RESOLUTIONS NEED TO BE TO CREATE DEMOCRACY NOW COMMUNITY GROUPS FOR POLITICAL ACTION AND NETWORKING!!!!
As with the K-12 move to connect school to business our public universities have been moving that way for a decade or so. That is what got O'Malley his ever-rising political politions.....he was committed to advancing corporate education and this is why Maryland is #1 in Education Week.....a charter and privatized education magazine. Every time O'Malley quotes that I know that most people do not know that is what the distinction holds.
To people simply observing this education reform piecemeal it is made to sound like they are enhancing the classroom experience and holding those teachers accountable. To those of us that know the final goal......we see a nightmare of medieval trade workshops for the masses.....which is the goal.
Americans universities are known as liberal hotbeds where professors with tenure feel free to think and write about issues of the day without retribution. Universities promote an environment of all that is the Bill of Rights and Constitution.....free speech, free thought, free expression, political activism, and humanities having cultural relevance of the day. THAT IS WHAT THIS EDUCATION IS MEANT TO KILL! HOW CAN YOU HAVE AN AUTOCRATIC SOCIETY WITH ALL OF THAT LIBERALISM? If you break up the campus by having students on computers elsewhere there is none of this liberalization on campus. If you have students listening to canned lectures by selected professors you get no free thinking radical teaching. If you place students online you eliminate the costs of academic buildings. SO THEY END GOAL IS TO KILL LIBERAL EDUCATION AND TO CHEAPEN THE PROCESS OF EDUCATING.
Are these online classes poor quality and can they be made better? If the goal is to cheapen the educational expenditures for the 90% you will not end up with quality. They simply want concepts learned. You will see none of this in the elite schools as they will still have the democratic education the elite have had from the days of Ancient Greece. They simply are trying to erase the Enlightenment Period where humanities and Greek-style democratic education became available to everyone.
TAKING THESE DEMOCRATIC EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES AWAY FROM 90% OF THE PEOPLE WILL INSTITUTIONALIZE WEALTH INEQUITY AND THIRD WORLD STATUS.
WALL STREET HAS TOLD US WHICH AREAS OF EDUCATION LEAD TO WORK AND THOSE ARE THE ONES THAT NEED TO BE FOUND IN OUR UNIVERSITIES. SO, GONE ARE THE HUMANITIES AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES.....EXCEPT PSYCHOLOGY.....SO ALL OF THE EDUCATIONAL GAINS IN KNOWING WHO THE EVERYDAY PERSON WAS AND IS, RATHER THAN THE ROYALTY AND NOBILITY AS WAS HISTORY RECORDED IN OFFICIAL LEDGER, IS NOW DEEMED WORTHLESS. THEY ARE EVEN PULLING THE CONTEMPORARY ART OUT OF MUSEUMS BECAUSE IT DOES NOT REFLECT 'BEAUTY'. IT COSTS TAXPAYER MONEY TO KEEP THESE HUMANITIES TYPES EMPLOYED AND WITH THE RICH AND CORPORATIONS CHANNELING ALL TAXPAYER MONEY INTO THEIR OWN POCKETS, THEY DON'T WANT SILLINESS TAKING YOUR TAX REVENUE.
THEY WANT US ALL TO THINK LIKE THE POOR, REPUBLICAN BASE.
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT OF OFFICE!!!!!
Pricing Out the Humanities
November 26, 2012 - 3:00am By Colleen Flaherty
Inside Higher Ed
History professors at the University of Florida think their courses are plenty valuable, but they don't want them to be among the most expensive. And they are organizing to protest a gubernatorial task force's recommendation to charge more for majors without an immediate job payoff -- a recommendation that the historians fear could discourage enrollments.
History professors have organized a petition against one of the more controversial recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Higher Education Reform: differential tuition that could be punitive to the humanities. They've garnered more than 1,300 names in a week, including those from places far beyond the Sunshine State.
"We, the undersigned faculty, have dedicated our careers to the common good of the State of Florida," the petition reads. "We believe that the institutional goals of our universities are not in conflict with state goals. We also know a great deal about the vital connection between higher education and a responsible and productive citizenry; in fact, this connection is at the very center of our profession. We trust that Governor Scott will recognize the pressing need for meaningful faculty input into future deliberations concerning the future of higher education in the State of Florida."
Quoting the task force's language on differential tuition, petition co-creator Norman Goda said, “The theory is that students in ‘non-strategic majors,’ by paying higher tuition, will help subsidize students in the ‘strategic’ majors, thus creating a greater demand for the targeted programs and more graduates from these programs, as well.”
Established in May by Governor Rick Scott, a Republican who has said he wants to run Florida’s education system more like a business, the task force includes legislators, businesspeople and educators appointed by various parties. It finalized its recommendations earlier this month. The governor is now reviewing the report, which divides reform into three different but interlinked areas: accountability, funding and governance.
Recommendations for accountability include a call for more metrics to determine university success and performance, while those for governance include allowing the state university system’s Board of Governors more control over funding (currently the state legislature holds much of that control). Funding recommendations call for non-uniform tuition among the state’s 12 universities and a further look into differential tuition among degree programs.
Although several models for differential tuition exist in higher education, the model endorsed by the task force would aim to hold in-state tuition rates for “high-skill, high-wage, high-demand (market determined strategic demand) degree programs” steady for at least three years, making them potentially more attractive to students than other majors. Although the task force report doesn’t officially recommend strategic majors, it names several possible categories previously identified by the Florida university system’s Board of Governors, including 111 in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); 28 programs in globalization; and 21 in the health professions. (Such degree programs currently account for 37 percent of degrees granted within the system, with a 21 percent increase during the past four years). Core humanities disciplines did not make the list.
Task force chairman Dale Brill, Florida Chamber Foundation president and Scott’s appointee to the group, said the recommendations were based on “logic,” rather than research into which degree programs have proven to be the most beneficial to individual students and state economies. Defining “strategic” and “non-strategic” programs ultimately will be the work of the state legislature, he said.
“The task force tried to identify innovative approaches to spreading limited resources to drive maximum benefit to the system,” Brill said. “Up until now, in that system, that money is invested evenly across the board with very little attention paid toward getting maximum return on that investment” for the 104 million taxpayers contributing to it.
Brill said he wondered why humanities professors felt targeted by a plan to improve the university funding system, which would improve the university system overall.
“If you improve the system without worrying about the professors in the system, in the end the system has more resources to invest,” he said.
But Lillian Guerra, one of Goda’s history colleagues at the University of Florida and a petition co-creator, said the task force plan lays the foundation for second-class degrees. Departments receive funding based on how many students enroll in courses, she said, so decreased humanities enrollment would lead to less funding for the department.
Damage to the department would damage the university overall, she added. “In the short term, I think we run the risk of demolishing our prestige as an institution, when so much of the institution’s prestige has been anchored in liberal arts.”
Goda said that in the long run, differential tuition could mean a less “richly educated” workforce. Students in strategic majors also could suffer from lack of a well-rounded education – something he said makes them “truly adaptable and employable over the course of their lives.”
Robert Townsend, deputy director of the American Historical Association, said the professional association was making its members aware of the Florida professors’ petition.
“I think there’s general agreement that it would not be helpful or positive for the history discipline,” he said of differential tuition, adding that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker recently announced he’s making similar forays into reforming state higher education.
In his Nov. 16 announcement, Walker said funding for technical colleges and the University of Wisconsin System must be linked to performance. "In higher education, that means not only degrees, but are young people getting degrees in jobs that are open and needed today, not just the jobs that the universities want to give us, or degrees that people want to give us?"
Townsend said despite the recent trend toward more seemingly job-oriented degrees, which isn’t uncommon during slow economic periods, a history degree holds enduring value.
“There’s plenty of evidence that history as a major sets people up for a lot of different careers,” he said, including business. “You’re trained to think critically and use evidence and write about it. There are [bosses] who prefer that to those who are trained to do that narrowly, to think only about numbers, rather than about numbers in wider aspects and making use of them.”
According to a Georgetown University study based on 2010 Census data, recent history majors (ages 22-26) have a 10.2 percent unemployment rate, while more experienced history graduates without an advanced degree fare better at 5.8 percent unemployment. Overall, 9.4 percent of recent humanities and liberal arts graduates and 6.1 percent of their more experienced counterparts are unemployed. By comparison, 7.7 percent of recent life and physical science graduates are unemployed, as are 4.7 percent of older grads; in computers and mathematics, the rates were 8.2 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively.
While the study does show a link between STEM and other strategic degrees and lower unemployment, it cautions that "majors that are closely aligned with occupations can misfire." Because of the decline in construction, for example, recent architecture graduates have the highest rate of unemployment, 13.9 percent. By contrast, education, business, health care and the professional services have been relatively stable employers of recent graduates with related majors.
Science advocates also have opposed the Blue Ribbon proposal. Shirley Malcom, head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs, called differential tuition “a difficult call.” But ultimately, she said, it pits different areas of an institution against each other, “where we as STEM people need the rest of the knowledge that is resident in the rest of the institution.”
Malcom argued for other ways to promote STEM, such as direct scholarships.
Student groups also have opposed the recommendation. José R. Soto, co-president of University of Florida Graduate Assistants United, helped organize a recent joint-press conference on the recommendations, along with the Gainesville Area Students for a Democratic Society, and is helping plan a rally before the university’s Board of Trustees meeting next week.
The doctoral candidate, who recently defended his dissertation in applied economics, said differential tuition could create a kind of brain drain away from Florida higher education, in which the state’s “best and brightest” qualifying for scholarships out of state leave to ensure a top-notch education. Additionally, Soto said, trying to forecast the job market to determine which degrees will be most lucrative in the future is misguided. “Any economist will tell you one of the hardest things you can do is predict the market; if you take it farther than a [certain period of time] in unknown territory.”
It’s unclear exactly when the recommendations could be considered by the Florida legislature, or which, if any, Scott will endorse. A spokeswoman said Scott “has made it clear he thinks Florida’s colleges and universities need to be affordable for the families of our state.” But the governor -- in-much discussed remarks last year about anthropology -- has seemed skeptical of the value of a number of liberal arts disciplines.
William Proctor, a task force and departing state House member who serves as chancellor of Flagler College in St. Augustine, said, “It may be premature to try to size that up. It won’t even get into committee hearings until [next year].” He also noted that while there was interest in differential tuition among his former colleagues, changes to higher education funding remain controversial in Florida. In April, Scott vetoed a bill that would have allowed the school’s top research institutions – Florida State University and the University of Florida – to raise tuition.
Proctor also noted that the task force’s final report only recommends holding strategic degree tuition steady for a period of at least three years, while other differential tuition models could be adapted later. Even within the task force, he said, there was discussion as to whether to charge more for STEM and other strategic degrees because they can be more expensive for the university. (Schools throughout the country already have adopted that model, especially for degrees in engineering and business).
Still, Guerra, who specializes in Latin American history, said the proposals are disturbing seen through the lens of history. “The Cuban state in the [1960s and 1970s] began to promote technical fields and the hard sciences because those are the fields believed to generate wealth for the collective aspiration, as opposed to an individual meditation on ideas.”
MORE AND MORE THE LIBERAL ARTS ARE BEING FOUND ONLY IN MORE AFFLUENT UNIVERSITIES AND EVEN THE MODERATELY AFFLUENT ARE STRAINING TO KEEP THEM. THE REASONS ARE THE PUSH TO DOWNSIZE THE FEDERAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS THAT NORMALLY HIRED THESE HUMANITIES GRADS IN PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS LIKE MUSEUMS, ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES, AND YES, UNIVERSITIES. IF YOU ARE DEFUNDING ALL OF THESE KINDS OF PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS THEN YOU DON'T NEED THESE DEGREES THEY SAY.
THESE DEGREES FORM WHAT IS A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY WITH A QUALITY OF LIFE. BY MOVING TO END THESE CAREER PATHS YOU CAN SEE WHERE THESE CORPORATE POLS ARE LEADING US!!!
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT OF OFFICE!!!!
Liberal arts colleges forced to evolve with market
By By JUSTIN POPE | Associated Press – 17 hrs ago
ADRIAN, Mich. (AP) — They're the places you think of when you think of "college" — leafy campuses, small classes, small towns. Liberal arts colleges are where students ponder life's big questions, and learn to think en route to successful careers and richer lives, if not always to the best-paying first jobs.
But today's increasingly career-focused students mostly aren't buying the idea that a liberal arts education is good value, and many small liberal arts colleges are struggling. The survivors are shedding their liberal arts identity, if not the label. A study published earlier this year found that of 212 such institutions identified in 1990, only 130 still meet the criteria of a "true liberal arts college." Most that fell off the list remained in business, but had shifted toward a pre-professional curriculum.
These distinctively American institutions — educating at most 2 percent of college students but punching far above their weight in accomplished graduates — can't turn back the clock.
But schools like Adrian College, 75 miles southwest of Detroit and back from a recent near-death experience, offer something of a playbook.
First, get students in the door by offering what they do want, namely sports and extracurricular opportunities that might elude them at bigger schools. Offer vocational subjects like business, criminal justice and exercise science that students and parents think — rightly or wrongly — will lead to better jobs.
Then, once they're enrolled, look for other ways to sprinkle the liberal arts magic these colleges still believe in, even if it requires a growing stretch to call yourself a liberal arts college.
"We're liberal arts-aholics," says Adrian President Jeffrey Docking, who has added seven sports and two pre-professional degree programs since arriving in 2005 — and nearly doubled enrollment to about 1,750.
But he's also a realist.
"I say this with regret," said Docking, an ethicist by training. But "you really take your life into your own hands thinking that a pure liberal arts degree is going to be attractive enough to enough 18-year-olds that you fill your freshman classes."
In ancient Greece, liberal arts were the subjects that men free from work were at leisure to pursue. Today, the squishy definition still includes subjects that don't prepare for a particular job (but can be useful for many). English, history, philosophy, and other arts and sciences are the traditional mainstays. But these days, some prefer a more, well, liberal definition that's more about teaching style than subject matter.
"I refer to it as learning on a human scale," said William Spellman, a University of North Carolina-Asheville historian who directs a group of 27 public liberal arts colleges. "It's about small classes, access to faculty, the old tutorial model of being connected with somebody who's not interested only in their disciplinary area but culture broadly defined."
Does it work? It's true that research tying college majors to salaries can make the generic liberal arts degrees look unappealing. But technical training can become obsolete, and students are likely to change careers several times. These schools argue you're better off, both in life and work, simply learning to think.
Research does point to broader benefits of studying liberal arts in small settings, in areas like leadership, lifelong learning and civic engagement. Liberal arts colleges are proven launching pads to the top of business, government and academia (graduating 12 U.S. presidents, six chief justices and 12 of 53 Nobel laureates over a recent decade who attended American colleges, by one researcher's count). Foreign delegations often visit to observe, and big U.S. universities are trying to recreate mini-liberal arts colleges within their campuses.
But outside a secure tier of elites with 10-figure endowments — the Swarthmores, Amhersts, Wellesleys of the world — many schools are in trouble. The liberal arts still account for about one-third of bachelor's degrees, but the experience of getting one in these small settings is increasingly atypical. Definitions vary, but liberal arts colleges today probably account for between 100,000 and 300,000 of the country's roughly 17 million undergraduates. There are more students at the University of Phoenix, alone.
These schools "are all getting to around $40,000 a year, in some cases $50,000, and students and their families are just saying 'we can't do it,'" Docking said. Small classes make these schools among them most expensive places in higher education, though they often offer discounts to fill seats (Adrian's list price is $38,602, including room and board, but the average student pays $19,000).
Other pressures are geographic and generational. Many liberal arts colleges are clustered in the Northeast and Midwest, in towns like Adrian, founded by optimistic 18th- and 19th-century settlers who started colleges practically as soon as they arrived. But where the country is growing now is the South and West, where the private college tradition isn't as deep.
Meanwhile, students these days expect the climbing walls and high-end dorms that smaller, poorer schools can't afford. And a growing proportion of college students are the first generation in their family to attend. They've proved a tougher sell on the idea they can afford to spend four years of college "exploring." In UCLA's massive national survey of college freshman, "getting a better job" recently surpassed "learning about things that interest me" as the top reason for going to college. The percentage calling job preparation a very important reason rose to 86 percent, up from 70 percent in 2006, before the economy tanked.
Politicians have reinforced the message. Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott recently proposed public colleges charge more for degrees in subjects like anthropology that he said were less economically valuable to the state than science and engineering (though in fact, those subjects usually cost much more to teach).
So, with varying reluctance, colleges have adjusted. In his 2011 book "Liberal Arts at the Brink," former Beloit College president Victor Ferrall calculated that in 1986-87, just 30 of 225 liberal arts colleges awarded 30 percent or more of their degrees in vocational subjects. By 2007-2008, 118 did so. Even at a consortium called the Annapolis Group, comprised of the supposedly purest liberal arts colleges, the percentage of vocational degrees jumped from 6 percent to 17 percent.
"What's new in the past few years," said Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, "is people are beginning to wonder in the places that have remained liberal arts colleges whether that's enough." Schools like Adrian that had already shifted to a more vocational approach "are asking whether the balance is right, whether they need to tip more to the professional side."
Adrian was weed-strewn, demoralized and down to its last 840 students when Docking arrived in 2005.
"We borrowed 30 million bucks and said, 'if this doesn't work out, we're done,'" he recalled.
First, Docking built up facilities and added teams, notably in sports like hockey and lacrosse that tilt toward more affluent students. No niche market was too small: Adrian started one of the country's only synchronized skating teams. At the nearby University of Michigan, almost nobody walks onto the football team or even the marching band, but you can at Adrian. And everybody recruits. Docking's band director has to bring in 20 kids a year, the symphony director 10. He has fired coaches who don't meet their quotas.
(This year, about 700 of Adrian's 1,756 students play varsity sports, more than 40 percent. At the University of Michigan, there are 881 student-athletes — or 3 percent of the 27,500 undergraduates.)
Docking worried Adrian would become a "jock factory," and the number of students wearing team gear on campus is striking. But, he said: "They come in as hockey players, and they leave as chemists and journalists and business leaders." Michael Allen, a longtime theater professor, says the athletics culture has turned out better than he feared, saying most athletes who persist are (or get) serious academically.
Pre-professional programs weren't new to Adrian, but it's recently added athletic training and sports management. The two most popular majors are business and exercise science. So is Adrian still a "liberal arts college?" Some would scoff, but Docking say yes. He notes the top minors include chemistry, English and religion/philosophy. He talks up "institutes" on campus — devoted to ethics, study abroad and other areas — that try to inject liberal arts-style learning around even the pre-professional curriculum. That curriculum still includes liberal arts distribution requirements majors, and he insists liberal arts skills can be taught in other types of classes, and even through extra-curriculars.
Vicki Baker, a professor at nearby Albion College, who co-authored the recent study tracking the 39 percent decline in liberal arts colleges since 1990, also thinks these colleges can retain their value even as they evolve. Her Albion business classes include debates, presentations and other teaching techniques that were impossible when she taught 400 at Penn State.
Liberal arts colleges "appeal to a certain kind of student who really flourishes in that environment," and who might not otherwise succeed in college, Baker said. "It would be a loss to see that vanish."
Senior Kyle Cordova chose Adrian half for the chance to play baseball, half for its small size. He was leaning toward a liberal arts major but ended up in criminal justice to prepare for a law enforcement career. He's had the same half-dozen or so professors year after year. "They know me, they know how I work, what I'm weak in, what I'm strong in, how to help me better," he said. "That's better than going to Michigan State."
Communications major Garrett Beitelschies said his professors meet with him on every paper and "you're actually talking in front of the room, having to defend your stance." He's also partaken of an extracurricular feast unimaginable at the bigger schools he considered: president of his fraternity and the senior class, radio, theater, homecoming king and even dressing up as Bruiser the Bulldog mascot at football games. With financial aid Adrian ended up costing him less than some state schools.
Both students said they'd learned broader skills — Cordova cited the complex skills involved in learning to interview witnesses.
But neither said they'd taken a class where the syllabus entailed reading, say, a set of novels.
Liberal arts colleges talk constantly — and perhaps with more urgency lately — about better pitching their case to the public. But until they do, they'll have to respond to what that public wants.
Docking says the survival recipe will vary (hockey helps here but won't in for Florida colleges). But the basic formula is the same.
"You need to be able to offer more than simply strong academics or you're going to have difficulty attracting students," he said. "There's a lot of competition. You'd better have something to distinguish yourself."
Follow Justin Pope at http://www.twitter.com/JustinPopeAP
Maryland is doubling-down on an education reform that almost no one wants. All academic research released has shown these courses to be for the most part poor venues for anything other that peripheral learning..added to existing classroom work, not instead of it.
We are finding in programs that are online students left to their own devices even as the promise of teacher accessibility is always assured. It provides little interactive learning as we all know is key to achievement and it creates a linear learning experience as the course is taught by a small group of lecturers. One of the strengths of democratic education is that the variety of professors offers a variety of interpretations.
Online courses will be helpful as tools to help but will never replace classroom teaching....which is the goal of these people promoting it. We have a reform movement pressed by Wall Street to privatize public education so they want it as simply and cost-effective as possible. What is more cost-effective than sitting a student in front of a computer to watch a canned lesson? They won't even need to provide a school building. If you are affluent, your schools will retain the quality humanities driven experiential classroom teaching we know is best..for the majority of families..watch out..they are coming for your public school. The elite say 90% of education is wasted on 90% of people.
University of Maryland expands online learning System experiments with combining traditional courses with free online lectures
By Julie Scharper, The Baltimore Sun 11:05 a.m. EST, December 29, 2012 Baltimore Sun
When some University of Maryland, College Park students return to class for the spring semester, they could be attending lectures, taking quizzes and completing group projects without leaving their dorm rooms.
The university is participating in a pilot program that combines massive open online courses with traditional classroom instruction. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded $1.4 million to nonprofit research group Ithaka S+R to study how the state's university system could incorporate the increasingly popular online courses
"There are two things we're seeking: new strategies that will improve learning outcomes and lower costs," said University System of Maryland Chancellor William E. Kirwan. "We can't have one without the other."
The online courses, commonly referred to as MOOCs, have soared in popularity over the past two years. Unlike the online hybrid courses that universities have offered for years, the courses are designed to be taught solely online. They feature video lectures from professors at prominent universities interspersed with quizzes, assignments and discussions.
Perhaps what makes the courses most popular is the price — most are free. However, with a few exceptions, most universities do not award students credit for completing the courses.
Students who participate in the pilot will still pay tuition and receive credit.
Researchers from the New York-based Ithaka S+R will examine over the next 18 months how professors can bolster their classes with material from the online courses. Two College Park statistics classes will be supplemented with the online lectures in the spring, and courses will be rolled out at other public campuses in the summer and fall, Kirwan said.
Deanna Marcum, Ithaka S+R's director, said her group chose to use the Gates money to study Maryland's university system because state education leaders had already been working on redesigning courses to incorporate more online material and showed "a general receptivity to trying new things."
The university system has revised recently about 40 courses to stress online components, Kirwan said.
"The notion," he said, "is that the classroom is not used for lecture time, but used as time for active learning. Students are working on material, and the professor and graduate students and advanced undergraduate students are walking around the room and helping them work through the material."
Researchers have met with officials at seven public universities across the state so far, Marcum said, including University of Maryland Baltimore County, Towson University and Coppin State University.
The consultants are seeking professors who are willing to experiment with adding the online content to their classes, such as having students watch a lecture from Coursera — which, along with edX and Udacity, is one of most popular purveyors of such classes — and complete an online assignment before gathering for a class discussion or lab.
"The test is … can the content be used effectively by a faculty member on the ground?" said Marcum. "Can these courses, which were designed for a direct consumer market, be used in institutions to some good effect? Can they lower costs, free up faculty to do other things or broaden the exposure to students in some way?"
One concern is the perception that students, who are paying ever-increasing tuition costs, will be getting less for their money. The Ithaka S+R researchers will be examining the costs and benefits to students of the courses. Professors who have experimented with similar models at other universities say the free materials can be used as a jumping off point for classwork, much like an assigned reading, Marcum said.
While courses with "right and wrong answers" such as mathematics or computer science seem to lend themselves to the online work most naturally, humanities classes can also be enhanced by online content.
"I took the Coursera course on modern and contemporary poetry and I was really impressed by how effective that course was," said Marcum.
Martha Nell Smith, chair of College Park's university senate, said her colleagues are intrigued by the possibilities of the online courses — although some wonder if the trend is overhyped.
Smith said she is excited by possibilities for the democratization of higher education presented by the online courses, since they remove financial barriers for those who are otherwise unable to enroll in college.
Smith, an English professor, would like to create a MOOC about her specialty, the poetry of Emily Dickinson. She believes that online courses have as much to offer students in the humanities as those in science or engineering.
"You can have much more extensive discussions sometimes online," Smith said of the hybrid courses she has taught. "My students all turn in their papers online. When they're performing for their fellow students as well as for me, they do better."
But Smith cautioned that MOOCs are not a panacea for the challenges faced by higher-education institutions.
"Some people think that MOOCs are going to be big cost-savers or produce lots of revenue," she said. "But someone has to pay for the software and for the professor's time. Labor is just going to be redistributed."
AS WE FIGHT TO RELIEVE OUR YOUTH FROM THESE OUTRAGEOUS STUDENT LOAN DEBTS WE DO NOT WANT TO HAVE TAXPAYERS PAY YET AGAIN FOR THESE PREDATORY LOANS.....WHICH IS WHAT THESE BUSINESSES WANT. LIKE THE SUBPRIME MORTGAGES THAT WERE PAWNED OFF ONTO TAXPAYERS THROUGH AIG AND FREDDIE AND FANNIE, THESE PRIVATE STUDENT LOAN LENDERS NOW WANT TAXPAYERS TO RESCUE THESE STUDENTS OF THEIR LOANS.
WE WANT THE SAME THING ONLY WE WANT THE BANKS AND THE FOR-PROFITS FORCED TO FORGIVE THESE LOANS AS THEY ARE RIDDLED WITH FRAUD. WE WANT A SETTLEMENT WITH BANKS OVER THESE FRAUDULENT STUDENT LOANS.
Is Education a Human Right or a Privilege for the Wealthy? Thursday, 13 December 2012 10:39 By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Truthout | News Analysis
Over the last 40 years, higher education in the United States has been transformed into a commodity that produces automatons to serve big-finance capitalism, prevents campuses from being a source of societal transformation and creates modern indentured servants through debt slavery.
Today, there is over $1 trillion in college debt with graduates entering a job market that cannot fully employ them, resulting in rapidly rising defaults. In fact, while tuition has grown 72 percent since 2000, employment for graduates with bachelor degrees has declined by almost 15 percent over the same time period.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, passed on December 10, 1948, and ratified by the United States, declares that, "Everyone has the right to education" and declares higher education "shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit." The purpose of education is broader than creating workers for big business; it is to "be directed to the full development of the human personality."
Unfortunately, rather than treating education as a right, the United States has moved in the opposite direction to treat it as a commodity. As a result, education has become entangled with big finance. Author Danny Weil describes private for-profit educational institutions such as Phoenix University as behaving like a criminal cartel that target poor and working-class students who are eligible for federally insured student loans, writing: "They set up at welfare offices, hang out at laundromats in low-income neighborhoods, recruit at public housing units, and their 'recruiters' patrol the streets of distressed neighborhoods in automobiles or on foot, looking for vulnerable working-class bodies they can register for government cash."
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Once entangled in the debt trap, student debtors are kept there by big finance's deceptive and dirty tricks. Accountant Lynn Petrovich described some of big finance's tricks: holding payments made online for two to four business days, which adds thousands of dollars in interest paid by borrowers over the life of the loan; if there is more than one loan, the one with the lowest interest is paid off first while the other accumulates interest; and they tell people that they are delinquent when they aren't so that they can charge penalties. Petrovich reported that in the last nine months, Sally Mae, which is a private corporation named SLM and is the largest student loan provider, had over a half billion in profits.
The debt trap also makes students and graduates insecure and easier to control. In the 1960s, college campuses were the source of unrest seeking equal rights for women and minorities, environmental protection, an end to the Vietnam War and transformation of the economy. People in power expressed concern. President Nixon's education adviser, Roger Freeeman, urged in 1970 that, "We have to be selective about who we allow to go through higher education" because "We are in danger of producing an educated proletariat."
In 1971, before being appointed to the Supreme Court, Lewis Powell wrote a confidential memo to the US Chamber of Commerce urging defense of free enterprise and noted, "a priority task of business - and organizations such as the Chamber - is to address the campus origin of this hostility." He laid out a plan for big business to take control of the direction of the country. Regarding campuses, he highlighted the power business had over universities because they relied on "(i) tax funds generated largely from American business, and (ii) contributions from capital funds controlled or generated by American business."
"The boards of trustees of our universities overwhelmingly are composed of men and women who are leaders in the [business] system," wrote Powell.
Debra Leigh Scott describes how higher education has been destroyed in five easy steps. The defunding of higher education opened the door to greater influence by corporations. It also weakened students by increasing tuition, which saddled them with high debt in a poor job market. Professors were weakened by moving them from solid, tenured to fragile, adjunct positions with low job security and low wages, while the number of corporate administrative managers who are paid high salaries and consulting fees expanded. For example, three dozen college presidents earned over $1 million last year. Former senator Bob Kerrey earned $3 million at the New School in New York despite a multi-million dollar shortfall in the school budget. Harvard's top endowment managers now make about 20 times what a professor makes, with the top endowment manager making $3 million.
What is to be done about it? The consensus of people we have talked to is that in the long run, education advocates need to seek free college education as a human right, not a privilege for the wealthy. More immediately, students and their supporters need to organize for a debt jubilee, and if ignored, organize debt strikes; adjunct professors need to organize to demand security; and government needs to increase funding for higher education.
Students at Cooper Union in New York City are aggressively protesting a plan being put forward to end free education at the school. They occupied the Peter Cooper Suite on the eighth floor of the school for a week and organized protests that brought the community to their side. Students also occupied a board of trustees meeting, demanding transparency and participation in decision-making while livestreaming and blogging the event.
They allied themselves with the Quebec student movement which successfully fought tuition increases. US student activists have adopted the color of the Quebec student movement, red, in their banners and symbols.
Other students are beginning to burn their loan papers in a "Burn the Bill" campaign which threatens to grow as more people learn the facts about abusive loans, predatory practices and high administrative overhead.
We doubt that Congress will respond in a meaningful way until the student movement grows and becomes even more assertive. As Sen. Durbin once said, "The bankers own the place." Congress is another area where students are engaging this issue. The nonprofit higher education reform group Student Debt Crisis is promoting HR 4170, The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012, which would be a partial step in solving the debt problem.
Student loans are one aspect of the predatory loan economy, which was the primary cause of the housing collapse and has resulted in massive credit card debt at usury rates. Students in Canada quickly learned that their tuition problems were part of a broader austerity environment of the finance-based capitalist economy. Many students in the US also recognize that their tuition and student debt crises are connected to the broader problems in the economy and government. Student activism is one more sign of a culture of resistance that is developing and threatening the abusive power structure.
Education, like health care and other public goods, is under attack in the neoliberal agenda that treats everything as a commodity. More people, including students, recognize that access to free, high-quality education is not only a human right that does not belong in the marketplace, but is also better for the economy and the society as a whole. The actions of students at Cooper Union and around the world are stimulating important discussions in communities about whether we are going to treat higher education as a right for all or a privilege for the wealthy few.
For more information, the Clearing the FOG Radio Show has covered this issue in two shows:
Predatory Student Lending and the Financialization of Education
Tyler Paige, one of 11 students occupying a suite at Cooper Union demanding that the college continue to offer free education. Lynn Petrovich, CPA, author of "Sticker Shock," exposes the fraudulent practices of Sallie Mae and other corporate student lenders. And author Danny Weil exposes the financialization of education, the monetization of students, the collusion between government and corporations, Obama's neoliberal education agenda and what we can do about it.
The Crisis of Student Debt and the Corporatization of Higher Education
Guests are Kyle McCarthy, fellow at the Backbone Campaign and co-founder with Natalia Abrams of Student Debt Crisis, discuss the crisis of student loan debt. Debra Leigh Scott, who blogs as the Homeless Adjunct, is writing a book and movie called "Junct: The Trashing of Higher Ed in America." And, Steve Horn of DeSmogBlog talks about de-funding public universities, which opens a vacuum for corporations to use universities to legitimize their propaganda.
Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD co-host Clearing the FOG on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC, co-direct It's Our Economy and are organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DC.