Declining by Degrees is an informative documentary that gives insight into the American school system at the college level. The beginning of the movie is about large universities with a focus on schools such as Western Kentucky University and University of Arizona. According to the documentary, the level of education is decreasing and colleges are quickly becoming far less challenging and high school education is not preparing students for college as well as in the past. In today’s society, a college education is necessary in order to support a family and be a part of the middle class. In much of the early20th century, a person could support a family and be part of the middle class without a college education, but experts say those days are gone, never to return again.

            When interviewed, many employers admitted that they were not satisfied with the skill level of the work force coming out of college. This is an obvious indication that college is not preparing students for the real world as well as it used to. Does the blame for this fall on the students or the universities? The truth is that there is evidence pointing towards both. According to research, students today are simply not putting in the effort needed to get a good education. In a survey, 39% of students admitted to binge drinking. Some other shocking statistics are that half of the students that are enrolled in college do not graduate and a quarter of them do not even make it to their sophomore year. 20% of college students drift through college by doing the minimum amount of work to earn a passing grade. The information in this documentary is portrayed through interviews with students such as Robin Bhalla, who drifts through college because he has figured out the system at The University of Arizona and knows how to cheat it. He admits to going out and drinking with his friends at least four times a week. Is this the lifestyle of all college students? Matt is a full time student at Western Kentucky University. In an interview, he explained that he made it through high school without studying hard and that is eventually his downfall in college.

            These students are not preparing themselves for the real world but the blame does not fall entirely on them; state universities are funded by the government, which requires them to keep their students’ grades high. Teachers are forced to be lenient with grading which leads to grade inflation. One teacher stated that he had to make a huge curve in his class because his students ranged from those that would excel in an ivy-league school to those who should not have even passed high-school. Many professors are only working part time at these schools. Due to this, many classes are taught by teaching assistants which makes the students uncomfortable. Also, the large classroom atmosphere is not good for student learning and development although it is





economically logical. It is difficult for students to learn in a lecture hall of 200 students and it is even harder for teachers to keep track of that many students. Since professors cannot possibly keep track of that many people, students are finding themselves sleeping in class and not studying at all on their own. In fact, the average number of hours that students put into their schoolwork is under 15.

            It is disturbing to know that our nation’s education is dropping every year. Our students are our future and we are not paying any attention to them. One thing that I found interesting is that these statistics only match with large universities and do not apply as much to a small university such as Lenoir-Rhyne. The obvious reason is because the classroom size is much smaller; My classes average about 20 students per class. This allows the teachers to be able to keep track with their students and build relationships with them. It is not easy to just slide by and do minimal amounts of work because a teacher will notice and it will reflect your grade in the course. This forces students to be held accountable for their schoolwork and is more beneficial in the long run. It prepares students for the real world in an atmosphere where you have to learn to work together with fellow classmates and be held accountable. This is one of the main reasons why I chose LR and probably the main reason for many others. I believe that our nation should invest more money in our education so that the class sizes can be reduced, allowing students to gain a higher level of education.


“League of Denial” Summary and Response

This excerpt from the newly published book by Fainaru-Wada and Fainaru, “League of Denial”, aims to uncover the secrets that the NFL is covering up. The NFL commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, along with the NBA’s David Stern and the NHL’s Gary Bettman, appeared in New York to discuss issues concerning their respective sports. The moderator for the event was the highly credited David Halberstam, having won The Pulitzer prize for his coverage of the Vietnam War for the New York Times, and then continued his career in writing books, several of those being about sports. Halberstam directs the attention of the NFL commissioner to the concussion problem that is plaguing the National Football League. However, the commissioner quickly dismisses the issue as being unrelated and not a problem in the NFL, stating that there is only 2.5 concussions for every 22,000 players engaged. Halberstam responds to this statement by saying “I feel I’m back in Vietnam hearing McNamara give statistics”, which caused the crowd to howl in amusement.

Halberstam is referring to the unusually low statistics of the death toll that were reported by the Government during the Vietnam War, and comparing them to the low statistics given by Tagliabue. The Vietnam statistics were later discovered to be lies, by comparing them to the NFL’s concussions, Halberstam is establishing his belief that the commissioner is lying. The NFL’s concussion problem is real, unlike some stories that are made real by the media, and I believe it is a major issue that has to be taken care immediately. The NFL is obviously trying to cover it up due to the amount of money they would lose if viewers found out about the issue. This book gives an inside look into the issue and reveals the frauds of the NFL. It is an informative piece that I recommend to all those who are fans of the NFL. 


I recently attended a “Visiting Writers Series” seminar featuring the prominent Martin E. Marty. Dr. Marty has had a very credible career, having written over 50 books and taught at The University of Chicago for 35 years.

The main focus of the hour long speech was religion, more specifically how the mainline religions have adapted and survived over the years. Dr. Marty had his own definition of culture–a pattern of  collective behavior based on a set of common ideas. According to Dr. Marty, many denominations have changed from the past: some have evolved, some have merged, and some have disappeared altogether. Mainline Protestants have shifted from being more prominent in the North to the South. Another example is Baptism; There are more Baptists in the U.S. alone than there are Jews in the entire world. In the 1800s Catholicism endorsed the idea of large families, usually about 6 or 7 children, but now 90% of Catholic women practice birth control and the average family that practices Catholicism has 1.8 kids. One interesting fact he included that most people don’t know is that television used to be monitored by Churches in Europe before the separation of church and state. Islam used to be one of the smallest religions and it is now the fastest growing mainline religion in the world. Dr. Marty believes that this is because of their beliefs but mainly because they have a lot of enemies. According to Dr. Marty, that hate is what brings the closer together and makes them grow.

I thought that this speech was rather interesting and certainly very informative. I learned more about religion in that one hour than I have learned in my entire life. The only complaints I would have is that Dr. Marty made it very difficult for those of us who sat in the back because of his soft speaking. Nonetheless, I would urge anyone who is interested in religion to attend one of his events.