Wednesday, May 04, 2011

For-profit education rule heads for final U.S. review

The Leftist hatred of profit is particularly strong in education

The U.S. Education Department has sent the final version of a controversial rule aimed at reining in low-quality trade schools and colleges to the White House budget office for review, an agency spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The for-profit education lobby and the Obama administration have been in a pitched battle over rules designed to curb student loan abuses.

The "gainful employment" regulation is the last of many rules introduced by the Education Department to be finalized. The goal of this and other rules is to make for-profit schools such as Apollo Group's University of Phoenix more accountable for the billions of dollars of taxpayer money used to fund student loans.

In its original form, the rule would make a school program ineligible to accept students paying with federal loans if fewer than 35 percent of former students are paying them back after three years. An exception would be made for programs where students are able to pay back loans, but fail to do so.

The Education Department spokeswoman said she did not know when the final version of the rule would be announced. It had been expected early this year. Rules are often weakened between the announcement of the first draft and implementation of the final version.

The White House budget office reviews proposed regulations to ensure they meet regulatory principles and policies. When an initial draft of the gainful employment rule was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget on October 15, the review took about 10 days.

The Education Department has already finalized rules banning the practice of basing recruiters' pay on how many students they enroll and requiring disclosure of graduation rates and job placement rates to new students.

For-profit colleges have been lobbying heavily over the last few months to get the gainful employment rule scrapped or weakened. Losing access to federal loans could put some schools out of business. Some have already tightened their enrollment standards in a move to reduce loan defaults and increase graduation rates.

Apollo Group, the biggest company in the sector, said it saw a 45 percent drop in new enrollments in the quarter ended on February 28. With enrollments down, Apollo, Career Education Corp and Washington Post's education unit Kaplan Higher Education have all cut jobs.

The Standard & Poor's education index was up 0.3 percent in afternoon trading on Tuesday, while the broad S&P 500 stock index fell 0.6 percent.


Degistered New Zealand teacher unrepentant over nude Penthouse photographs

The penalty seems excessive and out of place in today's society

A FORMER New Zealand teacher has been deregistered for posing nude - but she has no regrets, 3 News reported today.

Rachel Whitwell, 29, was photographed draped over a school desk for the pornographic magazine Penthouse's Australia and New Zealand editions in January 2010.

Following a number of complaints and an investigation by the New Zealand Teachers Council (NZTC), the Teachers' Disciplinary Tribunal found the former elementary school teacher's actions had brought the profession into disrepute and reflected poorly on her fitness as a teacher, Radio New Zealand reported.

In her defense, Whitwell argued she was not working as a teacher when she posed for the photographs and had not acted illegally, reported. "I simply modeled for some photographs in my role as a model, not as a teacher," she said in submissions to the NZTC. "Even if I was teaching I do not believe that ... the NZTC has any right to impose Victorian moral opinions on my life outside the classroom."

Whitwell also said the New Zealand Bill of Rights meant she had a right to freedom of expression.

She was deregistered as a teacher and ordered to pay costs.

Whitwell said she gave up teaching a year and a half ago to pursue a modeling career and, while she had no regrets about posing nude, she wanted to appeal the decision.


Australian Federal Government offers families cash if teens stay at school

MORE than 143,000 Queensland families will receive extra cash from the Federal Government over five years if their teenage children stay in school. About 650,000 families nationwide will get up to $4200 extra each year under a Labor election commitment to increase the number of 16 to 19-years who complete schooling.

New government modelling suggests tens of thousands of low-income families will also receive extra rent assistance up to $3600 a year and family tax benefit B payments in next week's federal Budget.

Treasurer Wayne Swan pledged the Budget would target welfare payments to low and middle-income families while creating incentives for students to say in school. "We fully understand how much bringing up teenagers can stretch family budgets, especially for families on modest incomes," Mr Swan said. "This extra help with cost of living pressures will help ensure that all teenagers are either learning or earning, so that we can build the best-educated and skilled workforce in the world."

The move reflects findings from former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry's tax review that the current drop in family tax payments once a child turns 16 creates a disincentive for older teenagers to complete school. Extra payments will only be made if students are in full time study or vocational training.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has vowed to make education and training the centrepiece of next week's Budget as the Treasury warns skills shortages threaten the economy. Ms Gillard yesterday pledged to spend an extra $200 million on school education for students with disabilities. The funds will cover speech and occupational therapy, audiovisual technology, teacher aides, health professionals and specialised curriculums.

Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans flagged further skills funding in the Budget ahead of a major overhaul of vocational education.

A report by Skills Australia yesterday laid out a $12 billion plan to boost the number of Australians in training up to certificate III level.


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