Posts Tagged ‘for-profit schools’
The first thing I want to do, then, is slow us down a bit, and go through the last year with a bit more care than we’re usually able to do, to do a “close reading” of the year of the MOOC, as it were. Not only because I have the time, but because, to be blunt, MOOC’s only make sense if you don’t think about it too much, if you’re in too much of a hurry to go deeply into the subject.
* IRS Sent Same Letter to Democrats That Fed Tea Party Row. Gasp! You mean this whole scandal isn’t?
* Adam Kotsko on the US as a party state.
The really disturbing thing is that the party duopoly renders both parties above the law. We can see this in the IRS scandal that is currently unfolding: although there are very good reasons to suspect Tea Party organizations of being less than completely upright when it comes to taxes, the formal state apparatus is likely to back down and sanction the agents who carried out those investigations, because the appearance of neutrality vis-à-vis the two parties is more important than the rule of law. Similarly, one cannot prosecute Bush-era war crimes, because that would be an illegitimately “partisan” move. Given that Clinton and Obama have both committed similar atrocities, one might have some sympathy with the inevitable Republican whining that would accompany a Bush prosecution — it genuinely wouldn’t be “fair.” But it’s when one asks why we don’t just prosecute Bush and Obama that we realize that the two parties are truly above the law — a bipartisan agreement on foreign policy trumps even the most sacred norms of international law.
In the US, it’s common to think of sickle cell anemia, a genetic condition, as a “black disease,” and in fact statistics on prevalence bear that out — black Americans are far more likely than whites to carry the sickle cell gene. But that fact, it turns out, is a result of ethnicity and history, not race.
Sickle cell is common in some parts of Africa, and some parts of Europe, but not others. As it turns out, most American blacks have ancestral origins in areas of sickle-cell prevalence, and most American whites do not. But if the geographic distribution of Americans’ ancestors were different — if, for instance, the country had been settled by South African blacks and Sicilian whites — the incidence of sickle cell in the white population would be higher than the incidence in the black population.
Race is a form of shorthand, in other words. It’s an approximation. In some situations, for some purposes, it’s a useful approximation. If you’re trying to tell someone which of your several friends named Jim you’re referring to, specifying that you mean “the white Jim” may be helpful, and if you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck in a sickle-cell awareness media campaign, targeting black media may have merit.
But the fact remains that Nelson Mandela is at less risk of sickle cell than Al Pacino.
See also Race and IQ: That Old Canard.
* Even the Onion wouldn’t stoop this low for a bit: Soldier In Charge of Sex Assault Prevention Accused of Abuse, Pimping.
* An unnamed English teacher at Albany High School who wanted to “challenge” his/her students to “formulate a persuasive argument” tasked them with writing an essay about why “Jews are evil,” as if they were trying to convince a Nazi official of their loyalty.
* I’m afraid you’ll find the Daleks are already here.
* The actual rendezvous and lassoing of an asteroid, which NASA characterizes as the “most technically challenging aspect of the mission,” could begin as soon as 2019 and result in the asteroid arriving in the vicinity of the moon in 2021.
* Actually existing media bias: Al Gore is fat edition.
* The New Yorker remembers radical feminist Shulamith Firestone.
* I hereby irrevocably grant the University the absolute right and permission to use, store, host, publicly broadcast, publicly display, public[sic] perform, distribute, reproduce and digitize any Content that I upload, share or otherwise provide in connection with the Course or my use of the Platform, including the full and absolute right to use my name, voice, image or likeness (whether still, photograph or video) in connection therewith, and to edit, modify, translate or adapt any such Content. The MOOC is hungry; the MOOC must be fed.
The Steinberg legislation marks the synthesis of MOOC steps (3) and (4), in which large scale trials are being insured through a state-created artifical product market revolving around Udacity and Coursera in particular. The business problem is this: Large-scale trials must be had at any cost, or the product momentum will die, investors will have doubts, money will dry up, market penetration will fail. MOOCs have shown that lots of people will sign up for a free online course–and that a tiny proportion actually persist. If students are required to pay tuition, as with UC online, they currently don’t sign up in the first place.
Thus 2013 may not be Year of the MOOC II, in that it may reveal that MOOCs may have no large natural market of tuition-paying students. To head off this possibility, the firms have shifted focus to regulatory capture. This is what happened when Udacity was hired by San Jose State University to run 3 remedial courses. The formal signing ceremony put founder Sebastian Thrun on the same level as the governor of the state and the chancellor of the Cal State University system.
* The Chronicle surveys the professors behind the MOOCs.
* The for-profit college sector had a difficult time building a prestigious for-profit product – at least in the way that the elite private universities are prestigious. But perhaps the lines between for-profit and public higher education is about to disappear. The latest ads from the University of Phoenix do not sound markedly different than the public relations of the University of California at Berkeley. There’s a somber assessment of the competitiveness of the marketplace, a nod to the importance of market-relevant training, and a promise to provide opportunity for willing and able students, irrespective of background or academic preparation.
For higher education, MOOCs have become fantasy household robots, doing the dishes, vacuuming, listening attentively. MOOCs are going to create students with job-ready skills, cater to individual learning styles, enable collaborations between students and faculty in different countries. Maybe they’ll even alleviate poverty as students in remote regions learn skills like computer programming and engineering.
Professors, as much as some of us want to deny it, are working class. We have rituals that seem bizarre to the uninitiated. We have long periods of apprenticeship in which we pick up these rituals. We have bosses that want to make us work harder for less pay. We even have common styles of dress. Academia is our house of labor, and MOOC providers are deliberately trying to tear down the door so that they can rush in and trash the place.
* “We need to hire a 22-22-22,” one new-media manager was overheard saying recently, meaning a 22-year-old willing to work 22-hour days for $22,000 a year. Perhaps the middle figure is an exaggeration, but its bookends certainly aren’t. According to a 2011 Pew report, the median net worth for householders under 35 dropped by 68 percent from 1984 to 2009, to $3,662. Lest you think that’s a mere side effect of the economic downturn, for those over 65, it rose 42 percent to $170,494 (largely because of an overall gain in property values). Hence 1.2 million more 25-to-34-year-olds lived with their parents in 2011 than did four years earlier. “Willing” is certainly doing an awful lot of work in that first sentence. Welcome to the age of the permanent intern.
* The Singularity Already Happened; We Got Corporations: Capitalism as Evil AI.
* New York Times shuts down its Green blog. In other news, every spectator sport has its own blog at NYT.
* The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has isolated twelve criteria for determining if individuals qualify as legally “hopeless.” The following pamphlet is a brainstorm: it considers what steps a debtor might take in order to persuasively claim the mantle of hopelessness. Rather than examine softcore options, we explore the potential of self-inflicted tragedy.
* Marvel Comics presents The Life of John Paul II.
* And Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing will close out the Wisconsin Film Festival. I’d really, really like to make this.
* CFP: Midwest Modern Language Association 2013 on Art & Artifice, November 7-10. Right here in Milwaukee!
* A disturbing catch from the MetaFilter thread on MOOCs: Obama has quietly decoupled Pell grants from accreditation, opening the door for full-throated neoliberal profiteering.
Last year, similar language tying federal aid to “value” was explicitly limited to a group of relatively minor aid programs. The Pell grant and loan programs that make up $140 billion in annual aid were excluded. No such restrictions appear here (although the President did refer to only “certain types” of aid in the speech itself.) But the real kicker is at the end: a new, alternative system of accreditation that would provide pathways for higher education models and colleges to receive federal student aid based on performance and results.
The existing accreditation club has been around since the end of the 19th century. It has had an exclusive franchise on determining federal financial aid eligibility since the middle of the 20th century. Opening a new doorway to the Title IV financial aid system would be an enormouschange, particularly when coupled with the phrase “higher education models and colleges.” The clear implication is that the higher education models that would eligible for federal financial aid through the alternate accreditation system wouldn’t have to be colleges at all. They could be any providers of higher education that meet standards of “performance and results.”
There aren’t any hurricanes in the Midwest, so how can proponents of privatization like Mayor Rahm Emanuel sell off schools to the highest bidder?
They create a crisis.
Bureaucracy, Kafka argues, can be everybody’s enemy, and can thus serve as the organizing principle for otherwise untenable alliances, like the one between eighteenth-century liberals and democrats, or between some contemporary working-class voters and the neoliberal elites they vote for. Sowing contempt for bureaucracy, in the form of lambasting all government efforts as inherently inefficient, full of “lazy” and “parasitical” civil servants and their “bloated” pensions, remains a potent tactic of right-wing populism, but whereas conservatives of old evoked a nostalgic class paternalism to cure paperwork’s ills, the American Right offers a myth of self-sufficiency, of everyone for themselves, with no claims to be filed and no burdens to be shared. Bureaucracy, on the other hand, comes to stand for the inevitable outcome of all types of collective power, the emblem of neutered individualism. And since paperwork is an evil that proliferates no matter what the form of government, it can seem irrelevant to mount any political fights to reform it. Politics is thus reduced to the pettiness of sorting out strictly personal grievances, which in turn worsens bureaucracy, as these sorts of selfish claims are precisely what bureaucracy exists to process.
* Duke professor proposes that students be required to produce a video summary of the dissertation. I actually think this kind of distillation can be really useful and productive — someone once told me you know you’re done with your dissertation when you can summarize its argument in one sentence — but making it an actual requirement is silly.
* North Carolina is the only state that will clearly mark all people who are not U.S. citizens – everyone from business executives with “green cards” to students on visas – with a newly designed driver’s license coming this summer, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks legislation in all the states. History contains absolutely no examples of times when this kind of thinking has ever gone wrong, so I’m sure it’s a really good idea.
* In other words, in the midst of a major national debate over America’s finances, 90% of Americans are wrong about the one basic detail that probably matters most in the conversation, while only 6% – 6%! – are correct.
* A cottage at 71/2 West End Court in Long Branch where one-time renter Bruce Springsteen wrote “Born to Run” is up for sale for $349,900, said real estate agent Susan McLaughlin of Keller Williams Realty. Anyone want to go halfsies?
* World Press Photo Of The Year: Nov. 20, 2012, Gaza City, Palestinian Territories: Two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and his older brother Muhammad were killed when their house was destroyed by and Israeli missile strike. Their father, Fouad, was also killed and their mother was put into intensive care. Fouad’s brothers carry his children to the mosque for the burial ceremony as his body is carried behind on a stretcher.
* And io9 on how your favorite cancelled science fiction series would have continued. Start your FlashForward fan fics now…
* Professor Leaves a MOOC in Mid-Course in Dispute Over Teaching. The details on this are fascinating:
Gary Matkin, the dean for distance education at Irvine, said the problem had stemmed from Mr. McKenzie’s reluctance to loosen his grip on students who he thought were not learning well in the course.“
In Professor McKenzie’s view, for instance, uninformed or superfluous responses to the questions posed in the discussion forums hobbled the serious students in their learning,” said Mr. Matkin in an e-mail.
Irvine officials, however, “felt that the course was very strong and well designed,” he said, “and that it would, indeed, meet the learning objectives of the large audience, including both those interested only in dipping into the subject and those who were seriously committed” to completing the course.
Twitter user @cjprender has a slightly different take.
Perhaps I’m overly cynical, but I think the real root of MOOC-mania is an edifice complex on the part of university presidents and trustees. The last time I checked, the average university president in this country served for about four years before moving on to greener pastures. It used to be that the easiest way to leave a legacy on campus would be to build something. With bond financing nearly impossible to come by these days, the easiest (but not necessarily least expensive) way to build something is to create a virtual campus.
* ’8 College Degrees with the Worst Return on Investment.’ Stupid vital careers necessary for the smooth operation and reproduction of social goods! Why don’t you get paid, son?
* Bérubé: The Humanities, Unraveled.
The narration for one of the film’s early promotional trailers includes references to the “attack” on the proprietary sector by policy makers, politicians, unions, and other critics who “protect the flawed status quo.”
“Many politicians continue to manipulate the truth and serve the interests of the unions in order to keep the private sector from serving adult learners, creating a virtual, permanent underclass,” says the narrator in one clip that was on the Web site of Fractured Atlas but was replaced afterThe Chronicle inquired about it.
Unions! I hate those guys.
* My piece on ecological science fiction and pessimistic despair from the “Weather” issue of The New Inquiry is online: Après Nous, le Déluge. Don’t let the title fool you; it’s in English!
Perhaps Lear would have thought it all a bit too on-the-nose—but now our suicidal urges and our selfishness and our sickening disregard for the future come back to us as hurricanes and heat-waves. Let a thousand science fictional panoramas bloom: the Statue of Liberty frozen over, toppled in the sand, neck-deep in water. Hollywood on fire. Texas cracked with drought. Hundred-year storms every other year. Après nous, la glace, le feu, le désert, le déluge.
* In case you missed it last night, my course this semester: “Thrill and Dread in the American Century.”
* Profhacker has a writeup from the people behind the Occupy MLA hoax for people who are still curious just what was going on there. If my Twitter timeline is any indication, it’s fair to say this was not well-received. Personally I think it’s very hard to argue this was about advancing cause of adjuncts and NTT faculty in any meaningful way, though I can see why they want to say so now. Nothing about the portrayal of the Occupy MLA participants either this year or last year cast critics of academic labor in a good light. Bérubé agrees! For a somewhat more nuanced take, see Noel Jackson’s timeline.
MOOCs are designed to impose, not improved learning, but a new business model on higher education, which opens the door for wide-scale profiteering. Public institutions of higher education then become shells for private interests who will offer small grants on the front end and reap larger profits on the back end.
* But, in fact, we’ve got two grand experiments of her theory,” he said. “The first is the American South, where teachers unions are weak and the schools are not lighting the world on fire. The other is charter schools, which are 88 percent non-unionized. In charters, you can do everything that Michelle Rhee wants to do — fire bad teachers, pay good teachers more. And yet, the most comprehensive studies looking at charter schools nationally find mediocre results.”
2. Call me Ishmael. I was a young man of military age. I was immolated at my wedding. My parents are inconsolable.
* Supreme Court Justice Death Calculator. I’ll save you the trouble:
The probability of at least 1 conservative justice dying by 2017: 46.62%.
* While popular culture has for centuries reflected an older form of law and justice, its capacity to undermine the very pluralist and discursive openness which are its well-spring, demonstrates the dangers to which the rhetoric of urgency and the emotional power of medium and message are prone. In a world shorn of its faith in the traditional structures which sustained the moral economy and the moral legality, the appeal to simply trust in an inarticulable justice sustained by an emotional pitch which is in ‘24’ at every moment apparent, opens the prospect of legal terrorism.
* And a public service announcement: Harmontown comes to Wisconsin next week…
* Aaron Bady: Talking in terms of “access” (instead of access to what?) allows people like Shirky to overlook the elephant in the room, which is the way this country used to provide inexpensive and high-quality education to all sorts of people who couldn’t afford to go to Yale — people like me and my parents. While state after state is defunding its public colleges and universities (and so tuition is rising while quality is declining), the vast majority of American college students are still educated in public colleges and universities, institutions that have traditionally provided very high-quality mass higher education, and which did it nearly for free barely a generation ago.
* Apocalypse now: Five years ago 33 percent of graduates in the humanities had no employment or postdoctoral commitments upon completion; that number rose to 43 percent in 2011. That’s not TT; that’s any employment. Jesus. More here.
* The disconnect with family that Ms. Boone experiences is not uncommon among graduate students home for the holidays or any other occasion, especially when they are first-generation graduate students or from a working-class background.
* The University of Phoenix’s lobbying effort against community colleges appears to conflict with the public image it promotes: a partner to community colleges and an advocate for working adult students.
* And while Stanford imagines that there might be other things to do with a Ph.D. than teach at — say, Yale, or Swarthmore — it isn’t clear that they know what kind of training a Lit Ph.D. might need to do what. Presumably faculty who have devoted their careers to the university are supposed to figure this problem out their own selves.
* And some potentially job market advice delivered in the least helpful possible tone: Advice to new PhDs: how to avoid those unwanted interviews.
* The day would come when many West Virginians recalled the story of Jack’s Powerball Christmas with a shudder at the magnitude of ruination: families asunder, precious lambs six feet under, folks undone by the lure of all that easy money.
* Austerity everywhere: they’re going to start charging for the bus between Duke and UNC.
* Jokes I’ve stolen from elsewhere on the Internet: Let’s do a sequel to that beloved show starring a grown-up version of that Savage brother. #youfools #yousaidtheincantationwrong #monkeyspaw
* When scams collide! Grand Canyon University, a for-profit Christian college located in Phoenix, Ariz., now has a Division I athletics program. Inside Higher Ed reports that GCU will become a member of the Western Athletic Conference, as the first for-profit college to join a Division I NCAA conference.
* And an actual scandal alert! Susan Rice, Top Candidate For Secretary Of State, Has Millions Tied To Canadian Tar Sands.
‘Taxpayers Spent $32 Billion in the Most Recent Year on Companies That Operate For-Profit Colleges, but the Majority of Students They Enroll Leave Without a Degree, Half of Those within Four Months’
“In this report, you will find overwhelming documentation of exorbitant tuition, aggressive recruiting practices, abysmal student outcomes, taxpayer dollars spent on marketing and pocketed as profit, and regulatory evasion and manipulation,” Mr. Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a statement on Sunday. “These practices are not the exception — they are the norm. They are systemic throughout the industry, with very few individual exceptions.” Via Political Animal.