Bennett: Don't extend low interest rates on student loans
Occupy Wall Street rallies against education costs. William Bennett: Colleges raise prices despite record federal subsidies.
May 4th, 2012
03:39 PM ET

Bennett: Don't extend low interest rates on student loans

By William J. Bennett, CNN Contributor

Editor's note: William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood." He was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.

(CNN) - The threat of increasing loan rates on future college students has become the newest political cudgel. It shouldn't be. Lowering interest rates on subsidized student loans does little to address the real problems of higher education: rising tuition costs and diminishing returns.

First, let's remember how we got here. After taking back control of Congress in 2007, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi passed legislation that temporarily lowered the interest rates on the federally subsidized Stafford Loans from 6.8% to 3.4%. The extension would last until July 2012, when the rates double to 6.8%, partly as a budget trick to offset the original costs.

The Washington Post's editorial board called the whole ordeal "a campaign gimmick that Democrats cooked up to help them retake Congress in 2006. ... It's expensive, it's poorly targeted and it diverts attention and money from bigger problems facing federal support for higher education."

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Filed under: College • Economy • Policy • Politics • Voices
May 4th, 2012
12:35 PM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

Cooperative Catalyst: Behind the Standardized Test Curtain
Todd Farley wrote a book about his experiences working for some of the biggest standardized test publishers. Farley says there are a few reasons why schools shouldn't trust the industry to handle exam scoring.

Mail Tribune: 'It's Our Education'
Nearly 100 Eagle Point High School students walked out of school - not to spite their teachers but rather to support them. The Oregon school district and its teachers union have been trying to negotiate contracts for more than a year, and the teachers have threatened to strike beginning May 8.

Georgia Health News: Long weekends risky for teens?
A North Georgia town says it's seeing a higher teen birthrate and more teens having sex in general. Health officials say a four-day school week implemented this year has caused teens to have nothing better to do on Mondays.

Wired: My Standard Based Grading Notes
Physics professor Rhett Allain has started to use standards-based grading with his college students. Allain provides his methods and results, similar to a lab report, and says that his new method of grading measures what students understand and isn't just a measure of effort.

DesMoinesRegister.com: 32 heads are better than 26: Class breaks twin record
The Guinness World Records certified that Valley Southwoods Freshman High School has the "Most Twins in the Same Academic Year at One School." The 16 sets of Iowa twins beat out the old record by three pairs.

Education websites awarded Webbys
Salman Khan started the Khan Academy from a converted walk-in closet in his Silicon Valley home. His website was named the 2012 Webby Winner in the Education category.
May 4th, 2012
07:51 AM ET

Education websites awarded Webbys

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - Khan Academy took the top prize for education in this year's Webby Awards, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences announced on Tuesday. TED Talks won the Webby People's Voice Award. The academy will dole out the awards for Internet excellence on May 21. In contrast to the long speeches you see at award ceremonies like the Oscars, each winner will be allowed to say just five words – shorter than most tweets.

And the nominees in the category of Education Websites are....

Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media provides parents and educators information about the media-rich world we all live in. The non-profit organization says that students spend more time with traditional and digital media than with families or teachers. For parents, the site offers reviews of many types of media, from books to movies to websites.
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Harvard and MIT launch edX to offer free online classes
May 4th, 2012
06:02 AM ET

Harvard and MIT launch edX to offer free online classes

By James O'Toole, CNNMoney

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Always wanted to take a Harvard class? Soon you'll be able to do so from the comfort of your own home.

Harvard and MIT announced a partnership Wednesday to offer free online courses to students around the world. The initiative, known as edX, will be run by a non-profit organization controlled by the two schools. Each has committed $30 million to the effort.

The first official courses will be announced this summer and are set to begin in the fall.

EdX students won't receive university credit for the classes, which will span a variety of disciplines. There's no admissions process, but there are exams and other assessments, with certificates available "for a modest fee" to students who demonstrate mastery of the material.

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Filed under: CNNMoney • College • Practice • Technology