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.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

College Funding Cuts; New Programs Hang in the Balance

The Obama administration is preserving some higher education programs even in the midst of the spending freeze. The Pell Grant, in particular, is protected and even increased.

But the fate of the American Graduation Initiative, a major proposal to increase community college graduates, depends on the passage of a bill in the Senate that has already passed the House, to eliminate bank subsidies from the student loan program. This move is supposed to save $95 billion over 10 years, much of which is already spoken for (like $10.6 billion for the American Graduation Initiative). If the bill falters, or if government accountants adjust their calculations, these programs, too, may fall victim to cuts.

At the same time, private colleges like Williams are backpedaling from promises they made a few years ago to eliminate student loans, thanks to the recession.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Reader Question:How Will DIY U Affect Traditional Tutoring

Unedited and uncensored, from the Chelsea Green video shoot yesterday...enjoy!