Archives for category: Higher Education

You may have heard about a shiny new service that promises to reward high school students with money that can be applied to future college tuition if they reach certain targets. It is called Raise.me.

I confess I had not heard about it until our dear friend Laura Chapman wrote one of her deeply researched comments about it. She googled and came across a scathing article by Steve Nelson, the headmaster of the Calhoun School in New York City. I browsed the website of Raise.me and read the glowing articles written about it in the press.

You should learn about it too. It seems to be yet another way to gather personally identifiable information about students. It is part of the insidious data mining regime that certain philanthropies, corporations, and the federal government have been crafting to create both Big Data and cradle-to-grave data about individuals, usually without their knowledge.

First, Steve Nelson. He reminds us of the old adage that if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t. He writes:

“In a matter of days I’ve gone from knowing nothing about Raise.me to being inundated with information. Raise.me is an organization that purports to provide wonderful scholarship opportunities to high school students, particularly those who are less privileged and less likely to have sophisticated guidance in choosing a college and financing their education.

“First awareness came via an uncritical New York Times piece describing Raise.me. After visiting their website I’ve received emails hoping my school might guide students to the program. Apparently many colleges and universities have signed on. If nothing else, this venture has good PR and marketing capabilities. I use the word “venture” intentionally, as will shortly be clear.

“Interested readers can visit the site to find details on the mechanics of the programs, but here is a short overview: Beginning in 9th grade, students register for the program and earn “dollars” for various things, including grades, grade point averages, AP courses, extra-curricular activities and others. Individual colleges assign their own values, so college X may offer $300 for an “A” and university Y offers only $100. The students then accumulate “dollars” that will be granted in scholarships by the college when and if the college admits the student.

“Too good to be true? Probably. Misleading? Perhaps.

“First, I must register an objection to monetizing student choices. Extrinsic motivators are fleeting and often counterproductive. There are already enough incentives that drive America’s students to see learning as an exercise in credential accumulation rather than seeking enlightenment, joy, creation or curiosity. This program is a more sophisticated version of the programs instituted in some urban schools, where small children are treated like laboratory animals, earning small rewards for compliant behavior or good grades.

“Raise.me takes the already stressful process of college application and presses it needlessly into years when students should be exploring, taking risks, having fun and not be encumbered by the pressure of getting in to college. (This is also the case with the new college application process, Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, supported by all the Ivy League schools and 80 or so other highly selective colleges. Like Raise.me, the Coalition intrudes needlessly on adolescence by pressing kids into the college game earlier and earlier.)”

Nelson did some research and discovered that the enterprise was funded by venture capital. What’s in it for the investors? He is not sure.

“Of greater concern is that there is no evidence the accumulated “dollars” actually add to what a student might have received in a total aid package from any university. In business terms, dollars are fungible, and any credit given for Raise.me earnings can be (and seems to be) deducted from other sources the college might have applied. A few reports on College Confidential indicate that my skepticism is warranted. In other words, the program drives students to a college, but probably has no impact on the financial aid package that would otherwise have been awarded. And of course that’s almost certainly true! No college would allow its discretionary aid awards to be dictated by a program like Raise.me.”

Our esteemed friend Laura Chapman came across Raise.me, and this is what she reported after she perused the website of Raise.me:

Welcome to Raise.me, an online service owned and operated by Raise Labs Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Raise.me,” “we,” and/or “us”). Please read on to learn the rules and restrictions that govern your use of our websites, products, services, and applications (the “Services”). ….

These Terms of Use (the “Terms”) are a binding contract between you and Raise.me. You must agree to and accept all of the Terms, or you don’t have the right to use the Services. By using the Services in any way (whether as a visitor or a registered member), it means that you agree to all of these Terms, and these Terms will remain in effect while you use the Services. These Terms include the provisions in this document, as well as those in the Privacy Policy and Copyright Dispute Policy

Over 320,000 students – representing 1 out of 2 high schools in America – have signed up to earn ‘micro-scholarships’ from a diverse set of over 180 colleges and universities
Here is an example of the high schools and one university using the Raise Me platform https://twin-cities.umn.edu/news-events/university-minnesota-announces-scholarship-program-raiseme

Here is part of the privacy policy at Raise Me. We receive and store any information you knowingly provide to us. For example, through the registration process and/or through your account settings, we may collect Personal Information (such as your name, email address, phone number), account information (such as a password or other information that helps us confirm that it is you accessing your account), demographic or other information (such as your school, gender, age or birthday, and other information about your interests and preferences), and third-party account credentials (for example, your log-in credentials for Google Plus or other third party sites). Any other information combined with your Personal Information will be treated together as Personal Information. You may have the opportunity to create a profile, which may include Personal Information, photographs, information about your academic and work history, your interests and activities, your use of Raise.me’s Services and other information.

When you earn a Micro-Scholarship, you may be required to provide additional information, such as proof of identity (which may include a driver’s license, passport, voting card or similar government issued identification), proof of academic and work history (which may include high school transcripts, standardized test scores, or references from teachers or counselors), or proof of financial need (which may include completing a FAFSA or CSS profile, and providing other family income documentation), in order to claim the award. Colleges which have awarded you Micro-Scholarships may share your application, enrollment and graduation information with us. If you provide your third-party account credentials to us or otherwise sign in to Raise.me’s Services through a third party site or service, you understand some content and/or information in those accounts (“Third Party Account Information”) may be transmitted into your account with us, and that Third Party Account Information transmitted to our Services is covered by this Privacy Policy; for example, if you log into our Services through Google Plus, your Google Plus profile information will be populated into your profile on Raise.me’s Services.

All information entered by you is voluntary and at your own discretion, though certain information may be required in order to register with us or to take advantage of some of our features. If you provide such information, you consent to the use of that information in accordance with the policies and practices described in this Privacy Policy. Raise.me may, on occasion, send you notifications, information, materials, or other offers through e-mail, text, or other type of notification. Also, we may receive a confirmation when you open an email from us. This confirmation helps us make our communications with you more interesting and improve our Services. If you do not want to receive communications from us, please indicate your preference in the “Account Settings” page of the website. https://www.raise.me/privacy_policy

Information Collected Automatically: This is too long for the post. See also the Terms of Use policy.

Suggest you also look up Raise Labs Inc. Delaware.

Mercedes Schneider writes here about Bobby Jindal’s reckless stewardship of higher education in Louisiana. In addition to cutting funding and shifting the costs to students and families, he made promises that the state could not afford to keep. Jindal left behind a mountain of deficits and broken promises. Yet now he is under consideration for the post of Secretary of Health and Human Services. In a future post, if Jindal continues to be a contender, Mercedes should detail Jindal’s inhumane budget cuts to hospitals and health clinics for the poor.

She helpfully reminds the Trump transition team of the insults that Jindal heaped on Trump at a press conference where he described Trump, as reported in The National Review:

“Narcissist,” “egomaniac,” “absurd,” “a carnival act,” “insecure,” “weak,” “dangerous,” “unstable,” “unserious,” “shallow,” “hothead,” “small,” “substance-free,” “power-hungry shark,” “egomaniacal madman”: Those were just a few of the names Jindal called Trump in his 10 minute speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. today.

I want to say what everyone is thinking about Donald Trump but afraid to say,” Jindal said. “Everybody knows this is true.”

In one of the most ethically-challenged actions of former Education Department officials, a group made a bid for the for-profit University of Phoenix, whose fortunes were waning due to regulations and oversight by the prospective new purchasers. The Wall Street Journal cried foul when the deal went public months ago, saying that the same government officials who drove down the UP stock price were taking advantage of the low price for their own gain.

Politico reports that enrollment at UP continues to fall, but the deal is moving ahead:

“WITH SALE ON THE LINE, UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX ENROLLMENT DOWN AGAIN: The parent company of the University of Phoenix reported another sharp drop in enrollment Thursday, while a proposed sale of the for-profit college giant continues to hang in the balance. Apollo Education Group told investors that enrollment at the University of Phoenix was 142,500 as of Aug. 31 – a more than 25 percent decline from a year earlier. New enrollments also fell by nearly 27 percent, to 19,400. A group of private investors with ties to the Obama administration are seeking to buy Apollo. The company had previously warned that if the sale wasn’t completed by early October, its worsening financial condition might sink the deal. But Thursday Apollo Education told investors that it currently meets the minimum financial standards required for the deal to close – and expects to continue meeting those standards going forward. Michael Stratford has more.”

To read the links, read here: http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-education/2016/10/obama-administration-pushes-new-block-grant-216991

Graduation rates at for-profit institutions are abysmal.

They have been called predators in Cipongressional hearings. They prey on the unwary.

Their defenders and lobbyists are described here.

Just in. A protest against a “Chancellor” who refuses to negotiate, who served as Jeb Bush’s lieutenant governor, who has no academic qualifications, and who was brought in to defund the state university system.


Dear Comrades,

I am emailing you all because as of 5 am this morning, the faculty of the entire Pennsylvania State University System went on strike. Our faculty union, APSCUF, represents more than 7,000 faculty at all 14 state universities, and this strike will affect more than 100,000 students. Picket lines begin at 7 am this morning, and we seek your support.

APSCUF faculty have been working without a contract for more than a year (477 days). APSCUF has been trying very hard to negotiate a fair contract, but the PASSHE System, led by Chancellor Frank Brogan, have repeatedly turned away from negotiations, and then, after nearly a year, they proposed 249 contractual changes, many of which undermine academic quality. The State System wants to cut the pay of our lowest paid professors; increase their powers to retrench any faculty member of any rank; and it has demanded tens of millions of dollars in givebacks from the faculty, especially in terms of health care coverage and costs, and reductions in professional development and sabbaticals.

The situation is complex, as would any contract affecting so many people. But there is a simple and familiar side to this story. Frank Brogan was appointed by our previous Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, a Republican who sought to defund and privatize public higher education as much as possible. Prior to his appointment as Chancellor, Brogan (who has never taught in higher education) served as Lieutenant Governor for Jeb Bush in Florida.

Our current Governor Tom Wolfe supports the faculty, and he has requested that the State System continue to negotiate, but the Chancellor has defied these requests.

Please visit the APSCUF web site where many more details are available, and you can sign a petition to tell the State System to settle a fair contract: http://www.apscuf.org. We also request that you email our Chancellor Frank Brogan at chancellor@passhe.edu to tell the State System to negotiate a fair contract and to care about the quality of education.

Thank your for your support.

Since I am unable to use my IUP email address by which I am registered on this list, I am grateful that my friend, Jeff Williams, is distributing this message. I can be reached on my gmail account.

In solidarity,

David Downing
English Department
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
dbdowning88@gmail.com

On September 30, Wellesley College inaugurated its 14th president since the college was founded in 1875. The new president is Dr. Paula Johnson, a cardiologist with an MD and a Ph.D. in public health. She is a renowned scientist, researcher, physician, teacher, and expert on the subject of women’s health. I met Dr. Johnson when I went to Wellesley for Pasi Sahlberg’s performance/lecture. She is brilliant, unassuming, warm, and very impressive.

I was class of 1960 at Wellesley. Hillary was class of 1969. Obviously, we did not overlap.

But this is what you need to know about Wellesley. Its motto is “Non ministrari, sed ministrate,” which means “not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” Not to be served, but to serve.

Another motto is “Incipit vita nova: here begins new life.”

That’s what Wellesley was for me, coming from the public schools of Houston, from parents who never went to college, from a decidedly non-academic, non-bookish family. The beginning of a new life.

I think that’s what Wellesley meant for Hillary Rodham, coming from public schools in Illinois, from a family of modest means. The beginning of a new life.

Wellesley is where we began a new life. It is the educational environment that shaped us.

To understand that environment, I invite you to watch some or all of the inauguration of Dr. Paula A.Johnson. The video has a table of contents, and you can skip the 30-minute processional and go right to the speakers. Watch the brief speech of Senator Elizabeth Warren. Then watch Drew Gilpin Faust, the president of Harvard University, who delivers a fascinating overview of women’s higher education and the snobbishness it encountered. Then watch Kathleen McCartney, president of Smith College, who speaks with great wit about the sibling rivalry between Smith and Wellesley but assures Dr. Johnson that all her sisters are with her. Listen to Dr. Virginia W. Pinn, a senior scientist at the National Institutes of Health and a medical pioneer, who knows Dr. Johnson’s role in her field.

And of course, please watch and listen to Dr. Johnson, who is simply fabulous. Dr. Johnson grew up in Brooklyn. She is a product of the New York City public schools, having completed her high school studies at Samuel J. Tilden High School, a comprehensive school where she met teachers who inspired and encouraged her. From Tilden, she went to Radcliffe and Harvard, where she began her brilliant career. [Tilden was declared a “failing school” by the Bloomberg administration in 2006 and converted to small schools.]

To understand the environment that shaped Hillary Rodham and me, watch this video. It made us strong, fearless, and prepared us to face the future armed with a strong liberal arts education and the belief that women can do anything. It taught us that we were fortunate to have such a wonderful education and were obliged to use it to make a difference for others.

Jonathan Pelto writes that Rhode Island may impose the SAT as a high school exit examination, despite the fact that the SAT was not designed for this purpose. One of the most basic rules of the testing industry is that tests should be used only for the purpose for which they were designed. The SAT was not designed to be a high school exit exam. The SAT, like all standardized tests, is tightly correlated with family income. Studies continue to show that grade-point-average is a better predictor of college academic performance than the SAT. Back in the old days, before standardized testing became a major industry, the test developers would warn districts and states not to misuse the tests.

Meanwhile, growing numbers of colleges and universities no longer require that applicants for admission submit standardized test scores, neither the SAT nor the ACT.

FairTest reports:

HALF OF “TOP 100” LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGES DO NOT REQUIRE ACT/SAT
SCORES FROM ALL OR MANY APPLICANTS;

MORE THAN 240 “TOP TIER” SCHOOLS IN 2017 U.S. NEWS GUIDE
NOW HAVE TEST-OPTIONAL OR TEST-FLEXIBLE ADMISSIONS POLICIES

A record number of colleges and universities now have test-optional admissions policies. Half of the national liberal arts schools ranked in the “Top 100” by the recently published U.S. News “Best Colleges” guide do not require all or many applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores. The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) released the new tally.

“Top 100” liberal arts colleges with test-optional policies include Bowdoin, Smith, Wesleyan, Bates, Bryn Mawr, Holy Cross and Pitzer. Test-flexible policies, which allow applicants to submit scores from exams other than the ACT or SAT, such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate results, are in place at Middlebury, Colby, Hamilton and Colorado College.

U.S. News ranks more than 240 test-optional and test-flexible colleges and universities in the top tiers of their respective categories, according to FairTest. For example, the top three regional universities in the north, Providence College, Fairfield University, and Loyola University, are test-optional. So is the number two university in the south, Rollins, the third ranked school in the Midwest, Drake, and Mills College, fifth ranked among western regional universities.

Bob Schaeffer, FairTest Public Education Director, explained the new tally. “Admissions offices increasingly recognize that they do not need ACT or SAT scores to make good decisions. That’s why more than 70 schools have adopted test-optional policies in the past three years. We are particularly pleased by the sharp growth at both selective liberal arts colleges and access-oriented institutions.”

Schaeffer continued, “The test-optional surge gives applicants more control in the admissions process. Teenagers regularly tell us that they are attracted to schools where they will be treated as ‘more than a score.’”

Overall, more than 870 colleges and universities are test-optional for all or many applicants (http://fairtest.org/university/optional). The test-optional pace accelerated after the “redesigned” SAT was unveiled (http://www.fairtest.org/sites/default/files/Optional-Growth-Chronology.pdf).

– FairTest’s new list of top-tier colleges and universities that de-emphasize the ACT and SAT:

http://www.fairtest.org/sites/default/files/Optional-Schools-in-U.S.News-Top-Tiers.pdf

The comments about the closing of ITT for-profit colleges by the U.S. Department of Education’s suspension of federal aid reminded me of another story that was published just a few months ago.

A group of men who are friends and former high-level officials in the Obama administration bought the University of Phoenix, the nation’s largest for-profit provider of “higher education.”

The purchase of University of Phoenix involved one of the President’s closest friends, financier Marty Nesbitt, and former Deputy Secretary of Education Tony Miller. Miller had been in charge of cracking down on the for-profit higher education sector. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said that the purchase raises the “appearance” of impropriety. On February 16, 2016, the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial called “Regulating For Profit,” accusing the Obama administration of driving down the stock price, so that former officials could then pick it up at a bargain price. (Sorry, I can’t give you the link, as the WSJ is behind a paywall, but you can find it by googling the article name.)

What does this mean? Closing Corinthian and ITT, while Obama pals take over University of Phoenix. I don’t know.

You may recall that the huge Corinthian College for-profit chain closed down last year, stranding over 16,000 students who were saddled with debt and worthless credits. The bankruptcy was precipitated when the U.S. Department of Education cut off federal funding after investigations revealed numerous frauds.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2015/04/26/embattled-for-profit-corinthian-colleges-closes-its-doors/

Now the ITT chain of for-profit colleges is going belly-up, after the Feds pulled the plug. The move leaves 35,000 students and employees out of luck. The students will have difficulty transferring their credits to another college or university since the for-profits are not respected by established institutions.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/09/07/business/itt-educational-services-closes-its-campuses.html?_r=0&referer=https://www.google.com/

“Just days before the start of a new school term, ITT Educational Services, one of the nation’s largest for-profit educational companies, closed nearly all its campuses on Tuesday.

“The company cited the Education Department’s recent decision to bar the chain of colleges from using federal financial aid to enroll new students as the reason for the sudden shutdown.

“Except for a small school that operates under a different name, the move puts an end to an operation that has been accused of widespread fraud and abuse, leaving roughly 35,000 students and 8,000 employees in the lurch.

“ITT Educational Services, whose recruitment, lending practices and educational quality have been under scrutiny by federal regulators and state prosecutors for years, said in a news release that it had “exhausted the exploration of alternatives, including transfer of the schools to a nonprofit or public institution.””

Given their long-standing record of fraud, false promises, worthless degrees, predatory recruitment of veterans and low-income students, why did the Education Department allow them to get federal aid for so many years? At long last, accountability. Only the students are left holding the bag.

Many people think that getting in to college is the key to life success. There is no doubt that there is a correlation between income and education, but the question remains: Will entry into college guarantee an end to poverty?

In this podcast, EduShyster says that getting into college is not a guarantee of getting ahead. As she shows in this podcast, many young people struggle to get into college, then find themselves burdened with debt and less able to cope with the demands of academic life and working to pay off their debts.

For me, the takeaway is that Bernie Sanders’ proposal to make public college tuition-free makes sense. Higher education should be a right, not a privilege.

Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch writes here about the Koch Brothers’ latest move to extend their influence in academia.

Here in North Carolina, where the Kochs’ home-grown junior partner Art Pope has played the role of right-wing financier and kingmaker for years, direct Koch tentacles have been somewhat less visible. Recently, however, this has started to change. Last fall, we reported on the establishment of a new Koch-funded propaganda shop at Western Carolina University to be dubbed the Center for the Study of Free Enterprise.

Meanwhile, as is noted in the Mayer piece, another Koch network shop has sprouted and is taking shape 200 miles to the east at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. The Wake Forest operation is called the “Eudaimonia Project” and it is headed by James Otteson – the head of the BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism at Wake (where the project is based) and the same fellow who outlined the Koch plan at the California retreat in the above excerpt….

As with all of the academic centers in the growing (some would say “metastasizing”) Koch Empire, the Eudaimonia Project and its parent organization do little to disguise what they are all about. The goal is clearly to advance hard right market fundamentalist ideology by cloaking it in warm and fuzzy language and to thereby grace it with the veneer of academic legitimacy.

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You may not be surprised to learn that "Eudaemonia" means "human flourishing." It happens that humans can't flourish unless they live in a free enterprise, capitalistic society.

Those of us familiar with the verbal tricks of the reform movement will recognize the deceptive use of language to disguise its true meaning.