For-profit colleges concede defeat on new rules, vow to fight on

Miller lauded bipartisan support for a provision that would defund for-profit rules.

Efforts by lobbyists from for-profit colleges – including some of the largest online education programs – fell short last week when Congress passed a compromise budget bill that would allow the Education Department (ED) to move ahead with its long-awaited “gainful employment” regulations.

In an April 11 statement, Harris Miller, president of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU), said the group’s last-ditch try to get the House and Senate to include a provision that would de-fund ED’s for-profit rulemaking was not included in the final budget that will fund the federal government through September.

APSCU asked its members to call their Congressional representatives as the final budget was being finalized, not conceding defeat on the for-profit regulations – known as “gainful employment” rules — until the bill became law.

The for-profit regulations pushed by the Obama administration for more than two years would affect some of the nation’s largest online colleges, such as the University of Phoenix and Kaplan University, by stripping schools of federal loan money if too many of their students maintain high loan debt-to-income ratios, among other provisions.

Miller said for-profit college advocates wouldn’t stop their fight against the government rules, which are expected to take effect in July 2012.

The final budget’s green light for ED officials to proceed with regulations “won’t stop our efforts to fight for our schools and our students,” he said.

Miller added: “By continuing to work with Congress, and with our member schools and their students, we intend to hold Secretary Duncan to his word that the final gainful employment regulation will be ‘much more thoughtful and much better for the country than the original proposal.’”

By failing to de-fund ED’s rulemaking, lawmakers “missed an opportunity to protect 2 million nontraditional students nationwide and ensure that they can continue to access a full spectrum of higher education that includes private sector colleges and universities,” Miller said.

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Teenagers now look favorably on torture because the media taught them it was morally acceptable

Over at the Daily Beast, Daniel Stone dives into a study on torture conducted by the American Red Cross, reports the Huffington Post. “Americans’ opinions on torture seem to have fractured,” the report said, “largely on generational lines.”

So, who are the biggest supporters of torture? “A surprising majority — almost 60 percent — of American teenagers thought things like water-boarding or sleep deprivation are sometimes acceptable,” the study found. Overall, teens are “significantly more in favor of torture than older adults.”

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Data from NASA’s sky-mapping telescope released

NASA has released a trove of data from its sky-mapping mission, allowing scientists and anyone with access to the internet to peruse millions of galaxies, stars, asteroids and other hard-to-see objects, Fox News reports. Many of the targets in the celestial catalog released online this week have been previously observed, but there are significant new discoveries. The mission’s finds include more than 33,000 new asteroids floating between Mars and Jupiter and 20 comets…

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Mind controlled apps hit the market

Science fiction fans who have dreamed of having “the force” are in luck. Two apps–controlled and operated by mental power–are now on sale in the Apple App Store from app developer MindGames in Iceland, reports the Los Angeles Times. The technology works using headsets that read brain waves and are essentially simplified and portable versions of electroencephalograph–or EEG–machines used in hospitals for decades to record brain activity…

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How many hours do students spend texting every day?

Students say they receive more than 100 texts a day.

Sending and receiving rapid-fire text messages may be college students’ favorite pastime, as new research from a small Pennsylvania university says the typical student spends three hours every day on their cell phone keyboard.

Texting rarely gets a student’s undivided attention – multitasking is common among respondents – but text messaging trumps online chatting and Facebook, eMail, and search engine usage, according to the survey conducted by Reynol Junco, an associate professor at Lock Haven University and a social media researcher.

Junco, who released the survey results March 7, said on his blog that it was uncertain how accurate the student texting estimate was, because a four-text exchange might take place over an hour, but reading and responding may have taken just a few minutes.

“One must ask – how long does it take a student to send a text message?” Junco said, adding that he would further analyze the survey results. “Clearly, a question for further research.”

Three hours, however, is the average estimate of the 2,500 students who participated in Junco’s survey. That number might be closer to one hour, Junco said.

Students sent 96 texts every day and received 104, according to the survey results.

Asking students about which technologies they used most, Junco found that web searches rank second to text messaging – at about two hours a day — with Facebook usage third at more than an hour and a half.

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Congress passes budget bill, but some in G.O.P. balk

Congress voted Thursday to keep the government financed through September, putting an end to a raucous first skirmish in this year’s showdown between Democrats and Republicans over federal spending while presaging bigger ones to come, reports the New York Times. Scores of House Republicans deserted their leadership to vote against the bill, which cut $38 billion in spending, saying it did not go far enough. As a result, Speaker John A. Boehner was forced to rely on large numbers of Democrats to pass the measure, which subsequently sailed through the Senate, 81 to 19. It went to President Obama for his signature…

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Portage freshman arrested over nude photos of classmates on phone

A 15-year-old Portage High School freshman boy was removed from school last week and sent to the Porter County Juvenile Detention Center after police found nude photos of female classmates on his cell phone, reports PortageCommunity.com. According to a Portage police report released Wednesday, administrators at the school received a call Friday morning from a 15-year-old freshman girl’s mother, saying a boy was threatening to post a nude photo of the girl on MySpace if the girl didn’t let him borrow a musical instrument…

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CA Senate bill mandates gay history in schools

Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people would be added to the lengthy list of social and ethnic groups that public schools must include in social studies lessons under a landmark bill passed Thursday by the California Senate, the Associated Press reports. If the bill is adopted by the state Assembly and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, California would become the first state to require the teaching of gay history…

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Universities told not to edit their Wikipedia entries

Wikipedia records 150 edits every minute.

Campus communications officials shouldn’t aggressively monitor and change their university’s Wikipedia page unless the entry has been “vandalized” by another editor, a Wikipedia spokeswoman said during a recent discussion on how educators are using the vast online encyclopedia.

During a webcast on Blog Talk Radio March 28, LiAnna Davis, a communications associate for Wikipedia – the internet’s fifth most visited website — said college representatives should only edit their school’s entry if they spot an incorrect number or date, for example, and the edit should always be cited to a “reliable source.”

Read more on Wikipedia in higher education…

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No change should be made, Davis said, until the college employee creates an account that acknowledges he or she works for the campus.

“We would encourage you not to edit anything that you have a bias in,” Davis said during the radio webcast, organized by the Association for Social Media & Higher Education (ASMHE), a group based at The George Washington University (GWU). “If you work for the university … that gives you a certain amount of bias about the topic of your university.”

College and university employees who make changes to their institution’s Wikipedia information should leave notes on why that edit was made on the page’s discussion section, Davis said.

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Christie proposes education reform bills that would eliminate current tenure system for teachers

Gov. Chris Christie sent a package of education reform bills to the Legislature Wednesday that would eliminate tenure as teachers know it and offer job protection only to those who consistently show a high level of performance based on new statewide evaluation system, reports NJ.com. Under the tenure proposal, teachers would be given one of four ratings–highly effective, effective, partially effective or ineffective–based equally on student performance and classroom observations. Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf first unveiled the evaluation system during an address at Princeton University in February…

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