Archive for the 'Education' Category

Crushing student debt.

Sep 23, 2011 in Economy, Education

Mrs. Whistler begins her MBA in a few days. Now, in her case I know the extra $20K in student loans will be money in the bank, but she is an amazingly competent and likable person. Not all of us are so blessed;)

Unfortunately, for-profit colleges and increased tuition at private and state schools has resulted in a lot of students for whom there are no jobs, and skyscraper-heavy debt. But at least it profited somebody, eh?

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

And that bubble’s ready to burst


Graduating a sophomore.

Feb 17, 2010 in Education

Can anybody explain why their junior and senior years were really that necessary? I’m sure it was a fantastic time for Johnny Football Hero but for most of us we couldn’t wait for it to be over so we could finally get out of town and go to college.

Brooks praises Obama’s education reform.

Oct 25, 2009 in Barack Obama, Education

Wow, something good the Obama administration has done, and I actually found out about it from a conservative.

When Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan came to office, they created a $4.3 billion Race to the Top fund. The idea was to use money to leverage change. The administration would put a pile of federal money on the table and award it to a few states that most aggressively embraced reform.

Their ideas were good, and their speeches were beautiful. But that was never the problem. The real challenge was going to be standing up to the teachers’ unions and the other groups that have undermined nearly every other reform effort.

The real questions were these: Would the administration water down their reform criteria in the face of political pressure? Would the Race to the Top money end up getting doled out like any other federal spending program, and thus end up subsidizing the status quo? Would the administration hold the line and demand real reform in exchange for the money?

There were many reasons to be skeptical. At the behest of the teachers’ unions, the Democrats had just shut down a successful District of Columbia voucher program. Moreover, state legislatures around the country were moving backward. They were passing laws prohibiting schools from using student performance as a criterion in setting teacher pay.

But, so far, those fears are unjustified. The news is good. In fact, it’s very good. Over the past few days I’ve spoken to people ranging from Bill Gates to Jeb Bush and various education reformers. They are all impressed by how gritty and effective the Obama administration has been in holding the line and inciting real education reform.

Over the summer, the Department of Education indicated that most states would not qualify for Race to the Top money. Now states across the country are changing their laws: California, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin and Tennessee, among others.

It’s not only the promise of money that is motivating change. There seems to be some sort of status contest as states compete to prove they, too, can meet the criteria. Governors who have been bragging about how great their schools are don’t want to be left off the list.

I get real old school when it comes to education. Teachers may complain about teaching to a test, but they still have considerable slack to present a comprehensive education to their students. If you don’t like the standards, by all means suggest new ones, but don’t complain about the existence of standards and, gasp, competition. Schools are all about competition and the pursuit of a goal. You study because you want to go to college and get a great job that will pay good money. Merit pay and other incentives get schools juiced up and energized. Recent studies show that people perform tasks better and more enthusiastically for even the vaguest promise of money.

More power to Obama and kudos to David Brooks, who’s generally taken a hesitant approach to Obama instead of automatically trying to slam everything he does.


Invisible hand fail.

May 30, 2009 in Economy, Education

I remember college being a large number of students sitting in spare rooms listening to a really smart guy talk. Apparently that costs a lot more now:

According to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, over the past 25 years, average college tuition and fees have risen by 440 percent — more than four times the rate of inflation and almost twice the rate of medical care.

Shouldn’t private schools be offering a better education than state colleges, for less?


Leave Wikipedia alone.

Mar 23, 2007 in Culture, Education

The Leninists are in full furor over the Essjay “controversy” and have predictably dreamed up ways in which to create barriers to entry into the Ivory Tower of knowledge. The Lede has a short piece regarding Wikipedia and a number of the comments involve suggestions on how to make sure “serious scholars” are able to produce or promulgate knowledge. This, of course, flies in the face of all that Wikipedia is supposedly about. It’s also completely unnecessary since regardless of who you are, contributions are open for criticism and peer review. If an academic is unhappy with an article then they’re free to submit a contention and argue their case on the same playing field as everyone else.



Aug 26, 2006 in Education

Via the NYT:

Evolutionary biology has vanished from the list of acceptable fields of study for recipients of a federal education grant for low-income college students.

The omission is inadvertent, said Katherine McLane, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, which administers the grants. “There is no explanation for it being left off the list,” Ms. McLane said. “It has always been an eligible major.”

Another spokeswoman, Samara Yudof, said evolutionary biology would be restored to the list, but as of last night it was still missing.

Assuming that this will be reversed very soon, I still wonder what kind of taffy machine I’d have to use on my imagination to get it to believe that this is mere coincidence.   In this administration?  Who cares that we get a standard denial?

Dr. Krauss would not name his source, who he said was concerned about being publicly identified as having drawn attention to the matter.

Gee, why would a source be scared about pointing out an ordinary error?  It’s not like this administration has a pattern of going after whistleblowers.  Sheesh.

To anyone who would give the Bush administration the benefit of the doubt, what on earth have they done to earn such a thing?