Get important education news and analysis delivered straight to your inbox
We receive dozens of letters to the editor every month. Readers react to our stories positively and critically and we welcome their feedback. Here’s a sampling of letters from the past month, lightly edited for grammar and typos.
Have something to say? Write us a letter (use the form at the bottom of any story) and it may be featured in a future post.
“If you are confident you know something, the best way to confirm it is by completing the degree.” ~Joe Smithstone, reader
There’s a danger of [credit for military experience, as explained in “Veterans continue to battle for their military training to count as college credit,” December 22, 2016] becoming comparable to a ‘life experience degree’ like the ones sold online. In other words, “I’ve cooked food for years, so I should get automatic credit in culinary school,” or “I’ve been a mechanic for years, so I should get automatic credit in automotive school,” or “I was in the navy for years, I should get a free degree in marine biology,” etc., etc.
Should these life experiences (which everyone has in one area or another) really be counted as college credit? I am skeptical about life experiences substituting for college degrees. If you are confident you know something, the best way to confirm it is by completing the degree.
July 7, 2017
“I can’t help but suspect that money is more of a driving factor in this situation … money that veterans could be using elsewhere, such as furthering their education beyond what they have already learned.” ~Josh, reader and ex-serviceman
I have to respectfully disagree with Joe’s response. … These veterans (“Veterans continue to battle for their military training to count as college credit,” December 22, 2016) aren’t simply people with life experiences, but fully trained and thoroughly educated individuals!
For instance, as one who served almost a decade in the US Navy, I am certainly aware of what being a Navy Corpsman entails. These are essentially fully trained nurses at the least, not simply someone with brief First Aid training! Should they not receive any college credit for their training?! That is the point here. At no point does anyone imply these veterans deserve a full degree for free!
I was in the nuclear field like Steve in the article. I know what a Reactor Operator is; I’ve seen their training. It takes about two years to complete training as a Reactor Operator in the Navy, and almost as long to complete the training I received as a Laboratory Technician. This involves a lot of physics, thermodynamics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, etc. All of this is to operate a nuclear power plant. Yet, most schools I tried to apply to only accept at most 3 credits from this!
Steve literally did split atoms every day! Is that simply life experience? Why shouldn’t Steve be granted a fair amount of college credit? Maybe not a full degree but at least some credit!
The issue isn’t a simple matter of confidence, but redundant and expensive requirements when the resources could be much better placed. I can’t help but suspect that money is more of a driving factor in this situation, money that colleges aren’t receiving if they were to accept this training, and money that veterans could be using elsewhere, such as furthering their education beyond what they have already learned.
Thank you, Jon, for this article!
July 19, 2017
“Perhaps the achievement gap shouldn’t be viewed primarily along racial lines, but socioeconomic lines.” ~ Patrick Hunt, reader
This is a victory (“The only A-rated, majority-black district in Mississippi,” July 12, 2017), but surely a minor one.
The real test of whether Mississippi (or any other state for that matter) can narrow the achievement gap will be if a district there can show significant improvements in a majority poor district, or at schools with a majority low-income students. Perhaps the achievement gap shouldn’t be viewed primarily along racial lines, but socioeconomic lines. That race tends to track with class is less significant than the factors that contribute to a student’s achievement. Most research demonstrates that the most detrimental factors stem from class.
July 12, 2017
“Mr. Bradley, thank you for your courageous voice of reason!” ~Mary Kathryn Brudos, reader
I would like to express my gratitude to Jack Bradley for sharing his insightful and personal essay (“I have autism, ADHD, dysgraphia and Tourette’s; what I don’t have is extra time on the Kentucky Governor’s cup contest,” June 6, 2017).
As a person with a learning disability that required me to utilize various accommodations to receive all three of my degrees, I am proud to say that I am a member of the group that Mr. Bradley is advocating for. What a great representative for the disabled community!
We will all be “better off” if he is the person people think of when they think of disabled students wanting accommodations to level the playing field. Mr. Bradley, thank you for your courageous voice of reason!
–Mary Kathryn Brudos
June 29, 2017