Some Owners of Private Colleges Turn a Tidy Profit by Going Nonprofit

For profit colleges have been a menace in the world of higher education for many decades now, but Patricia Cohen explores how the latest move towards exploiting college students has been for these colleges to claim not-for-profit status. The tax exempt salaries of these college officials hit 6 to 7 figures annually, while saddling young college students with debt that their degrees do not help pay back. But the government is not far behind the chase – for-profit schools that cannot prove that the educations their students receive will enable them to repay student loans can have their state funding cut off. But not-for-profit schools are not subjected to such scrutiny, making the switch even more beneficial for money-hungry universities.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Patricia Cohen:

After a recent government crackdown on the multibillion-dollar career-training industry, stricter limits on student aid and devastating publicity about students hobbled by debt and useless credentials, some for-profit schools simply shut down. But a few others have instead dropped out of the for-profit business altogether, in favor of a more traditional approach to running a higher education institution. And the nonprofit sector, it turns out, can still be quite profitable. Consider Keiser University in Florida. In 2011, the Keiser family, the school’s founder and owner, sold it to a tiny nonprofit called Everglades College, which it had created. more

College’s Priceless Value

Frank Bruni explores the question of education for education’s sake. Considering that the Senator of Wisconsin recently proposed cuts to university funding, behind claims that they are not dedicated to boosting the work force, the question of education is in the air. Certain schools of thought clearly favour utility over intellectual curiosity, but Bruni believes that a good education does more than simply secure one a job. A good education is a gateway to a holistic existence, signaling personal growth. So why do we value productivity over curiosity? Why is education a means and not an end?

Read an excerpt of the article written by Frank Bruni:

What’s the most transformative educational experience you’ve had? I was asked this question recently, and for a few seconds it stumped me, mainly because I’ve never viewed learning as a collection of eureka moments. It’s a continuum, a lifelong awakening to the complexity of the world. But then something did come to mind, not a discrete lesson but a moving image, complete with soundtrack. I saw a woman named Anne Hall swooning and swaying as she stood at the front of a classroom in Chapel Hill, N.C., and explained the rawness and majesty of emotion in ‘‘King Lear.’’ I heard three words: ‘‘Stay a little.’’ They’re Lear’s plea to Cordelia, the truest of his three daughters, as she slips away. When Hall recited them aloud, it wasn’t just her voice that trembled. It was all of her. more

One Republic of Learning

ARMAND MARIE LEROI tackles the question of stagnation in the humanities. When universities trim their budgets, it is inevitably the humanities that are hit first and often the worst. This lack of funding leads to a certain type of stagnation in the fields. But he notes a new field that has recently come up to counter this – the digitization of classical texts. Choski then explores the ins and outs of this new technology and what it means for scholars. For one, it means putting mathematical analysis into humanities texts. What that means for literary critics and the like, whose anecdotal evidence is usually accepted at face value, is an unfortunate, and some would argue unnecessary, reality check. This mathematical analysis could even extend to art, Choski explains, using Rothko as an example.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Armand Marie Leroi:

In the Republic of Learning humanities scholars often see themselves as second-class citizens. Their plaintive cries are not without cause. When universities trim budgets it is often their departments that take the hit. In the last 10 years, however, there has been one bright spot: the ‘‘digital humanities,’’ a vast enterprise that aims to digitize our cultural heritage, put it online for all to see, and do so with a scholarly punctilio that Google does not. The digital humanities have captured the imaginations of funders and university administrators. They are being built by a new breed of scholar able to both investigate Cicero’s use of the word ‘‘lascivium’’ and code in Python. If you want to read Cicero’s letter in which lascivium appears, or the lyrics of 140,000 Dutch folk songs, now you can. Texts are living things: Digitization transforms them from caterpillars into butterflies. But the true promise of digitization is not just better websites. Rather, it is the transformation of the humanities into science. By ‘‘science’’ I mean using numbers to test hypotheses. Numbers are the signature of science; they allow us to describe patterns and relationships with a precision that words do not. The quantification of the humanities is driven by an inexorable logic: Digitization breeds numbers; numbers demand statistics. The new breed of digital humanists is mining and visualizing data with the facility that bioinformaticians analyze genomes and cosmologists classify galaxies. All of them could, if they cared to, understand each others’ results perfectly well. Most traditional — analog — humanists, I suspect, delight in the new databases but do not fully grasp their consequences. One great literary critic did so years ago. ‘‘What,’’ asked Harold Bloom in 1973, ‘‘is Poetic Influence anyway? Can the study of it really be anything more than the wearisome industry of source-hunting, of allusion-counting, an industry that will soon touch apocalypse anyway when it passes from scholars to computers?’’ Bloom’s apocalypse arrived in 2012 when a group of mathematicians analyzed the pattern of stylistic influences in more than 7,700 texts. Just the year before, Bloom published ‘‘The Anatomy of Influence,’’ his swan song. Less a work of rational criticism than a testament of personal aesthetic faith, its claims are immune to quantitative tests, or indeed tests of any kind. ‘‘I am an Epicurean literary critic, reliant upon sensations, perceptions, impressions,’’ he wrote. But scientists know that impressions lie; that they tell us what we want to hear, not what is. It’s easy to see how it will go. A traditional, analog, scholar will make some claim about the origin, fate or significance of some word, image, trope or theme in some Great Work. He’ll support it with apt quotations, and fillet the canon for more of the same. His evidence will be the sort that natural scientists call ‘‘anecdotal’’ — but that won’t worry him since he’s not doing science. But then a code-capable graduate student will download the texts — not just the canon, but a thousand more — run the algorithms, produce the graphs, estimate the p values, and show the claim to be false, if false it indeed is. There will be no rejoinder; the analog scholar won’t even know how to read the results. Quantification has triumphed in field after field of the natural and social sciences. It will here, too. Science, however, is not just about measurement. Science offers theories — of a particular kind. The French poet Paul Valéry said that a ‘‘work of art becomes a machine intended to excite and combine the individual formations’’ of our minds. Yes, but how does the machine work? A comparison with biology shows what’s missing. To explain organic diversity, biologists have built a theory of evolution whose major tenets are couched in math and generally agreed. To explain cultural diversity, the humanities have offered only a succession of incommensurable interpretive fashions and uncountable particular studies, many of which, to be sure, enrich our understanding of this writer or that, but which only add texture to the tapestry of culture and do nothing to explain its whole. There is an explanatory vacuum. Some scholars think that it will be filled by something resembling the theory of organic evolution. I think they’re right. But it will also draw elements from epidemiology, cognitive psychology and behavioral economics. Whatever it looks like, we can be sure of one thing: It will be expressed not in words, but equations. If the rudiments of a new cultural science are visible, so are its limits. more


How Elementary School Teachers’ Biases Can Discourage Girls From Math and Science

This article written by Claire Cain Miller on the unconscious biases of elementary level teachers tackles a question almost everyone thinks of and no one asks – why are there no girls in the sciences? The author, Erik Lesser, explains that it because early education affects later development. Since there is already a bias against women in stem fields, the unconscious discouragement most young girls get in elementary school can affect their future career paths. For this reason, change should be made at elementary school level. The author also looks at the shockingly low statistics of girls in math and sciences courses in high schools and colleges, and attempts to explain how teachers tend to overestimate boys in those situations and underestimate girls.

Read an excerpt of the article written by CLAIRE CAIN MILLER:

We know that women are underrepresented in math and science jobs. What we don’t know is why it happens. There are various theories, and many of them focus on childhood. Parents and toy-makers discourage girls from studying math and science. So do their teachers. Girls lack role models in those fields, and grow up believing they wouldn’t do well in them. All these factors surely play some role. A new study points to the influence of teachers’ unconscious biases, but it also highlights how powerful a little encouragement can be. Early educational experiences have a quantifiable effect on the math  and science courses the students choose later, and eventually the jobs they get and the wages they earn. The effect is larger for children from families in which the father is more educated than the mother and for girls from lower-income families, according to the study, published this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The pipeline for women to enter math and science occupations narrows at many points between kindergarten and a career choice, but elementary school seems to be a critical juncture. Reversing bias among teachers could increase the number of women who enter fields like computer science and engineering, which are some of the fastest growing and highest paying. “It goes a long way to showing it’s not the students or the home, but the classroom teacher’s behavior that explains part of the differences over time between boys and girls,” said Victor Lavy, an economist at University of Warwick in England and a co-author of the paper. Previous studies have found that college professors and employers discriminate against female scientists. But it is not surprising that it begins even earlier. In computer science in the United States, for instance, just 18.5 percent of the high school students who take the Advanced Placement exam are girls. In college, women earn only 12 percent of computer science degrees. That is one reason that tech companies say they have hired so few women. more

Investing in Our Future at Community Colleges

In the article, David Brooks mentions the human capital component in President Obama’s plan to make community colleges free: return on investment. A national policy to offer free community college tuition is a crucial investment in and commitment to our social contract. America prospers because we invest in people, ideas, infrastructure, research, design, education and health care because of the confirmed two-year participation in a national service corps. David Brooks recommends on focussing on a student’s living expenses, mentoring relationships and the “remedial education mess” rather than tuition, which is likely to benefit those for whom community college is already affordable, are on target.

Read an excerpt of the article written by David Brooks:

There is a human capital component to President Obama’s plan to make community colleges free: return on investment. The $60 billion that would be spent over a decade is an investment in our civic future. Our return for that financial commitment should be service to the country, which could include work as a teacher, nurse, engineer, firefighter or police officer. A national policy to offer free community college tuition is a crucial investment in and commitment to our social contract. But let’s be clear about the cost. The tuition isn’t “free”; our citizens cover the cost of “free.” I propose a simple plan: When students agree to accept the tuition (and complete their education), that contract confirms their two-year participation in a national service corps. America prospers because we invest in people, ideas, infrastructure, research, design, education and health care. This is the fabric of the social contract that each generation knows: Invest early, often and with compassion, and watch your returns build the future. MICHAEL G. SIEVERS Portland, Ore., Jan. 21, 2015 To the Editor: “The important task is to help students graduate,” David Brooks says, noting that community college dropout rates now hover somewhere between 66 and 80 percent. Setting graduation as the ultimate goal, however, may be a mistake when technology is changing education and work. Diplomas based on college-mandated credits are becoming anachronistic as online courses become better and more pervasive. more

Publisher moves into web courses

The article by Alexandra Alter shows the attempts of a publishing company, Simon and Schuster to try and gain ground in the field of online videos and courses. The company acknowledges the significant fall in sales of books. It offers paid services with personal video sessions as well as live question and answer, hoping to attain supremacy in the market. 

Read an excerpt of the article written by  Alexandra Alter:

Simon & Schuster is making a push into paid online video, with a new website offering online courses from popular health, finance and self-help authors. The cost of the first batch of online courses ranges from $25 to $85 and includes workbooks and access to live question-and-answer sessions with three authors: Dr. David B. Agus, the best-selling author of ‘‘The End of Illness’’; Zhena Muzyka, who wrote the self-help book ‘‘Life by the Cup’’; and Tosha Silver, the author of the spiritual advice book ‘‘Outrageous Openness.’’ The courses will be available on the authors’ individual websites and on the company’s new site, SimonSays. ‘‘Today’s consumers have made it plain that they want and expect more from authors than just books,’’ Carolyn Reidy, president and chief executive of Simon & Schuster, said in a statement. ‘‘This initiative is also another way for us to expand what Simon & Schuster can provide to our authors, building audiences for their books and creating new revenue streams.’’ With the online courses, Simon & Schuster aims to tackle two problems facing authors and publishers: finding new business opportunities in a sluggish book market and grabbing the attention of readers who are increasingly distracted by social media and free online content. And book sales have flagged. ...Read more