Magazine article Matrix: The Magazine for Leaders in Higher Education


Magazine article Matrix: The Magazine for Leaders in Higher Education


Article excerpt

With the presidential election around the corner, Matrix asked:

What issue related to higher education would you like to see the new president of the United States address?

Irving Pressley McPhail chancellor The Community College of Baltimore Maryland

As the chancellor of a large multi-campus community college serving approximately 60,000 credit and non-credit students annually, I think it is essential that the next president of the United States tackle the issue of access to education in our society to people of color. All too often, our public education system is failing our African-American and Hispanic children. This is not only a personal tragedy, but a catastrophe for our entire society. Today, all around our country, talent is wasted and a large underclass remains on the fringes of everyday life. I have focused much of my graduate and professional research on the areas of effective inner-city schools and the teaching of African-American students. I grew up in Harlem and spent several years in St. Louis and now Baltimore, so I am no stranger to the remarkable degree of racial segregation and inequity still facing children in our inner-city schools.

It is absolutely essential that our inner-city schools be given the same resources as their suburban counterparts, if we are to alter a system that results in inequality and failure. This, I believe, is the major issue that the next president of the United States cannot ignore. In reality, what we have in this country are separate schools--inner city and suburban--and they most certainly are not equal. The physical disintegration of our inner-city schools is but a symbol of a nation that has turned its back on the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown vs. Board of Education, striking down legal school segregation.

What I propose is that the nation commits itself to giving all its children the same chance to make it to the top. We can no longer afford to delay. As a society, we must commit ourselves to eliminate the horrendous conditions of inner-city education. The irony is, of course, that eradicating these inequalities will not only benefit our inner-city youth, but every citizen of our country as well. A decision to provide all our children an equal chance of success will unleash creative energy, talent, and the potential to diminish hopelessness, poverty, and crime. What is required in education is a commitment to the moral and legal imperatives that will ensure that all persons have the same opportunities to achieve their full promise in life.

Scott Cowen president Tulane University New Orleans, La.

I believe addressing the issue of higher education begins with a long-term commitment to improving our country's educational opportunities at the primary and secondary level. It is only by investing in our K-12 schools that students, especially those from low-income families, will receive the foundation and inspiration to reach beyond sometimes humble, sometimes desperate, circumstances to realize their fullest potential. Without such an investment, vast numbers of our children will never attain the skills necessary to function in our technologically driven, knowledge-based society; let alone achieve the promise this brave new world offers.

At the university level, I would like to see our next president take a lead in ensuring that funding for basic research in the sciences and engineering is a national priority. This research, especially in the field of the health sciences, is fundamentally changing and improving the way we live and understand ourselves and our surroundings. Breakthroughs in diagnoses and treatment continue to offer hope that the threat of cancer, AIDS, heart disease, and other ills will one day be eradicated. These discoveries, and the many more to come, are only possible through the combined effort of both privately and government-sponsored researchers.

Finally, I would like the new president to be a "true"leader in word and deed. …

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