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Education

The heat is coming down on Globe University

by Dan Burns on March 30, 2015 · 1 comment

studentdebtIt’s been a rough month, there, for good reasons.
 

State Attorney General Lori Swanson on (March 20) added new allegations to her lawsuit against two for-profit schools in Minnesota.
 
Globe University and Minnesota School of Business, she said, made thousands of illegal, unlicensed student loans charging “staggering” interest rates as high as 18 percent and misled or failed to adequately tell students about their loan obligations…
 
In a statement, Globe University and Minnesota School of Business denied Swanson’s claims.
(MPR)

They lost in court, too:
 

Last week the Minnesota Supreme Court denied Globe University’s petition for an appeal of the decision in former dean Heidi Weber’s whistleblower lawsuit against the school. This marks the end of the line for Globe University officials to appeal the decision.
 
Just over a year ago, a jury decided that Globe University/Minnesota School of Business fired Weber after she blew the whistle on the school’s misleading, illegal, and unethical practices. The family managed group of for-profit colleges was ordered to pay nearly $1 million to the former Globe University dean…
 
The Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision to deny Globe University/ Minnesota School of Business’ petition for an appeal is just one of many recent public relations nightmares involving Globe University and school executives. As Steve Kaplan of the Twin Cities Business Journal suggests, “The jointly owned Globe University (GU) and Minnesota School of Business (MSB) have been sued so often these last few years, you’d think they might consider offering a course on how to run afoul of the law.”
(Huffington Post)

The author of that, Kyle McCarthy, was a cofounder of StudentDebtCrisis.org. He has written extensively about Globe’s issues, over at HuffPo. You can of course get to everything by clicking on his name, there, but given that he blogs about many other topics as well, it’s probably more efficient to just search something like ”Kyle McCarthy Globe University,” if you’re just looking for his Globe stuff, for now. A couple of items that I found to be of particular interest:
 
Globe University Owner: “Sell! Sell! Sell!”
 
Too Close for Comfort: One Family-Managed Group of For-Profit Colleges’ Curious Relationship With Preferred Lender.
 
The purpose of all of this is not to rip on the students and teachers at Globe. It’s very important that they not be left hanging, if things do completely fall apart.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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Facepalm 42Hann

In a recent interview on MPR, State Sen. David Hann was asked the begged-for question on the proposal he and Sen. Sean Nienow are making to break up Minneapolis into six separate school districts. Why didn’t he talk to any legislators who represent Minneapolis? His amazing answer wasn’t anything like, “Of course I talked to them”, or “I sought their input, but they didn’t respond”, or even “I did talk to other people connected to Minneapolis schools”. No, his reason for not talking to legislators from Minneapolis is that they’re DFL. Yes, they represent the area in question, but wrong party, so he’s willing to propose bills that affect their districts without talking to them.
 

[This comes 5:50 into the program.]
Tom Webber: Senators who represent the city of Minneapolis, who are all DFLers, say “you can’t possibly be serious about this because you never talked to us about this.” What are your thoughts on that? Why didn’t you consult them on this idea?
 
Hann: I don’t recall the governor consulting with Republicans about his tax proposals or the Democrat majority in the legislature coming over to talk to me about what they want to do.

I don’t claim to know who the governor consulted about his tax proposal, but I feel on safe ground in assuming he talked to people from Minnesota. Maybe if the governor had ignored Minnesotans and just talked to people from Iowa and Wisconsin, Hann might have a point. Likewise, I feel pretty sure that if DFL legislators decided to make a law for one specific area of the state, and decided against talking to legislators from that area because they were all MNGOP, it would have been a quite commonly and unfavorably remarked upon. Hann, however, not only won’t talk to the legislators from Minneapolis just because they’re DFL, but I haven’t been able to tell that he talked to anyone from Minneapolis, and presumably he would have said who he talked to instead of coming up with such a partisan excuse, “Talk to Democrats? Do people really do that?” Rather arrogant behavior for someone making law for Minneapolis, and so concerned Minneapolis will react poorly, that though he’ll let Minneapolis draw the districts, he won’t make the redrawing optional. “So Minneapolis, you are required to implement my lousy idea I’m inflicting on you an no one else, but I’m letting you implement how you like. I’m such a nice guy!”
 
Minneapolis legislators I’ve checked with said he still hasn’t talked to any DFLers since that interview.
 
Maybe we can’t blame Hann for refusing to talk to DFLers. After all, he’s already pointed out the DFL is rife with corruption, such as daring to hold policy positions he disagrees with.
 
In my happy Minneapolitan fantasy, the bill passes, but Hann forgets to provide any guidelines on how districts should be drawn. So we pick a lake, divide it into five districts, and all the land makes up the sixth district.
 
The House version is being carries by Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton, who represents a district even further from Minneapolis than Hann’s Eden Prairie. So far, I can’t tell that either of them has talked to anyone at all from Minneapolis. If Hann and Erickson really want to help our schools, they could change state law so charter schools no longer get to suck up our money while being unaccountable to our elected representatives on the school board. They could fund Minneapolis schools enough to offer the same sort of programs they can afford in the suburban schools that get our students and our funding through open enrollment.

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mncapitol2There are strengthening indicators that, for all the beginning-of-session talk about finding “common ground,” not much beyond what is most needful will get done during Minnesota’s current legislative session. Which at least means that, in this context, the education deformers probably won’t be able to advance their contemptible agenda, for the time being. They will of course continue to try to do so in every other way they can. Lots of money and power at stake.
 

Explain to me what is the measure of an educated person. Winning a Nobel Prize? Few do. Making a Bill Gates/Warren Buffet fortune? Few do. Writing a Pynchon novel is something only Pynchon has done. Without having to take a multiple choice test about novel writing.
 
Scoring in the 99th percentile on the LSAT? Is that a measure of an educated person? It may help get you into a law school, but will you have the talent in pressing circumstances to fashion an acquittal on, “If the glove don’t fit, you’ve got to acquit?”
 
Of those legislators pushing for standardized testing, how many will publish their own SAT scores?
 
Financial genius Nienow? Suppose he did score highly. That proves what? That the SBA and taxpayers should mop up his personal fiscal bad-judgment mess?
 
These are bozos leading a bozo parade, union busting being the actual aim, and some should know better.
(Developers Are Crabgrass)

From my observations, “success” in corporate, and for that matter political, life is far more about tenacity and focus, than it is about intellect. That’s just a declarative statement; I’m not trying to pass judgment, here, on whether that’s always a good or bad thing.
 
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Don’t concern yourself with Strib polling

by Dan Burns on March 22, 2015 · 1 comment

schoolPerhaps you’ve seen this morning’s in the Star Tribune, purporting to show huge public support for “quality over seniority” in teacher layoffs. It’s a classic example of reducing a complex issue to a quick soundbite. Do you really think most parents would want to see their own kid’s beloved math teacher let go, because some newbie at a school with more privileged kids had those kids produce higher test scores?

 
Let’s be clear about what the education deformers want, here. “Quality” is to be “measured” by standardized test scores. This will force teachers to rote-drill students to the tests, rather than emphasize learning to think knowledgeably, rationally, creatively, and independently. Because if most kids grow up doing the latter, that spells longer-term doom for the plutocratic, warmongering status quo. Which is in fact what’s been going on for a while, and, obviously, said warmongering plutocrats are desperate to reverse that, no matter what vile, shameless means are employed.

 
It won’t surprise me if the rest of the week is devoted to poll questions like “Do you favor or oppose a gas tax increase?” and “Should the state refund the budget surplus?” Remember that if poll results other than “Who would you vote for if the election were held today?” mattered politically, this country’s policies would overwhelmingly reflect the progressive agenda that the public massively supports. And the MN GOP is still probably going to get crushed in 2016, and there’s nothing Glen Taylor’s Strib can do about that. Though he’ll make sure it keeps trying.
 
Comments below fold.
 
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Actor Slim Pickens, riding a nuke to destruction
in Dr. Strangelove, or How I learned
to stop worrying
and love the bomb

The right ‘wingaloos’, via Wonkette, because the right really IS crazier than anything you could make up.  Sadly, this is increasingly the norm on the right.

Rick Santorum took a few questions from the audience at last weekend’s South Carolina National Security Action Summit, an annual Gathering Of The Wingaloos sponsored by conspiracy theorist, rightwing hack, and Islam-panicked freak Frank Gaffney. So it’s not too surprising that Santorum got this long “question” from a nice lady named “Virginia.” She started by explaining John Boehner’s secret deal with Obama to let illegal aliens into the country, and eventually built to a beautiful crescendo of Pure Weird.

Obama?

Nuking Charleston?

What the HELL?  (That this woman was a teacher explains a lot about why red states drag this nation down in comparison with other nations educational outcomes.)

So where did THIS insanity come from this time? Sane people want to know who’s feeding the crazy.

And sure enough, it’s the right wing propaganda machine.

Via Bloomberg News Whoa, Conspiracy Theories:

That’s easy. In September 2013, the conspiracy news site InfoWars published an “exclusive” story, citing “a high level source inside the military,” about the transfer of nuclear warheads to the East Coast. The story was shared nearly 25,000 times on Facebook, aided by a video introduction by Alex Jones and by a follow-up that quoted South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham’s worry that a military build-up would lead to nuclear weapons moving through the port of Charleston. “This ultimately reeks of yet another false flag being orchestrated by the United States government in order to send us into war,” Jones wrote in a follow-up.

In October 2013, the European Union Times—a “news” site that combines real stories with rumors — cited a “Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) report circulating in the Kremlin today” to report that a nuclear weapon had been detonated off of Charleston’s harbor, as proven by an Oct. 8 earthquake that happened hundreds of miles from the coast. This, according to the website, was a botched “false flag” attack, which was carried out, strangely, in the middle of the government shutdown. On Reddit, discussion swirled that the “false flag” attack led to the dismissal of US Navy Vice Admiral Tim Giardina, US Air Force Major General Michael Carey, Major General Charles M. Gurganus and Major General Gregg A. Sturdevant.

The appearance of those names in the story recalled the scam in Paper Moon, in which the names of the recently deceased were used by a salesman to sell Bibles to the surviving family members. Giardina was sacked, but this was later found to be related to a poker-rigging scheme that had been uncovered by the Navy’s Inspector General. Carey was removed from his job after an investigation into a drunken bender that took him around Moscow; though Carey remains a special assistant to the commander of Air Force Space Command. Gurganus and Sturdevant were forced into retirement in September 2013, after a yearlong investigation into a Taliban attack on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. Both men were removed, in other words, before the alleged “false flag” attack—and neither had anything to do with nuclear security.

And it goes without saying that the “false flag” attack, according to an alleged Russian intel report as translated by a fringe site, happened fifteen months ago, hundreds of miles from America’s coastline. Santorum’s questioner swore that it had happened “a few months ago” and “in Charleston.” If the potential 2016 candidate was wondering if he missed a major news event, he shouldn’t. He didn’t.

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Cooper-Union-We-are-Students-Not-Customers-e1373664073701Last Tuesday, President Obama released a Student Aid Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, it’s just a baby step. The following discusses the sort of thing that would be a lot more helpful, and in fact needs to happen.
 

Now (Sen. Elizabeth) Warren (D-MA) is turning to the Department of Education, which, she argues, already has the power to address the problem. The department, which Congress has empowered to administer student loan programs, has broad authority to collect unpaid loans. But in many cases, it also have the authority to reduce or wipe away debts…
 
In their letter, the senators explain that under the Higher Education Act, the Department of Education has the authority to cancel federal student loan debts if colleges lied to the borrower or undermined the quality of students’ educations or finances. Many borrowers who attended a for-profit colleges, lured in by misleading job-placement rates, for example, could qualify for loan cancellations under this authority.
(Mother Jones)

More items of interest, below the fold.
 
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schoolMinnesota Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) wants access for all 4-year-olds in the state. There is bipartisan support for expanded pre-kindergarten, to a point; this article (from the Star Tribune) has details. The really important point, though, not noted therein, is that all of the money go to legitimate educators, and none to grifter deformers. I agree with this:

 

And why is it that our economy continues to improve, but public school spending still suffers? I’ll tell you why. There is a well-organized crusade to privatize and profit off the education of our children. And guess who suffers most from these kinds of policies. You guessed it, those who need us most: low-income and disadvantaged children. The socioeconomic status of families has a profound effect on children’s education…
 
That’s why the time is now to invest in free public preschool for all. High-quality, developmentally appropriate preschool supports cognitive and socio-emotional development, which are important building blocks for reversing some of the effects of economic inequality. As a community, it is our responsibility to make sure that every student has a chance to excel, both in school and in life. In fact, school success has been linked to college attendance, career choice, increased wages, decreased use of social safety nets, and decreased involvement with the criminal justice system. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather invest in public education than our “zero tolerance,” “get tough on crime,” and “war on drugs” policies that have led to racially discriminatory incarcerations and the resegregation of our communities and schools.
(The Truth As I Understand It)

It’s being suggested that the Minnesota GOP’s ad campaign to “give the surplus back,” even as many Republican legislators support spending a big chunk of it, is indicative of a nasty conflict within that party. I don’t think so, at least not yet. The ad campaign is just about appealing to the party base of simplistic rubes. When the legislative session gets to crunch time, perhaps in a month or so, and the tough votes start coming up, is when we’ll see about a rift.
 

You may recall that tax “rebates,” as part of sustained governing ideology, were tried in Minnesota, when Jesse Ventura was governor. The result of said ideology, put into practice, was Minnesota losing ground compared to other states, for the only known time in state history.
 

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Now this is what I call a governor

by Dan Burns on March 10, 2015 · 0 comments

schoolThis proposal would be a good step forward, and it certainly sends an important message in any case.
 

Gov. Mark Dayton wants to reduce the number of standardized tests Minnesota students take.
 
In a letter to leaders of education committees in the state House and Senate, Dayton said he wants to cut the number of state tests by a third. Under the governor’s proposal, seven of 21 standardized tests would be dropped…
 
Any changes in state testing would need approval from Minnesota lawmakers and the federal government.
(MPR)

President Obama has questioned the testing regimen, himself, so approval from the feds may not be an impossible undertaking. Getting it through the current legislature, on the other hand, could well be another matter, given its agenda:
 
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abandonedschoolI reiterate, and will continue to reiterate, that this is not the fault of charter school students and teachers, who deserve better. The following certainly doesn’t apply to all charters. But with the facts presented, I don’t see how anyone can reasonably argue that the charter movement should be allowed to expand any further. Rather, it’s past time to start scaling back, by a lot.
 

What fun we had recently with North Carolina’s recently elected U.S. senator, Republican Thom Tillis, who insisted we didn’t need government regulations to compel restaurant employees to wash their hands in between using the toilet and preparing our food…
 
Fun, for sure, but it’s no laughing matter that the Tillis plan for public sanitation appears to increasingly be the philosophy for governing the nation’s schools.
 
Rather than directly address what ails struggling public schools, policy leaders increasingly claim that giving parents more choice about where they send their children to school – and letting that parent choice determine the funding of schools – will create a market mechanism that leaves the most competent schools remaining “in business” while incompetent schools eventually close.
 
Coupled with more “choice” are demands to increase the numbers of unregulated charter schools, especially those operated by private management firms that now have come to dominate roughly half the charter sector…
 
Why the “Tillis Rule” that seems so wrong for public health has been declared the wave of the future for the nation’s schoolchildren and families seems to hardly ever get questioned.
(Salon)

Wage theft, stealing pensions, etc., etc., are all beyond despicable, but if you ask me, the following ranks second only to warmongering among the most vile practices of the plutocrats.
 
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This is the right wing agenda, not only in Wisconsin, not only in Louisiana, not only in Kansas, but in EVERY state where the right either has power or is attempting to get power.

 

That includes Minnesota, where the right has opposed funding for education under a variety of guises. That includes Congressman John Kline, who has taken lots of money from big oil and other fossil fuel corporations, and done a grave disservice to voters and to students.  Look for similar moves by other Republicans.  This is the epitome of the corruption of government, and of government for the corporations, not for WE THE PEOPLE.
 

From US uncut.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has slashed funding to public colleges by $600 million since 2008–more than any other state. Over the same period, Jindal has handed corporations $11 billion in tax cuts–also more than any other state. Louisiana now faces a record budget deficit which Governor Jindal proposes to solve by cutting an additional $300 million from state colleges. After he awarded oil giant ExxonMobil with $263 million in subsidies.


 

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