U.S. Department of Justice Accuses Harvard of Systematic Discrimination!

Dear Commons Community,

The U.S. Department of Justice lent its support yesterday to students who are suing Harvard University over affirmative action policies that they claim discriminate against Asian-American applicants.  In a strongly-worded court filing, the Department stated that:  Harvard University’s consideration of Asian-American applicants “may be infected with racial bias”  and accuses Harvard of systematically discriminating against Asian-Americans in an effort to balance the racial composition of its student body, a practice the Department called “unlawful.” As reported by the New York Times:

“In a so-called statement of interest, the department supported the claims of the plaintiffs, a group of Asian-Americans rejected by Harvard. They contend that Harvard has systematically discriminated against them by artificially capping the number of qualified Asian-Americans from attending the school to advance less qualified students of other races.

“Harvard has failed to carry its demanding burden to show that its use of race does not inflict unlawful racial discrimination on Asian-Americans,” the Justice Department said in its filing.

The filing said that Harvard “uses a vague ‘personal rating’ that harms Asian-American applicants’ chances for admission and may be infected with racial bias; engages in unlawful racial balancing; and has never seriously considered race-neutral alternatives in its more than 45 years of using race to make admissions decisions.”

The Justice Department has increasingly used such statements of interest to intervene in civil rights cases. Before 2006, such statements appeared only seven times in civil rights-oriented disputes, according to a recent paper by law school student Victor Zapana. From 2006 to 2011, they were drafted in at least 242, almost all by the Obama administration on issues such as videotaping police brutality and ensuring that blind people and their service dogs have access to Uber.

But the Trump administration is turning the same tool against affirmative action in college admissions, a major — and highly contentious — legacy of the civil rights era, and one that white conservatives have opposed for decades. In the past few years, the anti-affirmative action cause has been joined by Asian-Americans who argue that they are being held to a higher standard, losing out on coveted slots at places like Harvard as African-Americans, Latinos and other groups get a boost.

A handful of states already ban public universities from relying on affirmative action, pushing several toward a model that takes socioeconomic factors into account instead of race. Public universities in California and Washington have tried to engineer class-based diversity in their student bodies, believing that giving a lift to lower-income students will end up bringing in more minority students as well.

But these methods have not produced classes with an ethnic makeup that mirrors that of the states where they have been used, and many selective private universities continue to admit students partly on the basis of race — though, until Harvard was forced to detail its internal admissions policies recently, few could say how elite universities actually weighed applicants’ race.

Now, universities that factor race into admissions have found a powerful new opponent in the Trump administration, which argued in its filing on Thursday that the court should deny Harvard’s request to dismiss the case before trial.

The government said that Supreme Court rulings require that universities considering race in admissions meet several standards. They must define their diversity-related goals and show that they cannot meet those goals without using race as a factor in admissions decisions.

The department argued that Harvard does not adequately explain how race factors into its admissions decisions, leaving open the possibility that the university is going beyond what the law allows.


Harvard said it was “deeply disappointed” but not surprised “given the highly irregular investigation the D.O.J. has engaged in thus far.”

“Harvard does not discriminate against applicants from any group, and will continue to vigorously defend the legal right of every college and university to consider race as one factor among many in college admissions, which the Supreme Court has consistently upheld for more than 40 years,” the university said in a statement.

A broad coalition of Harvard supporters filed briefs in support of the school Thursday condemning the lawsuit and saying that it would effectively threaten diversity at all American colleges.

Those groups include 25 alumni and student groups represented by the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, a group of economists who criticized the experts whose work was used in the original lawsuit and a group of 531 social scientists and academics who study access to college.

“Eliminating race-conscious admissions would disproportionately harm applicants of color, including some Asian-Americans,” Harvard alumni said in their filing.

The Harvard case, which was brought by an anti-affirmative-action group called Students for Fair Admissions, is seen as a test of whether a decades-long effort by conservative politicians and advocates to roll back affirmative action policies will ultimately succeed. The Education and Justice Departments said in July that the administration was abandoning Obama-era policies that asked universities to consider race as a factor in diversifying their campuses and would favor race-blind admissions instead.

Officials from both departments said that the Obama administration had used guidelines to circumvent Congress and the courts to create affirmative action policies that went beyond existing law.

Civil rights leaders and others argue that this stance effectively undermines decades of policy progress that created opportunity for minorities.

At the heart of the case is whether Harvard’s admissions staff hold Asian-Americans to higher standards than applicants of other racial or ethnic groups, and whether they use subjective measures, like personal scores, to cap the number of Asian students accepted to the school.

“Harvard today engages in the same kind of discrimination and stereotyping that it used to justify quotas on Jewish applicants in the 1920s and 1930s,” Students for Fair Admissions said in a court filing.

Harvard, which admitted less than 5 percent of its applicants this year, said that its own analysis did not find discrimination.

A trial in the case has been scheduled for October.”

This case has the potential to upend radically the Obama era affirmative action policies.  And will likely end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.




Charles Blow:  Trump Plays the Fear Card!

Dear Commons Community,

At a meeting that President Donald Trump held with evangelical Christian leaders on Monday, the president warned of “violence” from both Democrats and anti-fascist protesters if Republicans fail to retain control of Congress in the midterm elections.

“They will overturn everything that we’ve done, and they’ll do it quickly and violently, and violently,” Trump told the leaders, according to NBC News and the New York Times. “There’s violence. When you look at antifa, and you look at some of these groups—these are violent people.”

Trump was referring to anti-fascist protesters who have counter-protested at white supremacist rallies around the country. While some members of the loosely organized movement have resorted to violence, Democratic leaders have not endorsed the protesters.

On CNN, political analyst Jeffrey Toobin argued that Trump was employing a racist dog-whistle.

“Let’s be clear also about what’s going on here. The theme here is, ‘I’m Donald Trump and I’ll protect you from the scary black people,'” Toobin said.

The president did not elaborate on how or why Democrats would become violent if they were to win control of the House or Senate, but critics condemned his vague threat—especially after Trump himself has explicitly advocated for violence toward his opponents by his own supporters.

Charles Blow in his column today analyzes Trump’s tactics of fear.  Here is an excerpt:

“During the presidential campaign, in the spring of 2016, the Republican front-runner Donald Trump sat down for an interview with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of The Washington Post. They quoted President Barack Obama on global power and foreign affairs saying that “real power means you can get what you want without having to exert violence.” They then asked Trump if he agreed.

Trump responded:

“Well, I think there’s a certain truth to that. I think there’s a certain truth to that. Real power is through respect. Real power is, I don’t even want to use the word, fear.”

Woodward made “Fear” the title of his forthcoming book about Trump.

Trump has found — or has always had — a winning populism perfectly suited for this moment in our history, when the anxious, scared, hateful and callous desire an unapologetic voice that has the backing of actual power.

Trump’s magical mixture is to make being afraid feel like fun. His rallies are a hybrid of concert revelry and combat prep.

Trump tells his followers about all the things of which they should be afraid, or shouldn’t trust or should hate, and then positions himself as the greatest defense against those things. His supporters roar their approval at their white knight.

Fear is the poison-tipped arrow in Trump’s quiver. He launches it whenever he needs to change the subject, justify his callousness and racism, or defend himself from critique.

And he has been doing this since he got into the race for president.”

Trump is the typical bully who thinks he can cower others to his will.  He uses fear tactics as one of his major ploys.  People who are not afraid to stand up to bullies understand this well.


New NYC Independent Budget Office Report:  Middle Schools Face Concentrated Poverty and Gaps in Opportunity!

Dear Commons Community,

The New York City Independent Budget Office  released a new report yesterday indicating that the Department of Education will have difficulty desegregating middle schools because of the large concentrations of poor students in certain neighborhoods and schools.

About a third of the city’s roughly 600 middle schools serve overwhelmingly poor students, and more than half of the city’s low-income adolescents are clustered in just a quarter of middle schools, according to the report.

Low levels of academic achievement in schools with highly concentrated poverty have long plagued urban school districts, and decades of interventions have not produced clear solutions. Studies have shown that breaking up those clusters of poverty could help improve schools across the board.

Over the last year in particular, parents, activists and city officials have pointed to segregation in middle schools as a contributor to the persistent achievement gap between white, Asian and middle class students and their poorer peers, who are often black and Hispanic.  As reported in the New York Times:

“Parent groups in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and on Manhattan’s Upper West Side have proposed new middle school admissions policies in the hopes of curbing segregation before students enroll in sixth grade. Parents in Upper Manhattan and central Brooklyn are experimenting with similar plans of their own.

But the report shows just how challenging it will be for the city to address middle school segregation across the school system.

The Independent Budget Office studied more than 158,000 students from 279 middle schools between 2013 and 2014. It considered students low income if they live in poor parts of the city, in neighborhoods with above-average levels of violence, or in neighborhoods where adults have low levels of education and have low incomes.

The researchers found significant opportunity and achievement gaps between students at schools with high levels of low-income students and those with a wealthier population. Several of the 25 middle schools identified as having the lowest numbers of poor students — schools where fewer than 17 percent of the student body come from low-income homes — send a sizable portion of their students to the city’s specialized high schools, which require a test for admission. At least 20 percent of students at five of those schools were offered admission to a specialized high school.

Just over half of eighth graders at one of the schools with the fewest poor children, the Salk School of Science in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park, received an offer to a specialized school

None of the schools with the smallest populations of poor students are in the Bronx, but 22 of the 25 middle schools with student bodies that are at least 93 percent poor are there.

Several of those schools are among city’s worst-performing: eight are in the city’s Renewal program for struggling schools, and two have been closed by the Department of Education for poor performance since 2014.

A more integrated school system could help combat the ills of housing segregation, activists say, by offering children early opportunities to travel outside their neighborhoods and meet peers from other parts of the city.

The schools chancellor Richard A. Carranza, has already approved the desegregation plan on the Upper West Side and has indicated that he will approve one for District 15, which includes Park Slope.

When told of the report’s findings, Will Mantell, a department of education spokesman, said that the city was “investing in a comprehensive equity and excellence for all education agenda to provide students with high-quality instruction at every New York City school. Working towards more diverse and inclusive schools is a key part of that agenda.”

The housing segregation in New York and many other cities makes it very difficult to develop comprehensive plans to integrate high poverty middle schools without resorting to policies such as busing that many parents will resist.


College vs. Paycheck: Working students can’t always choose between a job and an education. Universities shouldn’t make them.

Dear Commons Community,

Rainesford Stauffer, a full-time graduate student who works over 40 hours per week, has an op-ed in today’s New York Times.  She makes a plea to colleges especially faculty to recognize the difficulty of balancing her time between her job and education.  Her story is well-known here at City University of New York and many other colleges with large commuter student populations.  Here is an excerpt:

“Much of the debate around higher-education inequity focuses on lessening the cost of tuition. Great, but the burden on working students is often left out of that conversation. We need affordable tuition, but also need to acknowledge other life expenses that are just as essential to learning.

Instead of penalizing working students like me for not being able to participate in every activity, why don’t universities seek additional ways to make higher education reachable for an increasingly diverse population of students? Not only are more students working than ever before, but nearly 40 percent of college students are over the age of 25. Nearly 60 percent of working learners are women. A quarter of working learners between ages 30 and 54 are African-American. And we’re not just working to cover costs in the short term: Working learners are upwardly mobile and more likely to move into managerial positions after graduating. Aren’t those the kind of career outcomes universities want to cultivate in their students?

When I got to graduate school, I assumed there would be more sympathy for an adult life that balanced academia and work. Yet in my first week of journalism school last fall, a professor told me I should quit my job. That breezy solution is incongruent with the realities facing the 76 percent of graduate students who log at least 30 hours of work per week.

The double life of a working grad student is filled with guilt. Guilt that I am constantly ducking out of extracurricular benefits like seminars, workshops and office hours to get to my next shift. Guilt that I need to complete a paid assignment on time before I can focus on my thesis. Guilt that I’m not making the most of the chance to continue my education by being unable to devote myself to it entirely.

By working, am I missing opportunities to enhance my education? Undoubtedly. But the truth that gets stuck in my throat every time someone encourages me to leave my job is that my work actually enables my learning. If I hope to complete my education, I can’t ignore paying for it.

There are benefits of bouncing like an academic Ping-Pong ball from class to work. The jobs I’ve worked can be passed off as résumé-building and provide me with real workplace experience that school itself can’t. Yet it’s unacceptable and frankly infuriating that a country with universities bragging about water parks and movie theaters also has students struggling with food insecurity, or that universities that want to tout employment as a byproduct of a degree would not support working students.

It isn’t working students who need to reprioritize education over employment. It’s the universities that should prioritize affordability on campus by creating opportunities for students to work while staying invested in their education.”

Ms. Stauffer comments are well-stated.  We in higher education need to think carefullly how we use precious resources.  Faculty especially need to be sensitive to working students many of whom are parents taking care of children who also need time and attention.  


New Rockefeller Institute Policy Brief: To Improve Education Opportunities for All – It’s Time to Treat K-12 and Higher Education as a Single System!

Dear Commons Community,

A new Rockefeller Institute policy brief recommends that American K-12 and higher education converge  and outlines five steps for doing so.  As described in its  press release.


Albany, NY —  With reauthorization of both the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Higher Education Act (HEA) pending before Congress, a new policy brief.from the Rockefeller Institute of Government examines the historical divergence of the K-12 and higher education sectors in the United States and outlines five steps for better aligning the two.

“A lot has changed since ESEA and HEA were signed into law in 1968, and their pending reauthorization provides an excellent opportunity to rethink how we approach education in the United States,” said Rockefeller Institute President Jim Malatras. “Now, more than ever, a postsecondary education is vital for upward mobility. To ensure better educational outcomes for everyone, we need to start viewing the education system as a single, coordinated pipeline. In our new policy brief, authors Patrick McGuinn and Christopher Loss propose five clear steps for achieving this much-needed reform.”

The paper, “Convergence of K-12 and Higher Education: Policies and Programs in a Changing Era,” tracks the political, economic, demographic, and technological forces transforming the country’s education systems 50 years after the passage of ESEA and HEA. Drawing on their recently published essay collection of the same name, Patrick McGuinn and Christopher Loss propose five steps for aligning K-12 and higher education:

1.    Combine ESEA and HEA. The creation of separate policies, funding streams, and governance structures for K-12 and higher education has long perpetuated the separation of the two sectors —  not only failing to encourage them to reach across the divide, but in many ways providing incentives for them to preserve it. Federal policymakers should strongly consider combining the ESEA and HEA into a single piece of legislation and use it to align the goals of institutions operating across the K-16 sector. 

2.    Merge State K-12 and Higher Ed Policies and Agencies. 
State education policy, like federal policy, should be used to unite —  rather than divide —  the two sectors. States should consider merging their often separate agencies for K-12 and higher education regulation. 

3.    Encourage K-16 Bridge Building. Many K-12 and higher education institutions have embraced the idea of convergence on their own and have been entrepreneurial and innovative in creating partnerships that bridge the two sectors. These efforts should be lauded, emulated, and expanded. 

4.    Incorporate K-12 and Higher Ed Engagement in Accreditation Reviews. Making K-12 and higher education partnerships a priority in the accreditation process for schools and universities will ensure that it becomes an institutional priority, backed by accountability, for schools and colleges. 

5.    Reconceptualize Educational Scholarship. Approaching the field of education as two distinct sectors serves to perpetuate the divide and needs to be reconsidered.

Several states such as Florida have already taken steps in this direction.  I think it is an idea whose time has come.


Public School Principal Attrition and Mobility: Results From the NCES/IES 2016–17 Principal Follow-up Survey!

Dear Commons Community,

Maryann Polesinelli, a colleague at the CUNY Graduate Center, forwarded to me the latest Public School Principal Attrition and Mobility Report.   This report, produced by U.S.D.O.E. National Center for Education Statistics/Institute for Education Sciences (NCES/IES), presents findings from the Public School Principal Status Data File of the 2016–17 Principal Follow-up Survey (PFS).  The PFS is a nationally representative sample survey of public K–12 schools in the 50 states and District of Columbia and was initiated to inform discussions and decisions regarding principal attrition and mobility among policymakers, researchers, and parents. Both NTPS and PFS are developed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the Institute of Education Sciences within the U.S. Department of Education and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. PFS data are collected from schools and principals and appended to the NTPS Public School Principal data file. Information from all of the NTPS surveys can be linked. Below is a summary of selected findings.

Selected Findings

  • Among all public school principals in 2015–16, approximately 82 percent remained at the same school during the following school year (“stayers”), 6 percent moved to a different school (“movers”), and 10 percent left the principalship (“leavers”). In addition, 2 percent of principals were from schools that reported the principal had left, but the school was unable to report the current occupational status of the principal (“other”).
  • Among 2015–16 public school principals of schools where less than 35 percent of K–12 students were approved for free or reduced-price lunches, 85 percent remained at the same school during the 2016–17 school year (“stayers”), 5 percent moved to a different school (“movers”), and 8 percent left the principalship (“leavers”). Among 2015–16 principals of schools where more than 75 percent of students were approved for free or reduced-price lunches, 79 percent remained at the same school during the 2016–17 school year (“stayers”), 7 percent moved to a different school (“movers”), and 11 percent left the principalship (“leavers”)..
  • Of public school principals who agreed strongly or somewhat with the statement “I think about transferring to another school” in the 2015–16 school year, 12 percent left the principalship and 12 percent moved to a different school in 2016–17.
  • Of public school principals who remained at the same school during the 2016–17 school year (“stayers”), 43 percent planned to remain a principal as long as they were able, 20 percent were undecided at that time, 19 percent planned to remain until eligible for retirement benefits from their job, and 11 percent planned to remain until a more desirable job opportunity came along.
  • Of the public school principals who reported in the 2015–16 school year that student bullying occurred at least once a month or more often, 82 percent remained at the same school during the following school year (“stayers”), 10 percent left the principalship (“leavers”), and 6 percent moved to a different school (“movers”) in 2016–17.
  • Of the public school principals who reported in the 2015–16 school year that they had a major influence on evaluating teachers, 82 percent remained at the same school during the following school year (“stayers”), 10 percent left the principalship (“leavers”), and 6 percent moved to a different school (“movers”) in 2016–17.

For those interested in the state of public school leadership, this is a  must-read report.


Jon Meacham’s “The Soul of America:  The Battle for Our Better Angels!”

Dear Commons Community,

I have just finished reading Jon Meacham’s best-seller, The Soul of America:  The Battle for Our Better Angels!  It was a good read in the Meacham fashion:   clear, straight-forward and timely.  Here is a brief description as per a review by Princeton professor of history, Sean Wilentz:

“Covering the century that stretched from the abolition of slavery to the civil-rights victories of the mid-1960s, Meacham explains how the nation has required activist liberal presidents — above all Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson — to replace fear with hope and then to reverse injustice and expand equality. Our better angels, Meacham implies, reside in that part of the American soul that inspired the Square Deal, the New Deal and the Great Society.

At a time when liberalism is besieged by populisms of both the right and the left, these portions of Meacham’s book offer a strong if unfashionable reminder of all that progressive American government has achieved. His book even recalls the kinds of confident histories written 50 years ago by the likes of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and Eric Goldman, in which the nation was delivered from the forces of complacency and reaction, and achieved great political and social reforms. Meacham widens the field of historical influence to include activists and intellectuals usually deemed outside the mainstream, above all W. E. B. Du Bois.”

I happened to like especially Meacham’s treatment of the Joe McCarthy era in the early 1950s mainly because of the connections to the present.  Here are several quotes:

“To McCarthy, the new medium (television) created nearly unlimited possibilities to dominate the public consciousness, and he values performance over substance.  ‘People aren’t going to remember the things we say on the issues here, our logic, our common sense, our facts’ McCarthy remarked to Roy Cohn before the televised army hearings:  ‘They’re only going to remember the impressions.”

…When he read coverage he disliked.  McCarthy did not keep quiet – he went on the offense singling out specific publications and particular journalists, sometimes at rallies.”

Meacham’s last paragraph in this section:

“A notable fixer, Cohn thrived at the nexus of law, politics, media, and society.  ‘I don’t know what the law is.’  One of his more celebrated clients in after-years was a young real estate developer who was looking to move into Manhattan from his family’s base in Queens.  And Roy Cohn was always there for Donald Trump.”




Nation Mourns John McCain:  Not Donald Trump!

Dear Commons Community,

As leaders throughout the United States and beyond mourn the death of John McCain, President Trump has chosen to remain conspicuously quiet.  Mr. Trump issued no official statement hailing Mr. McCain and instead conveyed his condolences to Mr. McCain’s loved ones on Twitter on Saturday night, but said nothing about Mr. McCain.

“My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Our hearts and prayers are with you!”  It was reported by the Washington Post yesterday that Trump decided to nix a more complimentary official statement that White House aides, including press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, prepared for the president.  The New York Times commented this morning:

“It is the start of what promises to be a difficult week for Mr. Trump. Mr. McCain quietly declared before his death that he did not want Mr. Trump to take part in his funeral, a decision that will render the president a virtual pariah as the senator is eulogized by former presidents and other luminaries as a principled war hero and dedicated public servant.

But more than just the culmination of a political feud, the specter of Mr. Trump’s highly visible absence from Mr. McCain’s funeral on Saturday morning at Washington National Cathedral underscored the degree to which the president has veered from the norms of his office, unwilling to act as a unifying force at major moments in the life of the country…

… It also highlights the country’s rabid political polarization, which helped propel Mr. Trump to the White House….Some of Mr. Trump’s supporters, for their part, savaged Mr. McCain on social media, calling him a spiteful person who had betrayed his own party and blackballed the president as his dying wish. Mr. McCain — whom Mr. Trump once mocked for his five and a half years as a prisoner of war — spent the final months of his life as an outspoken Republican voice challenging Mr. Trump at a time when many in his party would not.

“For most of American history, politics stopped when you had the death of a national leader, and the fact that it hasn’t says an awful lot about the current state of our country and our politics, and in particular about Donald Trump,” said Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian. “What you’d want to see is a president acting as graciously and as large-mindedly as possible, in the John McCain spirit, but there is no sign of that.”

John McCain was a better human being and American than Donald Trump.  Trump knows it and can’t stand it!


Ben Miller Op-Ed:  The Student Debt Problem Is Worse Than We Thought!


Dear Commons Community,

Ben Miller, senior director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, has an op-ed in today’s  New York Times analyzing the college student debt problem.  Here is an excerpt:

“Millions of students will arrive on college campuses soon, and they will share a similar burden: college debt. The typical student borrower will take out $6,600 in a single year, averaging $22,000 in debt by graduation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

There are two ways to measure whether borrowers can repay those loans: There’s what the federal government looks at to judge colleges, and then there’s the real story. The latter is coming to light, and it’s not pretty.

Consider the official statistics: Of borrowers who started repaying in 2012, just over 10 percent had defaulted three years later. That’s not too bad — but it’s not the whole story. Federal data never before released shows that the default rate continued climbing to 16 percent over the next two years, after official tracking ended, meaning more than 841,000 borrowers were in default. Nearly as many were severely delinquent or not repaying their loans (for reasons besides going back to school or being in the military). The share of students facing serious struggles rose to 30 percent over all.

Collectively, these borrowers owed over $23 billion, including more than $9 billion in default.

Nationally, those are crisis-level results, and they reveal how colleges are benefiting from billions in financial aid while students are left with debt they cannot repay. The Department of Education recently provided this new data on over 5,000 schools across the country in response to my Freedom of Information Act request.

The new data makes clear that the federal government overlooks early warning signs by focusing solely on default rates over the first three years of repayment. That’s the time period Congress requires the Department of Education to use when calculating default rates.

At that time, about one-quarter of the cohort — or nearly 1.3 million borrowers — were not in default, but were either severely delinquent or not paying their loans. Two years later, many of these borrowers were either still not paying or had defaulted. Nearly 280,000 borrowers defaulted between years three and five.

Federal laws attempting to keep schools accountable are not doing enough to stop loan problems. The law requires that all colleges participating in the student loan program keep their share of borrowers who default below 30 percent for three consecutive years or 40 percent in any single year. We can consider anything above 30 percent to be a “high” default rate. That’s a low bar.

Among the group who started repaying in 2012, just 93 of their colleges had high default rates after three years and 15 were at immediate risk of losing access to aid. Two years later, after the Department of Education stopped tracking results, 636 schools had high default rates.

For-profit institutions have particularly awful results. Five years into repayment, 44 percent of borrowers at these schools faced some type of loan distress, including 25 percent who defaulted. Most students who defaulted between three and five years in repayment attended a for-profit college.”

Miller’s conclusion:

“The federal government, states and institutions also need to make significant investments in college affordability to reduce the number of students who need a loan in the first place. Too many borrowers and defaulters are low-income students, the very people who would receive only grant aid under a rational system for college financing. Forcing these students to borrow has turned one of America’s best investments in socioeconomic mobility — college — into a debt trap for far too many.”


Former President Barack Obama’s Pays Tribute to John McCain!


Dear Commons Community,

Former President Barack Obama paid tribute to Senator John McCain as a man who made sacrifices for “the greater good.”  McCain died yesterday after a long battle with brain cancer.

McCain was faithful to “something higher — the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed,” Obama said. 

For all their differences ― Obama and McCain ran against each other during the 2008 presidential election ― the former president said he and McCain both viewed their political battles as a “privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home and to advance them around the world.”

Obama said few people have been tested as much as McCain was but that “all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden also honored McCain, saying he had been an excellent friend and had made unparalleled contributions to the U.S.

“John McCain’s life is proof that some truths are timeless. Character. Courage. Integrity. Honor,” Biden said in a statement. “A life lived embodying those truths casts a long, long shadow. His impact on America hasn’t ended. Not even close. It will go on for many years to come.”

“To me, more than anything, John was a friend,” he added. “America will miss John McCain. The world will miss John McCain. And I will miss him dearly.”

Below is the full statement from former President Obama.



John McCain and I were members of different generations, came from completely different backgrounds, and competed at the highest level of politics. But we shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher – the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed. We saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world. We saw this country as a place where anything is possible – and citizenship as our patriotic obligation to ensure it forever remains that way.
Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt. Michelle and I send our most heartfelt condolences to Cindy and their family.