More state spending for colleges is expected

The Education Beat

Aid: Glendening, a friend to higher education, is likely to OK more money - if the economy doesn't falter.

January 03, 2001|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

IF BAD THINGS happen in 10-year cycles, Maryland college and university officials had better cross their fingers and toes.

Ten years ago, a recession seriously crippled the state's institutions of higher education, which were already suffering from years of stingy financing. It took most of the 1990s to recover.

But as the Chronicle of Higher Education says in this week's editions, "Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat and former professor, may be one of the best friends that Maryland's public colleges have ever had."

State spending on higher education has increased 50 percent on Glendening's six-year watch, and he has indicated more is in the works this year. The four-year colleges have asked for increases on the order of 12 percent, while the two-year schools are asking for increases of about 11 percent.

If the public colleges get their way, 14 of the state's private colleges and universities also will benefit, because their aid formula is tied to that of the public schools. This year, the privates are looking for an 11 percent increase to $46 million, about $1,400 per student.

Maryland lawmakers also will be asked to pump more money into historically black schools to satisfy an agreement signed last month with the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights.

Everyone's the governor's best friend this time of year, but if the economy turns sour and the state's budget surplus dries up, look out!

Article outlines stress high-achievers can face

Life can be stressful for high-achieving students and their parents. These kids are often actively engaged but secretly stressed, according to an article in Parenting for High Potential, the magazine of the National Association for Gifted Children.

This is a particularly pressure-packed time for gifted high school students. They're applying to a dozen top-flight colleges while balancing busy lives including honors classes and extracurricular activities.

"The students worry about their grades and their parents' reaction to their grades," the article says. "Middle school students fear disappointing their parents, while high school students often believe that grades lower than an `A' jeopardize college acceptance."

And while many students engage in sports to maintain the image of the rounded student, their participation is another source of stress, as they are particularly sensitive to the coaches' expectations for winning.

Family meetings and regular "walks and talks" are among the techniques suggested.

Private school students shine in international test

Back in the 1990s, 20 Maryland private schools agreed to administer the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests as a way of cross-checking with the public schools. Individual private schools weren't identified, and the experiment was discontinued after a couple of years.

The results showed kids in the independent schools did a better job, on average, than those in the public schools.

Now we have more evidence of the academic superiority of private schools. In the Third International Math and Science Study - a test measuring math and science performance in 38 countries around the world - eighth-graders in U.S. private schools outperformed all of their counterparts except those in Chinese Taipei, Singapore, Hungary, Japan and South Korea. And they scored 33 points higher than the average of all U.S. schools.

Emphasis must be placed on the "on average." Although public middle schools have been troubled in the United States and in Maryland, many could more than hold their own against some independent and parochial schools.

Thai teacher seeks money to open school

Chanchai Achinsamacharn, a recently retired teacher in Thailand who was a foreign exchange student at Franklin High School in Reisterstown in 1967-1968, recently sent me a note.

"I retired early from my profession," Achinsamacharn wrote. "I still would like to open a school for the kids in Thailand and hope to be a school that serves the society as a school, not a business enterprise which tries to make money.

"Since 1968, I believe that some Franklinites may have become millionaires. Could you diffuse this message to them that if they can join me by donating some money, I can start an ideal school in Thailand?"

Achinsamacharn may be on to something. In 1968, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, slightly more than 250,000 people were worth $1 million (not including their primary residences). Today, millionaires are a dime a dozen; the United States has about 7.2 million of them, but I have no way of knowing how many are Franklinites.

If you're one of them and want to help, I have Achinsamacharn's address.

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