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  • Originally published 09/29/2013

    Let's Drink to Good Grades

    Students think of college as a opportunity to improve social skills and network, not study.

  • Originally published 06/07/2013

    Corporate Welfare or Education?

    Credit: Wiki Commons.“Who needs the Cayman Islands?” That’s how a May 22 New York Times article began as it described “Tax-Free NY,” a plan zealously promoted by New York State’s Democratic Governor, Andrew Cuomo.

  • Originally published 06/02/2013

    HNN Hot Topics: MOOCs

    Image via Shutterstock/Flickr.NewsCoursera contract with UT system released; history chair says no MOOCs at Knoxville this fall (6-3-13)Historians at MOOC partner schools say faculty not consulted (5-30-13)San Jose State professors fire back at online class offer (5-25-13)Profs get ready for tens of thousands of students in online courses (1-14-13)Commentary

  • Originally published 05/31/2013

    Historians at MOOC Partner Schools Say Faculty Not Consulted

    Image via Shutterstock.“When colleges and universities finally decide to make full use of the Internet,” Randall Stross, a professor of business at San Jose State, wrote back in 2011, “most professors will lose their jobs.”With the proliferation of massive online open courses (MOOCs), Stross wrote in an email to HNN, that time may have come.On May 30, Coursera, the Silicon Valley MOOC provider founded by Stanford University computer scientists in 2012, announced that it had just signed agreements with ten state universities systems to produce and share online courses for credit.The signatories are the University of Colorado, the University System of Georgia, the University of Houston system, the University of Kentucky, the University of Nebraska system, the University of New Mexico system, the State University of New York system, the University of Tennessee system and the Tennessee Board of Regents system, and West Virginia University.

  • Originally published 05/30/2013

    Ten State University Systems Sign with Coursera

    Image via Shutterstock.“When colleges and universities finally decide to make full use of the Internet,” Randall Stross, a professor of business at San Jose State, wrote back in 2011, “most professors will lose their jobs.”With the proliferation of massive online open courses (MOOCs), Stross wrote in an email to HNN, that time may have come.On May 30, Coursera, the Silicon Valley MOOC provider founded by Stanford University computer scientists in 2012, announced that it had just signed agreements with ten state universities systems to produce and share online courses for credit.The signatories are the University of Colorado, the University System of Georgia, the University of Houston system, the University of Kentucky, the University of Nebraska system, the University of New Mexico system, the State University of New York system, the University of Tennessee system and the Tennessee Board of Regents system, and West Virginia University.The ten state university systems serve a combined total of nearly 1.5 million students.

  • Originally published 05/15/2013

    At Universities, Too, the Rich Grow Richer

    Ohio State University president E. Gordon Gee at the annual meeting of the American Council on Education in March 2013.Although many Americans believe their universities are places where administrators and faculty members coexist on a fairly equal basis, the reality is that this is far from the case.According to recent surveys by the Chronicle of Higher Education, thirty-five private university presidents and four public university presidents topped $1 million in total earnings during the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

  • Originally published 08/15/2014

    Devil is in the Details of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act

    On Aug. 7, Hans Bader, a senior attorney at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, reported on one. CASA regulates how universities must approach sexual assault, including producing an annual survey of students' experiences, which will be published online. The penalties for non-compliance are massive: an initial penalty of up to 1 percent of the institution's operating budget and a potential $150,000 fine for each additional violation or misrepresentation — $150,000 per month if surveys are not completed to the standard required. Bader observed, "that [initial offense] would be a whopping $42 million for Harvard alone, since its budget is $4.2 billion."Even worse, "a provision ... lets the money be kept by the agency imposing the fine, the Education Department's (DOE) Office for Civil Rights (OCR)." This creates a huge incentive for OCR to be aggressively punitive or to accuse innocent universities of misrepresentation or substandard compliance. Even an inability to comply would not exempt institutions from fines. For example, they are required to enter into a "memorandum of understanding" with local law enforcement. If the latter refuses, then "[t]he Secretary of Education will then have the discretion to grant the waiver." Not the obligation but the discretion.

  • Originally published 07/24/2014

    Review of Claire Conner’s Wrapped in the Flag

    I recently posted a review at Amazon of Claire Conner’s Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America’s Radical Right. (The paperback edition changed the subtitle to What I Learned Growing Up in America’s Radical Right, How I Escaped, and Why My Story Matters Today.) The review begins below and continues under the fold. The review unfortunately is buried within a stack of over a hundred favorable reviews. But anyone who wants to read it at Amazon can go here. Then if you find it worthy, you can click the button that says the review is helpful and move it up in the queue: I thoroughly enjoyed this book despite myself. The author, Claire Conner, entertainingly interweaves a personal story of her growing up with parents who were avid and prominent members of the John Birch Society with a history of the Birch Society itself. I am only four years younger than Conner, and my own story has many intriguing parallels to hers. My parents never joined “the Society,” as its members referred to it, but they (particularly my mother) became what could be called Birch Society “fellow travelers,” involved in right-wing politics after the election of 1960. Many of their friends were Society members. I therefore imbibed much of the same literature as Conner, listened to similar public lectures, and was taken to and participated in similar events. She and I both, for example, were peripherally involved in the 1964 Goldwater campaign.

  • Originally published 05/02/2014

    We Are Not Ukraine: Kazakhstan Stages a Show of National Reassurance

    In Kazakhstan, the government is anxious to demonstrate to its people that the fighting that has riven Ukraine for the past four months could never happen at home, inside a country which has, since Soviet times, been advertised for its ethnic diversity. As one state employee told me, tongue-in-cheek, Kazakhstan is routinely praised for its 150 different national and ethnic groups, although researchers have never actually discovered more than 80. Today the regime of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, an autocrat who has led Kazakhstan since independence in 1991 via ritual “elections” held every five years, is, I am told, focusing its full public-relations powers on advertising not only the country’s vast diversity but also, and more importantly, its alleged harmony – exactly that which is missing, these days, in Ukraine. In order to emphasize the country’s rock-solid level of peaceful coexistence, the government is, of course, relying on media censorship in which the conflict in Ukraine is barely mentioned on television, and when, then “gently and carefully” referenced, with an absence of dramatic pictures that show any fighting. (Their coverage varies tremendously with that found in Russia, where the government also controls most television media, but where state-sponsored reporting of the Ukraine crisis strives to be maximally sensational, and to upset and excite its viewers through exaggerated stories of anti-Russian conspiracy and persecution. One such example is the arson attack on Odessa's House of Trade Unions, in which at least 40 pro-Russian activists died: Russian television is not only blaming the tragedy on "Nazi-fascists" but also repeating, over and over again, elaborate tales of the attackers shooting and killing anyone who tried to jump out the windows of the burning building and later rifling through the charred corpses for valuables -- all echoes of genuine, well-known Nazi atrocities perpetrated during World War Two.) In addition to ignoring such events, the Nazarbayev regime is also focusing on what, in Soviet times, was referred to as “positive censorship,” staging ostentatious mass demonstrations of the love that all its citizens ostensibly share. [Click on title to read more.]

  • Originally published 12/17/2013

    American Hellfire: Historian Robert Neer on "Napalm"

    February 1942. Just two months after the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, at a dark time of defeat and anxiety for America, a bright spot for the military: Harvard researchers led by revered chemist Louis Fieser developed an incendiary weapon that would burn longer than traditional weapons, stick to targets, and extinguish only with difficulty. It was cheaper and more stable than existing alternatives, could survive extremes of hot and cold in storage, and could be mixed by soldiers on the battlefield.      

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