Thursday, March 18, 2010

Check out For the Latest

Hey folks,
it's book launch season.

From now through the summer I'll be blogging at,, and the Huffington Post, (roughly in that order of frequency) and Twittering at Anya1anya. Come by and see me!


Monday, March 01, 2010

The Jobless Millennials

This month's issue of The Atlantic contains a long thoughtful and downcast article about the possible effects of long-term unemployment on the American national character.

One section in particular is very much up my alley: about how the shifting job market and how it might affect the Millennial generation. Graduating into a recession, it turns out, can afflict your income for a lifetime. "Seventeen years after graduation, those who had entered the workforce during inhospitable times were still earning 10 percent less on average than those who had emerged into a more bountiful climate."

As my sister Kezia, a 2009 Yale graduate, commented on Buzz: "UM....scary for peeps my age :(" And her friends chimed in , "Schnikies." " i had this article mentioned to me today during a job interview. needless to say, there was no real job being offered."

The article argues that Millennials are
especially ill-equipped to deal with this unprecedented era of long-term joblessness because of their (supposed) crippling high-self esteem, and because they don't understand the meaning of hard work. It also argued that there are widespread socially negative effects of long-term joblessness--especially for men--include depression, alcoholism, and broken families.

But...I think there's a hole in this logic. It crystallized for me yesterday when I was part of a panel (including this technologist, this simplicity expert, and this social media maven) speaking to Professor Kyra Gaunt's Anthro 101 class at Baruch College. This was a very diverse group of 19 and 20 year olds and we were talking to them about hacking their way through the system to get what they need.

I realized that it's exactly this generation's unreasonable optimism that gives me the most hope for our future. Millennials aren't full of despair if we don't get the "perfect" job right out of college--our expectations are already adjusted. Young men are free from the demand that they automatically be breadwinners. Young people are learning to cultivate other values outside of work, and to take risks to seek work that meets their values. All that time we're spending inventing and building social networks and new ways of communicating with each other will translate into social capital and will serve us to build a society that doesn't depend on income to buy happiness. We will increasingly turn to each other to get what we need and to make what we want.

Yes, we still need to figure out better ways to get people health care and housing and education. The legacy problems of an economy in decline are not going away any time soon. But I have confidence that past performance does not have to guarantee future results. And this generation might just be the perfect people for this time.

Obama Announces $100 Million to Prepare Students for College

Crossposted from I'll be moving most of my posting over there for the next few months around the book launch.

Chronicle of Higher Ed
One in three students drop out of high school. America's Promise, the campaign that hosted Obama today, says just 12 percent of the nation’s high schools generate half of the nation’s dropouts.

Obama proposals such as early-college high school and dual enrollment are based on evidence that high school students will be more motivated to stay in school and finish if they see that their classes are related to a valuable credential and to jobs. The more straitened circumstances that students are in, the more important the economic motive for further education.

I'm a bigger fan of dual enrollment and career academies than early college, because I like the idea of students having a right to free public education that connects them to jobs.

However, if we don't stop underfunding our community colleges, creating new programs isn't going to get any more students through them. California's community college enrollment dropped by 1 percent this year thanks to budget cuts.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Catch me on the Brian Lehrer Show 2/22 at 10:45 am

I'll be talking about the new CARD Act which has special provisions to protect college students
among other rules designed to halt abusive practices of credit card companies, like retroactive rate increases, late-fee traps (like moving the due date around from month to month), hidden fees, and double-cycle billing (calculating interest based on last month's balance).

Shout out goes to the PIRGs for tirelessly pursuing this important bill among a variety of other issues affecting college affordability and Americans' precarious financial security.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Americans are Sick and Tired of How Colleges Are Run

From the NYT:

According to the study, “Squeeze Play 2010: Continued Public Anxiety on Cost, Harsher Judgments on How Colleges are Run,” a growing share of Americans believes that college is essential to success — 55 percent, compared with 31 percent in 2000. But at the same time, a dwindling share — 28 percent, compared with 45 percent a decade earlier — thinks college is available to the vast majority of qualified, motivated students.

Americans believe colleges could accept more students and charge less tuition without compromising educational quality. They're also increasingly dissatisfied with college leadership that claims it's impossible.

The public is right. DIY U explains exactly how this can be done.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What does DIY U Mean for Libraries?

In response to my DIY U excerpt posted on Chelsea Green and Scribd, Bruce Harpham writes:

the prospect of “unbundling of educational functions” could be bad news for libraries. If the academic experience is broken down into a set of experiences unrelated to each other, much will be lost including some of the historical reasons for academic libraries...Kamenetz sees a future with a greater emphasis on outcomes, skills and projects. I think librarians are well posed to meet that change.

I agree.
Yes, some of the historic reasons for academic libraries will be lost, along with some of the historic reasons for classrooms, dorms, and dining halls.
However, I actually think libraries represent an ideal for the future of education:
* they are designed as sites for independent, self-directed exploration;
* they are places where many different types of learners in different disciplines, academic level, etc come together;
*they are already positioned as resources valuable to the community at large, far more so than other places on campus.
*And the way the librarian acts as a Virgil for learning resources is far closer to the future of teaching practice than the sage on the stage model.

Monday, February 08, 2010

For-Profits Step In Due to Public College Cutbacks

Kaplan University is offering students who have been squeezed out of CA community colleges the opportunity to take online classes toward their degree under a new agreement.

The agreement also allows California community college graduates to transfer to Kaplan to complete online bachelor’s degrees at a reduced tuition rate.

a) Innovative. b) Troubling. c) Emblematic of the future. d) all of the above.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Kevin Bruns Replies!

From My Inbox:


Just when I thought I was fading into obscurity, you send me a cyber-greeting for the world to see.

Do you happen to know the Yale fin aid director who was interviewed in the Times article? He's being crucified in the blogosphere. I was actually surprised he was allowed to talk on the record.

The Times headline and hundreds of angry blog comments notwithstanding, if SAFRA fails, it won't be because of lobbying. It will be because a) it eliminates jobs in a period of high unemployment, and b) it does so unnecessarily since there are alternative proposals that save just as much money as SAFRA without impacting jobs.


Kevin Bruns
Executive Director
Washington, DC

a) If you guys are so concerned about saving money, why are you spending millions to defeat this bill?
b) How can you claim that you'll preserve all those private-sector jobs and save "just as much" (not quite, $67 billion, vs. $80 billion) money at the same time? It's the subsidies that fund the jobs.
c) The most laughable argument for keeping the lenders in business, by far, is "that students will forfeit the individualized service that private lenders are better able to offer."

Service like this?

America's Student Loan Providers Object to Being Cut Off at the Public Trough

Here is the propaganda website of Sallie Mae and the other jerks (Hi, Kevin Bruns!) who want to keep collecting public subsidies for the favor of giving out student loans.

Here are the stories of students who have been victimized by their wholly unreasonable borrowing policies.
Here's a picture of Al Lord, the former CEO of Sallie Mae, who got so rich off students' backs that he built his own golf course and tried to buy the Nationals.

The bankers are whining today because their special sweetheart subsidy program is on the verge of being canceled. This would save the taxpayers as much as $80 billion over 10 years, money that the Obama administration wants to use for Pell Grants and other good things. President Obama has called this idea a "no-brainer."
In fact the bill has already passed the House. The bankers are spending tens of millions of dollars to buy Senators so that it doesn't pass the Senate. Sallie Mae alone has spent $8 million.
If you want to make your voice heard on this issue, go to this website, Students Over Banks.