U.S. debt $417 billion below the debt ceiling — from CNN.com by Jeanne Sahadi


The debt ceiling is currently set at $16.394 trillion. At the end of August, the amount of debt subject to that limit — which excludes certain types of debt was $15.977 trillion, roughly $417 billion below the cap. Since the government typically borrows between $100 billion and $125 billion a month, that means it’s on track to hit the ceiling sometime in December. But the Treasury Department will likely be able to use “extraordinary measures” to keep the debt just below the legal limit for a couple of months.

Bottom line:
Congress will likely need to raise the ceiling in early 2013 or Treasury will risk defaulting on the country’s legal obligations by failing to pay all of its bills in full and on time.

From DSC:
At some point, if we don’t turn things around, the vast majority of our tax dollars will go to pay for interest on our debt…and. nothing. else.


U.S. Chamber of Commerce Issues Wake-up Call to Higher Ed

Also see:



Public university becomes first to endorse untraditional online model — from by Denny Carter
Some UW faculty members, after political clashes with Gov. Scott Walker, remain skeptical of UW Flexible Degree


Students at the University of Wisconsin (UW) can earn college degrees based on proven competency in a subject, making UW the first publicly-funded school to launch a competency-based degree program.

Led by officials at UW-Extension, a continued learning program with offices located across Wisconsin, the UW Flexible Degree will let incoming students demonstrate their knowledge and cut down on the time it takes to earn a degree.


The Higher Education Bubble

Book Description
Publication Date: June 26, 2012

America is facing a higher education bubble. Like the housing bubble, it is the product of cheap credit coupled with popular expectations of ever-increasing returns on investment, and as with housing prices, the cheap credit has caused college tuitions to vastly outpace inflation and family incomes. Now this bubble is bursting.

In this Broadside, Glenn Harlan Reynolds explains the causes and effects of this bubble and the steps colleges and universities must take to ensure their survival. Many graduates are unable to secure employment sufficient to pay off their loans, which are usually not dischargeable in bankruptcy. As students become less willing to incur debt for education, colleges and universities will have to adapt to a new world of cost pressures and declining public support.

About the Author
Glenn Harlan Reynolds is the Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee. He writes for such publications as The Atlantic Monthly, Forbes, Popular Mechanics, The Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Examiner. He blogs at InstaPundit.com.

Also see:


From DSC:
Note many of the relevant categories and tags I put this under — items I’ve been covering for years:

  • Walmart of Education
  • Cost of obtaining a degree
  • Reinventing oneself
  • Dangers of the status quo
  • Game-changing environment
  • Future of higher education
  • Leadership
  • Strategy
  • Staying relevant
  • Disruption
  • Surviving


2012 Congressional Briefing National Release of Speak Up 2011 K-12 Teachers, Librarians and Administratorsfrom Project Tomorrow

“Districts are looking into BYOD approaches not only because so many students
have their own mobile devices and because parents of all income levels are
willing to purchase the devices, but because administrators are dealing with the
reality of shrinking budgets and the need to incorporate more technology in learning.”

— Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow


Personalizing the Classroom Experience – Teachers, Librarians and Administrators Connect the Dots with Digital Learning
On May 23rd, 2012 Project Tomorrow released the report “Personalizing the Classroom Experience – Teachers, Librarians and Administrators Connect the Dots with Digital Learning” at a Congressional Briefing held in Washington, DC. Julie Evans, Project Tomorrow CEO, discussed selected Educator national findings from the Speak Up 2011 report and moderated a panel discussion with educators who shared their insights and experiences.


 …and back from previous dates:


As of 11-20-11



As of 8-24-11


Also see:




Addendum on 5/7/12:

High School Online Credits Now Mandatory in Virginia — from educationnews.org by
Governor McDonnell has signed into law a new bill making an online course mandatory for all students entering ninth grade from the 2013-14 academic year.


Virginia is to join several other states in requiring students to take an online class in order to meet graduation requirement. Governor Bob McDonnell, committed to expanding virtual education, has said that the requirement will help prepare students better for the 21st Century job market.

The measure is becoming increasing popular, with Alabama, Florida and Michigan all adopting rules over the last few years that mandate some online learning. Students in Idaho entering the ninth grade this fall will be required to take two online courses if they wish to graduates. Advocates of online education consider it a natural step to take in preparing students for the increasingly technological world that awaits them after school; however teaching unions are less than enthusiastic, with the Idaho Education Association complaining that these measures disregard parental choice.

Also see:


Tagged with:  

We can’t wait another year for a new ESEA — from ednetinsight.com by Mary Broderick
Mary Broderick, 2011-2012 President, National School Boards Association (NSBA), and the former chair of Connecticut’s East Lyme Board of Education — Friday, April 13, 2012


For nearly five years, school leaders around the country have urged Congress to make dramatic changes to the No Child Left Behind law. We’re now reaching a critical point where too many schools are being unfairly penalized, community support is undermined, and we’re forced to sacrifice vital subjects that engage students to focus on state tests.

NCLB—the ten-year-old version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—marked nearly half of all public schools as “failing” last year, and 100% will be “failing” by 2014. This absurd statistic demonstrates that the law isn’t working the way it was intended. However, because Congress hasn’t seized the initiative to make major changes, school districts are operating in limbo between a flawed law and an unsure future in the direction of federal policy. For our public schools to move forward and for our children to be competitive, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is pushing Congress to pass a new law this year. NSBA represents the nation’s 13,800 school boards, but there’re thousands of administrators, teachers, and other school staff members who also see the law’s problems firsthand.

Pentagon: You know what’s cool? A trillion-dollar fighter — from  cnet.com by D. Terdiman

From DSC:
Cool? Seriously?! Is this where we want to spend a trillion $$?  On more instruments of death?  Geez…

Instead, I wonder what the United States could contribute to the world by building multimedia-based, high-end, interactive, engaging, personalized/customized, online-based learning materials that are expensive to build, but inexpensive to access?
Also see:

Cap and gown learning on a shoestring budget — from timeshighereducation.co.uk by Jon Marcus


With novel credentials being developed and employers seeing the value of low-cost study based on open courseware, Jon Marcus asks if the bricks-and-mortar elite will end up on the wrong side of history


Cap and gown learning on a shoestring budget

Credit: Paul Bateman

My notes on two presentations from the Learning Without Frontiers Conference, London, 26th January 2012:

My notes for:
Sir Ken Robinson’s talk

Practice <–>Theory <–> Policy

  • People who practice don’t often have time to get the latest and greatest information re: theory
  • Theorists don’t have much time for practice
  • Policy makers don’t know much about either 🙂

Purposes of education:

  • Economic.  Not solely, but there are economic reasons for providing education. Academic vs vocation programs – Sir Ken doesn’t subscribe to this dichotomy in educational DNA. Need new sorts of education
  • Cultural. Aim to pass on cultural genes – values, beliefs
  • Personal. The most important! In the end, education is ultimately, personal. Too much impersonal testing that students aren’t engaged in.

Key point:

  • There is everything you can do – at all levels; many of us ARE the educational system – at least for the group(s) of students that we are working with. So we can make immediate changes; and collectively this can create a revolution.

Education not linear, not monolithic. Rather, it’s a complex, adaptive system – many moving parts, like a vortex…not like an undistributed canal; more like an ocean with different forces tugging this way and that. (From DSC: I agree with what Sir Ken is saying here, but I especially agree with this particular perspective — thus the name of this blog.)

Personalization is key! Education needs to be customized to the communities where it’s taking place.


  • Curriculum – towards disciplines (skills, processes, procedures) and away from subjects
  • Teaching & Learning – dynamic; flow of knowledge; not static; forms need to tap into streams; move towards collaborative activities; active learning trumps passive learning
  • Assessment – must move from judgment to description


My notes (part way) for:
Jim Knight – If Steve Jobs Designed Schools

What if Steve Jobs had re-invented the education system rather the computer and consumer electronics industry?

Steve Jobs was a contradictory character, combining control freak and Zen Buddhist, and technology with design. He had a revolutionary impact on computing, animation, the music industry, printing, and publishing. Last year he and Bill Gates together expressed surprise at how little impact technology had had on schools. Jobs’s wife is an educational reformer, he was a college dropout; but what would it have been like if Steve Jobs had focused on education? What would the Jobs School be like?

How do we make an insanely great school?

  • Must go really deep to create something that’s easy to use (from DSC — I call this “Easy is hard.”) Need to de-clutter the teaching & learning environment, the curriculum, the qualifications, and the people.
  • How does it make me feel when I walk through the doorway of your school?
  • Get to choose who you want to learn with and from
  • Simple, beautiful space; flexible; social; reflective, all year round
  • More seductive, intuitive, enthralling
  • Does it inspire curiosity?
  • “Don’t need instructions”
  • Not just a school – learning doesn’t stop when school bell rings
  • 24×7 thing
  • Curriculum
  • Is there a range of things to interest everyone?
  • Need more choice; selection; more control of their learning
  • All ages
  • Enterprising
  • Creative, technical, practical…but most of all, it would be fun!

More here…


Willing but not yet ready: A glimpse of California teachers’ preparedness for the Common Core State Standards


California is on the precipice of implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which were developed through an initiative of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to reflect the knowledge and skills needed for success in college and careers. In California, one of 45 adopting states, the standards represent a significant shift in expectations for both teaching and learning, not just in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics, but also in literacy related to science and history/social science. The newly adopted standards call for a deep conceptual understanding of the content in ELA and mathematics and, also, for the ability to apply this content to other disciplines. New assessments aligned to the standards are due to be implemented in 2014-15. It all sounds good. But are teachers ready to teach to the new standards?

From DSC:
Due to my lack of knowledge, the jury is still out for me re: what I think about the Common Core State Standards.  The crux of my struggle has to do with:

  • Who determines which courses/topics are included in the standards — both now and in the future?
  • How often will they be updated to insure the foundations are truly foundational to our students’ futures?
  • Are such large swaths of standards helpful and effective or are they an extension of a one-size-fits all approach?  (For example, I look back on some of the items that I took in K-12 — many of which I’ve forgotten and I never use — but I’ll bet are still in the standards. )

I would like to see some solid foundations being built as well — as I assume that’s what the standards seek to implement.  I just hope we can provide places for students’ wide variety of passions to be identified, explored, and strongly nurtured as my economics training taught me that we all win when each of us does what we do best.

Can someone educate me on these standards? What are the upsides and downsides — the pros and cons — of these standards? Thanks!

 Addendum on 3/2/12:


Below are the concluding paragraphs of Introducing Bennett Hypothesis 2.0 [by Andrew Gillen, Center for College Affordability and Productivity, with emphasis below from DSC)

Original Bennett Hypothesis + a couple refinements + Bowen’s Rule = Bennett Hypothesis 2.0.

The original Bennett Hypothesis held that increases in financial aid will lead to higher tuition, but the empirical evidence testing the hypothesis is inconclusive. The next generation of the concept, Bennett Hypothesis 2.0, adds three refinements.

1.  All Aid is Not Created Equal
2.  Selectivity, Tuition Caps, and Price Discrimination are Important
3.  Don’t Ignore the Dynamic Story

These three refinements not only help explain the mixed empirical evidence, but also provide a better understanding of the relationship between financial aid and tuition. While the first two refinements weaken the link between the two (lessening our concern about Bennett Hypothesis 2.0), the third refinement strengthens the link, implying that we should almost always be concerned about financial aid leading to higher tuition.

Given the current structure of the higher education system, Bennett Hypothesis 2.0 implies that the government will always be fighting a losing battle to increase access to college or improve college affordability since “additional government [financial aid] funds keep providing revenues that, under the current incentive system, increase costs.”54  As higher financial aid pushes costs higher, it inevitably puts upward pressure on tuition. Higher tuition, of course, reduces college affordability, leading to calls for more financial aid, setting the vicious cycle in motion all over again.

Bennett Hypothesis 2.0 exacerbates rather than causes out of control spending by colleges, the ultimate cause of which is Bowen’s Rule. Nevertheless, that is no excuse for ill-designed financial aid programs to pour fuel the fire.  As Bennett noted:

“Federal student aid policies do not cause college price inflation, but there is little doubt that they help make it possible.”55

Those words remain just as true today as they were a quarter century ago.

From DSC:
This report seems to show that the current system is only serving to expand the higher ed bubble even further; surely a pop will be heard in the future (if it hasn’t already at some individual colleges and universities).  Such a financial aid system seems to be causing one of the elements of the perfect storm — the cost of higher ed — to mount its waves to an even higher level.  (Keep in mind I created the image below in September 2010, but many of these forces are still with us today.)

The perfect storm in higher ed


An infographic series on the current crisis facing higher education — from educationnews.org

  • Video
  • Infographic Part I
    A breakdown re: how an economic bubble forms, expands, and bursts; a comparison of the higher ed bubble to the housing bubble, and a look at the first major contributor to college’s bubble behavior: the rising cost of tuition.
  • Infographic part II:
    Analysis of the second and third big factors in blowing up the higher ed bubble: the student loans crisis, and the unforgiving post-graduation job market.



Tyrrany-of-the-textbook----Jobrack- 2011.

Book Description
Publication Date: December 16, 2011 | ISBN-10: 1442211415 | ISBN-13: 978-1442211414


Educational reforms and standards have been a topic of public debate for decades, with the latest go-round being the State Common Core Curriculum Standards. But time and again those reforms have failed, and each set of standards, no matter how new and different, has had little impact on improving student achievement. Why? The textbooks. Textbooks sell based on design and superficial features, not because they are based on the latest research on how children learn and how well they promote student achievement. In Tyranny of the Textbook, Beverlee Jobrack, retired from educational publishing, sheds light on why this happens. She gives an engaging and fascinating look behind-the-scenes of how K-12 textbooks are developed, written, adopted, and sold. And, perhaps most importantly, she clearly spells out how the system can change so that reforms and standards have a shot at finally being effective.

Did you Know?

  • Reform efforts have focused on writing and rewriting standards and tests, but these rarely have any effect on the core curriculum that is published.
  • School districts and states don’t use effectiveness as a criterion for evaluating and purchasing textbooks.
  • Publishers don’t offer textbooks with better content or the latest teaching methods because teachers don’t want textbooks that require them to change their practices.
  • Teachers report that they don’t rely on a textbook in their class, but research shows that they do.
  • Three companies publish 75 percent of the K-12 educational materials.
  • Those three companies are producing similar programs with the same instructional strategies, none of which require teachers to change their practices significantly.
  • Publishers write textbooks for California and Texas. All the other markets have to make do with books only superficially adjusted for their states.

From DSC:
I originally saw this at:

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