Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Higher Education Comes At Big Cost

As many college graduates can testify, the costs of paying for college comes at a big cost. For those not lucky enough to have full scholarships and grants, the loans can build up. The average college student finishes college with $25,000 worth of debt. Welcome to the real world huh? However many do not finish college at all. Not because of academic probation or dropping out, but due to the lack of financial resources to pay.
Many first-year students report that they are concerned about finances, according to the 2009 National Freshman Attitudes Report, released by Noel-Levitz, the nation’s leading enrollment management consulting firm for colleges and universities. The study was based on 98,120 first-year students at 265 colleges and universities. The study found that less than half of the students (46 percent) said they had adequate financial resources to finish college, and 29 percent had financial difficulties that are very distracting or troublesome. First-generation students were particularly at risk for financial stress. Students at two-year institutions reported higher levels of financial anxiety than their counterparts at four-year institutions.

The fact is this problem was in place before this current recession hit us. I want to focus right now on the African American community. According to the most recent statistics, the nationwide college graduation rate for black students stands at an appallingly low rate of 42 percent. This figure is 20 percentage points below the 62 percent rate for white students. Im sure that financial resources plays a big part in these numbers.

College costs have increased over the years yet many family incomes have not increased, which has made the idea of even attending college only a dream for some. In this day in time everyone needs to have at least a bachelors or Associates degree. The high school diploma doesn't account for much these days.

I applaud the President for really trying to revamp the student loan system and trying to ease the costs of higher education on families. However there is much to be done and more help is needed. Many people are falling through the cracks and it doesn't help them or this country if we do not produce outstanding hardworking citizens to carry us on into the future.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Spike Lee vs. Tyler Perry

In one corner we have a movie legend, born in Atlanta, GA but claims Brooklyn, NY as his home. A Morehouse man and a prolific yet sometimes controversial actor, writer, film producer... Spike Lee.

In the other we have a native of New Orleans now residing in Atlanta, GA. A man making his name in the movie industry who literally built his success from nothing. He is well known for his plays and now for his movies and television shows. Tyler Perry. Two different styles of movie making but to add to it Spike Lee is not a fan of Tyler Perry.

In an interview
at the 14th Annual Black Enterprise Conference, Lee expressed his displeasure at "lazy" journalists who call his work "controversial," and the 'coonery' and buffoonery" of media aimed at black consumers, singling out the work of Tyler Perry. he continued, I know it’s making a lot of money and breaking records, but we can do better. … I am a huge basketball fan, and when I watch the games on TNT, I see these two ads for these two shows (Tyler Perry’s "Meet the Browns" and "House of Payne") and I am scratching my head. … We got a black president and we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep ‘n’ Eat?

On Tyler Perry and what the black consumer (really) wants to see:

We’ve had this discussion back and forth. When John Singleton [made Boyz in the Hood], people came out to see it. But when he did Rosewood, nobody showed up. So a lot of this is on us! You vote with your pocketbook, your wallet. You vote with your time sitting in front of the idiot box, and [Tyler Perry] has a huge audience. We shouldn’t think that Tyler Perry is going to make the same film that I am going to make, or that John Singleton or my cousin Malcolm Lee [would make]. As African Americans, we’re not one monolithic group so there is room for all of that. But at the same time, for me, the imaging is troubling and it harkens back to Amos n’ Andy.

Very thought provoking statements from Spike Lee. I agree with Spike to an extent. It is the consumer that has the final say. No one forces us to go and watch these films, yet at the same time we should be going out in droves to see movies like Malcolm X and Rosewood in order to facilitate dialogue amongst ourselves and understand our rich history which is being lost to this generation. Indeed Tyler Perry is a comedian and many comedians walk a thin line when it comes to entertainment and buffoonery. However a flux of black comedians and movie producers have overcome this barrier. Tyler Perry should consider the social implications of his productions and use his popularity as a platform for showing blacks in a positive role as well as providing some comedic relief. I would actually like to see Perry and Lee do some sort of movie together. Im sure it would provide the best of both worlds.