Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obama's State of the Union: Are You Ready to Go Back To School?

The core of the for-profit education industry can benefit from doing more to interact with the government over new provisions that will fund education and distribute money to agencies, institutions, colleges, charter schools and school districts that need to grow, that need to become more efficient, and that need, most critically, to raise the standard of education and boost graduation rates. And don't forget addressing the 90/10 Rule, lending standards, and the crucial issue of rule making.

The President himself said that it's time for the nation to go back to school:

It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country - and this country needs and values the talents of every American. That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Tom Netting from Jefferson Government Relations will be addressing the subject of what the US$100 billion set aside for education will mean for your business. He is joined by Michael Musante, Director -- Government Relations, Edison Learning.

Tuesday, March 10, 9.55AM

Refining Capital Strategies to Address Changes to the Higher Education Act’s Student Financing Requirements

• How will the 90/10 rule alter the way schools grow and change
their business in 2009 and 2010?
• Ensuring proper growth and scale of domestic for-profit education
based in America to sustain the economy and address immediate
crises in student financing needs
• Strategizing to address the HEA reauthorization that focuses
on expanding the default observation window to ensure tuition
payment and stable value of degree program
• Earmarking techniques to raise tuition in a narrow band under more
increased scrutiny, diversifying and expense control

Michael Musante, Director – Government Relations,
Edison Learning

Tom Netting, Vice President, Jefferson Government Relations

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

FAFSA and the Angst of Getting Aid for College

The FAFSA application has become the bane of the education industry. It's complexity has become so frustrating that some students give up in filling it out. Companies have taken shape that actually do the application for people. And there is talk now in the Obama Administration of changign the form, following the lead of former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings to make it a simple three pages document that you can finish in twenty or thirty minutes. Not six hours!

More of that in the article about FAFSA that you and your colleagues should read.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Jordan Goldman, Founder, Unigo

Jordan Goldman will be speaking at the 11th Annual Education Industry Investment Forum in Phoenix, Arizona on March 11.

His company, Unigo, the free site for student-created school reviews, is also written about at The Wall Street Journal.

Goldman will sit in conversation with John Katzman, founder of Princeton Review anjavascript:void(0)d new venture 2Tor, to discuss the future of social networking as a marketing tool and its impact on the publishing industry. You can read more about the event at at our homepage. Make sure to check out the list of over 80 speakers!

But back to Goldman, who I hope to catch for five minutes at the conference to video interview...

Walt Mossberg writes:

I've been testing Unigo, and I like it. In the sampling of college profiles I read, the site seems to have struck a good balance between the immediacy and candor of student submissions, and the professionalism needed to weed out wildly biased or inaccurate claims.

The site, founded by a 26-year-old who formerly created printed college guides, says it employs 19 full-time editors. This team uses information from a nationwide network of 300 representatives on campuses to create each college's profile. Each representative rounds up contributions from others on campus, so that the site claims that over 15,000 students contributed to the profiles of the first 250 colleges.

I was a little unimpressed with the review. It didn't tell me anything new about the site, which I've already visited several times, even signing up during the beta testing.

The rest of Mossberg's article is just a "the good and the bad" piece and what he thinks about the site's potential. And even there, I'm left wondering. To me this seems like one of the more significant developments in online publishing, marrying a peer review model with a YouTube-like social networking function. The impact this would have internally at colleges and universities should be significant. I know that my alma mater,Wake Forest University didn't k now about it, and they had tried to launch their own version of this idea.

Does anyone in our audience use this site or have they checked it out? I'd like to know a bit more about your experience with Unigo, so please feel free to leave comments.

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Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in Brooklyn

To think that before I went home last night, Arne Duncan was just a few miles from my subway stop.

Mr. Duncan presented a doomsday portrait of education in the United States if the stimulus money were not available. He said up to 600,000 jobs could be lost and average class size could rise to 40 students from 25.

He was visiting Explore Charter School.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

NYU Students Occupy Building, Demand Audience

The New York Times CityRoom Blog is covering a current NYU student occupation.

Their demands?

Take Back NYU!

1. Amnesty for all parties involved.
2. Full compensation for all employees whose jobs were disrupted during the course of the occupation.
3. Public release of NYU’s annual budget and endowment.
4. Allow student workers (including T.A.’s) to collectively bargain.
5. A fair labor contract for all NYU employees at home and abroad.
6. A Socially Responsible Finance Committee that will immediately investigate war profiteers and the lifting of the Coke ban.
7. Annual scholarships be provided for thirteen Palestinian students.
8. That the university donates all excess supplies and materials in an effort to rebuild the University of Gaza.
9. Tuition stabilization for all students, beginning with the class of 2012. Tuition rates for each successive year will not exceed the rate of inflation. The university shall meet 100% of government-calculated student financial need.
10. That student groups have priority when reserving space in the buildings owned or leased by New York University, including, and especially, the Kimmel Center.
11. That the general public have access to Bobst Library.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kristoff Calls Education America's Sorriest Hallmark

Nicholas Kristoff is ashamed at the state of America's education.

That’s exactly right, and it’s partly why I shifted my views of the relative importance of education and health. One of last year’s smartest books was “The Race Between Education and Technology,” by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz, both Harvard professors. They offer a wealth of evidence to argue that America became the world’s leading nation largely because of its emphasis on mass education at a time when other countries educated only elites (often, only male elites).

They show that America’s educational edge created prosperity and equality alike — but that this edge was eclipsed in about the 1970s, and since then one country after another has surpassed us in education.

Perhaps we should have fought the “war on poverty” with schools — or, as we’ll see in a moment, with teachers.

Read on. He points out what I picked up in a New Yorker article several months ago, that a new teacher's effectiveness is not correlated at all with his or her background in education, or SAT scores.

The article in the New Yorker, written by niche-dweller Malcolm Gladwell, focused on a kind of teachiness, to coin a phrase. It's the ability of a teacher to work a room. We don't seem to do enough in this country to aggregate resources to discover potential teachers with a sixth sense for teaching. Nor do we seem to reward them enough to keep them interested in teaching as an economic choice.

The article is called "Most Likely to Succeed.". The commentary about teachers not being paid enough is mine, but his reporting did remind me of what makes teaching satisfying. It's the ability to read students, to focus on their learning minds and to craft a space in the room that allows any kind of mind to grapple with an abstract idea and produce a cerebral result. For me, it was about giving students abstract tools with which they could build an abstract platform, upon which they could launch into other ideascapes.

After thirty seconds, the leader of the group—Bob Pianta, the dean of the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education—stops the tape. He points to two little girls on the right side of the circle. They are unusually active, leaning into the circle and reaching out to touch the book.

“What I’m struck by is how lively the affect is in this room,” Pianta said. “One of the things the teacher is doing is creating a holding space for that. And what distinguishes her from other teachers is that she flexibly allows the kids to move and point to the book. She’s not rigidly forcing the kids to sit back.”

Pianta’s team has developed a system for evaluating various competencies relating to student-teacher interaction. Among them is “regard for student perspective”; that is, a teacher’s knack for allowing students some flexibility in how they become engaged in the classroom. Pianta stopped and rewound the tape twice, until what the teacher had managed to achieve became plain: the children were active, but somehow the class hadn’t become a free-for-all.

“A lesser teacher would have responded to the kids’ leaning over as misbehavior,” Pianta went on. “ ‘We can’t do this right now. You need to be sitting still.’ She would have turned this off.”

Bridget Hamre, one of Pianta’s colleagues, chimed in: “These are three- and four-year-olds. At this age, when kids show their engagement it’s not like the way we show our engagement, where we look alert. They’re leaning forward and wriggling. That’s their way of doing it. And a good teacher doesn’t interpret that as bad behavior. You can see how hard it is to teach new teachers this idea, because the minute you teach them to have regard for the student’s perspective, they think you have to give up control of the classroom.”

The lesson continued. Pianta pointed out how the teacher managed to personalize the material. “ ‘C’ is for cow” turned into a short discussion of which of the kids had ever visited a farm. “Almost every time a child says something, she responds to it, which is what we describe as teacher sensitivity,” Hamre said.

The teacher then asked the children if anyone’s name began with that letter. “Calvin,” a boy named Calvin says. The teacher nods, and says, “Calvin starts with ‘C.’ ” A little girl in the middle says, “Me!” The teacher turns to her. “Your name’s Venisha. Letter ‘V.’ Venisha.”

It was a key moment. Of all the teacher elements analyzed by the Virginia group, feedback—a direct, personal response by a teacher to a specific statement by a student—seems to be most closely linked to academic success. Not only did the teacher catch the “Me!” amid the wiggling and tumult; she addressed it directly.

Sensitivity. But they don't pay you to be sensitive in American K12 public education. They pay you for results.


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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

University of the People -- Shai Reshef, speaker at EIIF

Blackboards Without Borders:
Introducing University of the People
New Online Institution Revolutionizes
Higher Education with Tuition-Free Model

Visit University of the People

Pasadena, CA (January 26, 2009) –Millions of people never have the chance to attend college because of economic and geographic constraints. With the help of technology and a visionary educator, this is about to change. In April 2009, entrepreneur Shai Reshef is opening the virtual gates to the world’s first tuition-free, internet-based academic institution. As a non-profit venture, the University of the People (UoP; promises to revolutionize higher education by providing universal access to college studies—even in the poorest parts of the world.

“Education, just like democracy, should be a right, not a privilege,” said Shai Reshef, Founder and President, University of the People. “With a few keystrokes, UoP takes the concept of social networking and applies it to academia, providing a global chalkboard for all students.” Reshef credits open-source technology and increasing access to the Internet in making higher education available to people all over the world.

Long distance learning is a growing trend in the U.S. According to a survey by the Sloan Consortium, approximately 4 million students are enrolled in online education. As a tuition-free service, UoP will take the concept of eLearning to an unprecedentedly broader – worldwide – audience.

UoP will be able to effectively function on a limited budget without sacrificing quality of education by using collaborative and open-source eLearning. UoP will embrace peer-to-peer teaching to make the best use of a student body from around the world. Within online study communities, students will share resources, exchange ideas, discuss weekly topics, submit assignments and take exams. The curriculum will be supported by respected scholars. A community of educators, comprised of active and retired professors, librarians, master level students and other professionals, will participate and oversee the assessment process. They will also develop ongoing procedures for curriculum evaluation and development.

In lieu of tuition, UoP plans to charge nominal application and examination fees ($15-$50 and $10-$100 respectively), which may be adjusted on a sliding scale based on the economic situation in the student’s country of origin.

UoP will be open to any student with access to a computer and Internet connection, who can submit a certificate of graduation from secondary school and demonstrate proficiency in English (or pass two preliminary English courses at UoP).

UoP anticipates tens of thousands of students to enroll within the first five years of operation. Although the University will cap enrollment at 300 students in the first semester, the peer-to-peer pedagogical model will encourage rapid expansion of the student body in following years.

Parlaying a successful career in education and worldwide travel, Reshef discovered one issue that unites countries, cities and states around the globe – a need for improved education. His pioneering initiative fulfills a personal desire to give back to society and develop the world through knowledge and academics.

“The University of the People represents a huge leap in the democratization of education by reaching those who until now viewed college as a pipedream,” added Reshef. “Education is a proven mechanism for upward mobility. Our goal is to positively impact the life chances of as many people as possible.”

In the initial stages, UoP will offer two undergraduate degrees: a BA in Business Administration and a BSc in Computer Science. Fulltime students will be able to complete the undergraduate degree in approximately four years. All students will be eligible for an associate degree after two years. UoP intends to apply for accreditation from recognized authorities as soon as the waiting process for eligibility is met.

# # #

About Shai Reshef:
Shai Reshef has twenty years of experience in the international education market. From 1989 to 2005, he served as Chairman of the Kidum Group – the largest for-profit educational services company based in Israel. Reshef joined Kidum in 1989 when it was a single product company with revenues of $100,000. Under his leadership Kidum grew to become a company with annual revenues in excess of $25 million, with over 1,000 employees and 50,000 students a year. In 2005, he sold the company to Kaplan, one of the world’s largest education companies and a subsidiary of the Washington Post. Between 2001 and 2004, while continuing as the chairman of Kidum, Reshef lived in the Netherlands where he chaired KIT eLearning, a subsidiary of Kidum. KIT is the eLearning partner of the University of Liverpool and the first online university outside of the U.S. KIT provides MBA and M.Sc. degrees in IT. The company was sold in 2004 to Laureate. In August 2007, after three years in London and New York, Reshef returned to Israel. Currently, Mr. Reshef acts as chairman of the board of, the leading online study community of students, educators and subject enthusiasts. Launched in 2003, is the 21st century answer to the traditional college study group, helping students anywhere, anytime. With over 100,000 active members each month, ranging from gifted 17-year-old high school students to 80-year-old subject enthusiasts, Cramster has the community to support the 24-hour needs of students across the globe.

Reshef holds a BA, magna cum laude, from Tel Aviv University and an MA from the University of Michigan in Chinese Politics.

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