55 years of age and my two sons are age 52 and 54 years of age.  Back in those days teachers, parents and students did not understand dyslexia or hearing impairment.   We were not as tolerant and / or as flexible and understanding as we are today.  But we still have a long way to go.  One thing I’d like to see happen is to get rid of the word, disability.   It means disabled.   Disabled is negative in the eyes of many.   Why use the word at all?  We are all different.  Why the label?  We need to get rid of labels on  people.  

I’ve had a moderate to profound hearing impairment since I was 4 years of age and it progressively became worse throughout my life.  By the age of 14 I had a severe loss of the nerve type and by the time I was 18 it was profound.  My mother had German Measles when she carried me so I was destined to be deaf, blind, mentally retarded or a combination of those.  I did not know that until my mother told my late husband when I was 56 years of age.   We took my mother out to dinner for her birthday and my late husband, Dr. Glorig, ENT/Audiologist asked my mother how I lost my hearing.   She at first said she didn’t know.  Then he asked her if she had German Measles when she carried me and she said she did.    

When I was 14 years of age my family moved to California and I enrolled in the 9th grade at El Monte High School.   I walked to school with 3 girls who lived nearby, everyday.  At school, I had 3 different guys who had asked me for dates to future dances.  I was what one might call, “popular”, in those days.   I believe that was the year schools started testing hearing at the schools. 

When they tested my hearing, they found I had a severe to profound hearing loss.  The nurse informed the teachers and the teachers announced it to all the students in my presence and assigned me a specific seat in the front middle of the classroom, in every class.  I was embarrassed.   I also noticed the classmates were no longer talking to me.

I always knew something was not right with me but I did not know I couldn’t hear normally.  Or better yet, I didn’t know others could hear better than I could.  I do remember I couldn’t understand what was being said on the radio.   I used to sing with my girlfriend in the school assembly and I always asked her to listen to the song on the radio and write the words down for me.  I could hear the melody but I couldn’t hear the words. 

My mother did not even know I couldn’t hear well.  She thought I just didn’t listen.  I made A’s, B’s in all my classes.   I was good in reading, math and spelling; and the teacher asked me to help other students with math from grade 2 up through grade 8. 

Once the students at El Monte High found out I couldn’t hear well they treated me differently simply by ignoring me, my 3 girlfriends no longer wanted to walk to school with me and the 3 guys who asked me to upcoming dances didn’t even speak to me again.  I cried myself to sleep every night for the next 3 weeks.  

Fortunately, we moved to Redondo Beach, Ca. and I enrolled in Redondo Beach High School.  I made a beeline to the nurse office and asked her not to tell anyone I couldn’t hear.  I begged her to just let me deal with it.  It seemed when others knew, then I had 2 problems:  my problem plus now I had to deal with how others looked at me and / or ignored me.  I asked her to just let me deal with this on my own.

 She suggested I go to Riverside School for the Deaf and learn Sign Language.  I refused because I couldn’t figure out why I should learn another language to understand the language I already knew and I didn’t know I was lipreading but I was doing just fine.  She finally agreed to allow me to stay at RUHS if I could keep a C average.  That was no problem. 

I finished all 4 years of high school there and had many wonderful friends and memories who accepted me as I was without any discussion of my problem.  It was never brought up and I never mentioned it to any of them.  It was my dark secret from that time on until I was 29 years of age, married and 3 children aged 10 yrs., 8 yr, and 6yrs of age. 

I could live with the knowledge of knowing now what my problem was but I couldn’t live with being treated shabbily by others who didn’t understand.  I married my husband when I was 18 without bringing up the topic.  I couldn’t bear to lose him  In today’s world that sounds like I didn’t come clean as they call it today.  But I’m not talking about covering up something I did wrong…I did nothing wrong.  I believe if anyone had gone through the pain of losing 3 girlfriends and the friendship of 3 guys overnight simply because they found out I couldn’t hear, and being treated shabbily by the teachers at the school, the very people who were there to protect the students,  I think they’d do the same. 

There was no one for me to discuss this with.  The counselors, if there were any at the time, would not be any more understanding than the teachers who announced it and the teacher even treated me badly after that point.  It was a night mare for me.  I couldn’t talk to my mother because she was involved with a separation in her marriage and was not very understanding of my problems.   I learned early that it was my problem and I not only had to deal with it I chose to do it comfortably.

Those were different days.  But my experience at El Monte High School forever made an indelible impression on my mind.   And, it took me many years to get past that.  I couldn’t admit I had hearing loss to anyone in fear of losing their friendship.   I didn’t even tell my children.   I’ll talk more at a later time on how I finally came around to admitting my problem.   I was in denial stage for many years.   I know the pain that others have experienced with the label of disability and we need to get rid of that label.  We all have talent and we all learn differently and we all strive to find our niche in life.   We don’t need labels.

 As Malloy states he experienced a lifelong struggle not only with dyslexia but the added problem of non acceptance in the classroom and being labeled as a “dummy” and / or “mentally retarded”.   That kind of damage to a small child self esteem, who is in a vulnerable stage of life, can sometimes last a lifetime and / or it will teach him/her to reach deep inside and find the strength to get through this and become stronger.    To help those who are weaker and can’t seem to shake it off in later life is another entire writing and we can talk about that in another blog.

In the last few years more and more people, specifically parents, are talking more about dyslexia and also writing books.   As a result, it is opening the door to the fact that a person with dyslexia is an intelligent person in other ways such as having strong listening skills, high vocabularies and excellent communication skills and a good memory.   They learn by listening. 

Parents today are not accepting the labels of the past on their children’s back.  They are doing something about it and more people are listening.    They are not accepting the old idea that their child cannot be educated and have a fruitful and normal life.    They will not stand idle if their child is called a dummy and / or mentally retarded.  There are many people in the celebrity field that have dyslexia and they have found their niche.  That is the secret in life:   Finding your niche.   Whatever it is….yet, that’s the goal for everyone, is it not?  Everyone has something they can do as well or better than others.  

So many words we use in our daily vocabulary have no meaning to someone with dyslexia.   Those words are words that have no picture.  For example when we talk about a house they can see a picture of a house…lots of houses.  When we talk about the ocean they can see lots of water in an ocean in their head.  When we talk about a table they can see a table in their mind.   Those are picture words.  

When we use words such as, this, that, those, these, them, and, an, a, what, when, where, why, which, the, all, if, about, also, however, for, to, too, have, had, like, on, of, etc. ….all these words have no picture attached so they have no meaning.  They are just filler words to complete a sentence and it’s called grammar.  That is why they struggle with writing.  When they hear these words…they have no picture. 

In short, most who have dyslexia hear a word and they see a picture.  If the word has no picture…it has no meaning to them.   There are numerous words that have no picture.   They cannot process something they cannot see.   It’s not there and it has no picture…therefore it has no meaning.   If it has no meaning it can’t be remembered or translated.   If there is no picture there is nothing to translate or interpret.

My son, Bryan, attended a seminar a few years ago that helped him understand all this.   When he hears the word, “boat”, for example…he can see a boat in his mind and he can see the top of the boat, the bottom, and all sides of that boat in his mind.   He does not see the actual word, “boat”…he sees a picture of a boat and sometimes lots of boats.  Both my son’s, Tony and Bryan, are very intelligent.  They both have excellent memories, broad vocabularies, beyond par communication skills and many wonderful friends and relationships.  They are very understanding about life, themselves and others; but, they can’t write, they can’t spell and they don’t read books.   They do listen to audio books and CD’s.   They can spell words phonetically.  And, that brings up a great thought.   I just got an Aha! feeling we’ll talk about in the final paragraph.

Most normal people I have spoken to have no difficulties reading, writing,  and when I ask them what they see in their mind when I say or hear  the word “boat”, they tell me they see the word, “boat”, in their mind and they also see a boat but they say they do not see all sides, top and bottom of the boat.  What we see in our mind when we hear a given word is our interpretation of that word based on what we understand.   If a person with dyslexia cannot see a picture then there is nothing to interpret because they cannot see words…they only see pictures.

In Japan there is no such thing as dyslexia!   That’s because their alphabet is in pictures.  Our alphabet is 26 individual letters and someone with dyslexia may not see any of those letters in their heads.  That is, unless you attach the letter to something that is a picture.  For example…A is for Apple then there is a picture of an Apple.  They see the Apple but not the word “Apple”.   B is for “Boy”  …then there is a picture of a boy.   In the mind of someone with dyslexia, s/he might be seeing all these pictures for the alphabet.  He sees a picture of an  Apple, Boy, Cat, Dog, Elephant, Farmer, Girl, and etc. 

In the U.S. according to the International Dyslexia Association as much as 20% of the population has a language based disability such as dyslexia.  That’s a lot of people considering the Census 2006 reported 303,763,031 total population in the U.S.   If 20% has language based disabilities that equates to almost 61 million people within the dyslexia category.   We have to do something about that. 

Let’s get back to the thought that most who have dyslexia can spell and read phonetically.   If this is a true fact then there is no reason why CaptionsVerbatimPro cannot have a button to translate a classroom lesson to phonetic.   If we have the ability to translate English to another language, then we can also  translate to phonetic.  The word, “thought” would be spelled, “thot”.    The word, “would”, could be spelled, “wood”.  The goal is to teach and to teach all students in a way s/he can understand; and, if it means changing the spelling then so be it!  We can do that with the click of a button in the classroom with CaptionsVerbatimPro.  

The English language is a difficult language to learn especially for those with dyslexia.  These are the times of learning to be more tolerant to the needs of others who learn differently.  As a teacher, we are supposed to be flexible to that need.  I can’t help but wonder how great it would be for CaptionsVerbatimPro to provide the entire lesson in audio if the student preferred.   Translating to phonetic is just a thought at this time but certainly worth trying and let the student tell us what works for them.  At least it should be available.  In talking to my sons, they both say they would learn more simply by listening by audio.  But we need to be ready to offer options to meet the need of every student and get rid of the label of disabled. 

Bobbi Barras


Education Needs To Be Reformed

Education Secretary Arne Duncan Warns of Failures by 2014!

This a.m. I was reading The Register over a cup of coffee when I came across this timely article.   When the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, admits we need to make a change in education it gets my full attention.  

Los Angeles.  U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan said Tuesday, March 22, that virtually every school in Los Angeles Unified School District will be classified as failing by 2014 if the “No Child Left Behind Act” is not urgently reformed.

Duncan told about 1200 educators and business leaders at a United Way education summit that the law now is too focused on test scores on core subjects.  That, he said, has led to a narrow focuses on those subjects at the expense of the well-rounded education every child needs.  “No Child Left Behind is fundamentally broken,” he said.   “We want to fix it before we go back to school this fall.” 

Duncan, the former head of Chicago’s public schools, and presently the Secretary of Education stationed in Washington, D.C., said he wants the new Elementary and Secondary Education Act to measure schools on year-to-year improvement, rather than on a specific test score.  “We should be far more concerned about levels of growth than proficiency,” he said.  On other topics, the secretary came down hard on the dismal performance of LAUSD, the nation’s second-largest school district.  Although he said district leaders are working to fix underachieving schools, he said the 50 percent graduation rate is the lowest among big-city districts.  “L.A. is a world-class city but does not have world-class schools,” he said.  

I Believe Every Parent Agrees We Need To Change How We Educate Our Students and Hire our Teachers

I believe we are doing the wrong kind of testing.   We ought to be testing all students at the entry level, grade 1 and again prior to middle school and prior to high school.   The purpose of this testing is to find out 2 things:
• The interests of the student, and;
• How the student learns best.

The interests of each student needs to be nurtured throughout school.   The individual interest may change as a student moves through the grades all the way into college and sometimes beyond.  And, then we need to think about forced change as a result of economy changes.  The student needs to be ready for a change if needed.  The one thing that remains constant is ….change.   We have to teach flexibility and adaptability throughout life.  In other words, college students need to major in two topics to be ready for a change if and when needed. 

We need to respect the fact that not all students belong in college.   There are other ways to become educated in life that does not require a degree but can be as resourceful to an individual.
It seems college may prepare some students to make a living but there are other resources out there that can provide a lifestyle.  There is a difference.

We need to find out how a student learns best.   I’ve talked about this throughout my blogs.   Some students learn better by auditory, meaning some students learn better by listening.   Others learn more using the visual sense, meaning s/he learns more by reading.   Still others need both.  In fact, most remember more when they have both.  It is the auditory system that puts it in the memory box.   That’s why it’s important to teach children to read aloud when they study.  They need a quiet room to do that without disturbances.

Remember the days we learned to read by reading.   It all starts when a parent reads to a small child before putting them to bed or taking them to libraries where they have readers who read to children.  In school, I can remember how I learned to read.

The teacher gave an assignment for reading homework.  The child was to read the chapter at home, look up words in the dictionary, write the meaning of the word and proceed to the end of the chapter.  This required having a parent assist the child in understanding what the story was about and to encourage vocabulary development.   The child was to try to use the new word 3 times in discussion at home and thereafter.

The next day, the teacher had  each student in the classroom read one paragraph or parts of a paragraph…aloud, in the chapter for the day, while all students listened and followed along.   Note here… that it is not the teacher who is reading to the students…it is the students who read.  And, they read aloud.   That is the key.  If a child came upon a word s/he couldn’t pronounce s/he could ask for teacher support and keep reading.  

The teacher did not start with the student sitting in the front row and then go down the line.    Instead, the teacher would call on different students unexpectedly to read.   This kept the students on their toes because they didn’t know when their name would be called and, as a result, they had to be ready to stand up and perform when called upon.   That is how a teacher teaches reading.   A student may never learn to read if s/he doesn’t read and/or read aloud in private.  Reading aloud is the best way to learn to read because it involves both the visual and the auditory system.   When we involve both it is easier to remember what one is reading.

When I was teaching adult education I had many interesting adult students in my classroom.   This particular student, Marion Cox, actually Dr. Marion Cox, was the psychologist for the development of Dick and Jane Reading Series.     That is a series of reading books back in the 1940’s and maybe beyond that decade.   She was now in her ’80’s.  What an interesting woman!

I asked her to talk about those books because they were banned in later years.  I wanted to hear it from her as to how these books were created and why were they banned later.   Dr. Cox had a crystal clear memory as she spoke and I gave her the floor.  She said when these books were created, they were pictures only.   There were no words at the bottom of the page.   They were to be used in kindergarten and first grade only at that time.  

The teacher was to sit down on a small stool with the children gathered around in front of her on a rug on the floor.   She would show the picture to the children and ask them what they think is happening in the picture.   Then one by one each child made his/her statement about what s/he thought was happening on that page.  The children used their own words. 

The teacher would write those words spoken by each child on a separate sheet of paper with the name of the child at the top.   At the end of the story she had several different stories written in the words of the different children.  Then she would let each child read his/her own story what s/he actually said using his/her own words presented as his/her own interpretation of the picture.  

The teacher then asked each child what s/he wanted the title of the story to be and each child created their own title by discussion of their story with the teacher.   This taught socialization and communication skills.   Then came the writing session.  Each child could copy all the words they used in their own handwriting…printing.   And, each child was allowed to keep his/her own hand written story they told.   They could take it home and read it to the parents.   That was how the books were supposed to be used. In doing so, it was the children who actually created the story by looking at the picture.    And, each story took a different direction and they created a different title.  

I’m sure each child could not wait to get home and tell his/her parents about this wonderful experience in writing their own book and it had a title.   Not only that….s/he could read the story to his/her parent. 

Now let’s break this apart and look at what the children learned:
• The children created their own story by looking at a picture and talking about what s/he saw in the picture;
• The children learned to respect their own ideas by using their own imagination;
• The children learned to print their own words used in the story;
• The children learned to complete the project by adding a title to the story; and,
• It taught them pride. 

I can visualize the excitement was blowing through the roof with this method of teaching.   And, the most important thing it did was it kept the children’s attention because each child was a part of the development of his/her own story.   The child felt important.  S/he wrote a story s/he could read in his/her own words!   And, Dr. Cox added one more thing:   She had each child write the publishing date on the first page with the title. 

That idea was beyond brilliant!

We then asked, when did the words come about at the bottom of the page and she said they were later added by a writer who felt the book was not complete without words.   The writer who added the words was trying to teach by rote which is why the words were repeated often throughout the books.  Learning by rote is part of learning to read, however.   But do we need one word repeated 5 times in a row?    “Run, Jane, run.  Run. Run. Run.”   There are only 2 different words used in that entire statement to show Jane was running.  

The writer who added the words suggested a teacher read the book to the children.   It didn’t create an interest, the children were no longer writing the story, they were no longer involved and it destroyed the children’s creativity.  There was no more excitement. And the books were banned because of boredom.  In thinking about this, I don’t see the children running home to show the parents how excited they were with the project for the day.  It was passive teaching.  Easy for the teacher.  Nothing learned and nothing gained.

Dr. Cox is the kind of teachers we need in our schools today.   Unfortunately, we have too many teachers like the one who killed these books!  That, in itself, should explain the difference between a teacher with passion and one who just has a job.

Even a child in kindergarten could add more words to the story than the writer who added the words on the bottom of the page!

Bobbi Barras


How Do We Change Education?

According to Stanton Peele, Ph.D., J.D. Reform American Education – Reform America?, September 27, 2010, The calls to alarm in the U.S. focus primarily on declining world rankings in student performance, particularly in science and math, and declining high school graduation rates, particularly for minorities. The word most often used by U.S. Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan and other leaders inside and out the educational world to describe these trends is “unacceptable.”  What does that mean?  If this state of affairs is so “unacceptable,” how did it come to be?  Keep in mind that calls for educational reformation and improvement are a constant in American public policy – remember when the Soviets launched Sputnik in 1957, spurring a national outcry to improve science education?  Fifty years later the United States has drifted into the third tier of nations internationally in science and math.  Unacceptable!

According to a study by the Second International Mathematics Study, one common thread of opinion, is educational reform.  The Economist says the reform must “overhaul the curriculum…and must deliver better quality education.”

I’ve been doing research and one thing I found was that the United States, compared with other countries worldwide, has fallen to the 17th & 18th in Reading, Math and Science.  (You can read more about this at my website.) What a shock that is!   This is the United States of America supposedly the greatest country in the world and has been a leader for many years in just about everything as it relates to education and lifestyle.  How did this happen?  Well…the more research I did the more I found where the problems may be.

Not every student learns easily or the same way.   And, not every teacher should be teaching.   We need teachers who teach because they have a passion for the topic they teach.   The schools say if we are credentialed to teach, then we are expected to teach any topic we are assigned.   That is the biggest mistake one could ever even consider.   Why would a teacher teach tennis if he never played before and had no interest in the game?   Put another way….if a teacher hates math and scored low in testing in college, why would s/he teach math?    The old saying is, “If you want to learn a subject….just teach it.”   That works for the layman.  It doesn’t work for a teacher who is credentialed to teach.  We need teachers who can come to class without a book and teach the topic and supplement the book.   Instead we have teachers who actually, in high school, who read the book to the students.   That is not a teacher that needs to be teaching.   That is a teacher who doesn’t prepare for a class in advance to arriving in the classroom.  It’s a teacher who just wants a job and has nothing to offer a student.   As a teacher for 25 years in the school system and Community College I can attest that there are many teachers who “read” to their students.   That is totally unacceptable unless it’s the kindergarten, first grade, and second grade and maybe even the third grade. 

 In my research I found students stated they were bored in class, students who stated their mind wandered while the teacher was teaching, and students who created problems within the classroom making other students laugh and many other disturbances within the classroom.   All it takes is one domino to fall and the entire class is out of control.  What causes boredom?  Well, the simple answer is a lack of interest.  But there is more to it than a lack of interest.   It falls on the shoulder of the teacher when there is a lack of interest. 

 I have also seen students sitting on the edge of their seats when a teacher was teaching a class.   A teacher who has a passion for the topic can weave stories and jokes into the learning lesson that keeps the students attention.   That is a teacher we need. 

I actually started out by doing research mainly for the purpose of finding a way to enhance the learning of those who have hearing impairment of the nerve type.   These are regular people who simply lost some hearing… they can hear sound but cannot comprehend what is being said and most lost their hearing as a result of environmental noises after birth or after the age of 20.   Oh, yes I hear you…I know you’re thinking they can put on a hearing aid/s.   As a Hearing Specialist I would recommend that as well.   However, nerve loss is not the same as conductive loss.   The latter can be fitted to an aid/s easily as his/her problem is in the middle ear and/or the high success rate of the stapes surgery can take care of that and hearing is restored almost to it’s preexisting state.   Not so with nerve impairment.

 Nerve impairment is in the inner ear where the cochlear organ is located and that organ is about the size of your thumb nail and holds your entire decoding system within.  This organ consists of tiny little hair cells that wave back and forth in the fluid.   Once a hair cell or group of hair cells become damaged s/he will no longer hear that specific sound the hair cell or group of hair cells generated.  That’s why you hear people say, “I can hear sound.  I just cannot understand speech.”   Or, they say, “Everyone mumbles today!”   I’m sure you’ve heard the latter many times.   That’s a person who’s still in the denial stage.

These are people who have lost their hearing in early life, midlife or later life.   We once thought of hearing impairment as being age related but it is no longer true.   We have teens losing their hearing as a result of all the loud music and sounds they listen to, not just from a distance but from the plugs they place in their ears and pump the sound up beyond what the cochlear can handle.  As a result these little hair cells snap.    This loss is mainly caused by environmental noises.  And, more people under the age of 60 have hearing impairment of the nerve type than ever before in history!   We have over 77 million baby boomers becoming senior citizens and these people went through the 70’s loud rock music period.  That’s something to think about.   Back in the ’80’s I believe we had less than 20 million senior citizens in the U.S.  

There is definitely a way to enhance the education of those who have nerve impairment.  I found this by accident.

The deaf have been using this for several years but the hearing impaired are still not aware of this method.  I started out by trying to get the word out.   But the more I researched and wrote, the more I found this method would also enhance the learning for all students in every classroom.  

 So what am I talking about?    In the world of deaf it’s called CART services.  The word CART doesn’t make sense to the outside world of deafness.   If you knew to google CART then you’d find out.  But who would google CART without knowing what the word means?   If you googled hearing impairment it would bypass CART.  It’s being used in the colleges along with note taking and sign language for the deaf.   But for the hearing impaired individual with a nerve impairment, CART services is all that is needed to enhance their learning.    We all know there is captions/subtitles provided on TV, DVD’s, CD’s, and I was a part of that development of captions on TV, but what most don’t know is that it can be provided in every learning environment throughout life.  Why?   Because learning is a life time endeavor in today’s world.   And, we have all kinds of people with different needs and most will not tell you what their needs are, still others don’t know what their needs are and most don’t know CART services is even available or what it does.

 When I found this method I thought I discovered hearing all over again!  I was floating on a cloud.  I was attending a seminar on real estate and the company provided that service for me as an individual in a group of over 400 students.  At break time I was surrounded by others with hearing loss asking me where I got the balls to ask for this service.  When I asked them if they let the company know their needs….they said they didn’t tell anyone they have hearing impairment.  Still others said, “I cannot write fast enough to take notes and this would really solve my problem and free me up to just listen.”   The fact I had this service for myself created a huge scene during every break and lunchtime.   They all wanted to sit around me and asked if the font could be enlarged so they could all see.  

 So what is CART services?   Well, it’s a court reporter (CR) who works with a stenography machine.  S/he types every single word being spoken!  It’s a typewriter on hotwheels!  And, the average CR can type 225 words per minute.  Simple wouldn’t you agree?   That’s actually simple and is the same method used for captions and subtitles.   Why didn’t we think about this before?  

 During my research, I started thinking about all the students who have difficulties in class….I’m now talking about the average student who can hear.   Additionally, students  have different ways of learning.  Some of us are auditory oriented and others are visually oriented.  Some of us learn more by hearing what is being said and others learn more from reading.   Some need both.  Still others are need to include their muscles to learn.   Remember, years ago how we learned to spell?   Writing the word 10 times or more until we could spell the words without looking at them.   Then, when we had the test, we heard the word spoken and we put the pencil to the paper and followed the pencil.   That’s called muscle memory tied to auditory.   Did you ever watch Tiger Woods golf?   That’s real muscle memory tied with visual orientation.  Oh yes, and the ability to block out any meaningless noise …called concentration.   And that, in itself, is another skill to learn.  So now you can see, we all learn differently and that has to be taken into account in order to teach students.

 Therefore, we need to do 3 things to begin with and that is….

1.    test students in the lower grades and find out what each student need may be;

2.    hire only teachers who have a passion to teach the topic provided; and,

3.    provide CaptionsVerbatimPro services in every classroom.

 Why CaptionsVerbatimPro services?   Because the captioner would be in every classroom and every word being spoken by the teacher would be on record.  Students would not have to take notes unless they wanted to.  Their time could be better spent listening to the teacher and absorbing the information.  At the end of each class, the record would be sent to every student’s computer for study and reference.  For students who desire the print out to be in another language …it’s just a click of a button and it’s done.  

 This would eliminate “he said, she said”.  It’s on record.  The counselor, school principal and or director of studies, even the superintendent could tune in to any classroom at any given moment to watch a teacher performance.  Teachers can be graded more accurately in that manner.

 Teachers will come to class prepared every single class time.  There will be no room for a teacher who wants to come to class when s/he’s not feeling his/her best.   A student deserves the teacher’s best every single class time.

This would, in itself, increase the salary of a teacher who has the passion to teach the topic!

I’m sending this out to everyone on my address book.  Please critique and let me know what you think.  Be sure to go to my website at:  www.captionsverbatimpro and get back with me.  I would relish your thoughts.   I plan to take this nationwide.  I will be applying for grants and the plan is to reach out to those who are dedicated to education in America and that is people like:  Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Forbes, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Phil, Michael Bloomberg, George Lucas, Steve Wynn, Donald Trump, Donald Bren, 60 Minutes, Good Morning America and many others who feel as dedicated to education as most American’s.  We need to get back to being Number One not just by score but by education and knowledge to back up that score.  We can do that. 

Thank you,

Bobbi Barras

www.barrashomesinc.com  (past experiences)

www.captionsverbatimpro.com  (future dreams for improving education)

We still have some work to do on the CVP website and I welcome your input


Creating Jobs

The Vanishing Court Reporter:  Off the Record

By:  LawCrossing

Most stenographers’ machines these days are tricked out with fancy screens, but at their core the devices are essentially hot rod typewriters.  Still, it can take 3 years of training to learn how to pluck the 24 keys at the requisite 225 words per minute.  And right now, there aren’t enough nimble fingers to go around.

Across the country, the legal profession is suffering a severe shortage of court reporters.  According to Marshall Jorpeland, director of communications for the National Court Reporters Association, the clamor for reporting services has increased as the number of stenographers has plummeted.  In the past decade, the number of NCRA-accredited training programs has dropped from 102 to 72.   Of the nearly 45,000 court reporters in the U.S. today, less than a third actually toil in a courtroom, the rest opting for lucrative closed-caption-TV work or freelance jobs for law firms.  “People are wondering where the next generation is going to come from,” says Jorpeland.

Many stenographers who haven’t sought the flexible hours and higher earnings of private practice..a typical freelancer’s income is more than $60,000 annually, and top reporters can clear 6 figures…are losing their jobs to budget cuts.  Courts in Oregon and Colorado have ordered considerable layoffs, a round of cuts is planned for some Florida courts as well.  “I’ve waited a couple of years for trial transcripts,” says Michael Bogdanow, a litigator at Boston’s Meehan, Boyle, Black & Fitzgerald.  “Everything slows down as a result.  You can’t pursue an appeal without the transcript, which is one big reason why appeals take so long.”

Meanwhile, reporters whose positions have been spared must scramble to keep up.  In Florida, a murder conviction was overturned because the jury selection process had not been accurately recorded.  In North Carolina, judges routinely delay trials and hearings as they wait for a spare reporter.

Some states have addressed the deficit by installing sensitive digital recording systems to tape proceedings for later transcription.  Most stenographers, however, say this is a poor alternative.  “If you’re representing someone accused of a crime, and you plan to file an appeal, do you want to rely on a transcript that’s filled with “inaudible” and that was prepared by a peson who wasn’t at the original proceeding?”  says R. Douglas Friend, a partner at the Portland, Oregon, court reporting firm Beovich Walter & Friend.

The industry should improve over the next few years as broadcasters strive to provide closed-captioning on virtually all new television programming by 2006, and on older programming by 2008, as the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires.  Writing those captions requires largely the same skills as recording legal proceedings, so the NCRA is promoting a bill that would create $60 million in educational grants.  The funding, if approved, could lift the entire profession.

The anemic economy may prove to be an obstacle to legislative approval of the funding, but Jorpeland and his colleagues find solace in the fact that when jobs are scarce, professional schools usually get a boost.  “Last fall, enrollment in reporter training programs was up 19% over 2001,” he says.  “And we have evidence indicating this year is at least as strong.”

If court reporters are losing their jobs in the court room, CaptionsVerbatimPro will be happy to provide them a job doing the same work but for a different group where captions is sorely needed.   That’s technology working and it provides a solution to the court reporters dilemma.   The other thing that is happening based on what I have seen in scattered statements on the internet is that the court reporters are taking a 30% cut in pay and that is not be acceptable to most.   They are refusing to work for the court unless they pay their regular rate of pay which runs anywhere from $90/hour to $125/hour for the top reporters.    That’s is about the same rate the CART services are charging.   There is a real war going on between the courts and the court reporters regarding their rate of pay.


Building Education, It’s a Starting Point: Getting Back to Basics

Building Education…It’s a Starting Point: Getting back to Basics

Students Are Not Equally Able or Willing To Learn: Why?  The following is an excellent article every parent should read:  According to Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune Columnist, Dec. 22, 2010 America’s primary and secondary schools have many problems, but an excess of excellence is not one of them.   Not only do our weak students fare poorly in international comparisons, so do our strong students.  Mediocrity is the national norm.

The very best students are the ones most likely to do things of great benefit to the rest of us such as, cure malaria, devise revolutionary inventions, start the next Apple or plumb the secrets of the universe.   But we don’t always put much importance on helping them to realize their full potential.

A case in point is Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Ill., a racially and economically mixed suburb of Chicago that is home to Northwestern University.  It recently decided to eliminate a high honors freshman English course aimed at challenging the top students.

Henceforth, these youngsters will be grouped with everyone else in a regular “honors” class in humanities.   Next year, the same may be done with biology.   Your kid is an honor student at ETHS?  Heck, everyone is an honors student at ETHS.

It’s hardly the only school in America where grouping students according to their ability is in disrepute.   There is a widespread impulse is to treat all kids as equally able and willing to learn.   But the results often fall dismally short of the hopes.

When the Chicago public schools scrapped remedial classes for ninth graders and put everyone in college-prep courses, “failure rates increased, grades declined slightly, test scores did not improve and students were no more likely to enter college,”  according to a study by the Consortium on Chicago School REsearch at the University of Chicago.   Among average and above students, absenteeism rose.

The danger in putting the brightest kids in general classes is that they will be bored by instruction geared to the middle.   But their troubles don’t elicit much sympathy.   Brookings Institution scholar Tom Loveless told The Atlantic magazine, “The United States does not do a good job of educating kids at the top.  There’s a long-standing attitude that, “Well, smart kids can make it on their own.”

But can they?   Only 6 percent of American kids achieve advanced proficiency in math, lower than in 30 other countries.   In Taiwan, the figure is 28%.

School administrators in Evanston insist the change is aimed at making the curriculum more demanding, even as they make it less demanding for some students.  Thanks to the abolition of this elite course, we are told, “high-achieving students” will profit from “experiencing multiple perspectives and diversity in their classes to gain cultural capital.”

In other words, racial balance will take priority over academic rigor.   Blacks and Hispanics make up nearly half of all students but only 19 percent of those in advanced placement courses and 29 percent of those in honors courses.

This is because minority students at Evanston, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000, generally score lower on achievement tests.  Putting all students together is supposed to give everyone an equal opportunity.

But if you have a fever, you don’t bring it down by breaking the thermometer.  The low numbers of black and Hispanic students are a symptom of a deeper problem, namely the failure of elementary and middle schools to prepare them for the most challenging course work.  Evanston has had a big racial gap in academic performance for decades, and there is nothing to gain from pretending it doesn’t exist.

Schools that group (or “track”) kids by ability generally get better overall results.  Chester Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, notes in a recent report, “Middle schools with more tracks have significantly more math pupils performing at the advanced and proficient levels and fewer students at the needs improvement and failing levels.”

Why would that be?  Teaching is not easy and teaching kids with a wide range of aptitude and interest is even harder.  Grouping students by ability allows the tailoring of lessons to match the needs of each group.  Putting them all together is bound to fail one group or another.

Shortchanging gifted teens creates the risk of another unwanted effect:  inducing their parents to leave.  Families in Evanston can always move to neighboring suburbs with good schools, or they can opt for several fine private and parochial alternatives.   Average students don’t gain from being in the same classes as exceptional ones if the exceptional ones are not there.

We as a society have not been very successful at turning average students into high achievers.   Maybe we’ll have better luck doing the opposite.

What a great article!  Well said!  By Steve Chapman.    Please read how CaptionsVerbatimPro can improve all levels of learning.   Separation into 3 groups can be a good thing and everyone’s scores will increase.  There is no such thing as one size fits all for the same reason we can’t buy a size 7 shoe to everyone!  However, and additionally, having 3 separate groups may set up competition for students to increase their scores to get into the higher level of learning.   When each group has all the notes verbatim they have something to work with.   Once they leave the classroom and go into another class for a different course, they lose too much information in their memory box of the former class.  It appears the student who excels has a stronger memory box than most and is able to go back in his/her head and recant what the instructor said at any given time, and, can even use that method when taking a test weeks later. 

I have a son and a grandson (father and son) who are both walking encyclopedia’s but they both learn differently.   They can recant verbatim most anything they heard when the subject arises weeks or months and even years after.  Not everyone has that kind of memory.  My grandson uses both reading and listening.  My son only needs to listen and he never forgets what was said.  He says, “All I have to do is roll my mind back to the time I heard the lesson and I can provide a verbatim account of what was said.”  Others can do the same once they read a topic.   And, still others may need both.   We’re talking about our senses here.   Some are more inclined to auditory.   Others remember more when they read.   And, still others, need both.   Once we understand what our student needs are, then we solve a huge problem in learning.  It’s easily tested to determine how the student learns best.  These are the kind of tests we need to have in our schools at the very beginning and perhaps every other year to determine any changes as they grow.

For some subjects, such as spelling, muscles need to be involved.   Remember the days when we actually wrote the word 10 times or more until we could spell  the word without looking at it?  When one writes the word several times s/he’s using his muscle memory.  When s/he hears the word for the test all s/he needs to do is put the pen to the paper and follow the pen. 

So many students coming out of high school, community colleges, universities and even some of the instructors at the universities cannot spell.  They relied on computers to learn spelling and there is no muscles involved to learn spelling.   The computer simply asks, which word is spelled correctly?   Well, that is nothing more than a guessing game. 

It works very much like a golfer.  The golfer uses his muscles to hit that ball and send it where he wants it to go.   He does that with practice over and over again.  It’s very similar to learning how to spell. 

Now let’s talk about math.   Years ago we learned math with a book, paper and a pencil.   Muscles were involved.   Today the student has a hand held calculator right on his/her phone.  And, if they enter 3 X 3 and the answer comes up as 12….they believe it!  

When I was teaching math, I also insisted the student transfer the problem from the book to paper with their pencil.   At first they balked.  Some said, “That’s outdated!”   I said, “It could be.”    However, we know that part of learning math has to do with organization skills or one gets lost in the middle of solving a problem.   I taught them to work from left to right and show me how they got the answer.   Once students learn this basic skill then it’s ok to go to a calculator or computer.   There is no substitution for learning basic skills when it comes to math and spelling.

Thoughts to ponder.  This brings up some questions: 

  • Why are we not teaching Basic Skills in the lower grade?
  • Why are we not testing our students to determine how they learn best?

A Portrait of America

Current & Future Portrait of America

As published by Jason McGouldrick Dec. 11, 2006

According to Time magazine recently published  a study was done in 2006 about the current American demographics and  statistics in an effort to commemorate Americas 300millionth citizen.   Their findings:  The majority of Americans are White….about 240 million or 80.1%.   That means there are 19.9% minorities or about 60 million people who may have language problems. 44 million are Hispanics and 13 million are Asians.

The future, as per this study, by the year 2050, it is projected that 50% of the American population will be white and 24% will be Hispanics while Asians will increase by an almost unnoticeable amount.  That leaves 26% as being a mixture of immigrants, legal or otherwise.   As you can see, the face of America is changing.

It seems as a result of the above study the multicultural makeup of the current and future America will need to make some fast changes in how education is being presented.   Some of these people who are Americans by birth have difficulties in keeping up in classes due to a long list of problems based on past history in America.   Those who speak a different language not only have the language challenge but some of those also have difficulties that fall under hearing loss, dyslexia, poor concentration, poor organization skills, plus a whole list of other problems that may prevent them from keeping up and learning along with the class.

I believe CaptionsVerbatimPro is the answer to that problem.   If every student has a verbatim account of what is being taught plus a printout of each lesson for their personal folder, they have a better opportunity of earning a higher score when taking classes, finishing school, and they would be better prepared for the job market and beyond.   It would be interesting to know the percentage of students who would be able to graduate, find or create a job in the chosen field after using the services compared to those who have not had that opportunity in the current learning situation.


» recent comments

  • Bobbi: You are absolutely corre...
  • Bobbi: The problem according to...
  • Bobbi: Is that "ah"! or do yo...

» archives

» meta