Category Archives: Education-Postsecondary

More on hiring abuses

I have recently encountered actual job-application documents and websites that illustrate some of the hiring abuses that I denounced in this recent post.

After submitting an online application for a job at Texas A&M Univ. Agrilife Research, I was warned that

an “investigative consumer report” concerning my “character, . . ., general reputation, personal characteristics, police record, . . ., mode of living, and/or credit and indebtedness may be obtained in connection with your application for and/or continued employment . . .”

This threat to my privacy seeks information that is irrelevant to my ability to do the job and produce results for the employer.

Midland College of Midland, Texas, criminalizes job applicants and forces them to pay for the experience out of their own pockets! The last page of their application form (PDF) states that applicants . . .

. . . “will be required to submit a full and complete set of [their] fingerprints for analysis through the Texas Department of Public Safety AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System)” . . . and to “make an appointment with L1 Enrollment Services, submit a full and complete set of [their] fingerprints, request a copy be sent to the agency listed below, and pay a fee of $24.95 to the fingerprinting services company, L1 Enrollment Services.”

Essentially, anyone who wants to work at Midland College must pay a fee in order for their application to be considered.

The job application website of another public institution in Texas requires applicants to enter their Social Security and driver’s license numbers, potentially exposing confidential data for hackers and data thieves to steal. A recent cyber-attack on the University of Maryland, which exposed over 309,000 records of personal information, illustrates the vulnerability of campus information systems. Social Security numbers should be requested only for completing an IRS W-4 from, and driver’s licenses only for positions that require driving.

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Update on Higher Education

Last September, I posted a letter that I sent to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about President Obama’s proposals for higher education. About two months later, I received a reply not from Duncan himself but from Ms. Lynn Mahaffie, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Planning, and Innovation in the Office of Postsecondary Education. Her letter briefly describes initiatives to reform student financial aid, which I believe will be helpful but irrelevant to the root problem of limiting the student’s burden of the cost of college. Regarding costs, the letter says that the administration

“shares your desire to make college more affordable” and acknowledges that “you are correct in assering that states . . . must do more to keep higher education costs within reach of low-income and middle-class families.”

However, the reply letter offers no effective alternative to my proposal for making college affordable. Ironically, cost-cutting measures by colleges and universities are characterized as “innovative” although they “force students and families to shoulder the burden through higher tuition.” The rest of the letter only reiterates the administration’s talking points rather than addressing my criticisms of its proposals.

Obama’s higher education plan, like the Affordable Care Act and the meager minimum-wage proposal, is an expression of the President’s timidity in addressing economic stagnation.

Stop Industrializing Higher Education

Today, I mailed a critique of President Obama’s plan for reforming higher education and a counter-proposal to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. I am limiting the scope of my proposal to state and local public colleges and universities. The full article (PDF) explains my arguments in greater detail.

My plan rejects Obama’s proposed ratings system as unfair and unrealistic and replaces it with a simple formula that rates each state’s higher-education financing in terms of the portion that comes from tuition and fees. This rating, the student burden, would be used to determine whether all colleges and universities in a particular state are eligible for Federal grant money.

My plan recognizes that state governments are primarily responsible for financing their higher-education systems and thus holds states, not colleges and universities, accountable for maintaining affordability. By giving states a powerful incentive for limiting tuition and fees, my plan aims directly at the President’s principal objective–making college affordable.