Eyebrows raised as Ivy League grades soar

NEW HAVEN, Conn. “Grade inflation has resulted from the emphasis in American education on the notion of self-esteem,” Harvard University professor of government Harvey Mansfield wrote in an April issue of The Chronicle Review. “According to that therapeutic notion, the purpose of education is to make students feel capable and empowered. So to grade them, or to grade them strictly, is cruel and dehumanizing.”

Making everyone look good may make everyone feel good, but the sea of uniform transcripts that accompanies each graduating class presents a troubling concern: How can graduate schools and potential employers distinguish one student from the next when grades have been inflated across the board?

In 1969, 7 percent of undergraduates polled in a nationwide survey received GPAs equivalent to an A-minus or higher, and 25 percent got GPAs of Cs or lower, Arthur Levine and Jeannette C. Cureton wrote in “When Hope and Fear Collide,” a book that examines grading trends in higher education. By 1993, the percentages were reversed: 26 percent received A-equivalent GPAs, while only nine percent earned C-equivalent GPAs or below.

Supreme Court takes Dartmouth student”s case

HANOVER, N.H. When Lindsay Earls was pulled from her classroom to give a urine sample, she felt “humiliated.” So she decided to sue her high school, charging that they had infringed her rights to privacy. The case took off from there in March 2002, her complaint will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In October of her sophomore year, Earls, who is now a student at Dartmouth College, received a routine drug test due to her participation in choir, show choir and the academic team. Earls is suing her high school on the basis that this testing was an invasion of her privacy under the Fourth Amendment.

In an earlier ruling, (Vernonia v. Board of Education) the Supreme Court established that athletic teams could be tested for drug use because, according to Earls, “they were leaders of the drug culture in that particular school.” By the nature of athletic activity, they had already surrendered some of their privacy rights.

Although Earls agrees with this ruling, she said that testing of non-athletic extra-curricular teams is unconstitutional. “Non-athletic teams are not already giving up their privacy. We didn”t have to get dressed in front of each other or submit to physical exams,” she said.

Study: Stem cells could be created from nerve cells

BALTIMORE A new study, conducted by Dr. Jerry L. Hall, examines a technique that could create stem cells that could turn into nerve cells without the requirement for human fetuses.

The study was performed on mice and explored the usefulness of asexual reproduction towards the goal of producing stem cells.

Dr. Jerry L. Hall is an embryologist at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Genetic Testing, a fertility clinic in Maryland. He discovered a method, using chemicals, by which he could coax an egg cell to begin to develop without fertilization by a sperm cell. Embryos produced in this manner would not be able to develop into a child, even if they were implanted in a womb. They do live long enough, however, to produce viable stem cells in the laboratory.

Stem cells are extremely useful to scientists, both for analytical and clinical applications because they are undifferentiated cells, which under the right conditions, can be directed to develop into virtually any other type of cell in the body.

Compiled from U-WIRE reports by Daily Staff Reporter Lizzie Ehrle.

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