For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? — Matthew 16:26, something called The Bye-bul?
Not to get all Old Testament on that thing, but this verse came to mind as I woke up to news of the new gainful employment regulations released today. It’s the kind of verse I know best because southern mothers scream it at you for all manner of social violations. But, I digress.
The Gainful Employment Rule “requires schools to provide their students with an education adequate enough for them to pay their college loans back” so that they will be gainfully employed after they graduate from college. That’s from the Education Department website. The Rule is a procedural thicket that has gained ideological significance only because its viewed as the first (or last?) line of defense for (or against?) predatory (or democratic?) enrollments at for-profit colleges.
Ed Central has a good breakdown of what of the Rule changed and what remains the same.
The consensus appears to be that political maneuvering to the tune of tens of millions of dollars and numerous lobbyists weakened the Rule.
I am inclined to agree even as I continue to argue that gainful should not be at the center of these debates. In fact, to the extent that we argue about gainful it is a political win for the for-profit college sector AND politicians because it crowds out other debates.
One of the biggest potential issues from the new Rule is what Ed Central sums up thusly:
This final version rests on only one accountability measure: a ratio of the amount of debt graduates from a postsecondary program took on compared to their earnings…The single measure is surprising because the version of the rule released in March also included a second indicator that looked at the percentage of student loan borrowers that defaulted on their loans within three years of leaving school. This was the same as an existing cohort default rate measure institutions must address, only applied at the program level as well. This measure had value in that it included all students who borrowed for a program, whereas the debt-to-earnings rate only looks at graduates. This matters, since we know dropouts account for about 63 percent of student loan defaulters.
If we are measuring the efficacy of credentials by graduates, the incentive to address the reality of those who “swirl” in and out of higher education over a life course is pretty weak. And swirling is a function of socio-economic indicators like parental status, wealth, income, and especially labor market conditions. If I went to school to get a job and then get a job while I’m in school (and, duh, I need a job), I may leave school. But given the changes in job tenure and rising instability among low wage occupations (precisely the kind that make enrolling in school for a credential really attractive) I’m likely to need to return to school when the next job disappears or becomes untenable.
This is, by the sector’s own words, the primary population it serves.
In this set up, for-profit colleges become better sieves – stratifying students in favor of those with the preconditions to persist, graduate and earn employment — while benefitting financially from the casting a wide net for student aid dollars of those without those preconditions.
Some say the Administration went soft on the new Rule. Probably. But I’m more interested in the narrative of political hopelessness that emerges. Somehow, I am to believe that gainful is all the Administration has in its toolkit in defense of taxpayers and students. That is just wrong.
Caveat here. Not since the dark days of my college class presidency have I been a politician. I know issues can be politically untenable but that is not the same as issues being too difficult to address.
Take for example concerns about debt to income. Advocates have pushed for the Income Contingent Repayment plans to be less cumbersome to apply for and receive.
Wouldn’t doing so help students who accrue debt and are more likely to swirl? If labor market conditions are hostile to some types of students, ICR could help blunt the qualitative effects of student loan debt. That could especially important to those in the for-profit college sector. Private loans don’t participate in ICR plans. That’s a problem. But it could be slightly less of a problem given the make-up of for-profit credentials conferred. They still dominate in lower level credentials that are less likely to run afoul of federal student loan caps than are those enrolled in graduate degree programs. Thus, these students take out fewer private loans.
But, that doesn’t address the expansion of bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees and debt. That’s another thing I’ve been puzzled by. The public sector is still an employer, albeit a smaller and more brutal one than I would prefer. And women and minorities still benefit when the public sector sets recruitment, salary and occupational trends. Do we have any idea how the public sector views for-profit credentials? That’s the kind of intervention that is sensitive to political power but rarely discussed.
In the end, Gainful is a regulatory rule. It’s about counting and measuring and less so intervening or addressing. It can look good politically even when its construed as the Administration caving. I mean, they gave it a shot, guise! Thus, it becomes a narrative that obscures the ways that power could be enacted, possibly with more and better effects for students as opposed to business and markets.
But then we’re back to politics and, again, I’m not a politician.
We've covered Brooklyn-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh before, but her work is worth revisiting in light of the controversy that's swirling around a new video that depicts street harassment faced by women in New York City. The video, which was released by anti street harassment group Hollaback and marketing agency Robert Bliss Creative, shows a seemingly white woman walking along Manhattan streets and being approached by several men of color -- interestingly, all of the white men were edited out. Roxane Gay quipped on Twitter: "The racial politics of the video are fucked up. Like, she didn't walk through any white neighborhoods?"
For the past few years, Fazlalizadeh has taken her message against street harassment across the country, opening up discussions about sexism and racism.
Shoes 4 the Shoeless is one of those Christian non-profits that does something really wonderful: They give out socks and shoes to children who need them.
But there’s a catch:
We include a Christian New Testament in every box of shoes we deliver. Our mission is to provide properly fitting shoes and socks to children in desperate need. The Bibles are a bonus and are not an attempt to proselytize, they’re merely our way of sharing hope with all we encounter.
Riiiiight. A bonus gift no one asked for… but whatever. It’s their organization. They can do whatever they want.
The problem is when they make appearances at public schools to give away socks and shoes… and Bibles. Which they’ve been doing at several districts in the Dayton, Ohio area.
Given the age of the students, there’s every reason to believe they’d be coerced into accepting the shoes (and Jesus) or at the very least think their schools are promoting Christianity. This seems like a very blatant violation of church/state separation and could result in a lawsuit against the districts.
Two weeks ago, at the request of a reader, I sent a letter to the legal counsel for the Dayton Public Schools informing them of the problem, asking whether they were aware that this was a faith-based group, and requesting a response.
What I heard back wasn’t very promising:
The simple answer to your question is that our involvement with Shoes 4 the Shoeless does not violate the establishment clause. The legal review of their operation consistently finds that they are appropriate under Supreme Court precedent. Schools and other public institutions remain religiously neutral with parents or legal guardians giving written consent for a student’s participation. Shoes 4 the Shoeless is meeting a critical material need for the disadvantaged youth we serve in a completely non-discriminatory way and legal way.
I sympathize with the last line there, but no school should be participating in a Bible giveaway regardless of what else surrounds it, optional or not.
If Shoes 4 the Shoeless didn’t hand out the Bible during their events, I’d have no problem with it. But they’ve made it very clear that their generosity comes with strings attached.
The question is: Do they care more about giving these kids proper footwear or preaching to them? Because they could easily do the former without the latter.
Now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has stepped in, sending the district’s superintendent their own warning letter. (Attorney Rebecca Markert sent similar letters to other districts in the area, too.)
It should go without saying that Shoes 4 the Shoeless‘ secular mission is laudable. However, the religious message they have chosen to embed therein is problematic; it usurps parental authority, places the District in a precarious constitutional position, and ultimately circumscribes the organizations reach [sic].
It is unfortunate that Shoes 4 the Shoeless view public schools, particularly elementary schools, as ripe territory for recruitment. Parents understandably become nervous when outside adults take an over-keen interest in handing religious materials to their young children without parental knowledge or permission. Parents have the right to direct the religion, or non-religious, upbringing of their children, not public schools not religious organizations who mask their motivations in charity.
FFRF is asking the districts to let them know how they plan to remedy this situation.
Just to be clear, no one is opposed to a group — even a Christian group — giving shoes to those who need it. That’s a wonderful thing. But when proselytizing is part of the package, it’s up to the district to say no.
What’s amazing to me is that the non-profit refuses to help these children unless they can give away Bibles in the process, as if their charity is worthless if they can’t put a Christian stamp on it.
At the same time, it’s easy to criticize FFRF for fighting this battle; even though they’re right, it means kids will end up not getting new shoes.
So I’ll just put this out there: If the districts in question agree to stop allowing the Christian proselytizing, I’ll do everything in my power to raise enough money through this site for another group to buy and distribute shoes for those students. I’ll chip in, too.
Personally, I wish Shoes 4 the Shoeless would just agree to set aside the Bibles when they’re working with public schools, since they already have the whole process down to a science. But I guess being motivated by their faith isn’t enough; they have to dangle it in front of children (and parents) who just need the footwear and wouldn’t dream of rejecting the offer.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Alternate magical London, where old school friends the detective and the magician team up to solve a rather obvious murder, and resolve their mutual pining along the way.
Enjoyable, though lacking that special something. This made me think about genre. Which, believe me, is unusual – I have zero interest in the whole "but what does genre mean? Is it real?" thing. But here you have a blend of alternate history/fantasy with M/M romance. I started the summary above by writing "M/M" and then deleting it, because this is M/M in the literal sense, but not in the genre sense. Let me put this bluntly: there isn't enough erotica here for me to shelve it as M/M in the sense that I conceive of it in 2014.
What I mean is, this book reminds me of those times an author writes a book with a twist of fantasy or scifi, but because of which publishing house bought it and who the literary agent is, it gets packaged as "literature" and sold as "genre-bending" or what the fuck ever. All with the subliminal notion that yes, okay, this is using fantasy or scifi tropes, but it's not actually a fantasy novel, okay, it's better than that, it's actual literature. This book reminded me of that, except M/M is the thing it's not actually doing. By which I mean it dances up to the edges of the racier genre conventions, and then turns decorously away.
Not really fair, and I think what I'm seeing is the result of built in genre/marketing constraints rather than, say, authorial self-censorship. It's just funny, and a little uncomfortable, the way combining genres can make a work less effective or rich or nuanced, rather than more so.
Audio note: This production is by far the shoddiest I have ever encountered in commercial audio. I'm willing to bet they didn't bother with the final editing pass at all. There are skips, dropped words and sentences, repeats, background noise, you name it. Terrible.
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And how the actual hell did I get 500 followers? Who are you people? Who sent you? WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?
I understand it’s customary to mark this kind of occasion by giving away a selection of prizes, so I put together a selection of
trivial symbolic gesturesstuff y’all might enjoy:
- a sample tin of my Lady Hawkguy tea blend (link) from Adagio.com (link)
- a handmade bottle cap necklace, magnet, or earrings featuring a character/symbol of your choice
- a mystery bag of comics. What’s in it? Who knows. I don’t know. Maybe a trade. Maybe just a bunch of Batman.***
- a 1k story of your choice by me. Any characters, any rating, any prompt. Can be fic, original, meta, a series of sonnets*, whatever you want.
Four prizes, four winners. Are those prizes really cheap and total cop-outs? Definitely. Believe me, if I could, I would give all 500 of you a big hug, a box of candy, and free comics for life, but alas, the most I can offer is some tokens of appreciation and pictures of my cat.
You get one entry each for:
- liking this post
- reblogging this post
- following this stupid blog**
You might get a bonus entry for messages telling me how great I am. No promises. But you might.
The deadline for entry is November 1, because we attach meaning to particular days based on the numbers assigned to them in an inefficient calendar system. I’ll cut off the contest at midnight CST. Winners will be contacted by November 2 and asked to choose their prize. First to respond gets first pick. Fair? Fair.
Okay, I’m done now. We now return to your regularly scheduled blogging.
*Please don’t ask me to write a series of sonnets. That can only end in chaos.
**If you’re already following, you get an automatic extra entry.
ETA: ***It will not be Batman.
What I love about these shots is that neither of them feel like a costume-yet the resemblance is just too good! You can’t not see it once you do. Makes you wonder what references your subconscious may be pulling from as you get dressed in the morning…
It’s a fun game to click through the archives and see if you can find some costume ideas from the many years of inspiration!