Assorted Links

  1. For Profit Colleges– Yet another look into the for-profit College industry, this time in the Village Voice. There are new anecdotes, but the same conclusions about how the industry profits by scamming the financial aid system paid for by tax dollars, without offering much in the way of an education. One person is quoted as saying that “This is basically a parasitic industry that is preying upon not just some of the most vulnerable members of our society, but the best of these most vulnerable members, people who listen to the rhetoric we feed them and who are actually attempting to better themselves.” I suspect that there is a link between the emphasis on standardized tests (which mostly benefit the test-prep industry1) and the idea that the same model can be applied to the college degree (hence massive online universities). Call it a gut instinct, but the fact that the Kaplan test prep company–which charges exorbitant fees for marginal real returns on the standardized tests of all sorts (from what I have witnessed, most of the gains come from either learning how to beat the testing system or actually feeling responsible to dedicate time to studying since you are now paying for it)–has an accredited online college and university makes me see a link.
  2. College Costs Too Much Because the Faculty Lack Power– Commentary on the Chronicle that suggests that the cost of college is not rising because of too many overfed faculty members, but because the number of full time administrators has risen well beyond the proportion of full time faculty and students.
  3. Amazon Kindle E-book Sales Overtake PrintAt least for the UK site, Amazon is now selling 114 Ebooks for every 100 print books.
  4. Gabby Douglas Isn’t Jingoistic Enough for Fox News-Apparently Gabby Douglas bothered some people because she did not wear red, white, and blue spandex when receiving her award. They did actually use the words “jingoistic” and “exceptionalism” in berating her for not having enough pride.
  5. Can Hospital Chains Improve the Medical Industry – A piece in the New Yorker that evaluates restaurant chains as a successful business model vis a vis hospitals and tries to make a claim that some of the lessons of the chain restaurant (regular updates in offerings, more cost efficiency, standardization) could be beneficial to the hospitals. I have little to not experience with hospitals, but I do have a bunch with restaurants, and the description of the restaurant model grated me. The most basic problem I had with it was the glorification of the Cheesecake Factory as an exemplar of the model, when it is no different from most chain restaurants. Moreover, the assembly-line model and the organization of a kitchen for efficiency is not some miracle that this restaurant came up with, but is something that will be applied in some form at any restaurant. The same goes with the ratios for costs at restaurants, though it is misleading. The cost of food is often not second after payroll. The hidden cost that is not factored into the equation is rent and utilities, though perhaps at the Cheesecake Factory, the revenue is high enough that the rent and utilities are smaller. At a Pizza Hut, though (also referenced), that would not be the case. It is also important to note that (despite the author’s claims), the model usually relies on providing consistent–not good–quality food. Most of these chains (see: Pizza Hut) offer you food that is worse than many hole-in-the-wall restaurants and food stands that I have had. Yes, there are things that hospitals need to work on, but the chain restaurant model, particularly when offering it as somehow revelatory to food in general and overlooking the poor to bland quality of most of it, is a flawed comparison.
  6. 1One of the biggest beneficiaries of the No Child Left Behind tests was Ignite! Learning, a company that was run by Neil Bush.

    As always, comments encouraged. What else is out there?

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