Senate rejects GOP bid to overturn net-neutrality rules

The rules bar ISPs from favoring or discriminating against content that could compete with their core operations.

Senate Democrats on Nov. 10 turned back a Republican attempt to repeal federal rules designed to prevent internet service providers from discriminating against those who send content and other services over their networks.

Republicans argued that “net neutrality” rules announced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last December were another example of federal regulatory overreach that would stifle internet investment and innovation.

But Democrats, and the White House in a veto threat, said repealing the FCC rules would imperil openness and freedom on the internet.

“It would be ill-advised to threaten the very foundations of innovation in the internet economy and the democratic spirit that has made the internet a force for social progress around the world,” the White House said.

The vote against taking up the bill, along party lines, was 52-46.

Read more about net neutrality in higher education…

Higher ed disappointed by net neutrality ‘loopholes’

Critics urge FCC to forget net neutrality

The net-neutrality rules, approved last December by a 3-2 vote with the three FCC Democrats in favor and the two Republicans opposed, tried to find a middle ground between phone and cable companies desiring more control over their networks and the content providers wanting unfettered access to the internet.

The rules bar service providers from favoring or discriminating against internet content and services, including online calling services such as Skype and web video services such as Netflix, that could compete with their core operations. They require broadband providers to let subscribers access all legal online content and prohibit wireless carriers from blocking access to any websites or competing services.

The new rules also require carriers to disclose their network management practices. But they give wireless companies more leeway to manage data traffic, because wireless systems have more bandwidth constraints than wired networks.

Some ed-tech advocacy groups worry the new rules, which go into effect Nov. 20, don’t go far enough in protecting schools and other consumers.


Higher education summit discusses ways to help impact future of growing population

The future of Texas depends on higher education. That was the message the state’s former demographer delivered to more than 400 attendees Thursday during a summit at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi focused on a growing Hispanic population, the Corpus Christi Caller reports. Steve Murdock, a sociology professor at Rice University, said a college degree can help students compete for jobs and be prepared for the workforce.

“How well they do is how well Texas and the United States of America will do,” he said. And there could be detrimental socioeconomic and demographic effects, he said, if nothing is done to address the tie between the elements…

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In Penn State child sex abuse case, lessons for universities far and wide

The child sex abuse scandal that has rocked Penn State is, say college and university officials far from State College, Pa., not only a cautionary tale, but also a very big teachable moment, the Christian Science Monitor reports. In the wake of the firing of football coach Joe Paterno and the exit of several Penn State officials, including its president, college administrators elsewhere are emphasizing to their staffs the importance of reporting any sex abuse crimes–especially those involving children–to the police. Some college presidents say the tragedy is a reminder that they must go beyond the letter of the law, particularly at institutions that try to teach moral values and principles to students. Others say the lesson is about the need to foster an atmosphere on campus in which individuals are not afraid of reporting crimes, even if they are committed by famous faculty…

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Dump Colombia education reforms, thousands demand

Tens of thousands of students skipped classes to chant, march and dance down the streets of the capital Thursday, paralyzing the city in an ongoing struggle over the future of higher education, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The protests – which also brought out labor unions, professors and high school students-have emerged as one of the most stubborn problems in the 15-month administration of President Juan Manuel Santos, and echo similar marches in Chile. After months of insisting that the government would not allow education reform to be held hostage by protests, Santos on Wednesday offered to kill the reform bill if students would return to class. But organizers say the government must back down first…

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Naval Academy wasted $3.5M on short film contract

The U.S. Naval Academy wasted $3.5 million by improperly contracting for the production of a short film and six commercials, according to an audit by the Defense Department’s inspector general’s office released Thursday, the Associated Press reports. The military college also wrongly accepted more than $184,000 in gifts such as wine and fancy crystal from an alumnus between 2005 and 2007, as well as $343,208 in corporate sponsorship funds, the audit found. The audit says the academy may have circumvented Congress by using non-appropriated funds for the film and commercial contract, and that it needed a better system for making sure that monetary gifts didn’t come from prohibited sources such as entities doing business with the Navy…

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Penn State students organize, vent online during campus scandal

'Fire Joe Paterno' has more than 1,000 Facebook followers.

Penn State University (PSU) students used Facebook, Twitter, and an online petition this week to pressure the school’s Board of Trustees into firing the university president after a sex scandal embroiled the campus.

Penn State’s official Facebook page is filled with supportive and angry messages from current students and alums a week after Jerry Sandusky, Paterno’s longtime assistant, was charged with 40 criminal counts of sex abuse of minors.

Students, alumni, and PSU supporters took to Facebook to defend and criticize Paterno, who was fired by the Board of Trustees Nov. 9 after 46 years as PSU’s iconic football coach.

PSU officials were made aware of Sandusky’s inappropriate behavior with boys over the past decade, according to the extensive grand jury report, but did not alert police. Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly has said Paterno is not a target of the investigation.

There has been a spate of pro-Paterno Facebook groups and Twitter hash tags supportive of the legendary football coach created this week. And an online petition on demanding the ouster of Penn State President Graham Spanier has drawn almost 1,800 signees and hundreds of heated comments critical of PSU’s handling of the controversy.

Students have used the Twitter hash tag #psubot – Penn State University Board of Trustees – to organize protests outside the board’s office and to tweet the latest news about what the trustees are doing – or not doing – in response to allegations that Sandusky’s crimes were known by many on campus.

“I think everyone turns to social media now as a way to stay involved and voice an opinion,” said Anne Richards, a senior political science and journalism major at PSU. “I expected nothing less when it came to the Sandusky controversy here. … [Social media] has really played an important role in everything that’s happened over the past few days.”

PSU students said they used other Twitter hash tags related to the university – including #psu and #joepa — to organize a show of support outside Paterno’s house Nov. 8, as calls for his ouster continued.


Education Department opening Penn State investigation

The Department of Education said on Wednesday it would launch an investigation into Penn State’s conduct in connection with a sexual abuse scandal involving a former assistant football coach, Reuters reports. Jerry Sandusky has been charged with sexually abusing several boys over several years, including incidents that took place at the university in State College, Pennsylvania.

“If these allegations of sexual abuse are true then this is a horrible tragedy for those young boys,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement. “If it turns out that some people at the school knew of the abuse and did nothing or covered it up, that makes it even worse.”

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What higher education can learn from Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was not a nice man: this is made abundantly clear by Walter Isaacson’s compelling new biography of the propulsive force behind Apple, says Brain Rosenberg, president of Macalester College for the Huffington Post. He was, however, almost preternaturally insightful about such things as the nature of the creative process, the relationship between a product and its user, and the need for balance between complexity and simplicity. There are lessons in Jobs’ success that are I believe directly relevant to higher education, though they may not be the most obvious ones. Whether or not the tablet computer will replace the traditional textbook or distance learning will increasingly displace the traditional classroom I cannot say. The lessons to which I refer are more fundamental and touch upon how higher education imagines itself today and in the future. Three of Jobs’ particular insights have stuck with me since I finished reading the story of his life…

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Dummy caught faking Ivy League credentials–again

A Delaware man convicted of fraud for faking his way into Harvard was ordered held without bail Wednesday after admitting he violated his probation by citing the university on a job resume, the Associated Press reports. Adam Wheeler, 25, was sentenced last year to 2 1/2 years in jail and 10 years on probation for identity fraud and other charges. The sentence was mostly suspended; Wheeler served just one month in jail while awaiting trial. Prosecutors said he got into Harvard by falsely claiming that he had attended the exclusive Phillips Academy prep school in Andover and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology…

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GWU students can keep credits from untaught classes

George Washington University students who received “A” grades in two courses that were never taught will be refunded their money and allowed to keep their class credits, according to a university statement released Wednesday afternoon, the Washington Post reports. In October, the GWU School of Medicine and Health Sciences Office of the Provost received three letters from students who said they were enrolled in physician assistant classes in 2010 but never received instruction. The students still received “A” grades from Venetia Orcutt, department chair of the physician assistant program, according to the statement…

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