Month: June 2014

So Everything That We Have Read and Heard Is Wrong?


Writing for the New York Times (June 24, 2014), in a column titled “The Reality of Student Debt Is Different than the Cliches,” David Leonhardt reviews a recent study released by the Brookings Institute.

These are the main assertions:

(1) Student debt, on average, has actually not increased significantly.

(2) Because the earnings of college graduates have increased, student debt is not having an economic ill-effect on those who hold it or on the economy as a whole.

(3) The real problem is that many who take on student debt are not earning the degrees that will facilitate the repayment of the debt.

(4) So the solution to the “real” student-debt issue is greater accountability for colleges and universities.

I don’t think that Leonhardt is terribly distorting the findings of the Brookings researchers. But, for anyone who has been reading reports on this issue, each of these assertions should seem…

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Reinvesting in Higher Ed: A Lesson from Four States


An “On the Issues” Post from the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education []


Jeff Kolnick

CFHE Guest Columnist

The dramatic increase in college tuition and fees over the past dozen years is justifiably big news. Few doubt that the massive disinvestment of public dollars is responsible for much of the rising cost of higher education, skyrocketing student loan debt, and the massive use of low wage contingent faculty.

What is less well known is that a significant number of states, pushed by broadly based citizen coalitions, have begun bending the cost curve back in the direction of public support for higher ed. At a recent meeting of the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education, faculty and staff featured the ways that citizens, acting in coalition, are working to restore the public in public higher education. Most revealing was that four states—Washington, California, Minnesota, and…

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A New Direction in College “Athletics”


Robert Morris University in Illinois has announced that it will be fielding a team to compete in the Collegiate Star League, a video-gaming league in which 103 other institutions now field teams to play the video game League of Legends.

So, in those details, this is not a new story.

But Robert Morris has taken this a step further than any other institution. It is adding this team to its athletics program, and it is offering “athletics” scholarships as it actively recruits players for its team. Since there are now more than 750 institutions in 46 states and eight Canadian provinces that compete in the League of Legends High School Starleague, there are clearly many high school players to scout

Kurt Melcher, the university’s Director of Athletics, has explained the decision in this way: “Robert Morris University has always been at the forefront of providing opportunities for a diverse…

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The Dirty Secret in the Education Wars: Money Matters


This post was written by Jeff Bryant for the blog of the Campaign for America’s Future [] which has become a driving force behind the New Populist Movement.

The group’s report, Organizing to Take Back America: The New Populist Movement, is available at: Prepared by Riger Hickey, the co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future, the report identifies twelve key principles underlying this new progressive effort to provide an effective grassroots alternative to the Tea Party movement on the Far Right.

Jeff Bryant is an Associate Fellow at Campaign for America’s Future and the editor of the Education Opportunity Network website. He is based in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The post is reprinted with the permission of Roger Hickey.


An interesting twist in the ever-fascinating narrative of Republican politics unfolded  in Mississippi this month when political operatives in the campaign to reelect U.S. Senator Thad…

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If You Go Far Enough to the Right, Do You Somehow End Up on the Left?


Thus far, the most vocal and sustained criticism of the Common Core Standards being relentlessly promoted by Arne Duncan and the other “reformers” in the Department of Education has come from Progressives—that is, President Obama’s own supporters. Of course, the objection is that the administration has wholly and enthusiastically embraced what was a Republican idea—for no apparent reason other than it was all too easy to do so and doing so would reinforce the notion that the President is trying very valiantly to be bipartisan with a Republican opposition that is very determined to be as partisan as possible. As a result, the teachers’ unions, which have very strongly supported the President in two elections, are being discounted—are very casually being thrown under the bus–for the sake of a completely empty talking point that is all the more pointless now that the President is term-limited.

It was, of course, entirely…

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When We Are All Squirrels Dodging the Mowers


This is an acknowledgment from a doctoral dissertation in the University Microforms International database:

If I had a dime for every time my wife threatened to divorce me during the past three years, I would be wealthy and not have to take a postdoctoral position which will only make me a little less poor and will keep me away from home and in the lab even more than graduate school and all because my committee read this manuscript and said that the only alternative to signing the approval to this dissertation was to give me a job mowing the grass on campus but the Physical Plant would not hire me on account of they said I was over-educated and needed to improve my dexterity skills like picking my nose while driving a tractor-mower over poor defenseless squirrels that were eating the nuts they stole from the medical students’ lunches on…

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Still More on the “Vergara” Ruling


The Plaintiffs’ Teachers Were Not Actually “Grossly Ineffective”

This is excerpted from David B. Cohen’s post on Diane Ravitch’s Blog, and the bulk of the excerpt is a passage from a post-trial brief:

“I was curious to learn whether the plaintiffs in the Vergara trial actually had ‘grossly ineffective teachers.’ The answer is ‘no, they did not.’

“Not only did none of them have a ‘grossly ineffective’ teacher, but some of the plaintiffs attended schools where there are no tenured teachers. Two of the plaintiffs attend charter schools, where there is no tenure or seniority, and as you will read below, “Beatriz and Elizabeth Vergara both attend a “Pilot School” in LAUSD that is free to let teachers go at the end of the school year for any reason, including ineffectiveness.

It turns out that the lawyers for the defense checked the records of the plaintiffs’ teachers, and this is…

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An Indicator of the Importance of Higher Education to Local, Regional, and State Economies


The Census Department provides statistics on the largest employers in each state, and Business Insider put that material into an alphabetically arranged chart.

I have rearranged the employers by category. The one caveat that I would offer is that I suspect that WalMart actually has the most employees in several states besides Arkansas.

Here are the results:

12 States – Universities

04 States – University-Related Medical Centers

13 States – Other Medical Centers

06 States – Military Facilities

02 States – Utilities and Infrastructure

13 States – Private Corporations


Colorado – University of Colorado-Boulder

Location – Boulder, CO

Number of Employees – 13,300

Florida – University of Florida

Location – Gainesville, FL

Number of Employees – 35,000

Maine – University of Maine

Location – Orono, ME

Number of Employees – 8,000

Maryland – University of Maryland

Location – College Park, MD

Number of Employees – 15,000

Michigan – University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Location – Ann…

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Letter from NEA President Dennis Van Roekel to Arne Duncan Regarding His Response to the Vergara Ruling


Dear Secretary Duncan:

Yesterday, when political ideologues were running full page ads attacking teachers and calling kids garbage — I was in the small town of Emporia, Kansas helping to dedicate a memorial to educators who made the ultimate sacrifice for their students. The headlines in the last few days have been dominated by political attacks against public school educators, while scant attention was paid to a cherished child who lost his life to yet another gun attack in a school.

It’s easy to get discouraged when the rhetoric of our opponents dominates the headlines and the airwaves.

But I, like you, don’t look at the world through the pages of USA Today or the headlines in Politico. I see the world through the eyes of the students I have taught and the eyes of educators who you and I work with every day to fight for great public schools…

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Letter from AFT President Randi Weingarten to Arne Duncan Regarding His Response to the Vergara Ruling


June 12, 2014

Secretary Arne Duncan

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Ave. S.W.

Washington, DC 20202

Dear Secretary Duncan,

This week, we needed your leadership; to demonstrate that teacher and student interests are aligned; that we must press—60 years after Brown v. Board—for educational equity; that it takes more than a focus on teachers to improve public education; that, when it comes to teachers, we need to promote strategies that attract, retain and support them in classrooms; and that, of course, removing teachers who can’t do their job in quick and effective ways is important, but so is due process, so teachers can take creative risks that enhance teaching and learning.

But instead, you added to the polarization. And teachers across the country are wondering why the secretary of education thinks that stripping them of their due process is the way to help all children succeed.

As you said…

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