All posts by Diane Auer Jones


Taxpayers as Shareholders

The orthodox among us seem convinced that proprietary institutions are the only ones with a profit motive and shareholders. Yet having worked in all three sectors of higher education—private, public, and proprietary—I can say with great confidence that the one thing they all have in common is the need to generate a profit and provide a return on investment to both students and shareholders.

Sure, nonprofits like to use terms like “net revenue” or “budget surplus” rather than “profit”…


If The Night Before Christmas Had Been Written for the Occupy Movement

Tonight at a marina  holiday party, our neighbor and dear friend, Roger Thiel, treated us to his annual gift of a Christmas poem and reading. Roger has lived in our marina for more than 20 years and has entertained uncountable numbers of live aboards and visitors with song, oratory delights and, of course, his annual holiday poems. The shop of which Roger speaks in this poem is his own, and it makes Santa’s workshop look pretty boring by comparison. In it he runs a professional printing business…


Science and the Public Interest

Following HHS Secretary Sebelius’s reversal of FDA Commissioner Hamburg’s decision to allow girls under the age of 17 to purchase the morning after pill over the counter, there have been cries from the left that the administration is ignoring science in the name of religion.  I disagree.

Why is it that every time the liberal fringe doesn’t get what it wants, it resorts to accusations of religious extremism and disregard for science?  In truth, the decisions made by federal agencies are policy d…


With Privilege Comes Responsibility

Dr. Andrew Ross responded to my earlier post about his acts of what I describe as educational malpractice by wrapping himself in the flag of academic freedom and hurling insults at me. Having worked in an academic research laboratory and having been a faculty member for 13 years, I well understand the concept of academic freedom and its importance to the sanctity of academic research.  There is not a doubt in my mind that faculty members should be free to ask any question they want, and to eng…


Andrew Ross Responds

In the spirit of collegiality and to foster academic debate, I am using my blog space to host Professor Ross’s response to my earlier post about his call for students to default on their student loans. I am doing this because more important than either of our viewpoints is the need for the academic community to carefully consider both the rights and responsibilities of the academic freedom they enjoy.  I should note that having spent the first 13 years as a faculty member, and the next 10 as a …


Academic Freedom or Educational Malpractice?

It is time for NYU to take action to silence Andrew Ross.  His encouragement of students to default on their loans is irresponsible and reckless—an act of educational malpractice I would argue—and something that should not be tolerated from anyone on the staff of an institution of higher education.  Academic freedom does not give Dr. Ross the right to knowingly advise students to do something that will harm them for years to come, and that violates a legal contract between the borrower and…


Does Australia Have the Answer?

I think most people can agree that our federal student aid-system is badly broken.  It’s not that the program was poorly designed, but instead that the program was designed for a different era, and for a different student population, so it no longer works for the population we need to serve.  The new “majority” student is more likely to be a person who is working at least 20 hours a week while attending college part time, perhaps while also caring for children or parents, and maybe even …


The Bank the Occupiers Should Be Protesting

The president announced his intent to speed up (to 2012 from 2014) the implementation of the new Income Based Repayment plan that reduces the percentage of discretionary income that can be devoted to loan payments from 15 to 10 percent and that reduces the total term of the liability from 25 to 20 years (for this year’s graduates and some graduate students, not all borrowers).

I am fully supportive of a plan that seeks to reduce student-loan payments to a reasonable level, especially since the p…


Anyone Got a Spare Generator?

Occupy DC

Roughing it…21st-century style.

I’ve been thinking about this photo for a couple of days because the ironies it captures are astounding.

I snapped the shot at the Occupy DC tent camp in McPherson Park. For all of their anti-capitalist messages, the people who are living in this tent village couldn’t be more tied to capitalism. This place looks like a cross between a Coleman advertisement and an REI showroom—a sea of green and blue and red and khaki domes as far as the eye can see. Some ha…


The Man Who Would Be King

Forget about the political circus, last night President Obama spoke words that should strike fear in the heart of every American. In a speech he delivered at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala (I was there—I heard it first hand), Mr. Obama revealed his true wish, which is that Americans lose their right to elect their own leaders … or at least that they lose their right to elect leaders who are not beholden to him.  In other words, he finally admitted that his true ambition is to…


Still Wrong and Still Missing the Point: Part 3

Continuing my series of blogs about the validity—or lack thereof—of Education Sector’s Debt to Degree policy brief, I’d like to focus on Chart 2, which illustrates borrowing-to-credential comparisons among public, private, nonprofit, and private for-profit institutions.  In this table, we see the major shortcoming of the Carey/Dillon methodology, which is that it ignores a long list of confounding variables in seeking to establish a causal relationship between two independent variables—owne…


Still Missing the Point and Still Wrong: Part 2

This is the second in a series of commentaries about all of the errors, omissions, overstatements, and unfounded conclusions found in Education Sector’s recent report, Debt to Degrees. Why am I so focused on this paper?  Because documents intended to influence students and policy makers can be quite powerful, so it is important that they be accurate and complete.  The authors of these papers must also be clear about the limitations of the study, the reliability of the data, and the range of po…


Still Missing the Point and Still Wrong: Part I

The sort of personalized bullying exemplified by Kevin Carey in his recent series of blog posts tells us a lot about what is wrong in higher education today.  Whereas once upon a time scholars understood the benefits of peer review and external scrutiny in their search for truth, today far too many researchers feel that they are beyond reproach—that nobody (and especially those who are not the author’s ideological kindred spirit) should question the validity or reliability of the data or the acc…


More Breaking News: Report’s Author Resorts to Name Calling

It is always disappointing when those who can’t defend their arguments or ”research reports” resort to name calling rather than engaging in an scholarly debate about the limitations of their work.  I pointed out several weaknesses in a study recently released by Education Sector, and the response was name calling and character attack by one of its authors.  Sadly, I believe that name calling is what you do when you can’t actually defend your position in more intellectually convincing ways.   Y…


Charts You Cannot Trust

Education Sector recently published a report, Debt to Degrees, in which the authors reported average student debt per credential at various institutions of higher education, and described their depiction of the data as charts you can trust. While Education Sector generally does very good work, this report is a disappointment and the charts are not to be trusted.  The methodology and data selected for use by the authors introduced significant bias and errors into the study, albeit in support of …


Learning to Live With Carbon Dioxide

American Electric Power announced recently that the company is abandoning its plan to build a full-scale carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) demonstration plant.  While the Department of Energy initially promised to fund half the cost of the project, they have reneged on their support now that the cost of carbon won’t make expensive energy production cheaper by comparison.

The problems are not all at the federal level.  In addition to the loss of federal support, AEP was also informed that s…


Right in My Own Back Yard

Pagoda at National Arboretum

Pagoda at the National Arboretum, Asian Collections

Sometimes the most interesting places are right in your backyard and you don’t even know it. After living and working in DC for more than a decade, this weekend I discovered the most beautiful place in the city—the National Arboretum. Actually, I didn’t really discover this place, but instead participated in an event organized by our marina in which we all launched our tenders and cruised up the once-polluted, now-scenic Anacostia River t…


It’s the Lying That Got Him

I guess it won’t shock anyone to learn that I disagree with Laurie Essig about the whole Weinergate thing and its sociological or feminist implications.  I don’t think the question here is whether or not a leader is required to conform to social norms of sexual restraint or if it is true that politicians can’t get ahead unless they take the plunge and settle down with a spouse.  Those might be legitimate questions to ask, but they are not relevant to Weinergate.

The issue here is that Congressma…


Tonight There Will Be Dancing

I spend a lot of time in Chicago these days where if feels like winter is tethered to the ground.  Sure, a peek of sunshine and warm temperatures has poked through from time to time, but even last week when I was in Chicago for two days, the gray, damp chill of winter was very much still with us.

But this weekend I am back home on my boat in D.C. and summer is definitely here!  This morning, for the first time since October, I was up with the morning sun so that I could enjoy a hot cup of coffe…


Fate, God, or Coincidence?

I’m on a plane flying home from Switzerland and am writing this for all of you who don’t believe in fate, or perhaps something even more powerful than fate, that makes seemingly impossible connections between people and circumstances come to be.  We were in Switzerland to celebrate my husband’s 52nd birthday with his father.  While to some, the idea of a son spending his birthday with his father may not seem like a big deal, to our family, these almost accidental family reunions are among our m…