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Questions Raised By Education Dept's Road Show On College Value 95

Posted by timothy
from the it's-the-ineffables-stupid dept.
lpress writes "Department of Education officials, led by Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter, were on our campus last week, soliciting input on The President's College Value and Affordability plan. The discussion focused primarily on the design of a system for rating colleges and to a lesser extent on innovation and improvement. While the feedback was constructive, many attendees pointed out difficulties and limitations of any college rating system. One solution is to open the process by having the Department of Education gather and post data and provide a platform and tools for all interested parties to analyze, visualize and discuss it. Similarly, open innovation should be encouraged, for example, by providing a hosted version of the open source education platform MOOC.ORG."
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Questions Raised By Education Dept's Road Show On College Value

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  • by turkeydance (1266624) on Saturday November 16, 2013 @04:50PM (#45444669)
    it's call the BCS. yeah, right.
  • Oh, so like, create a Website, like college.gov.

    What a splendid idea! Another government Website!

    "If you bite your current education plan, you can eat it."

  • Education con game (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nbauman (624611) on Saturday November 16, 2013 @05:10PM (#45444769) Homepage Journal

    These people got their education at schools like Harvard, where they spent full-time in an environment designed to educate them, challenge their ideas, let them relax and think, and experiment -- and make the social contacts that helped their careers more than the course content they were ostensibly learning.

    Now they're trying to tell us that it's just as good (and cheaper) to get a college class online. If we can only be wise consumers in the free market, we'll find a deal online that we can afford. Nobody walks.

    This is a con job. It's like saying Internet porn is just as good as sex. It's like saying that you can find affordable health insurance online.

    40 years ago the U.S. had a system of free college education (like most of Europe has today). It worked.

    City College has a wall of pictures with the Nobel laureates who graduated CCNY, most of whom said in their Nobel biographies that they couldn't have afforded to go to college if they had to pay for it.

    The University of California turned out graduates who gave us the revolutions in digital electronics and medicine. Then Ronald Reagan decided to cut the budget by attacking the liberals he didn't like anyway. If you charge people for college, only the rich can go to college. For the rest of us, the other choice is to go into debt that you may never repay.

    The job of government is to pay for education.

    We've got the money. We pay for wars, the military, police departments outfitted into SWAT teams, prisons filled with drug offenders spending long terms. We have the wealthiest billionaires in the world, who don't pay taxes. We pay college presidents salaries on parity with Fortune 500 executives.

    Let's do what works. Bring back free university education. Pay for it out of taxes.

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      Sorry.. With income and sales tax, something close to $0.40 on the dollar goes to the state already, more for specific items due to punitive taxation. While I don't dislike your idea, I already pay too much in taxes to float the systemic deficit spending loan as it is. Enough is enough. I want my money and my rights/freedoms back please.

      • by sjames (1099)

        If we could give up our obsession with blowing up brown people, we could probably afford education and a tax cut, especially if the taxes are shifted back to the people who already have enough money to support 3 or 4 generations of their family.

        Especially if we get tough on both educational institutions and healthcare providers to stop gouging.

        • by epyT-R (613989)

          Yeah but what about the existing debt? That has to be paid off before we can improve anything else. We also need a government in place that doesn't spend like a 16yo princess with her daddy's credit card.

          • by sjames (1099)

            If we had stayed on the course Clinton set and restrained the bankers from crashing the economy, we would be debt free right now. We don't have to pay it all off before we can do anything at all (that rarely makes fiscal sense), we just need to put it in the right direction.

          • by Wildclaw (15718)

            Yeah but what about the existing debt? That has to be paid off before we can improve anything else.

            Money and Debt is a (not so) simple zero sum game. Whenever a dollar is created, an equivalent debt/obligation is created. It always balances out to zero.

            So who do you want to reduce their savings so that the US government can have less debt? Once you have decided on that, it is easy to discuss the actions the government should take to cause it to happen.

    • by stenvar (2789879)

      40 years ago the U.S. had a system of free college education (like most of Europe has today). It worked.

      Forty years ago, only about 10% of Americans graduated with a college degree; today it's more than three times that. And your idea that European nations just give everybody a free college education is a fairy tale.

      If you charge people for college, only the rich can go to college. For the rest of us, the other choice is to go into debt that you may never repay.

      College has generally become more affordable,

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        College has generally become more affordable, and far more people go to college now than 40 years ago. Furthermore, a college education costs about as much as a good mid-size car; if you can't afford paying that back, you picked the wrong major.

        Most instate Universities with room and board are around $18,000/yr. So, a 4 year degree is in the neighborhood of $72,000. I don't know what mid-size cars you drive, but that's pretty steep. College has become anything but more affordable. If it had been, there would have been less need for student loans, not more.

        It has nothing to do with the major one picks (although some majors do not gain one an advantage in employment). 40 years ago, a college degree in business allowed one to jump into middle managem

        • by ranton (36917)

          Most instate Universities with room and board are around $18,000/yr. So, a 4 year degree is in the neighborhood of $72,000. I don't know what mid-size cars you drive, but that's pretty steep.

          Well I am pretty sure that he meant the cost of tuition, since you have to spend money on room and board even if you don't go to school. But the amount of opportunity costs of an average student is likely around $8k per year since you can probably only work part time, so I still agree with your actual figures.

          It has nothing to do with the major one picks (although some majors do not gain one an advantage in employment). 40 years ago, a college degree in business allowed one to jump into middle management. Today, it is pretty much standard for administrative assistants to have one. Yes, today's administrative assistatns do more than yesterday's secretaries and stenographers, but $72,000 worth of education more?

          Well, if you compare that $72k with an investment paying out 8% over inflation (a very high ROR), you would need to make about $5500 per year more for the education to be worth it for the employee (if

        • by stenvar (2789879)

          Most instate Universities with room and board are around $18,000/yr. So, a 4 year degree is in the neighborhood of $72,000. I don't know what mid-size cars you drive, but that's pretty steep. College has become anything but more affordable. If it had been, there would have been less need for student loans, not more.

          Average college debt is about $36k. That's because parents support their kids, people work to support themselves, and low income students get financial aid. I got financial aid and worked in coll

          • by nbauman (624611)

            Giving people four years of free room and board while getting an art history degree is not "forced education", it is allowing them to waste another four years of their lives.

            You obviously don't know anything about art history.

            I took art history courses.

            I learned about the Bauhaus, industrial design, architecture. I learned about the history of the motion picture and the birth of video. I learned how people figured out how to apply a new technology.

            I learned about Leonardo da Vinci and the study of anatomy. For many centuries the study of art anatomy was the same as the study of medical anatomy. I learned about art and technology.

            I learned about why they had the art that they di

            • by stenvar (2789879)

              In fact, I went to a liberal arts school and took plenty of art, music, literature, and foreign languages. But at the same time I learned what I needed to earn a living. In your case, your liberal arts education merely seems to have turned you into an ignorant jerk.

          • Let's face it... Most largish Universities are just Billion dollar hotels
            with no "checkout time". Stay until you run out of money, whether it's your
            money or money that comes from someone else. They REALLY don't care.

      • by Guppy06 (410832)

        Furthermore, a college education costs about as much as a good mid-size car; if you can't afford paying that back, you picked the wrong major.

        Even if I grant you that statement, if typical 18 year-olds were decently equipped to make such rest-of-your-life decisions they wouldn't be such attractive targets for military recruiters.

        • by stenvar (2789879)

          Even if I grant you that statement, if typical 18 year-olds were decently equipped to make such rest-of-your-life decisions they wouldn't be such attractive targets for military recruiters.

          If they pick the wrong career, paying back a student loan is the least of their worries. And the typical teenager has parents to help them make decisions.

          • by nbauman (624611)

            If they pick the wrong career, paying back a student loan is the least of their worries. And the typical teenager has parents to help them make decisions.

            Well, let's look at the facts.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/education/poor-students-struggle-as-class-plays-a-greater-role-in-success.html [nytimes.com]
            For Poor Strivers, Leap to College Often Ends in a Hard Fall
            By JASON DePARLE
            Published: December 22, 2012
            3 students from Galveston, TX, graduated 2008 at top of their class in low-ranked Ball High, were in Upward Bound, a college-prep program for low-income teenagers. All 3 got into college, but 4 years later, none has a 4 year degree. “Their story seems less lik

            • by stenvar (2789879)

              Well, let's look at the facts.

              I'm not sure what "fact" you think those three stories are supposed to provide. You have three students who failed out of college and obviously made bad financial decisions, since they ended up owing more than average and not even getting a degree out of it. Statistically, more

              Education is not an equalizer. It doesn't promote social mobility. The gaps between high- and low-income kids are widening. The role of class is growing. Growing incomes at the top, single-parent househol

              • by nbauman (624611)

                I'm not sure what "fact" you think those three stories are supposed to provide. You have three students who failed out of college and obviously made bad financial decisions, since they ended up owing more than average and not even getting a degree out of it.

                The point of the story was that these are students who came from low-income families, and because of that they and their families didn't know how to make "good" financial decisions. Students from upper-income families know how to make "good" financial decisions because their families have been handling money all their lives. It demonstrates the advantages of upper-income families.

                college graduation rates are not that dissimilar: about 60-70% for kids from families making $70k+, and about 45-55% for kids from families making less than $25k.

                That looks dissimilar to me.

                Suppose you had a deadly disease, and you could take one of two drugs. One drug had a survival rate o

                • by stenvar (2789879)

                  I can see where this is coming from. The remaining difference is explained by circular logic. Since they didn't graduate, it must have been their own fault.

                  And I can see where your error is. You think that, given the same environment, you'll get the same outcomes, so if you observe different outcomes, someone must have been unfairly disadvantaged. But kids aren't a tabula rasa. Academic achievement (strongly correlated with income) is passed on through the generations just like strength, height, and athleti

                  • by nbauman (624611)

                    Diane Ravitch https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Ravitch [wikipedia.org] was assistant secretary of education in the G.H.W. Bush Administration and the Clinton Administration. She started out as a neocon, and writes for the Wall Street Journal editoral page. One of her responsibilities was collecting data on educational accomplishment.

                    After looking at the data, she realized that the major factor associated with educational achievement was family income. The higher the income, the higher the educational achievement. This i

                    • by stenvar (2789879)

                      After looking at the data, she realized that the major factor associated with educational achievement was family income. The higher the income, the higher the educational achievement.

                      Yes, that's clear: there is a modest correlation.

                      They're advancing mostly according to their family's money.

                      A much simpler explanation (that happens to agree with the data) is that smart parents both make a lot of money and also produce smart kids.

                      if you want everyone to be educated to their full potential,

                      You keep using the te

                    • by stenvar (2789879)

                      Incidentally, the US already has one of the highest university completion rates in the world:

                      http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/details/education/university-completion.aspx [conferenceboard.ca]

                    • by nbauman (624611)

                      They're advancing mostly according to their family's money.

                      A much simpler explanation (that happens to agree with the data) is that smart parents both make a lot of money and also produce smart kids.

                      I would like to see that data, in a peer-reviewed science journal (and not an economics journal).

                      The best evidence I've seen, generally in Science magazine (sorry, I don't have the citation handy) is that about 50% of intelligence, as measured in standard tests, is genetic, as inferred by twin studies, and 50% is due to the environment.

                      The psychologists say that in a society with strong economic equality, and equal opportunity in education, like Finland, you can safely hypothesize that most of the variation

                    • by stenvar (2789879)

                      The best evidence I've seen, generally in Science magazine (sorry, I don't have the citation handy) is that about 50% of intelligence, as measured in standard tests, is genetic, as inferred by twin studies, and 50% is due to the environment.

                      Yes, where "environment" mostly is epigenetic and very early childhood. Hence, you proved my point: given what we know about nature and nurture, you would predict significant differences in college attendance by class.

                      I would like to see that data, in a peer-reviewed sci

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          You say that as if no one would join the military if they magically knew something. The fact of the matter is that most who join at that age have been talked into it by means other than a recruiter. In some cases, this is family like parents or other relatives who served, in some it might be to pay for college that they see no other way of getting, in some it might be to escape some reality in their hometown or life (lack of jobs, gang culture, the middle of nowhere and so on), in some it might simply be be

    • Spot on. The only thing a ratings system would accomplish would be handing out salaries to a handful of cronies tasked with compiling a worthless metric. Unless you are born into privilege (money, athletic, or scholarly ability) and you are going to college, its going to be the local state university. Hopefully one that caters do your chosen discipline without extreme financial burden.

      Gut Homeland Security (by extension TSA), cut military spending, stop spending money on the militarization of local police.

    • We are left with the value of the education. Free or not, the value dropped as prevalence increased. If everyone gets university, and need not pay, what is the advantage?
      Why not extend mandatory schooling 4 years, free?

    • by khallow (566160)

      The job of government is to pay for education.

      That's part of why higher education in the US is so expensive now. That same reasoning above led to subsidized education loans which in turn led to vast demand increases and above average price increases at universities for the last 40 years. Talk about counterproductive activities.

      We've got the money. We pay for wars, the military, police departments outfitted into SWAT teams, prisons filled with drug offenders spending long terms. We have the wealthiest billionaires in the world, who don't pay taxes. We pay college presidents salaries on parity with Fortune 500 executives.

      And the US spends something like two thirds of all spending on the military and a couple of rather harmful entitlements (Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid).

      The economically ignorant complain about how "we have the money",

    • I spent two years at a private university and left with a general education associates degree and thousands of dollars in debt. Yet I had a full-tuition scholarship. Why did I leave?

      Free school is great, if you can afford it. Despite the free tuition, the cost of books, housing, food, the mandatory health insurance plan, and all the other expenses and fees involved, the tuition was the smallest piece of the pie.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Stop all student lending. If somebody is smart but can't afford to go, the government should give them a full ride. Not a lot of people should be getting that ride. Many colleges should simply shut their doors. Some community colleges should remain open to fix the damage that public high schools have done. Those students should sue their local school boards for educational malpractice. If the local school boards don't want to be sued, they shouldn't give high school diplomas to people who are function

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      Actually, community colleges are far more cost effective than the major universities. Probably because they have to live within their means.

      As for ditch diggers, just remember that the next time you need a sewer line put in, or cable or electric or anything else underground, that ditch diggers, usually make far above the minimum wage that many college graduates are making.

  • by stenvar (2789879) on Saturday November 16, 2013 @06:55PM (#45445249)

    Obama is going to revolutionize and rationalize education, just like he has revolutionized and rationalized health care.

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      Obama is going to revolutionize and rationalize education, just like he has revolutionized and rationalized health care.

      Well, if he would just undo the damage created by no child left behind, it would be a great start.

      • by stenvar (2789879)

        Well, if he would just undo the damage created by no child left behind, it would be a great start.

        It would be. Unfortunately, he is obviously incapable of pulling something like that off and would make things worse instead.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Saturday November 16, 2013 @07:02PM (#45445279)

    what about drop the old 4 year idea and moving to an smaller and more skill based badges system?

    • what about drop the old 4 year idea and moving to an smaller and more skill based badges system?

      Don't we have that already with IT certifications? The rest of the working world may benefit from something similar, flawed as certifications are.

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        what about drop the old 4 year idea and moving to an smaller and more skill based badges system?

        Don't we have that already with IT certifications? The rest of the working world may benefit from something similar, flawed as certifications are.

        Technically, a college diploma is a certification. The difference is that it is offered by the educational institution whereas IT certs usually are from the vendor of a specific product they ultimately want you to buy.

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Saturday November 16, 2013 @08:09PM (#45445525)
    you could differentiate which ones are primarily research institutes and those that are actually focused on education. (I say that because the institute that I got my BA from pretty much has research as their primary goal. Finding the next generation of researchers is their secondary goal, politics and PR is their tertiary goal, but quaternary goal, oh yeah that's totally undergrad education.)
    • by Aboroth (1841308)
      I wouldn't be surprised if "politics and PR" are higher than you think on their list, and "finding the next generation of researchers" was much lower.
      • I mean these days it seems when the local press or politician needs an expert in some field they go talk to somebody there more than when I was there. (I guess they've build up their reputation since I was there. It would have been nice if they put some effort in education though.)
  • by Guppy06 (410832)

    One solution is to open the process by having the Department of Education gather and post data and provide a platform and tools for all interested

    How do you think the Department gets the information? Search warrants? Waterboarding?

    The information gathered from colleges is provided to the Department voluntarily, with the understanding that much of it will be held in confidence and only published in aggregate. If you insist on all the data be made public, you'll find a lot less data to work with to begin with, particularly from private institutions that have a competitive edge to maintain.

  • ranking colleges is kind of stupid. It's like ranking the mileage of car _companies_ such as Ford or Subaru.
    It's not discriminatory enough.
    The cost of every degree at any particular college is the same even though each degree has a different value in the marketplace.
    The value of a liberal arts degree from Harvard might be more than the value of a liberal arts degree from local state college, but the Harvard degree will not be more valuable than a degree in nuclear physics from local state college.
    You wo
  • Many small,private colleges offer wretchedly bad educations and charge a lot of money. It is time that all colleges and universities are rated by one agency and that the criteria are constant across the board. The same is true for individual departments within universities. It is wrong for students to find out after graduation that the department behind their major is not accredited even though the university is accredited.

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