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August 25, 2013

Can We Please, Just Once, Have A Real Teacher?

My Year Volunteering As A Teacher Helped Educate A New Generation Of Underprivileged Kids vs. Can We Please, Just Once, Have A Real Teacher | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
You've got to be kidding me. How does this keep happening? I realize that as a fourth-grader I probably don't have the best handle on the financial situation of my school district, but dealing with a new fresh-faced college graduate who doesn't know what he or she is doing year after year is growing just a little bit tiresome. Seriously, can we get an actual teacher in here sometime in the next decade, please? That would be terrific. Just once, it would be nice to walk into a classroom and see a teacher who has a real, honest-to-God degree in education and not a twentysomething English graduate trying to bolster a middling GPA and a sparse law school application. I don't think it's too much to ask for a qualified educator who has experience standing up in front of a classroom and isn't desperately trying to prove to herself that she's a good person. I'm not some sort of stepping stone to a larger career, okay? I'm an actual child with a single working mother, and I need to be educated by someone who actually wants to be a teacher, actually comprehends the mechanics of teaching, and won't get completely eaten alive by a classroom full of 10-year-olds within the first two months on the job. How about a person who can actually teach me math for a change? Boy, wouldn't that be a novel concept! . . .

August 22, 2013

Obama has an interesting plan for making college affordable again

The third bit is the most interesting: Only giving loans for good schools and not for scammy schools. Obama college affordability plan.
Taking the last first since it'll have the most immediate impact on people's lives, he wants to bring debt relief to people currently burdened by student loans. That means making all borrowers eligible for income-based loan repayments that will allow people to cap their payments at 10 percent of their monthly income. More importantly it means trying to spearhead an interagency process to publicize the existence of this option, since even under current eligibility rules it looks like there's a relatively low level of uptake. Coordination and publicity don't require congressional action, so if the White House can do this in an effective way it's a nice simple way to provide some help to people. Second, he wants to encourage more innovation in the higher education space. This all relates to a lot of what's been in the media about MOOCs and technology and so forth. The most concrete proposal is that he wants to create a $260 million First In The World Fund to pay for higher education innovation and also to direct some of the Department of Labor's existing stream of community college grants to this kind of purpose. Arguably more importantly, the White House says they're going to try to provide some regulatory flexibility and relief to institutions that want to try to innovate. Obviously one man's regulatory flexibility is another man's gutting of oversight so we'll have to see what this amounts to in practice. The third part, though, is the most important even though it almost certainly won't bear meaningful fruit before Obama leaves office. I have a whole column about the administration's underlying vision of what's wrong with higher education, and this is their proposal to fix it. They want to put together a rating system for American colleges that will be based on the quality of the instruction and the value proposition rather than a US News-style rating of the inputs. Then the vision is that down the road this rating system could become a guide for federal money.