Saturday, April 16, 2011

Native American Students Suffer Social Injustices: The Higher Educational Ponzi Scheme

Social Justice: Equals being treated equally

Can’t Let It Go!

The more I research and think about the drop out rates for Native American students nationally and more specifically in the State University of New York (SUNY) system – the angrier I become. Discussions about national stats can be reviewed in many places in this blog and beyond. The stats related to SUNY Native American student drop out rates can be viewed here.

Basically, since 1984, Native Americans in the SUNY system lead all groups in drop out rates. Year after year, decade after decade (it appears Native Americans will again have the highest drop out rates in 2014), this one particular group of students, while consisting of low overall enrollment numbers, have departed from SUNY colleges without interference or seemingly without any concern from SUNY leaders.

Why I Can’t Let It Go!

The SUNY statistical department was able to respond to my simple enquiries in a matter of minutes. I asked about student drop out rates and while we were talking on the phone I was forwarded an email with various data. Has anyone at SUNY asked or looked at this data? If not, why not? If so what happened?

The SUNY provide some Fast Facts about their students, like graduation rates. It is reported that 6-Year (2009/10) SUNY graduation rates for all SUNY students is 62.3%, compared to National Public Universities’ 55% and National Private Universities’ 65.3%. Native American SUNY students have a 46.8% graduation rate.  There is a little note indicating that 89% of Baccalaureate students entering in fall 2003 had a successful educational outcome (i.e., graduate, transfer, or continue to be enrolled). Would you care to guess who the remaining 11% of “unsuccessful educational outcome” students might be?

Time to Act!

Maybe SUNY’s Board of Trustees are not aware of this problem. I have submitted my concerns to the board and asked specifically to have these concerns directed to board member Gerri Warren-Merrick who is the current Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee. I am confident that the SUNY Board of Trustees, once made aware of this decades old issue, will want to address this problem instantaneously.

The Educational Ponzi Scheme

Native American students who enroll at a SUNY college have experienced social injustices. Whilst they successfully enroll and pay for an education, over half of them, more than any other group in SUNY, leave before graduating. The SUNY colleges have had a nice run of ignoring this problem. It is like a SUNY Educational Ponzi Scheme. The SUNY colleges will eagerly take 100% of Native American’s registration costs, student fees, tuition, etc., knowing that more than half of these students will drop out before benefiting from these payments.  In order to support the continuation of the Ponzi Scheme, new “suckers” have to be recruited and enrolled. Would you pay a large amount of money and enroll into anything that has a success rate of less than half?

Conclusion -- But Not Letting it Go!

It is time to act! Either fix this problem or admit it is not a problem! If there is an admitted problem then there should be planned and purposeful SUNY system wide retention strategy for every Native American enrollee. If it is not a problem then so be it. Native Americans can consider enrolling in a SUNY college fully informed. The majority race seems to be doing just fine in SUNY. Maybe if that becomes a problem -- then there will be a problem!

Peace, DAP

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