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Lunch Links Thursday: Higher Ed and Heroes

Today’s Lunch Links are mostly devoted to news in the higher education world, with a finishing touch that will bring you back to believing in humanity , in case you have fallen off that cliff in recent months.

A story that caught my attention yesterday is Garance Frank-Ruta’s proposition in The Atlantic that the federal government offer financial incentives to student loan debt holders for moving to blighted cities such as Detroit.

I chewed on this idea for about 15 seconds until I realized that commenter andrelot said what I was thinking better than I could:

I’m against these types of social engineering measures that aim to steer people towards some choice that is politically appealing instead of solving the underlying problems.

The underlying problem, in this case, are runaway college education costs for many students (which happens for a variety of reasons, from dwindling state financing to public universities to the proliferation of for-profit, dubious quality colleges and the financially disastrous arms-race of facilities related to anything but education like sports, gyms etc).

That is the real issue that needs to be addressed.

Speaking of college costs, today in Buffalo President Obama kicks off a tour of colleges to push his new idea for a financial aid system that provides bigger grants and cheaper federal loans to students at colleges that offer “good value.”

In addition to looking at attributes such access and the average debt load of a school’s students, another factor in a college’s “value” will be its graduation rate and graduates’ earnings.

Such metrics could prompt some unintended consequences, such as placing a higher value on schools that produce students entering into business or engineering careers, and eschewing schools that primarily have a liberal arts focus.

By the way, do you think that the majority of college professors have sweet tenure-track gigs that pay well and offer health care benefits? Think again. Check out this infographic about the growing adjunct crisis in higher education. Did you know that the number of master’s and PhD holders who are on food stamps tripled in the past three years?

This story is going viral for sure, but if you haven’t seen it, you must take a few minutes to listen to this school clerk in Decatur, Georgia describe what she did when a gunman entered her school this week with the intent to repeat the horrific Sandy Hook massacre that took place last year.

The word ‘hero’ is not strong enough to describe this woman, I realized as I listened to her explain how she connected with the gunman by telling him all of the details of a very difficult life she has had—and how her life is now turning toward something more positive.

How this educator did this while facing down a gun is simply unimaginable, and I am so thankful she was there to undoubtedly save the lives of countless children and educators by convincing this young man that he could put down his gun.

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