Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Now Online: Tell Me How This Ends Iran War Simulation

Groundbreaking game teaches Americans the cost of conflict with Iran
Try playing, Be the President. Make the decisions, see if you can make the right ones.
By Stephanie Dreyer | 10.19.12

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Truman National Security Project released a groundbreaking new web-based Iran war simulation called Tell Me How This Ends, designed to teach users about the cost and consequences of military action with Iran. The game will be promoted by a television ad to run during Monday’s national security-focused presidential debate.

Play the simulation and watch the ad:

Tell Me How This Ends challenges players to deal with the aftermath of a decision to attack Iran, engaging the American people in an honest discussion of the likely costs and consequences of a war with Iran. The simulation was developed in close consultation with former senior Department of Defense officials and national security experts. It represents a realistic, if simplified, scenario for military engagement with Iran. The game is largely based upon the Iran Project Report which details the costs and benefits of military conflict with Iran.

The game is named after General David Petraeus’ famous quote expressing the reality that wars are easy to start, but the end game is often far from clear.

The accompanying television ad, which features US Army veteran Justin Ford, will run in various markets during the national security presidential debate on Monday, October 22. Ford emphasizes the risk of going into war without a plan to get out.

“Truman Project has produced a valuable tool for honestly assessing the costs of war with Iran and communicating it to the American people. It’s a public debate we need to have if we’re going to avoid the mistakes of the past,” said Janine Davidson, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Plans and current Professor of national security at George Mason University.

“At the start of the Iraq war in 2003, when General David Petraeus said, ‘Tell me how this ends,’ he was expressing the reality that wars are easy to start, but the end game is often far from clear. Iraq turned out to be the second longest war in America’s history; Afghanistan has been the longest. General Petraeus’ simple question is one that every leader should ask before committing U.S. troops to battle,” said Truman Project Executive Director Michael Breen, a former US Army officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Inside the beltway, a strong community of simulators has been educating policy makers and opinion leaders about Iran for years. This is an opportunity to take that approach to the American people so that our nation can make an informed decision about military action against Iran,” said Leigh O’Neill, Policy Director of the Truman Project.


The Truman National Security Project is a leadership institute for 21st century national security. More at

Chief of Staff

“During the campaign, you promised to establish a red line: If Iran accumulated enough medium-enriched uranium—that’s 20% enrichment—for a single nuclear bomb, the United States would retaliate militarily.
Intelligence now indicates that your red line has been crossed.”

The National Security Advisor Briefing

Iran is led by a religious theocracy that has long agitated against the U.S. The Iranian government sponsors terrorist groups that have killed U.S. troops. Iran also threatens allies such as Israel and our partners in the Gulf. Iran is a powerful regional actor with a population of 75 million – twice that of Iraq.
You have decided that Iran will not be allowed to gain a nuclear weapon because of the government’s extremism and hostility and it could set off an arms race in the region. Of course, Iran claims that its nuclear program is for energy, and Iran’s Supreme Leader has declared nuclear weapons against Islamic law. So while Iran is preparing enriched uranium, U.S. intelligence currently believes that Iran’s Supreme Leader has not yet made a decision to build a nuclear weapon.
The world has enforced the very strong sanctions against Iran, causing their oil exports to fall by more than half. These sanctions forced Iran to the negotiating table last summer, but additional meetings have been
If you continue the diplomatic track, precious months could be wasted, during which time Iran may move a greater share of their nuclear material into deep or hidden bunkers.
Iran has five critical locations for its nuclear program. The sites at Natanz and Fordow are for enriching
uranium. Both of these enrichment sites are underground; the Fordow site is deeper and better protected. Esfahan is the main facility for converting uranium. The other key target is the Arak heavy water facility and reactor (currently under construction), which could provide a plutonium pathway to a bomb years from now. A military site at Parchin may be conducting research on how to construct nuclear weapons.
Given Iran’s current capabilities, reasonable estimates suggest that if Iran’s leaders decided to build a nuclear weapon, it would take them at least a year to build, and would take two more years to create a warhead that could deliver the nuclear weapon via a missile to foreign countries.
Iran Nuclear Facilities      This is a google map showing location of Natanz, Fordo, Isfahan, Arak and Parchin.  Hope it helps you in the game..

Viewpoint: Will Blacks Vote for Obama “Because He’s Black”?

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking during a campaign event at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, Oct. 17, 2012.

(MORE: The Magical Negro Falls to Earth)When the president said, “Can you say that a little louder, Candy!” after moderator Candy Crowley corrected Romney during a crucial moment in their second debate, sending the audience into laughter, I heard black barbershop dozens signifying. Or asphalt basketball court trash talking. Obama has not been shy about bringing black cultural signifiers with him onto the national stage — from fist bumping his wife in the 2008 campaign to refusing change from a fast food cashier by saying “Nah we straight.” An insightful new book, Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S. by professors H. Samy Alim and Geneva Smitherman, catalogs Obama’s particular linguistic manner and the ease with which he verbally communicates blackness. It is these moments that begin to explain why the question of whether blacks vote for Obama just because he’s black is so dumb.

The question has become an Internet meme over the last week, fueled mostly by people like author Kevin Jackson, author of The Big Black Lie, who told Fox News, “Racists that they are, [blacks] voted for [Obama] because he’s black, not because he’s qualified.” Conservative author Ron Christie echoed him saying blacks voted for Obama because of “straitjacket solidarity.”

This is mostly conservatives complaining about why they can’t get a serious look from black Americans and break up the demographic firewall that Obama has because of overwhelming support from blacks and Latinos. It would be too psychologically difficult to blame their decades old problem with black and brown voters on an ideology that is anti-affirmative action, anti-choice, anti-the social safety net, pro-voter ID, pro-tax breaks for the wealthy, pro demonizing of welfare and accepting of birtherism. A party that engages in what many have called the Southern Strategy 2.0, which means trying to attract poor whites through enraging them via coded racist appeals like the “Obama is removing the work requirement from welfare” claim” that was widely debunked but still remained at the heart of a Romney ad.

(MORE: How To Read Political Racial Code)

But instead of looking at the Republican ideology and realizing that it is hostile to blacks, they call blacks racist for their supposedly thoughtless skin-color-based support of Obama. An August poll showed Obama leading Romney among blacks 94% to 0%, but this is hardly an historical outlier. Al Gore won 90% of the black vote in 2000 and John Kerry won 88% in 2004. Obama won 95% in 2008.

Instead, the idea that blacks support Obama just because he’s black is itself racist because it suggests a lack of political sophistication and brain power, as if blacks would vote for anyone who shares their skin color, even though most blacks didn’t support Herman Cain, Allen West, Alan Keyes and don’t respect Clarence Thomas. And the question ignores the nuances of reality. Yes Obama’s blackness is part of why many blacks support him. Another reason is Obama’s policies: saving Detroit, supporting universal health care, and fighting to protect the social safety net and a woman’s right to choose will win lots of black votes. But if we like a candidate because we like him personally, i.e., feel a kinship with him because of a feeling of shared culture, and because we like his policies, well, that seems awfully like the calculus many voters use in their decision of who to support.

Besides, too much has been written about the spiritual uplift inherent in Obama’s success to take seriously the idea that blacks voting for a black man is a vapid choice, rather than a soul-affirming one. Blacks voting for Obama are also voting to redefine blackness in the American collective mind via the radical act of having a brilliant black man be the leader of the country. There’s a love of self in that vote, and his election in turn impacted black national self-esteem, the way Kennedy’s victory helped Irish-Catholics feel fully American.

(MORE: Elizabeth Warren, Scott Brown and the Myth of Race)

In order to think blacks reflexively support Obama because of race you have to ignore so much evidence. You have to close your eyes to his black critics from the brilliant Cornel West to Michael Jones, the undecided voter at the debate who asked why he should vote for him, to the clueless Stacey Dash. You also have to believe that whites never take race into account which would suggest that the Bradley Effect doesn’t exist and demand you dismiss a recent Esquire Magazine/Yahoopoll in which 26% of respondents said they personally know someone who’s not voting for Obama simply because he’s black. And you have to believe that race is merely a skin color and not something that becomes a deep shaper of your life, a significant part of your soul, such that the revolutionary success of a black person on the nation’s most important stage is critical to your life and worthy of support, if he’s also got policies you like.

How to Act Human: Advice for Mitt Romney From Inside the Actors Studio

  • 5/15/12 at 10:55 AM

INSIDE THE ACTOR'S STUDIO -- Pictured:(l-r) James Lipton, Judd Apatow -- Bravo Photo: Chris HastonA special imaginary edition of Inside the Actors Studio.

A few months ago, Brian McFadden’s weekly comic strip in the Sunday Timesoffered ways for Mitt Romney to improve his image. One panel showed him with me on the set of Inside the Actors Studio, under the heading “Take Acting Lessons to Appear More Relatable.”
Initially amused by this unsolicited enlistment, I’ve found myself returning spontaneously and with increasing frequency to the task, sometimes starting awake in the middle of the night with acting advice for the candidate. Convinced that the only way to exorcise this possession is to confront it, I offer the following counsel.
In this media-saturated era, the line between politics and performance has virtually vanished, and the public is having a hard time believing Mr. Romney’s persona (as in dramatis personae) — a potentially fatal flaw for any actor, but especially for a presidential candidate. Why doesn’t Mr. Romney’s audience believe him?
Perhaps it starts with his laugh, a device he employs at odd moments and in a most peculiar way. (The public thinks that crying is the acid test of the actor, but in fact “laughing” is much harder — and Mr. Romney hasn’t mastered it.)
Listen to his laugh.  It resembles the flat “Ha! Ha! Ha!” that appears in comic-strip dialogue balloons. But worse – far worse – it is mirthless. Mr. Romney expects us to be amused, although he himself is not amused. Freeze the frame, cover the bottom of his face with your hand, and study his eyes. There’s no pleasure there, no amusement. Genuine laughter is triggered only by, and is completely dependent on, shared perception. That’s why we say we “get” a joke.
But Mr. Romney is too busy working to share anything – like the vaudevillian tapping so desperately that he’s covered with what performers call “flop sweat.” In rehearsal, I once heard a director say to an overeager actor, “Relax, you’ve got the job.” Now that Mr. Romney seems to have wrapped up the nomination, that counsel may apply here.
Constantin Stanislavski, the patron saint of the Actors Studio, who preached that relaxation was the sine qua non of acting, would have thrown up his hands in despair at the sight of Governor Romney stalking stiffly onto the public stage.  Mr. Romney’s not alone in this robot world. Two generations of politicians, political commentators, and TV personalities seem to have been instructed that no one will listen to them unless they accompany their remarks by locking their elbows to their sides and waving their rigid forearms about like marionettes being wielded by invisible strings.
For a positive example of port de bras (the ballet term for use of the arms), I recommend the political Pavlova, Sarah Palin, who, on the speakers’ podium, with a script in hand and no obligation to answer troublesome questions, is so relaxed in what Stanislavski called “the given circumstance” that her arms, moving gracefully and freely, are a constant pleasure to watch (with the sound turned on or off, depending on your persuasion).
Another of Mr. Romney’s acting sins is sartorial. Calling Wardrobe! The combination of neatly creased blue jeans below and crisp white dress shirt or bespoke jacket above is a failed mash-up of bowling alley and country club. Inauthenticity is, after all, today’s topic, and I suspect that if Mr. Romney weren’t running for president, he wouldn’t be caught dead in that mismatch.
When challenged on the illegal immigrants caring for his lawn, Mr. Romney responded: “We went to the company and we said, look, you can’t have any illegals working on our property. I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake.” While a few illegal immigrants on the lawn might not faze private citizen Romney, “running for office” requires a separate set of rules and, more important, a separate persona.
It’s that “other” Romney that seems to be confusing the public, and that launched my assignment in the Times. As worthy as the real Romney may be, he is not, has never been, and never will be the common man, and when he assumes the role in a crowd, his evident discomfort tells us that this guy doesn’t fly coach, much less go Greyhound, and, without the demands of “running for office,” wouldn’t be spending much time with these people who do.
Of course he’s within his rights. As he’s taken to pointing out, there’s nothing wrong with being rich. But one wouldn’t cast Henry Fonda in Bringing Up Baby or Cary Grant in The Grapes of Wrath. Miscasting matters – in drama and politics – and absent a miraculous Brando-level acting performance, Mr. Romney’s going to continue to fall victim to self-consciousness, the actor’s worst enemy.
Ronald Reagan wasn’t an authentic common man either, but he was an authentic SAG-card-carrying actor. For one unforgettable afternoon, I directed him and Bob Hope in the Lincoln bedroom, and he acquitted himself with patently genuine warmth and skill – to the point of exchanging jokes so blue, during a break to relight for his exit, that none of them can be recorded here. He and Bob roared with laughter, and the laughs were real, unaffected, and authentic enough to merit the complimentary label “Reaganesque.”
The lesson of Reagan is that, whatever his politics and legacy, there was always only one of him. Even with all his theatrical experience, he never essayed a dual role. So, for what it’s worth, my advice to Mr. Romney is this: Since the evidence indicates that you lack the skills to simulate what you're not, you should stick to typecasting and go with what you’ve got and who you are. It’s not just your best option, sir, it’s your only one.
It goes without saying that all of this advice conveniently ignores my own onstage sins, which resemble, I fear, Will Ferrell’s too-accurate portrayal of meas an especially gloomy funeral director on a particularly slow day.  But that’s a subject for another, even sterner lesson.
James Lipton is the creator and host of Inside the Actors Studio on Bravo, the founding dean of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University, and produced cultural events in the Carter White House.

James Lipton on the Debate: A New Romney Debuts

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By Joe Coscarelli

Following up on his acting advice for Mitt Romney, delivered right here on Daily Intel, "master thespian" James Lipton reviewed last night's debate performances on NOW With Alex Wagner. Romney, he explained, has been "that boss who makes lame jokes at which we are compelled to laugh at the peril of our jobs," but "last night he more or less erased that image." For Obama, Lipton added, "split-screens are dangerous," describing the damaging ways "he looked down, he looked away, he looked uncomfortable." After all, "This is not politics," Lipton said. "This is performance."

"It was the face-off in 'High Noon,'" the "Inside the Actors Studio" 

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Inside the Actors studio hostJames Lipton saw shades of film history in Tuesday night’s presidential debate, sayingPresident Obama was like a hero from a western.

Appearing on MSNBC’sHardball With Chris Matthewson Wednesday, Lipton took note of a skirmish between Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney, in which Romney asserted the president delayed on calling an attack on an American consulate in Libya a terrorist attack. Obama told Romney to proceed with his train of thought, and the Republican’s statement was then deemed inaccurate by moderatorCandy Crowley.

“It was the face-off in High Noon. And the President of the United States was Gary Cooper,” Lipton toldChris Matthews. “At that moment, he became a hero, I think”

Lipton also characterized Romney as disrespectful for telling Obama “you’ll get your chance” when the president attempted to break in on Romney’s comments during a discussion about drilling on federal land.

“It is rude. It’s inexcusable,” Lipton said. “I think it’s a very, very sad day when the presidency, which has been under fire since Nixon — and particular this president — can be treated this way by someone who is an American citizen.”

Lipton previously appeared on MSNBC to critiqueClint Eastwood’s Republican National Convention speech, which he gave poor marks, saying it was “not his best performance.”

Inside the Actors Studio, currently in its 19th season, airs on Bravo.

James Lipton on Mitt Romney: ‘He’s a boss’

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By KEVIN ROBILLARD | 10/23/12 1:44 PM EDT

After months of trying to pin down the “phantom” that is Mitt Romney, James Lipton said Tuesday he had finally located “the real Romney:” He’s a boss.

“What the challenger is offering us, in the end, is a boss,” the “Inside the Actor’s Studio” host declared on MSNBC’s “Now With Alex Wagner.” “We’ve talked about the semiotics of it before. There are lots of nicer words for a boss: CEO … job creator — with that wonderful second word that has kind of a religious aura to it, capitalize that ‘C’ and a halo appears.”
“He’s a boss,” Lipton continued. “It’s the common word for the common thing. The boss can be benign, he can be malevolent, he can be revered, he can be loathed. But that’s really what he’s offering us.”

Lipton, who has made a series of appearances on MSNBC to evaluate the debates from the perspective of a drama critic, said his “adventure” to find the Republican nominee’s core made him sympathize with President Barack Obama.

“Romney is as elusive as a phantom,” Lipton said. “The minute you think you’ve got him pegged, he disappears in a puff of smoke and mirrors. I think that’s annoying to a debater. When you prepare for a debate and somebody else shows up, it’s very disconcerting.”

‘Inside the Actors Studio’ host gives advice to Mitt: Stop being inauthentic!  

James Lipton has some advice for Mitt Romney: Be yourself.

The creator and host of Bravo’s “Inside the Actors Studio” believes the public has a hard time believing the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s persona because he comes across as inauthentic.

Lipton, whose own delivery Will Ferrell lampooned regularly on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” says the former Massachusetts governor’s audience would relate better to him if he simply relaxed and presented his genuine self.

“Well now that it appears you’re going to get the Republican nomination, I would propose to you that you relax,” Lipton advised Romney in a video posted on New York Magazine’s website. “Only then, can you begin to get in touch with yourself, and only when you get in touch with yourself will your audience begin to be in touch with you.

“That seems to be the problem,” Lipton added.

Though voters give the White House hopeful high marks for his perceived management skills, they are nearly twice as likely (60% to 31%) to say President Obama is the more likable of the two presidential candidates, according to a Gallup poll released last week.

Lipton’s suggestions for Romney include learning to laugh more naturally and losing the “failed mash-up” of pressed blue jeans and white dress shirt the Republican tends to sport on the stump.

According to Lipton, Romney’s best chance to connect with voters is to be who he is in real-life — and to stop trying to come across as “a common man.”

The host of the Emmy-nominated series suggests Romney emulate former President Ronald Reagan, who appeared in more than 50 films and served as president of the Screen Actors Guild.

“Ronald Reagan wasn’t an authentic common man either, but he was an authentic SAG-card-carrying actor,” wrote Lipton in a column that accompanies the video. “The lesson of Reagan is that, whatever his politics and legacy, there was always only one of him.”

8 Ideas to Improve Higher Education

TIME asked eight experts what they would change about how Americans get a college degree. Here's what they came up with.

Tie Funding to Graduation Rates

Bill HaslamOne of the biggest challenges states face is producing a workforce qualified to meet the needs of employers in today’s economy. In order to increase degree attainment and begin to close the skills gap that exists between workforce supply and industry demand, states should change the way they fund higher education.

States have traditionally funded their public institutions of higher education based on enrollments. This means the more students attending an institution, the more money that institution receives from the state. While this may incentivize colleges to expand access, it does nothing to incentivize efficiency and productivity. Institutions are rewarded for admitting more students and keeping them enrolled as long as possible, not for ensuring that every student is making progress toward a degree and ultimately leaving with a credential that has value in the labor market.

Instead of funding public colleges and universities based on enrollments, states should use a formula that pays institutions for success in key areas like progress toward and completion of degrees and credentials. That’s what we’re doing in Tennessee.

In 2010, our state adopted a new model—one that funds institutions based on outcomes. While we continue to build on our efforts to raise educational attainment levels in Tennessee and make sure our workforce is prepared for a dynamic economy, other states are following suit and implementing performance-based funding models within their higher education systems. Although Tennessee remains the only state to have a 100 percent outcomes-based model, four other states now determine institutions’ base funding through an outcomes-centered approach. Several other states either have in place or are transitioning to some type of performance funding.

Although some in higher education may oppose tying funding to outcomes, we are already seeing this model changing the way our postsecondary institutions do business, and we know our workforce will be the beneficiary.

Haslam is Governor of Tennessee.

Protect Innovation From the Fiscal Cliff

Hunter RawlingsAll of this, and the cost each year of the federal investment for university and other basic research, its primary source of funding, is less than 2 percent of the budget. But even that small investment is threatened by the budget stalemate in Washington.

Our research universities are still indisputably the world’s best, and America remains the unquestioned global leader in the creation of ideas and inventions, and in technology. Other nations, however, particularly China and India, are pouring resources into new, American-style universities. They seek to imitate our success, and they are beginning to do so at a fastclip.

For us to maintain the best research universities in the world, we need to sustain the nation’s investments in research and higher education. But our states are disinvesting in public universities. And at the national level, the federal government is about to commit an utterly foolish act—mindless across-the-board budget cuts, scheduled for Jan. 2, 2013, that will directly affect our nation’s innovative capacity. According to the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, a non-partisan tech-policy think tank, these cuts would reduce research funding by so much that the resulting loss of innovation is projected to lower GDP by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade.

Only Congress and the President can stop this from happening. Washington clearly needs to cut deficits and stabilize the national debt, but as former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine has said, when you need to trim weight from an airplane, you don’t remove the engines. Cutting funding for research universities will do little to balance the budget in the short term and will be calamitous over the long haul.

Our competitors are thinking long-term, and so must we. If we act wisely, our universities can continue to produce the great discoveries and innovation that will help America lead the world into the future as it has led in the past.

Rawlings is president of the Association of American Universities and former president of Cornell University.
Make College Costs More Transparent

Tom Harkin
America’s system of higher education has always been one of shared responsibility: students, families, states, and the federal government all taking part in funding a college education. Unfortunately, we are witnessing a realignment of each partner’s share of the costs of college. States are contributing less while students and their families are shouldering a heavier burden, financed largely through federally backed loans. Student debt has surpassed credit card debt in the U.S. and reached the $1 trillion mark, a nearly 50% increase from four years ago. As I discovered in my recent Senate Committee investigation, more than a quarter of federal financial aid goes to for-profit colleges, yet nearly 50 percent of these students drop out within four months—a development that calls for a closer look at the standards to which we hold schools that receive federal aid.

As we reauthorize the Higher Education Act in the next Congress, we must make college more affordable, but more importantly, we must empower students and families by making the process of selecting a college easier and more transparent—so students know exactly what expenses to expect. While many colleges are trying to keep costs down, many more are stuck in a “business as usual” mode, which is neither sustainable nor desirable.

Some colleges like my alma mater, Iowa State University, are investing in earlier and more effective counseling so that families can start planning from the first year of college and know their financing and repayment options. We must invest in work-study programs and help students, while they are still in school, with smart budgeting. Finally, we must expand the number of borrowers who are aware of the government’s income-based repayment plan, which lets many students cap their monthly payments at 10% or 15% of their discretionary income.

Education is the key to success in America. It is critical to a strong middle class and remains one of the best investments for both individuals and the nation. For America to remain competitive, we must tackle the college affordability crisis head on and ensure that student loan debt does not become the next housing bubble.

Harkin is a U.S. Senator from Iowa, and Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Do More For Adult Learners

There are 18 million undergraduates attending U.S. colleges and universities, but a surprisingly small portion of them fall into the category of “traditional” students: just 27 percent are fresh out of high school and studying full-time at a four-year school. Yet that’s where the national focus is, and that’s a problem. The vast majority of undergrads are older, taking longer to finish, working more and seeking credentials to help them get or retain a job. Many of them are juggling the very real demands of work and family and struggle to find the time and energy to devote to education.

By 2018, 63 percent of all jobs will require at least some postsecondary education, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. This is why policy makers need to start focusing on adult education: some 34 million Americans started college but didn’t complete their degree. Another 62 million have a high school diploma but never went to college.

Already a number of promising practices are being undertaken by colleges, universities and other partners to help reduce the time and cost of postsecondary education. For instance, the University of Wisconsin is adopting a first-in-the-nation “Flexible Degree” geared to meet the needs of working or unemployed adults who want to earn a college diploma. More competency-based programs could help military veterans and displaced workers get their degrees faster. These and other adult learners should be able to earn credit for what they can show they already know.

Another potential solution are massive open online courses, or MOOCs, which harness the power of the Internet to provide students across the country and around the world with access to a high-quality education on their timetable.

The entire higher education community must come together to formulate a national adult-education agenda that is cohesive yet nimble enough to address the diverse needs of millions of adult learners, non-traditional students who have become the norm.

Broad is president of the American Council on Education and former president of the University of North Carolina.

Keep Public Universities Public

As chancellor of a public university, I regularly meet with our students—it helps me understand the challenges they face and reminds me who I’m working for. One of those students, Eric Pedroza, will soon become first in his family to graduate college. His parents are supportive but can’t afford to help pay his tuition, so in addition to Pell grants and scholarships, last year Eric worked three jobs—in an office on campus, for the city where he grew up and in a local clothing store.

Twenty years ago, tuition at UCLA was $1,624; adjusted for inflation, that would be $2,564 in today’s dollars. This year tuition is $12,192. Why has the cost gone up so much? Because during Eric’s lifetime, California has slashed per-student funding 60 percent. Other states have made similar cuts. UCLA has responded by significantly cutting our expenditures and continuing to hunt for more savings. But beyond those, the only alternative to tuition hikes is to make courses larger and offer fewer of them—a combination that would likely result in delayed graduations and more restricted career opportunities. That’s why the cost to attend public universities keeps going up and why we risk failing the next generation by pricing them out of a quality education. Public universities were created to expand access to higher education, but funding cuts are driving tuition up to the level of private institutions.

We need to keep public universities public. Exactly 150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, giving states federal resources that allowed them to build colleges. That bold federal action helped make our nation a superpower. Today, by contrast, state governments all across America are failing public universities. They’re making it harder for Eric and thousands like him to graduate college; to end cycles of poverty; to serve our communities to their fullest potential; to remain the land of opportunity and the envy of other nations.

That’s why, if the U.S. wants to remain a leader and keep the American Dream alive, higher education needs a strong financial commitment from our next President. We need an aggressive, comprehensive strategy for saving our public universities that involves the federal government and private industry, which for too long has relied upon universities, at little or no cost, to provide an educated workforce as well as innovative, university-generated products and ideas. The next President could seek financial support from private industry in the form of a tax. Or better yet, he could consider other ideas, like one circulated by my colleague at UC-Berkeley, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, who has suggested using federal matching funds to enhance donations when those in the private sector do step up to support public research universities. Whether the next President uses a carrot or a stick, higher education is America’s future—and it’s time to make it a priority.

Block is chancellor of the University of California-Los Angeles and chairman of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.

Partner with the Private Sector

Community colleges are the least glitzy, most proudly diverse, and stubbornly egalitarian workhorses of American public higher education. With a modest average tuition of $2,963 per year, these two-year colleges quickly prepare students for careers (and often serve as a springboard for those seeking a degree at a four-year institution). According to a recent study by the American Association of Community Colleges, state and local governments get an estimated 16% return on investment for every $1 they spend on community colleges, along with the societal benefits of having a better educated, higher-earning workforce.

Already the institutions of choice for almost half of U.S. undergraduates, these schools provided an affordable lifeline to learning during the Great Recession, with enrollment at the nation’s more than 1,100 community colleges jumping almost 22% from 2007 to 2011. Yet the surge in demand has coincided with shrinking resources. Since the 2006 fiscal year, 43 states have decreased higher education appropriations per student, which is especially significant for community colleges since state support, combined with local taxes, represents more than half of these institutions’ revenues. In California, for instance, where 112 community colleges serve more than 2.6 million students, the budgets for these schools have been cut by 12% since 2009, and an estimated 200,000 students were crowded out of the system last year.

Yes, community colleges can operate more efficiently. They can no longer afford to offer boutique programs with limited demand or practicality, and they must ensure that the coursework they do offer readily transfers to four-year institutions and fully aligns with workplace needs. But this is also a question of resources, and in an era of tight government budgets, the private sector has to step up. While some corporations such as Siemens, Verizon, UPS, and Goldman Sachs are already working with community colleges to help bridge the skills gap, these partnerships have to increase in scale and scope. The stakes are high, but increased collaboration can help reduce income inequality, revive the middle class, and provide an economic engine for national recovery.

Bumphus is president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges.

Embrace Parallel Universes
By Andre DuaOct. 17, 2012

Something big is up in higher education thanks to the advent of “massive open online courses” (MOOCs) that can teach millions of students simultaneously around the world. This new way of teaching and learning, together with employers’ growing frustration with the skills of graduates, could usher in a parallel universe of credentialing that may compete with traditional college degrees within a decade. This new regime has the potential to create enormous opportunities for students, employers and “star” teachers even as it upends the cost structure and practices of traditional campuses.

The key question now is how quickly these MOOCs will offer not just a breakthrough mode of learning and attaining skills, but bona fide credentials that students seek because employers value them. Once a sufficient infrastructure of credible exams and assessments around MOOCs is in place—Colorado State University’s Global Campus has already started giving credit for Udacity’s introductory computer programming course if the student passes a proctored exam—we’ll enter a new era in which employers will be in a position to act like Colorado State is today. That is, they’ll have the confidence to give job candidates “credit” for work done and certifications given outside the officially “accredited” institutions of higher education.

Once this challenge to the predominance of today’s accrediting institutions begins, a big chunk of higher education may experience the kind of disruption the music industry experienced a decade ago. Substitute “degrees” for “albums” and “self-selected credentials that employers value” for “playlists,” and you’ll have a feel for what may lie ahead.

But unless traditional institutions can capture meaningful revenue streams from these new online platforms—be they via textbooks, tutoring, proctored exams, per-course and per-degree fees, or creative alternatives not yet imagined—the online model may prove self-defeating. Because it will always take big investments to attract and retain the talent needed to develop world-class courses and materials, whether online or on campus. There simply have to be incentives to create compelling content if schools are to deliver the best teaching to anyone on the planet. That’s why MIT’s new president, L. Rafeal Reif, suggested in the Wall Street Journal recently that online students should pay modest fees to help the physical university sustain its mission.

While no one can predict the future precisely, it seems possible the parallel universe is leading us towards two versions of hybrid learning experiences in higher ed. On the one hand, students from wealthier families and those with adequate financial aid may prefer a campus-centric, residential experience (and the lifelong personal networks that come with it). In this model, technology could allow a more efficient and effective re-engineering of the learning experience, with lectures becoming digital and class time reserved for small group problem-solving and conversation. On the other hand, the cost/value equation could shift so rapidly in the years ahead that millions of students may select digital-centric, lower-cost alternatives with a core online component supplemented by self-organized study groups. These students could flourish without ever setting foot on traditional campuses.

Undoubtedly, there will be some tumult as we navigate this new world. But if we get it right, the prize—in terms of broader access, improved employability and deeper learning—involves untold benefits for students, employers and society.

Dua is a senior partner at McKinsey & Company, where he leads the firm’s higher-education practice.

Make All Students Get Debt Counseling

Paying for college is one of the few major life expenses without standardized mandatory cost disclosures. Promotional material for a credit card has to include the Schumer Box, which clearly states the card’s annual percentage rate and other key fees and terms that used to get tucked into the small print; a new car has to display the Monroney window sticker, which details the vehicle’s fuel economy, crash test and emissions data and manufacturer’s suggested retail pricing, and a mortgage lender must provide a Good Faith Estimate and HUD-1 settlement statement that itemizes the closing costs and other fees and services associated with buying a house. College financial aid award letters, in contrast, often characterize loans as reducing college costs and do not clearly distinguish loans from grants, confusing families about the real bottom-line cost. Students often do not know how much debt and interest is accumulating during enrollment, nor do they realize how much they’ll have to pay per month after they graduate or how much they’ll pay over the life of their loans.

The federal government’s new “financial aid shopping sheet” will provide families with better college cost disclosures, but it must be made mandatory. Prospective students should be able to access information linking projections of likely debt levels, salaries and unemployment rates for their preferred colleges and academic majors before choosing where to enroll. The government recently started requiring for-profit colleges to disclose this information, but there’s no reason why public and non-profit colleges shouldn’t report this information as well.

But better disclosures are not enough. The timing of the disclosures also matters. For example, students who drop out of college are four times more likely to default on their student loans than students who graduate. Yet colleges wait until just before graduation to counsel students about their repayment options and the dire consequences of default. Many students don’t know when they enroll that it is almost impossible to discharge student loans in bankruptcy proceedings, that defaulting will ruin their credit scores and thus hurt their ability to get an auto loan, mortgage or even a credit card, and that their wages can be garnished and income tax refunds intercepted until they repay the loans.

Income-based repayment is a safety net for federal student loan Most borrowers don’t know about income-based repayment, an option that first became available in 2009 and is available to those whose total federal student loan debt exceeds their annual income. People who are falling behind with their payments often do not learn about this alternative repayment plan because they feel overwhelmed by debt and start to ignore correspondence and calls from creditors. Only 2.6% of borrowers use income-based repayment, even though three or four times as many borrowers could benefit. Most borrowers don’t know that the involuntary payments under wage garnishment are higher than the monthly payments under the income-based repayment.

Earlier and more frequent debt counseling and debt disclosures—before students borrow and at least once a year during their enrollment—would increase borrower awareness of the growth in their debt burdens, methods of minimizing debt, options for repaying the debt and the consequences of defaulting on these loans. Maybe if lenders or colleges or the U.S. Department of Education were to provide undergraduate students with periodic loan statements while they are enrolled, more borrowers would finish college faster and with less debt, and fewer students would default on their loans.

Families also need the tools and skills to interpret these disclosures. Financial literacy training, including budgeting, banking, borrowing and investing, should be incorporated into high school curriculum, and a financial literacy mini-course should be required during college orientation or during the first year of college. Not only will this help students make smarter borrowing and repayment decisions, but it will help them be more successful in life by teaching them how to manage their money more effectively.
Kantrowitz is the publisher of and

Instant Polls for the Three Presidential Debates and the VP Debate

CBS News instant poll: Romney wins first presidential debate

October 3, 2012 8:10 PM
CBS News and GFK's knowledge panel recruited 523 uncommitted voters to determine the winner of the first presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney. Forty six percent thought Governor Romney won the debate and 22 percent thought Mr. Obama did.
Poll: Uncommitted voters say Romney wins debate

Poll: Obama edges Romney in second presidential debate

October 16, 2012 8:09 PM
In a CBS News Instant Poll of uncommitted voters, 37 percent say President Obama won the second presidential debate, 30 percent say Romney won, and 33 percent called it a tie.

Poll: Sizeable win for Obama in final presidential debate

October 22, 2012 8:08 PM
In a poll of 521 uncommitted voters conducted immediately after the final presidential debate, 53% of these said President Obama was the winner, 23% think Romney won, another 24% feel the debate was a tie.

Poll: Joe Biden wins vice presidential debate

October 11, 2012 8:10 PM
Fifty percent of uncommitted voters polled after watching the vice presidential debate picked Joe Biden as the winner while 31 percent thought Rep. Paul Ryan won. Anthony Mason reports.
Poll: Biden takes debate over Ryan, uncommitted voters say

Black and white twins Kian and Remee turn 7 years old

Kian and Remee, who were born a minute apart, just turned 7, and even though they are twins they have completely different skin colors. They are now closer than ever, and their unique appearance is the result of pure genetics. Thei mother Kylee Hodgson and father Remi Horder both have white mothers and black fathers. Big reports:
Kylee, now 25, recalls the moment she saw them for the first time: ‘I noticed that both of them had beautiful blue eyes,’ she said.
‘But while Remee’s hair was blonde, Kian’s was black and she had darker skin. To me, they were my kids and they were just normal. I thought they would start to look the same as time went on.’
Time, however, only accentuated their differences. Kian’s eyes changed colour and her skin got darker. Remee’s complexion got lighter and her curly hair stayed blonde. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kylee found herself fielding questions about whose children they were, or who Kian’s fair-haired friend was, when she pushed them in their side-by-side buggy