Is It Worth The Debt To Attend A Culinary School?

If you are one of the thousands who have a dream of one day becoming a gourmet chef, than most likely you are heading off to culinary school. What many people seem to not realize is that culinary school is extremely pricey and many are lured into various schools because of the job prospects the schools say will be offered after graduation.

Culinary schools are getting a bad rap these days as their students are borrowing money to attend but are then left wondering how they'll pay back loans after graduation. Recruiters have told many students it is a worthwhile investment, as their dreams of becoming a gourmet chef will be made possible through a culinary arts education. Many students at the San Francisco California Culinary Academy have taken recruiters up on the offer and now are suing the San Francisco California Culinary Academy because of false advertisement as to what exactly will available to students after graduation.

In Terence Chea Associated Press' article "San Francisco's California Culinary Academy School Grads Claim They Were Ripped off," some former students are suing the culinary school. This is so because many of the cooking schools out there are for-profit cooking schools in that they make money off of the enrollment of the thousands of students that sign up for the program. Many students at the San Francisco California Culinary Academy are unhappy with their job-searching results after graduation and say "they were misled by recruiters about the value of culinary education and their job prospects after graduation."

Just one example is Emily Journey, a 26 year old who is partaking in the class-action lawsuit against the San Francisco California Culinary Academy and is hoping to get some of her money back. They have agreed to offer rebates to of up to $20,000 for 8,500 students who attended the academy during 2003 to 2008. Journey has successfully finished the program but has in no way found an employment opportunity that will allow her to pay off the large sum of money that is dwindling over her head.  The only job Journey could find is at Oregon Bakery, where she not only works the night shift but gets a mere $8 an hour per shift, which would certainly be insufficient in helping her pay off her debts. Journey states, "was it worth the money and the time to have this loan hanging over my head? Absolutely not." The one positive thing for Journey is that she is one of the lucky ones who may be getting her money back, many are not so lucky.

Those who attend for-profit institutions "represented 12% of all college students in 2009, but 43% of those who defaulted on federal student loans," according to The Education Trust, an education advocacy group. Many culinary schools lure students in by stating that 48 to 100% of graduates find work in their field of study or a related field. This fact alone can spike the many student's interests in going to a culinary school. Little do they know, loans will be lurking over their heads for years to come.

Photo: panduh

The Bronx Write Bus: Learning to Write at 25 MPH

By: Dylan Rodgers

One of the biggest struggles in education is stimulating the minds of the students in order to keep them focused on the curriculum.  An excellent way to do this is by taking students on field trips where they can have hands-on experiences with important works of art, culture, history, and technology.  The only problem with field trips is that so much time is spent on the bus ride, that even the most attentive, well-behaved students can become restless causing the teachers to spend their time doing damage control.

Maria Romano, director of the Bronx Writers Center, dreamt up a new way to stimulate and educate students without losing any time in between.  Her brainchild is "The Bronx Write Bus," a weekly summer education program in the Bronx that transports children, ages 12-18, to various cultural places around the five burrows while simultaneously teaching them how to write.  The bus transforms into a mobile classroom where students are given short writing assignments and receive invaluable, one-on-one instruction from a professional writer whose area of expertise coincides with the cultural event of the day.

Yesterday, the New York Times featured an article where the Write Bus students visited the Anne Frank Center in SoHo, the students perused through the displays and listened to the actual account of Sally Frishberg, a 77 year-old Jewish Holocaust survivor.  Her testimony not only put a personal face to the history lesson, it made the lesson tangible.

The Bronx Write Bus not only takes classes on the road, it provides a different kind of student-subject interaction.  With professional help and hands-on experience, students are given opportunities that they may not have gotten otherwise.  To quote a relevant Chinese proverb:

"Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand."

Zak Pelaccio's The Cooking Room

Getting your kids to eat healthier and more adventurously is a task many would not want to take on. Cue in chef Zak Pellaccio, who has started The Cooking Room program. This program for elementary school children helps kids in kindergarten through 5th grade learn more about food and cooking. Kitchen classrooms are cropping up in a number of different schools throughout the United States where both teachers and professional chefs can educate students about nutrition as well as food-related lessons that use science, math and reading. Similar to Chefs Move to Schools, this program takes advantage of the wealth of knowledge that chefs have to offer, and brings it into the classroom. Pelaccio along with Dorothy Hamilton and Phil Gutensohn from the International Culinary Center/ French Culinary Institute are using the classroom as a means to teach kids how to create good food with real ingredients. It's not about using processed or packaged foods but instead becoming more educated in using organic and local produce to achieve the same effect in recipes.

The curriculum is being overhauled to fit the standards that the Department of Education holds. Each lesson is catered to each grade and is sometimes arranged by taste like sour, salty, sweet or bitter as well as focusing on topics like reading comprehension or fractions. In due time, the Cooking Room Program hopes to have a standardized program that can run in conjunction with regular classroom lessons. Kids are already becoming more adventurous; many kids have already tried decadent ingredients like caviar as well as healthy vegetables and greens. Not only that, but they've enjoyed them!

Already well on its way, the Cooking Room still has a long way to go until it can become fully formalized and integrated within the school system. It takes baby steps in order to get kids to work with real, healthy, raw ingredients and prepare good meals as well as to phase out processed and junk foods from their diets. To help the Cooking Room Program, you can donate your money or time by volunteering and teaching classes. Go to their website to learn more.

Read more at The Huffington Post.