From Columbia Tragedy to the Reform of Higher Education


After Enron scandal, here came Columbia tragedy. The U. S. Senate was busy investigating these problems. I hope they can find a quick fix to prevent similar incidents in the future. More importantly, it is time for the Senate to recognize the real solution: To revamp higher education. Higher education is basic; NASA is extra. If the victims of Columbia tragedy can stimulate the Administration to recognize this top priority, then the life of the seven astronauts will not have been wasted.

Here are my opinions on the reform of higher education:

  1. Education requires a long-term vision. Growing a useful tree takes 20 years. Cultivating a mature mathematician or a physicist takes 60 years. The U. S. government spends thousands of dollars on a student or a researcher each year. If a mathematician is forced to quit half way through because of a problematic system, the taxpayers' 30 years' investment will have been wasted.

  2. Besides providing technical knowledge, a school should train a student to be a responsible and conscientious citizen.

    Cooperation emphasizes teamwork, but it does not mean that work should be done by just a few or that one is allowed to avoid one's responsibility.

  3. Raising textbook standards.

    The U. S. government should hire experts to write good science textbooks. Do not underestimate the function of a science textbook because it affects the thinking pattern of a student in every field of engineering.

  4. Reducing college tuition below the amount of (40 x [minimum hourly wage] x 4) per semester.

    Using the G. I. Bill as a primitive model, the U. S. government can extend the same benefit to the students who have served his community for four years. For example, tutoring in high school or working for a non-profit organization or any other kind of public service.

    Students should concentrate on their studies. A student who juggles two or three jobs to pay his loans cannot do anything well. If students fail to have solid training, upon their graduating and entering the work force the American public worries.

  5. A school should not give students an overload of homework to impede their solid learning.

  6. The ultimate solution to all the social problems is through either education or violence.

  7. University faculty members must concern themselves with human future rather than personal gain.