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Confirmed: Trump Trashing Rules To Protect Students From Predatory Colleges

Huffington Post - Mié, 14 Jun 2017 - 11:03

It is now confirmed: Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos are trashing the Obama rules created to protect students and taxpayers from scam for-profit colleges. The purpose of these rules is to determine which career training programs are actually helping students build careers, and channel taxpayer dollars to those schools, rather than to overpriced, low-quality schools that are systematically deceiving and ripping off students.

For-profit colleges have donated big money to the GOP, Trump owned one, DeVos invested in them. An executive from predatory Bridgepoint Education, Robert Eitel, now works at the Department of Education.

The for-profit college industry has relentlessly opposed the Obama rules, spending millions of our tax dollars to hire lawyers and lobbyists to try to defeat them. Now they appear to have prevailed. This is blatant corruption of policy by a predatory industry, one that has faced numerous law enforcement investigations for fraud. This is the opposite of draining the swamp. Under Trump, the swamp runs everything.

The students -- veterans, single parents, immigrants, and others -- whose financial futures have been ruined by predatory for-profit colleges are increasingly standing up for themselves, and they have strong allies in Congress and among civil rights, consumer, veterans, labor, and student organizations.  If the Trump administration wants to stand with for-profit college barons who have enriched themselves with taxpayer dollars while misleading and abusing students, they will face a sustained public fight.  Americans desperately need stronger options to train for careers; that is what we should be investing in, rather than supporting blatant fraud operations run by scam artists working in strip malls and on Wall Street.

This article also appears on Republic Report

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

The Revolutionary Street Art Project That Inspired Banksy And Empowered A City's Youth

Huffington Post - Mié, 14 Jun 2017 - 10:53

John Nation just wanted to give teenagers in Bristol, southwest England, a safe place to spray-paint without fear of arrest and prosecution.

Little did the then 21-year-old youth worker know back in 1984 that his “Aerosol Art Project” at the Barton Hill Youth Center would go some way to shaping British and global street art over the coming years and decades.

It spawned an entire generation of influential and genre-defining artists ― including Banksy. But as Nation, now 54, told HuffPost in a wide-ranging interview, the initiative also almost ended up costing him his job, his reputation and his liberty.

Nation was just 18-years-old when, in 1981, he became an outreach worker at the youth center in his home neighborhood of Barton Hill. “We helped kids deal with the nitty gritty of life [...] providing sexual health awareness, talking about drugs, that kind of thing,” he told HuffPost. A trip to Amsterdam in 1982 sparked an interest in graffiti, which he saw adorning the Dutch capital’s streets. “I started reading whatever material I could.”

Coincidentally, some of the 14 to 19-year-olds attending the center were also becoming interested in the art form. Inspired by movies such as “Wild Style” and “Beat Street” and the painting of Bristol’s earliest-recognized graffiti artist 3D (a.k.a. Robert Del Naja from Massive Attack), Nation said they’d spend hours copying outlines of the work featured in the seminal book “Subway Art.”

When one teen returned from New York City with photographs of the graffiti he’d seen, Nation allowed the teen and his friends to paint the club’s front wall.

“Barton Hill was rough,” Nation said. “At that time the club was very territorial, seen as right wing, predominantly white and very hostile to outsiders.” Its exterior walls, he said, were mainly daubed with anti-authority slogans such as “No Police State in Barton Hill” or ones promoting the far-right movement, the National Front.

“These guys produced a piece that was so vibrant,” Nation said. “It helped break down some barriers. Lots of these guys listened to hip hop, reggae and black-inspired music. Lots of the artists they looked up to were black, hispanic and Puerto Rican, but they were in a predominantly white area. Being involved in graffiti opened their eyes and helped to lower their prejudices.”

Inspired by what the teens had produced, Nation sought permission from his employers at the now-defunct Avon County Council authority to set up the “Barton Hill Aerosol Art Project” — a place he envisioned would let the youngsters, some of whom were only a bit younger than him, to “express themselves freely and legally” on the center’s walls instead of tagging or painting unauthorized spots on public or private property which could lead to their arrest.

Cheo and Inkie were among the first generation of budding street artists to attend the center, which had the added appeal of being the only one in the city with an indoor skate ramp. Before long, the artists covered most of the building with their work.

“Once word got out that it was a safe environment to paint and look at books and photographs and watch films about graffiti, then people from across the city started coming,” Nation said. “Once you had that one group of people give it their seal of approval, others saw it was safe and followed suit.”

At its peak, more than 40 youngsters regularly attended the project. Graffiti writers from across the U.K. also visited, and it inspired other authorities from around the country to launch similar initiatives.

“It was a great atmosphere, very expressive, very creative,” Nation added. “There was never any bad vibes or competition, none of that element. It was all about being a crew and a togetherness and I still think that’s true to all the guys who still know each other and paint now.”

Not everyone was in favor of the project, however. Unbeknownst to Nation, from 1988 to 1989 the British Transport Police surveilled the center and several of its artists as part of a city-wide investigation into graffiti tagging and criminal behavior.

“There was never any bad vibes or competition, none of that element. It was all about being a crew and a togetherness and I still think that’s true to all the guys who still know each other and paint now.”

John Nation

Operation Anderson sought to profile graffiti artists suspected of criminal damage and culminated with a series of raids on properties across the region. Police arrested dozens of people, including Nation. Officers searched his home and the center. “Bearing in mind that I was running an aerosol art project, there was no way there wasn’t going to be any material at the center,” he said. “It was like an Aladdin’s Cave for them.”

Police seized a “massive stash of paint” Nation had procured from the project’s sponsors and his treasured 5,000-plus snaps of graffiti he’d either taken himself or been sent by writers from around the world.

Nation believes police thought the club was “some kind of ‘Axis of Evil’ that was the main meeting point for all of Bristol’s illegal graffiti writers and a place where other writers from across the country would come.”

“It wasn’t that at all though,” he said, although he acknowledges some of the artists were painting on unauthorized spots on their own. 

As was revealed in the BBC documentary “Drawing The Line,” (above), police matched tags on the artwork in the club to tags on illegal works across the city.

They charged several artists with criminal damage. Nation himself was charged with suspicion of conspiracy to incite individuals to commit criminal damage.

“Their main case against me was that the photos and books I had, if shown to a young person of impressional age, would incite them to go out and commit criminal damage,” Nation said. “They also said I was covering up for the young people and I was duty bound to divulge information on them. But I didn’t assist them whatsoever. I answered ‘no comment’ to pretty much everything.”

Several artists were found guilty of criminal damage and received fines. Nation’s charge, however, was dropped on the day his trial was due to begin after prosecutors offered no evidence of incitement. 

A post shared by John Nation (@johnnation) on Jun 1, 2017 at 8:53am PDT

Nation says he then consciously used the subsequent press coverage to promote his project’s work and to argue that without a place to legally paint, “the illegal culture of the art form just gets reinforced.”

Following the police raids, Nation says many of those involved in the city’s street art scene went “underground for a while.” “It was like they were regrouping,” he said. “Many of the guys arrested took a break, lessened their illegal activities, and some decided painting legally was the only way.”

Nation says the publicity did inspire, however, a new generation of artists to begin visiting the project ― with one of them being Banksy.

“As a young boy, he’d come to the center and watch people paint. He was heavily into hip hop culture, graffiti, and Barton Hill was where it was happening. Every weekend there was fresh work going up on the walls and people would exchange ideas,” Nation said.

“He says he called it his religious pilgrimage every weekend to go. Many of these guys had their own crazy, little dreams and he said what Barton Hill showed him was very powerful, that you could go on to follow those dreams.”

At that time, Nation says Banksy (who despite multiple attempts and theories has never been officially identified), wasn’t producing the political or social commentary pieces that he’s since become globally famous for.

As part of a crew with some slightly older teens, Nation says he was “into graffiti and letterforms and writing.” He also didn’t stand out “as one of the graffiti writers you’d call a ‘top boy,’” nor was he using his “Banksy” moniker either, says Nation. “The Banksy thing came later.”

Nation claims Banksy is “without doubt” the biggest contemporary artist in the world right now, but admits he didn’t foresee his rise to prominence during his early days of painting at the center. Instead, he believes Banksy truly began to make his mark when he changed his style and began using stencils.

“Not only could he paint quicker, he could paint more locations and produce more work. He started off with quite crude stencil work, like the rats, then he started progressing to more clean work, more sharper,” Nation said.

“These smaller stencils started appearing across the city and for me, it’s once he made that conscious decision to change the style of what he was painting and the content of what he was painting when he exploded,” he added.

Banksy himself admits in his book “Wall and Piece” that his switch in style came when aged 18 transport police chased him through a thorny bush after spotting him painting “LATE AGAIN” on the side of a train.

“The rest of my mates made it to the car and disappeared so I spent over an hour hidden under a dumper truck with engine oil leaking all over me,” he wrote. “As I lay there listening to the cops on the tracks I realized I had to cut my painting time in half or give up altogether. I was staring straight up at the stenciled plate on the bottom of a fuel tank when I realized I could just copy that style and make each letter three feet high.”

Nation said that change led Banksy to “strike an accord with first and foremost the Bristol public, and then the British public.” “Lots of people who wouldn’t be into street art could relate to the simplicity and the fun and the characters he was painting. As he’s become more mature, the images and message have become more hard-hitting — he’s a clever guy.” 

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy) on May 7, 2017 at 6:40am PDT

Nation does question how Banksy creates some of his works, such as the “Brexit” piece (above) that he unveiled in Dover, southeast England, in May as a commentary on the U.K.’s referendum vote to leave the European Union.

“Yes he painted it, but he’s got to have a team of people that set up the scaffold and he must have approached the people who own the property before that,” Nation said. “You can’t just rock up and set up a scaffold on the side of someone’s property without there being no questions asked. It’s a huge wall. It’s massive.”

With so much history between Nation and Banksy, one may assume the pair remain close and in touch. When faced with the suggestion, however, Nation responded with a stony silence before changing the subject.

While the legacy of the Barton Hill Youth Center often focuses on Banksy, many of the center’s other alum have also gone on to enjoy hugely successful careers. Jody Thomas, who in April gave HuffPost a helping hand in unveiling its new logo (below), has painted and exhibited his signature photo-realistic style around the world:

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But for him, it also all began at the center, which he first attended when he was just 15 years old after being encouraged by a school friend who’d described Nation to him as “outspoken, politically militant and not one to suffer fools.”

“It felt like I was being led to meet the leader of a despotic cult,” Thomas told HuffPost, adding that Nation “didn’t disappoint” when he finally met him.

“He immediately went through my school folder of work based around the comic art of 2,000 A.D. and classical painting and drawings,” he said. “I think he saw in me the opportunity to add a different artistic dimension to the club’s repertoire and left me to recreate on the walls of the club what I had on paper.”

“For me, John is the ‘Darwin’ of street art in the U.K. and gave me an opportunity to express the art that spoke to me all those years ago.”

Jody Thomas

Thomas credits Nation as being at “the forefront” of the street art movement at that time. “His energy and personality has garnered him an amount of respect amongst Bristolians on the level of any rock star or public figure,” he said. “For me, he is the ‘Darwin’ of street art in the U.K. and gave me a opportunity to express the art that spoke to me all those years ago.”

The admiration is mutual. Nation still remembers the day that Thomas first brought in his work which was “totally different” to what was being produced in the club at the time. “I thought to myself, ‘fucking hell, this is amazing. He’s 15 and painting like this?’ I thought, ‘this boy is going to go far,’” Nation said.

“At first he wasn’t accepted as much by the graffiti lads. Jody was into indie music and a lot of that music had dark imagery on its album sleeves,” he added. “He embraced that kind of artwork. He painted small pieces, then he painted these two black and white heads (below) and that was it. I have a lot of time for him. He didn’t stick to what everyone else was doing. He just wanted to be an artist and express his talents.”

Inkie, a.k.a. Tom Bingle, also emerged from the center. He’s since worked as a head of design at SEGA and hosted his own shows across the globe. Recently, he painted alongside Shepard Fairey, the artist behind the “Hope” poster that came to define former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.

For Inkie, Nation’s project acted as a vital “central hub” for the city’s graffiti artists in the pre-internet era of the late ‘80s to mid-90s. “Without this center and John’s support of our artwork, Bristol would not have had the scene it maintains today,” he told HuffPost.

By 1991, however, Nation had become disillusioned with the restraints he felt the authority was putting on him and quit.

“I was seen as being quite outspoken, left wing and a bit of a socialist,” he said. “But I’m proud of what I did back then. And the fact that people still talk about then and what I achieved for me is justification for what I did do.”

Nation went on to forge a successful career in promoting dance music events across the U.K. and the NASS action sports and music show in Somerset.

With the explosion in the popularity of street art, which he puts principally down to the rise of the internet and social media, he’s since come full circle ― and now gives regular tours of Bristol’s scene via the WhereTheWall tour.

“People from all over the world come, and no one tour is the same. Street art is here today, gone tomorrow. The art form is transient,” he said.

In April, Nation curated his first ever solo show, “Graffiti Nation,” at Bristol’s Upfest gallery, the home of Europe’s largest live street art festival.

He also worked with Inkie on the “See No Evil” art exhibition in 2011 and 2012, and remains a fierce advocate for spaces where artists can legally paint. He’s also set to feature in another BBC documentary, which will analyze the U.K. street art scene in the decades since Operation Anderson.

Nation’s pedigree, knowledge and influence of street art and the genres that umbrella term encompasses have seen him nicknamed the “Godfather” of the Bristol (and increasingly British) scene. But it’s a label that doesn’t sit well with him.

“I look back and I feel that all those years ago I was vilified and I could have possibly lost my job,” he said. “Then two years ago I’m being used as the face of Bristol tourism as someone who represents it as a progressive, cultural city. Who would have thought it?”

“I get called the ‘Godfather,’ but I’m not. I just had a faith and a belief in these young people when no one else would give them the time of day,” he added. “I’m just lucky enough that i’ve been involved in the graffiti scene and seen it emerge. Bristol is not what it is because of me, far from it. I’m just one cog in the wheel, just like Banksy and all the others.”

Check out John Nation’s Instagram, Facebook and the tour website for WhereTheWall.

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Education Department to hit pause on two primary Obama regulations aimed at for-profits

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 14 Jun 2017 - 10:15

The U.S. Department of Education on Thursday will announce plans to hit pause on two of the Obama administration's primary rules aimed at reining in for-profit colleges.

Department officials told Inside Higher Ed they will block a rule, set to take effect next month, that clarifies how student borrowers can have their loans forgiven if they were defrauded or misled by their college.

The Trump administration will announce a do-over of the rule-making process that produced that regulation, known as borrower defense to repayment, as well as the gainful-employment rule, which holds vocational programs accountable when they produce graduates with burdensome student loan debt.

While parts of gainful employment had already gone into effect, borrower defense was scheduled to become active on July 1. As that deadline approached, rumors had buzzed about the department’s plans for the regulations while politicians and advocacy groups weighed in with a flurry of letters.

Republican lawmakers have long been critical of both sets of regulations and made clear their intentions to roll them back after the election. Although gainful employment affects nondegree programs at many community colleges and borrower defense applies to all higher education institutions, the for-profit sector pushed back hard against both regulations. Consumer advocates view both rules as essential to protecting students against misconduct by colleges and have urged the administration not to walk them back.

The administration will issue a stay of borrower defense under Section 705 of the Administrative Procedure Act, which an Education Department official said allows federal agencies to halt the effective date of a rule pending judicial review. An association of California for-profit colleges is suing to block the rule. The official said the department is delaying implementation of the rule based on the lack of resolution of that case. (On Tuesday, Democratic attorneys general for eight states and the District of Columbia sought to intervene in the lawsuit to defend the rule.)

The Trump administration previously has cited that section of the Administrative Procedure Act to delay enforcement of other federal rules, including one from the EPA.

The department will pursue an overhaul of the regulations by appointing separate rule-making committees to renegotiate the borrower-defense as well as the gainful-employment rules.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said fraud is unacceptable but that previous rule-making efforts missed an opportunity to get the regulations right.

“The result is a muddled process that's unfair to students and schools and puts taxpayers on the hook for significant costs,” she said. “It’s time to take a step back and make sure these rules achieve their purpose: helping harmed students. It’s time for a regulatory reset. It is the department’s aim, and this administration’s commitment, to protect students from predatory practices while also providing clear, fair and balanced rules for colleges and universities to follow.”

The Do-Over Process

The rule-making process, which requires federal agencies to seek public input via hearings and to appoint a committee of experts and stakeholders, can stretch out for months. The new round of rule making will begin with public hearings next month in Washington and Dallas. Department officials, speaking on background, said it’s too early to say what solutions negotiators will reach with respect to either rule. Higher education groups, for example, have criticized financial responsibility requirements in the borrower-defense rule as being onerous. And for-profits have argued that the gainful-employment regulations should apply to all institutions, regardless of tax status.

Officials said the department won’t identify specific objectives for the new rule-making process, however. Instead, negotiators will be free to take what approach they consider prudent to reach consensus on the rules, the officials said.

But negotiated rule making gives the secretary considerable influence in shaping the eventual outcome. DeVos will appoint the negotiators of each committee and their recommendations will ultimately be nonbinding, allowing the department to make the final call. The Obama administration, for example, released final versions of the two rules after each negotiated rule-making process failed to reach a consensus.

After early speculation this year that Republicans in Congress would attempt to eliminate borrower defense via the Congressional Review Act, lawmakers never took action involving the rule and it became apparent that they would defer to the administration on the issue. Republicans also didn’t include budget riders to defund gainful employment in the May spending deal that will fund Congress through the rest of the fiscal year.

The Obama administration crafted both sets of regulations in response to developments within the for-profit sector. The collapse of the for-profit chain Corinthian Colleges in 2015, which followed department sanctions, led to a flood of applications for loan discharge via borrower defense, a little-cited statute that took on renewed relevance after federal student loan debt ballooned in recent years. The existing statutory language was vague, however, and was based to a large extent on state law.

In response to Corinthian, the department sought to lay out a clear standard for students seeking loan discharge, which also held colleges accountable for fraud. In addition, the complex rule seeks to identify financially vulnerable colleges and to protect taxpayers and students in the event of their collapse. But many colleges complained that the language dealing with misrepresentations was too vague and that the regulations could have severe consequences even for colleges that did not intend to mislead students.

Under DeVos, the department’s efforts to stake out a strategy on the Obama regulations -- perhaps the biggest immediate issue in higher ed facing the new administration -- were likely hampered by the still low staffing levels for political hires. But the July 1 effective date for borrower defense provided a hard deadline for the DeVos team to sort out its approach.

Observers Weigh In on Rules

Others outside the department have weighed in during recent weeks. Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren, Patty Murray, Sherrod Brown and Dick Durbin wrote to DeVos last week asking her to confirm that she would implement and enforce the borrower-defense regulation.

“Delaying the borrower-defense rule would be a monumental dereliction of the duty you have to protect students and taxpayers, and would increase the risk of repeating the recent history of students left holding the bag while executives at collapsing institutions made away with millions in profits,” the senators wrote.

It was the second letter senators had sent DeVos on borrower defense since last month. In March, a group of Senate Democrats also wrote objecting to the delay of several deadlines for programs measured by the gainful-employment rule.

However, some higher ed groups wrote to DeVos to renew calls to reconsider the rules. The United Negro College Fund and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education told DeVos in a letter this week that borrower defense would have a detrimental impact on their member institutions. The two groups together represent more than 185 historically black colleges and predominantly black institutions.

Michael Lomax, UNCF's CEO and president, joined Lezli Baskerville, NAFEO's CEO and president, in writing that the financial responsibility and disclosure requirements for private colleges would put onerous burdens on HBCUs to pledge collateral or to secure new letters of credit in response to the rule’s definitions of “triggering” events.

“A new regulatory process is needed to significantly narrow the scope of this regulation, limit institutional liabilities for unwarranted claims, provide greater certainty for both students and institutions, and ensure due process for HBCUs and PBIs, as well as other institutions that are serving their students well,” they wrote.

A department official cited that letter as an illustration of the kinds of institutional concerns that a new negotiated rule-making process would address.

The Institute for College Access and Success wrote in a blog post Tuesday that the results of the gainful-employment rule demonstrate some career education programs “are consistently leaving students worse off -- drowning in debt they cannot repay -- while many other programs are not.”

But the department believes a clear review of what constitutes gainful employment is necessary, officials said. The definition of the term hasn’t been revisited in decades, they said, leading to regulatory overreach. Career Education Colleges and Universities, the largest for-profit trade group, twice sued to block the Obama gainful-employment rule and successfully stopped an initial version from going into effect.

The department also plans to include in the borrower-defense rule-making process a reconsideration of guidelines for guarantee agencies' debt-collection practices. In March, the department withdrew 2015 guidelines from the Obama administration barring those guarantee agencies from charging high fees to borrowers who quickly begin repaying their student loans after defaulting.

In announcing the changes to the borrower-defense rule today, the department also will restate its commitment to discharging loan debt held by students who were promised relief via borrower defense. And staff will continue to review pending applications for loan discharges. Congressional lawmakers and Democratic attorneys general have repeatedly sought updates in recent weeks on the department's progress -- or lack thereof -- in getting the loans of those borrowers discharged.

“Nearly 16,000 borrower-defense claims are currently being processed by the department, and as I have committed all along, promises made to students under the current rule will be promises kept,” DeVos said. “We are working with servicers to get these loans discharged as expeditiously as possible. Some borrowers should expect to obtain discharges within the next several weeks.”

Editorial Tags: Breaking NewsFederal policyFinancial aidFor-profit collegesImage Caption: Education Secretary Betsy DeVosAd Keyword: Student loansIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

How To Avoid School Choice Accountability

Huffington Post - Mié, 14 Jun 2017 - 09:08

After Betsy DeVos’s last round of Congressional obfuscation testimony, many folks are asking the same question as EdWeek ― “When Do Voucher Programs Allow Private Schools To Discriminate Against Students?” DeVos answered variations on the question with repetitions of one answer:

Schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law, period.

I don’t have a direct line to DeVos’s brain, so I can’t discern for certain what she’s thinking, but I do know a way to keep funneling tax dollars to voucher programs and let those voucher schools discriminate in any and all ways they wish to, all without violating the above quote.

In Pennsylvania, we call them Educational Improvement Tax Credits, and they work like this (beware: oversimplification in the service of clarity dead ahead). My corporation has a tax bill of $1,000 in taxes that would ordinarily go to public education. But instead of sending the taxes to the state capital, I send $900 to Nifty Educational Privatey Organization. I get credit for paying $900 of my taxes, and those dollars go straight to NEPO, a group that distributes “scholarships” (aka “vouchers”) to students who want to attend private schools. Meanwhile, the local public school system receives $900 fewer taxpayer dollars.

But notice― the $900 from GreeneCorps never touched the government’s hands, so technically, those are not “government” funds.

In Arizona this dodge is called a “tax credit voucher” program, and it has provided new ways for folks to grift and graft their way to personal riches. The tuition tax credit idea has been around for a while, but like many previously-dead reform ideas, it’s enjoying a resurgence. And tuition tax credits can be particularly tasty in states where you can get a rebate from the state for dollars that you contributed to a voucher school program; if you’re shameless enough, you can actually turn a profit.

This all deserves closer examination, but its importance here is simple― if the feds implement a federal tuition tax credits program, DeVos will able to look at private schools that benefit from the program while engaging in all sorts of discrimination and say, “Well, they aren’t taking any federal dollars, so federal laws don’t apply.” While charters have hitched their wagons to the public school funding mechanism, tuition tax credit voucher programs create a money funnel that bypasses the government (and all its dumb rules and stuff). While charters are designed to attach themselves to a restaurant diner and drain his blood as he eats his meal, tax tuition voucher credit programs just steal the food from the waiter on his way from the kitchen the diner (which may explain why charter fans are often opposed to vouchers).

If such a system were installed by the Trump-DeVos administration, it would exist outside of any federal regulations (and many state ones). All that debate about giving public dollars to religious institutions would be moot― silly old separation of church and state is no longer a problem. Voucher schools could trample civil rights every day and twice on Saturday while DeVos protested that they didn’t receive any federal money and parents were free to choose whatever they wanted to choose. It would be a corporate oligarch’s dream, free of any regulation or other government interference. And it would mean that Betsy DeVos spoke something that was truly the letter of the law, even if in her heart she wanted to kill the spirit of the law dead, dead, dead.

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Stunning Photos Bust Stereotypes Of What 'Everyday Africa' Looks Like

Huffington Post - Mié, 14 Jun 2017 - 08:44

A post shared by Everyday Africa (@everydayafrica) on May 11, 2017 at 5:31am PDT

An Instagram account seeks to counter misconceptions about people and countries in Africa by sharing gorgeous photos of everyday life on the continent.

Everyday Africa, which started five years ago and now has about 340,000 followers, regularly publishes pictures from more than 30 photographers, most of whom are African themselves. Their work reflects a range of experiences on the continent: kids playing in a pool, young women taking selfies, people selling food at a street market.

The project, largely directed at an American audience, aims to use photography to upend stereotypes about Africa ― namely that it is mainly a region of war, poverty and safaris ― and instead celebrate its rich diversity. The continent does have 55 countries and more than 2,000 languages, after all. 

“The way news functions is to focus on the extremes ― often it’s the very negative,” co-founder Peter DiCampo told HuffPost. “In the United States, you and I know daily life is daily life, whether that’s watching Netflix or cooking dinner. But without seeing those things in other parts of the world, we don’t naturally assume that they exist.

“The war and poverty parts are certainly present, but there’s so much else.”

The project just released a book featuring work from 30 of its photographers.

A post shared by Everyday Africa (@everydayafrica) on May 25, 2017 at 6:17am PDT

DiCampo, a documentary photographer, started the Everyday Africa project with writer Austin Merrill in 2012. They had both volunteered with the Peace Corps, in Ghana and Ivory Coast, respectively, and then worked on a reporting project together in Ivory Coast.

“Both of us found we were in this country we knew, focusing [for our assignments] only on refugees, finding victims of war, perpetrators of violence,” DiCampo told HuffPost. “But once we pulled out our phones to shoot in a free-flowing way, there was so much else, so much greater context, images that felt like a more complete story.”

They started uploading these images online, and Everyday Africa was born. 

The founders, two white men who are also foreigners to Africa, have made it a “targeted mission” over the years to ensure that the project centers on photographers from African countries, DiCampo said. Today the majority of their contributing photographers are from the continent, and they aim to continue to expand the diversity of their contributors, namely to include more African women as well as people from a wider range of countries. 

“The term ‘everyday’ is very loaded ― whose everyday are we talking about?” DiCampo said. “The best way to address that is to get a diverse group and say nothing is off limits, poverty or rich Africa.”

The group partnered with the nonprofit World Press Photo Foundation to launch The African Photojournalism Database last year, aiming to connect media groups to more photography freelancers from African countries.

A post shared by Everyday Africa (@everydayafrica) on May 28, 2017 at 9:41am PDT

Over the years, Everyday Africa has become more than just an Instagram account. It has inspired other social media users to start “everyday” photography projects. Now more than a dozen accounts with similar missions exist, some affiliated with the group, some not, all seeking to bust stereotypes about communities. They include Everyday Middle East and Everyday Black America, among others.

The founders have also created a nonprofit, the Everyday Projects, which runs education initiatives in the U.S. in partnership with the Pulitzer Center.

Since 2013, DiCampo and others have visited more than 2,500 students in classrooms, mainly in Chicago and Washington, D.C., to teach kids about the Everyday Africa project and stereotypes in the media. Teachers then use their curriculum ― free to the public ― over several weeks to teach students about media and photography, and to have students do their own “everyday” projects.

Everyday Africa is just one of many efforts that have cropped up on social media to push back against stereotypes of the continent. The Twitter hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou, for instance, popularized in 2015, also sought to break stereotypes by sharing images of ordinary people’s lives.

Five years in, even though DiCampo says he still sees a lot of the same stereotypes about the African continent, initiatives such as that one give him hope.

“I think the journalism world is changing. There is so much more localized storytelling taking place,” he said. “And other platforms like ours where people can reach an audience, that will help those stereotypes dissipate.”

See more from Everyday Africa below and on the Everyday Projects website.

A post shared by Everyday Africa (@everydayafrica) on Apr 11, 2017 at 6:08am PDT

A post shared by Everyday Africa (@everydayafrica) on Jun 3, 2017 at 1:50pm PDT

A post shared by Everyday Africa (@everydayafrica) on Apr 28, 2017 at 12:55pm PDT

A post shared by Everyday Africa (@everydayafrica) on May 29, 2017 at 3:28am PDT

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Uno de cada tres vecinos de Barcelona no dejará el coche pese a la contaminación

El País - Educación - Mié, 14 Jun 2017 - 06:12
El 70% tiene vehículo privado y cree que lo mantendrá en una década, según una encuesta sobre movilidad

Aprender a ‘bailar bajo la lluvia’

El País - Educación - Mié, 14 Jun 2017 - 03:08
Un proyecto socioeducativo para adolescentes pretende fomentar relaciones saludables desde una perspectiva de género

White House apprenticeship push will include funding and focus on alternative providers

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 14 Jun 2017 - 02:00

The kickoff of President Trump’s apprenticeship push is slated for today with a policy speech observers said will include a call for new money, a less balky federal approach to registered apprenticeships and more openness to noncollege providers handling the educational side of those programs.

During a speech today at the U.S. Department of Labor, Trump is expected to announce a grant program of up to $200 million to expand apprenticeships, with an increased emphasis on growth industries like information technology and health care as well as manufacturing.

Currently, 505,000 people hold apprenticeships through 2,100 programs that are registered with the federal government or state agencies. The most common professions represented include electricians, plumbers, carpenters and construction laborers, according to federal data.

The new money, while a relatively small sum, would be welcomed by job training advocates.

“It would be great to see additional resources put toward building apprenticeship programs,” said Kermit Kaleba, federal policy director for the National Skills Coalition.

However, the announcement follows a White House proposed budget that calls for deep cuts to existing work force programs. The Trump budget includes a 21 percent cut to the Labor Department, a 40 percent reduction to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and a $168 million cut to career and technical education grants for states. Even some congressional Republicans have criticized those proposals, which are unlikely to occur.

Trump and his cabinet in recent days have described apprenticeship programs as an alternative to the college degree.

"Apprenticeships are going to be a big, big factor in our country," Trump said during his first full cabinet meeting Monday. "There are millions of good jobs that lead to great careers, jobs that do not require a four-year degree or the massive debt that often comes with those four-year degrees and even two-year degrees."

Even so, federally registered apprenticeships require an educational component under an “earn and learn” model, which typically involves employers teaming up with community colleges, four-year institutions, technical schools or an unaccredited education provider. Labor unions, for example, sometimes manage the education side, with related instruction based on industry standards.

Apprentices are assigned a mentor and typically must complete a minimum amount of credit-hour-equivalent learning. When the apprenticeship concludes, they earn an industry-recognized certificate that can lead to college credits at some institutions.

Federally recognized apprenticeships often last two years or longer, said Mary Alice McCarthy, director of the Center on Education and Skills with the education policy program at New America.

“Apprenticeship is not a short-term training program, as it shouldn’t be,” she said.

Trump administration officials generated some buzz last week by suggesting at a Business Roundtable event that the White House is considering federal funding streams for noncollege providers to participate in the education side of apprenticeship programs.

Details about what will emerge today are unclear, but several observers who were familiar with the administration’s planned executive orders said they will include a nudge toward alternative providers.

The proposal is likely to be somewhat open-ended and flexible, they said, leaving room for employer input. But one possibility is for industries to come up with standards for the learning and experience apprentices should gain on the job -- a form of required competencies.

Standards for resulting industry “certified” apprenticeships would serve a quality-control purpose, similar to the role accreditors play in higher education.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has been exploring approaches to quality control that are employer driven and could serve as alternatives or a complement to the current accrediting system. These ideas likely will play a role in the Trump administration’s take on federally registered apprenticeships, several experts said.

Likewise, the White House and Republican leaders in Congress are keen for alternative education providers to participate in apprenticeships and other types of job training, with some support from Democrats and liberal groups. One possibility, some speculate, is that coding boot camps could work with the IT industry to certify and supplement on-the-job learning by apprentices.

Yet the administration has said that traditional colleges will remain at the table, also calling for institutions to ramp up their collaboration with employers.

“Higher education, too, should assume responsibility for promoting apprenticeships. Community colleges and four-year colleges have an obligation to work with students to educate them in skills they need to succeed,” Alexander Acosta, the U.S. secretary of labor, said Tuesday during a White House press briefing. “Incorporating apprenticeships into two- and four-year degree programs would offer students both traditional learning and skills-based learning.”

Who Will Be Eligible for New Money?

The Obama administration allocated roughly $250 million toward expanding apprenticeships in recent years. Much of that funding came from revenue from the awarding of H-1B visas for skilled international workers -- money that is required to go toward job training for Americans.

This year’s budget includes $90 million for apprenticeships, with Congress signing off on essentially flat grant funding levels from the Obama era. Trump’s budget proposal for this year also calls for $90 million. If the White House asks for more money -- observers said today’s announcement could include a call for $200 million or less, but probably in the nine-figure range -- that funding presumably would be on top of the current level.

McCarthy said she would applaud the new money, adding that the H-1B source is appropriate. A key question, she said, is which programs will be eligible. One possibility is that the federal money could go to apprenticeship programs that are not registered with the feds or states. That might open the door to lower-quality experiences for apprentices, she said.

Likewise, McCarthy said some noncollege providers could charge more than community colleges for the learning component. Price hasn’t been a problem in the past, she said, but that could change.

“It should be cost-free to the apprentice,” said McCarthy, who worked for both the Labor and Education Departments during the Obama administration.

Another possible concern is the portability of credentials apprentices earn from noncollege providers.

Yet perhaps the biggest looming question about the administration’s apprenticeship push, several experts said, is whether an alternative quality-control pathway eventually could open the door to federal financial aid -- a far larger pot of money than impermanent grant funding from H-1B coffers.

Such a controversial change would require legislation. But Trump’s executive orders could get that process rolling as congressional leaders work toward reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, the law that governs federal financial aid.

One possibility that could emerge from today’s announcement is a boost for the fledgling apprenticeship service provider space, said Ryan Craig, co-founder of University Ventures, a higher education-focused investment firm.

These service providers, which are more common in the United Kingdom, act as intermediaries between employers, government and education providers. Employers typically front the costs, he said, with intermediaries “hiding the wiring” for the registration process and other tasks in creating a program.

Craig described the industry, which his firm plans to invest in, as being similar to the online program management companies that help colleges create online degrees.

“Most employers aren’t interested in running these programs themselves,” Craig said.

Streamlined Registration

A broad range of critics say the registration process for federally recognized apprenticeships is slow and needlessly complex. That has contributed to relatively limited participation by employers -- apprenticeships account for just 0.3 percent of the work force -- who also typically receive little or no federal funding.

The Trump administration has signaled that it would like to remove barriers to employers creating apprenticeship opportunities. Acosta this week distributed a brief memorandum to his fellow cabinet members that called for all federal agencies to help expand apprenticeships.

“I ask that each agency head support the administration's apprenticeship initiative by removing obstacles to apprenticeship growth that may be present in current regulations or practices,” Acosta wrote.

However, some experts said they hoped the White House doesn’t go too far in relaxing its requirements. That’s because federal recognition for apprenticeships comes with protections for apprentices, such as obligations for employers to pay them more than minimum wage and for apprenticeships to lead to pay raises.

“If these protections get watered down, we would be very concerned,” McCarthy said.

Much more work can be done by the federal government to make its work force development system more efficient and less duplicative, said Maria Flynn, president and CEO of Jobs for the Future and a former longtime Labor Department official. That includes streamlining of the federal registration process for apprenticeships, she said, adding that agencies could coordinate more.

However, Flynn and other experts said such improvements will be unlikely if the federal government guts funding for work force programs.

The apprenticeship focus “shouldn’t be a replacement to the underlying work force system,” said Flynn, adding that she would “rather have that broad reform conversation before discussing cuts.”

Editorial Tags: Federal policyJob trainingFinancial aidImage Source: White HouseImage Caption: Donald and Ivanka Trump at Waukesha County Technical College TuesdayIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Dispute about sociology quiz question on slave families ends in lecturer's termination

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 14 Jun 2017 - 02:00

It started with a question on a quiz: “Historical research on African-American families during slavery shows that …” A student took exception to what her instructor said was the correct answer, an email exchange ensued and things escalated.

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville allegedly terminated the instructor, and the student is now celebrating on social media, saying she “got a racist professor fired midsemester after she tried to sabotage me.” What exactly happened?

In February, Kayla Renee Parker, now a senior, answered the question about enslaved families on a sociology quiz administered by longtime lecturer Judy Morelock. Parker, who has since shared the story online, was sure the answer was “C) Black family bonds were destroyed by the abuses of slave owners, who regularly sold off family members to other slave owners.” Plenty of historians would agree.

Yet Morelock marked it as wrong, saying the correct response was “D) Most slave families were headed by two parents.” To Parker, something was off, since her textbook mentioned the separation of families by the slave trade. She emailed Morelock to ask why “C” couldn’t at least also be true, according to messages she shared on Facebook.

Morelock responded that most families remained intact, noting she’d emphasized that in class, but she asked Parker for evidence in the textbook of her answer. Parker responded with a specific page and quote, and Morelock quibbled with it before saying she’d give Parker and everyone else in the class an extra four points.

Problem not solved, though, according to what Parker recently wrote in a blog post on Medium called “Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: The Tale of a Progressive Professor Who Forgot to Hide Her Racism and Got Her Ass Fired.” Among other criticisms, Parker says Morelock relied on outdated research that “whitewashes” the realities of slavery to back up her argument and, worse, presented “alternative facts” to the class. That’s based in part on an email the instructor sent to her saying some scholars have argued that slaves’ family bonds “were maintained in part by word-of-mouth communication from a slave community on one plantation to a slave community on [another]. Further, as I said in class, many slave owners tried not to make their charges angry by selling off the most important people in the lives of their slaves.”

It was “alarming to me that my professor believes that ‘Most slave families were kept intact with wife and husband present,’” Parker wrote in her post. “What does she think this was, Good Times? Most slaves were not getting married and most slaves were not raising their children.”

Parker also accuses Morelock of retaliating against her in class for discussing the dispute in Facebook posts, which the instructor had allegedly been reading. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to bring the textbook to class today because my bag is full of other texts for a student who requires further evidence on subjects I teach in class,” Morelock allegedly said, for example.

A subsequent one-on-one conversation resulted in a kind of challenge for Parker to lecture the class on the topic, she says. Parker talked with the department chair about possibly being retaliated against for accepting the offer but ultimately did so, streaming the talk on Facebook.

“I felt as though I had to give this presentation because I have had enough of white people defining my history, especially inaccurately. Our country continues to have a race problem and I firmly believe that it’s because we can’t even accept that America has never been great for anyone unless you’re white,” Parker wrote. “How can we expect the treatment of black people to improve and equality to be made possible if America can’t even face the reality of how people of color have been treated in the past? It’s impossible to move forward if we can’t look back.”

Soon, she says, friends alerted her to alleged threats Morelock had been posting on her own Facebook page. Parker attributes the following comments to Morelock, which she assumed were in reference to her: “After the semester is over and she is no longer my student, I will post her name, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn … after she graduates, all bets are off,” “I don’t forget malevolent attempts to harm me. #karmawillfindyou,” and “Ignore the facts, promote a misinformed viewpoint, trash me and I will fight you.” Screen shots have been circulated, but Morelock says some of the comments were not about Parker. 

Parker says she was removed from the class and otherwise supported by administrators, while Morelock allegedly offered a two-part coup de grâce: a final email to the family sociology class saying she'd likely be terminated without an opportunity to defend herself because a student had impugned her character in a formal complaint, and a vulgar Facebook meme involving a gift-wrapped dildo Parker says was directed at her (Morelock denies this).

Over all, Parker accuses Morelock of being a false ally to people of color. “She wears a safety pin so everyone knows she’s an ally for minorities,” reads the blog post. “She regularly discusses her love for the Obamas, the Black Lives Matter movement and her admonishment for this current administration. However, I would soon realize that nothing would shake her more than a confident black woman contradicting her in front of a classroom of her own students.”

Tennessee’s sociology chair declined to comment on the matter, saying that would violate federal student privacy laws. Karen Ann Simsen, a university spokeswoman, said she couldn’t address Parker’s comments for the same reason. But she said Morelock was notified last summer that her year-to-year contract would not be renewed for this coming fall, as the sociology department is “phasing out a few of the courses she teaches from the curriculum” and using more doctoral students to teach undergraduates.

In April, Simsen said, “we exercised the option outlined in our Faculty Handbook of ending her contract early” by paying her remaining salary though July.

Morelock said via LinkedIn that the university had “threatened” her and she couldn't talk to reporters, lest her payout be revoked. But she said the blog "is replete with scurrilous falsehoods from the very first sentence. Some of the comments lifted from my page were not intended for that person and I did not send the dildo meme to her. It was lifted from my pictures."

Morelock shared a letter from a past student expressing shock at the situation, since she'd always known her instructor to be a "champion of social justice." The former student said Morelock was bothered by having her integrity and commitment to her students of color questioned on social media, not by being challenged over a test question, and Morelock agreed. She referred additional requests for comment to Donna Sherwood, a retired professor of English at Knoxville College, where Morelock used to teach, and lecturer of women’s studies at Tennessee. Sherwood said via email that she was “still stunned at the traction” one young woman “with a vendetta has been able to achieve. I'll give her credit for persistence and appeal to racial hysteria.”

Sherwood said her knowledge of the case was based on the public record due to Morelock's “gag order,” but described the situation as a student interested in proving a teacher wrong engaging in "Facebook attacks until the teacher responded -- and went a bit overboard.” Even so, she wondered why Parker continued to draw attention to the case even after Morelock was terminated, saying theirs was an “academic disagreement, which should have stayed in academia and not spilled over into social media, where hysteria quickly supersedes intellectual pursuit of knowledge.” (Parker has elsewhere said she waited to blog about the class until grades were posted.)

Parker said Tuesday that Morelock “loses credibility when saying she wasn't harassing me, when there is photo evidence of the public Facebook posts she was making.” Morelock seems to believe that calling her a racist is “libelous,” Parker said, but her actions “continue to prove my point.”

To some, the case will come across as a one-off, a unique situation in which a soon-to-retire instructor overreacted to a student. Others will -- and do -- see it as a case of racial bias by a white professor against a black student with a legitimate academic concern. Others still will see a non-tenure-track professor being given no apparent opportunity to defend herself against claims with implications for academic freedom. Many may see it as a reason to exercise privacy settings on Facebook, or stay off it altogether.

But what about that quiz question? Was Parker right? Brenda Stevenson, Nickoll Family Endowed Chair in History at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an expert on enslaved women and families, said neither answer is completely true, but that “C” -- Parker’s answer -- would be “most true.”

Jerome Dotson, an assistant professor of Africana studies at the University of Arizona who studies slavery, said he’d been following the case and found the question to be poorly worded over all, in that no response fairly represents the antebellum slave family. (He said the question could work better as an essay.)

Attributing broken family bonds to the slave trade eliminates “any possibility for slave agency, and it gives too much attention to the slave owner’s power,” he said, since threats of sale were obvious problems for slaves but there were still families. In fact, he said, “the slave family helped form the cornerstone of the slave community,” and some slave owners permitted enslaved men and women to marry to keep them from running away.

Morelock’s preferred response, meanwhile, is problematic because of the wording, Dotson said. He'd be reluctant to argue that “most” slave families were headed by two parents, since, for example, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs were reared by their grandmothers, he said.

AdjunctsAcademic FreedomEditorial Tags: FacultyTeachingImage Caption: Kayla Renee ParkerIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Education Department on track to update College Scorecard

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 14 Jun 2017 - 02:00

The Department of Education appears to be planning to keep around one of the most high-profile higher ed initiatives of the Obama administration.

Department staff are taking steps to update the data feeding the College Scorecard, a tool that allows prospective students to look at measures like the debt burden of an institution's graduates, by September of this year, according to higher ed groups. That would be counted as a victory by proponents of more transparency in higher ed, even though the Scorecard wasn’t among the Obama efforts the Trump administration promised to eliminate.

Some have wondered about the longevity of the Scorecard, since it wasn't required by law and isn't so established that it would be difficult to abandon.

Maintaining the tool for now may have as much to do with the timeline -- collecting and validating the data is a months-long process -- and low level of staffing in the department as it does with any clear strategy from the administration. But with another year in the books, it could become more likely that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos keeps the tool long term while putting her own stamp on the interface.

The Scorecard was first published in 2015 after a process that began with a much more controversial proposal from the Obama administration to rank institutions. Colleges and universities have had concerns, but some higher ed groups have come on board with the final product, which allows students and researchers to find information about outcomes without attaching accountability. Community colleges have complained that the Scorecard doesn't count many of their students, and liberal arts institutions have criticized the data choices, saying that they devalue the kind of education their institutions provide.

But the website has been widely used over the last two years, said Michael Itzkowitz, a senior policy adviser on higher education at Third Way who previously worked on the Scorecard at the Department of Education. At least two million individual users have accessed the site and 100,000 students have done so in the last 30 days, he said.

Academics and researchers have downloaded Scorecard data for analysis. And more than 600 developers have also used the Scorecard application programming interface to create their own search tools.

“Assuming they continue to make progress, it will be gratifying to see that they value transparency and better information on college outcomes,” Itzkowitz said. “A lot of people are very invested in the College Scorecard tool itself -- not just for the website but for the data it provides.”

Jamienne Studley, former under secretary of education, said the department developed the Scorecard at a time when many parallel efforts were shedding more light on outcome and results.

Higher education institutions across the board strongly rejected the idea of ranking colleges and universities. Studley, now a consultant and the national policy adviser at Beyond 12, said after listening to the response from college leaders, the Obama administration achieved a result that avoided “really corrosive” methods of comparing institutions.

Some higher ed groups still have gripes with the data presented on the Scorecard, arguing that the tool doesn’t accurately reflect their student populations or sometimes just has incorrect data.

Tim Powers, director of accountability and regulatory issues at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said some NAICU members have been frustrated by the amount of time it has taken to have incorrect information updated on the site.

Jeff Lieberson, a spokesman for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, said the group has not discussed the Scorecard with the Trump administration, but it will be on APLU’s agenda for future talks. The group has pushed to have data from the Student Achievement Measure, which tracks student movement across higher ed institutions, to the site.

“The department pledged to include it, but it never happened in the previous administration,” he said. “We think it’s critical for that data to be included.”

Clare McCann, another former Department of Education official, said some objections to Scorecard data could only be addressed by the creation of a student unit record system. The data don’t, for example, include outcomes for students who did not receive Title IV aid.

“The biggest concerns can only be addressed by Congress,” she said.

For now, it appears that the most time-consuming work on the Scorecard -- collecting the data -- is going ahead without any significant changes by the department’s leadership. Certain pieces of information such as closed institutions are updated more regularly. But updating the full website is a complex process requiring multiple steps.

Because there is no single data set of student outcomes, the department must submit cohorts of students to the Department of Treasury with multiple privacy protections built in along the way. Treasury returns aggregate data on earnings and student debt levels for each institution in the Scorecard. That process incorporates federal data from three different sources: the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, the National Student Loan Data System and the Treasury.

The timeline for the department usually begins in winter for an update by September.

A department spokeswoman declined to comment on what intentions the administration has for the Scorecard, saying there are no plans to change it and no plans not to change it.

With staffing levels still low and a number of deadlines looming for decisions on Obama-era regulations like gainful employment and borrower defense, the Scorecard likely ranks low on the list of priorities. McCann said because the tool is basically consumer information, it wouldn’t rank on the same level as accountability measures the department may look to address by rewriting regulations.

The Obama administration saw the Scorecard as a tool that would continue to evolve and be improved. DeVos could look to put her own stamp on the site, possibly reflecting additional feedback from the institutions it measures.

“It’s probably too soon to say whether or not in the long term they continue to recognize the value of this data and continue to publish the Scorecard or some version of it,” McCann said. “It’s a good sign for now.”

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21,000 apply for Excelsior Scholarship over five days

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 14 Jun 2017 - 02:00

Days after opening the application window for its free public college tuition program, New York received more than 21,000 applications.

It looks like a quick clip for a state that had projected Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature free tuition program would cover about 22,000 students in its first year. But it’s not yet clear how many applicants will actually receive awards. The number of applicants is also still small in comparison to the roughly one million New York students who apply for financial aid in a year.

Cuomo’s office has said officials are thrilled with the number of applications. However, some policy experts worry that the program’s rapid start, short sign-up period and high level of complexity have combined to create an unpredictable period for the state, its budget and its public colleges and universities.

New York had received 21,106 Excelsior Scholarship applications as of 7 a.m. Monday, according to the state’s Higher Education Services Corporation. The application period opened June 7 and runs for about six weeks, through July 21.

Few other details were available Tuesday. About a third of the applications came from students who are either already enrolled in the City University of New York system or planning to enroll this fall as freshmen, according to a CUNY spokesman. A large majority of the CUNY applicants were continuing students, he said.

New York residents attending a CUNY or State University of New York institution can apply for the Excelsior Scholarship, a last-dollar award that pays for tuition costs after other sources of financial aid have been applied. Lawmakers approved the scholarship this spring. It will be phased in over three years, covering families with annual incomes of up to $100,000 this year. It will ultimately cover students from families with incomes of up to $125,000 per year -- making an estimated 940,000 families with college-age students eligible.

Some of the state’s community colleges and four-year institutions project enrolling a low number of students who qualify for Excelsior Scholarships in the upcoming academic year. They caution that they’re still waiting to learn exactly how the program will affect enrollment, though.

“Because the scholarship is across the board, it’s a big experiment,” said Kevin Drumm, president of the State University of New York Broome Community College outside of Binghamton. “Right now it looks OK for us, but as with all of us, we don’t know what our actual enrollment and market mix is going to look like.”

SUNY Broome typically enrolls between 4,800 and 5,500 full-time equivalent students annually, Drumm said. It’s difficult for the community college to project next year’s class for several reasons: its fall application deadline is July 1, and enrollments can vary drastically from week to week over the spring and summer, Drumm said. Three weeks ago, registrations were down year over year. Now they’re up about 5.5 percent, measuring full-time equivalent students.

The Excelsior Scholarship is unlikely to go to a vast majority of SUNY Broome’s students, however. Since it’s a last-dollar scholarship, it will not be awarded to students who already have their tuition costs covered by other programs, like New York’s generous Tuition Assistance Program. About 65 percent of SUNY Broome students already have their full tuition costs covered, Drumm said.

SUNY Broome looked at a small test batch of freshman applicants and determined 35 percent would be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship in the upcoming year based on its income requirements. But after factoring in other likely financial aid awards, only about one-tenth of those students would receive an award.

In other words, an estimated 3.5 percent of the freshman class would receive Excelsior Scholarships. But that estimate may not be in line with final numbers, and it could go up in future years as the program’s income ceiling rises and as more potential students become comfortable with attending classes under the free tuition program, Drumm said.

It will take time for students to learn the details of the program, Drumm said. For instance, developmental math and English don’t count toward a requirement that students complete 30 credits per year. Some students aren’t clear on what charges are guaranteed to be covered, either.

“The one thing is people who call the financial aid office and just think they’re going to get a full scholarship,” Drumm said. “They’re not aware it’s just tuition dollars. They’re calling to ask, ‘Will this cover room and board?’”

Some four-year institutions are also projecting a relatively low percentage of students qualifying for the free tuition program in its first year. SUNY Potsdam in northern New York estimates about 6 percent of its 4,000 undergraduate students will be eligible to receive funding from the scholarship, according to Rick Miller, executive vice president

SUNY Potsdam saw inquiries from prospective undergraduates jump sharply this spring. But applications only rose slightly, and enrollments for the fall freshman class are actually tracking down incrementally from last year.

“Our enrollment management staff believes this may be due to families waiting to find out about eligibility for the Excelsior Scholarship first, before making final decisions,” Miller said in an email.

That meshes with the predictions of administrators at SUNY Brockport, west of Rochester.

“I think you’re going to see later movement because of the timing of when everything was announced,” said Robert Wyant, SUNY Brockport’s director of admissions.

The four-year SUNY Brockport enrolls about 7,000 undergraduates. This fall’s freshman class looks like it will be about the same size as last fall’s, when it hit an all-time high of 1,200.

Wyant was not prepared to release any estimates for how many of his institution’s students will receive Excelsior Scholarships.

“It’s still so new,” he said. “It’s hard to gauge it.”

The governor’s office has hailed the number of applications.

“We’re thrilled with the tremendous interest in the Excelsior Scholarship we’ve seen from New Yorkers and look forward to making tuition-free college a reality for middle-class students starting this fall,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

But outside observers were not so quick with compliments.

From October to December of last year, about 275,000 New Yorkers submitted a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, said Judith Scott-Clayton, an associate professor of economics and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Over a million filed a FAFSA for the entire 2016-17 academic year.

Those numbers are by no means perfect comparisons to Excelsior Scholarship applications -- they would include, for example, students attending college in other states and students attending New York’s many private colleges and universities. But they do show the larger scale of total students applying for financial aid in the state.

“Twenty-one thousand is not a lot, in the grand scheme of the number of people in New York going to college,” Scott-Clayton said.

Scott-Clayton also voiced concerns about several other Excelsior Scholarship details, starting with the timing of the application period -- which started very soon after lawmakers reached a deal to create the program. A summer application period is completely out of sync from the typical financial aid cycle, she said. Most students have already decided where they will attend college by the summer.

The short time period between application and the start of classes this fall is hard on institutions, too. The scholarship isn’t simply a bucket of state money landing in their laps.

It covers up to $5,500 worth of tuition, but four-year in-state undergraduate tuition at SUNY is typically listed at $6,470 per year. The system is required to provide additional awards to Excelsior Scholarship students in order to cover their entire tuition cost up to $6,470. The 2017-18 state budget included maintenance of effort payments and a repayment to SUNY to cover those costs.

New York appropriated $87 million for the Excelsior Scholarship’s first year. If more than the estimated 22,000 students receive awards, the governor’s office says it is open to adjusting its budget to support the program.

Rolling out the program so quickly is a risk and an administrative burden, Scott-Clayton said.

“It just seems like the best idea would have been for everybody to have more time to figure out how this is going to work,” she said.

Cuomo’s office noted that the free tuition program was only approved by lawmakers this spring. The governor made it a top priority this year, and leaders wanted to have it in place as soon as possible.

Critics have questioned numerous other details about the Excelsior Scholarship.

Some have questioned the program’s 30-credits-completed-per-year requirement and an after-graduation residency requirement with provisions turning past awards into loans if students do not stay in the state for a certain number of years. Many have also pointed out that the scholarship does not cover mandatory fees, which can add up at public institutions and prevent low-income students from being able to enroll or finish their degrees.

At the end of the day, the program’s caveats matter to students and families, Scott-Clayton said.

“I think they absolutely struggle with the complexity,” Scott-Clayton said. “It’s not nearly as simple as it was marketed.”

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Survey of more than 1,100 U.S. colleges looks at state of internationalization efforts

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 14 Jun 2017 - 02:00

New results from a survey on the state of internationalization at U.S. colleges conducted every five years paint a picture of institutional priorities and progress.

More than 1,100 American colleges and universities responded to the survey, which was conducted in 2016, for a response rate of 39.5 percent. The survey by the American Council on Education’s Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement asked institutions about a broad array of indicators of “comprehensive internationalization,” including indicators that relate to the flow of American students abroad and of international students to the U.S., administrative structures and staffing, incentives for faculty involvement, international partnerships, and the curriculum. Key findings of the “Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses” report include:

  • Nearly three-quarters of responding institutions (72 percent) said that internationalization had accelerated in recent years on their campuses, compared to 64 percent in the most recent iteration of the survey, in 2011. The top three reasons cited for internationalization were “improving student preparedness for a global era,” “diversifying students, faculty and staff at the home campus,” and “becoming more attractive to prospective students at home and overseas.” Revenue generation was reason No. 4.
  • The top two priority activities for internationalization both relate to student mobility -- increasing study abroad for American students and recruiting international students. Partnerships, internationalizing the curriculum and co-curriculum, and faculty development round out the list of top five priority activities.
  • About half of institutions refer to internationalization or related activities in their mission statements (49 percent) or list them among the top five priorities in their strategic plans (47 percent).
  • Presidents are perceived as the primary catalysts for internationalization on campuses, followed by senior international officers. More than half of institutions (58 percent) reported that a single office leads internationalization activities on campus, an increase of 22 percentage points compared to 2011. The report says that internationalization is “increasingly an administrative-intensive endeavor, coordinated by a single office and/or a senior international officer.”
  • More than 70 percent of institutions said internal funding for internationalization has increased or stayed stable over the past three years. Twenty-one percent of institutions have a formal strategy and/or have launched a dedicated fund-raising campaign to support internationalization activities.
  • On recruitment of international students, nearly half (48 percent) of colleges have an international recruiting plan in place, and an increasing number are funding travel by international recruitment officers (44 percent for undergraduate recruitment and 23 percent for graduate recruitment). The proportion of institutions that reported offering scholarships or other financial aid to international undergraduate students has increased by 11 percentage points compared to 2011, to 49 percent.
  • The proportion of institutions hiring overseas recruitment agents -- controversial due to concerns about the practice of paying recruiters per-capita commissions, which is barred by law when it comes to U.S. students -- has nearly tripled. Thirty percent of institutions reported using recruitment agents at the undergraduate level, compared to 11 percent in 2011, while 15 percent reported they use recruitment agents at the graduate level, compared to 6 percent in 2011.
  • As for international student support, 60 percent of institutions said they offer individualized academic support for international students -- up from 57 percent in 2011 but down from 70 percent in 2006. Fifty-seven percent of institutions said they offered an English as a second language support program for matriculated international students. As for other supports, 63 percent said they offer an orientation for international students to the U.S. and the local community, 69 percent said they offer an orientation to the institution and/or the American classroom, 57 percent provide assistance in finding housing, 22 percent have an institutional advisory committee for international students, 13 percent offer international alumni services or chapters, 12 percent provide support services for dependents of international students, and 22 percent offer a host family program for international students.
  • The survey also asked colleges about whether they had pre-matriculation programs in place for international students, either intensive English programs or pathway programs that combine English as a second language and credit-bearing academic course work. About half of respondents (49 percent) said they either are operating, are developing or are considering developing an intensive English program, while 32 percent said the same for pathway programs.
  • Nearly three-quarters of institutions -- 72 percent -- said the number of their students studying abroad has increased or stayed stable over the past three years, while just 7 percent reported a decrease. However, when asked about study abroad participation, 22 percent of institutions chose “not applicable.” The percentages of respondents choosing “not applicable” were even higher in response to queries about changes in student participation in international internships (48 percent), service opportunities abroad (43 percent) and international research (54 percent) -- “indicating,” the report concludes, “that a substantial proportion of U.S. students do not have access to these types of opportunities.”
  • Just over half (51 percent) of institutions said they provide institutional funds for study abroad scholarships.
  • As far as the curriculum goes, 64 percent of institutions have articulated international or global learning-related outcomes for all students, 49 percent reported that their general education requirements include an international or global component and 46 percent reported that they have a foreign language requirement. Of these, 17 percent said they have a foreign language requirement for all students, while 29 percent said they have one for some students. The report notes that this is the first time since the first version of the survey in 2001 that it has recorded an increase -- albeit a modest one -- in foreign language requirements. The report also cites data from the Modern Language Association’s survey of foreign language enrollments at American colleges, the most recent version of which reported a 6.7 percent decline in all enrollments in foreign languages between 2009 and 2013.
  • The survey also asked about policies and practices for faculty as they relate to internationalization. Almost half (47 percent) of institutions reported “occasionally” or “frequently” giving preference to faculty candidates with international background, experience or interests when hiring in fields that “are not explicitly international/global,” up from 40 percent in 2011. Ten percent of institutions specify that they consider international work or experience in promotion and tenure decisions, up from 8 percent in 2011.
  • The “Mapping” report also finds that “internationalization-related professional development opportunities are generally more available to faculty than in 2011.” For example, 64 percent of responding institutions said they provided funding for faculty leading students on study abroad programs, 59 percent for travel to conferences and meetings abroad, and 40 percent for studying or conducting research abroad. Fewer than 30 percent of colleges offered on-campus professional development workshops on subjects like internationalizing the curriculum (26 percent), teaching international students (28 percent) or using technology to enhance a course's international dimension (19 percent).
  • More than half (56 percent) of institutions reported that they provide funding for administrative staff who work outside an international programs office to participate in workshops or other professional development activities on campus related to internationalization. Compared to 2011, a larger number of institutions also offer funding for staff to participate in professional development opportunities abroad.
  • In regard to partnerships with international institutions, nearly half of responding institutions said they have begun developing or have expanded their international partnerships over the prior three years, but the report also notes that nearly a quarter of all institutions -- and 44 percent of associate-level institutions -- do not maintain any international partnerships. Five percent of institutions have moved toward fewer partnerships.
  • Collaborative degree programs with foreign institutions are growing but remain relatively uncommon. Sixteen percent reported offering dual/double degree programs with a foreign university (in which both institutions confer degrees), up from 10 percent in 2011, while the percentage reporting that they offer joint degree programs (in which students receive a single credential endorsed by both institutions) was flat at 8 percent.
  • Five percent of institutions reported that they offer full degree programs overseas delivered only or largely via face-to-face instruction, 9 percent offer programs “entirely or largely through technology” (such as online), while 5 percent said they deliver programs using a combination of face-to-face instruction and technology.
  • In regards to overseas outposts, 4 percent of institutions said they have an international branch campus, 7 percent an overseas administrative office, 5 percent a study abroad center for U.S. students, 5 percent a teaching site for non-U.S. students, and 2 percent an overseas research center.

“We are making progress,” said Robin Matross Helms, the lead author of the report and director of ACE’s Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement. “Institutions are optimistic about their progress, and this is something that institutions are working towards.”

At the same time, she drew attention to what the report describes as the external focus of many internationalization efforts. “A lot of what institutions are thinking of for internationalization is summarized in that priority list. The top priority is education abroad, No. 2 is international students, and No. 3 is establishing partnerships abroad. It’s only at No. 4 and 5 that we come to the curriculum and to faculty development and to what’s really happening on campus.”

“I think we still are thinking of internationalization often as an outward-facing endeavor,” Helms said. “We need to make sure that we’re giving adequate attention to what’s happening on campus as well.”

In regard to faculty members, Helms continued, “As we look at the faculty data as compared to indicators in other areas, the progress line just is not as steep. We need to be paying attention to making sure that faculty are engaged in and central to internationalization efforts.”

The 1,164 total responses to the survey include 203 responses from doctoral institutions, 352 from master’s institutions, 267 from baccalaureate institutions, 246 from associate institutions and 96 from special focus institutions. Researchers weighed the data in an attempt to mirror the distribution of institution types nationally.

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Trabajar, aprender, prosperar: una sola política con múltiples impactos

El País - Educación - Mié, 14 Jun 2017 - 00:52
En Latinoamérica, casi la mitad de las mujeres en edad de trabajar, y de ser madres, están fuera del mercado laboral


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