Education and Space Weed

Grind for December 21st
“One great use of words is to hide our thoughts.”
– Voltaire


The Headline

Education Sec. Betsy DeVos disagrees with Department’s recommendation to grant debt relief to defrauded students

The Grind

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has overturned a decision by her own department affecting more than 200,000 students who say they were defrauded by for-profit colleges.

Plaintiffs are seeking full debt forgiveness based on claims they were misled about job prospects and the transferability of credits.

“Employers will not touch me,” said one student. “After graduation, I posted a resume online. I did not receive any responses until I removed [the school’s name] from my resume.”

The Details

In January 2017, the Department of Education’s Borrower Defense Unit recommended that defrauded students receive full debt relief.

“Corinthian Colleges, Inc. consistently represented that all graduates obtained jobs after graduation or, relatedly, that its students were guaranteed employment after graduation,” reads an internal memo dated January 9th, 2017.

“These representations were false and misleading. Accordingly, the Borrower Defense Unit recommends full relief for Corinthian borrower defense applicants.”

The unit reached the same conclusion for students who attended ITT Technical Institute.

“Hundreds of unprompted student statements confirm that lack of value of an ITT education, as ITT students time and again report that their education was sub-standard and that their degree or affiliation with the school was an impediment rather than an asset as they sought employment,” reads a memo dated January 10th, 2017.

“Given this extensively well-documented, pervasive, and highly publicized misconduct, the Department has determined that the value of an ITT education – like Corinthian – is likely either negligible or non-existent.”

These memos – which DeVos hid from lawmakers for more than a year – offer a strong counter narrative to her opinion that students deserve only partial debt forgiveness because they gained value from their classes.

This week, DeVos vetoed the Department’s recommendation and introduced a new model that calculates the value of defrauded students’ education based on earnings.

Under the plan, most borrowers will not quality for full debt relief.

The plan “treats students fairly and ensures that taxpayers who did not go to college or who faithfully paid off their student loans do not shoulder student loan costs for those who didn’t suffer harm,” argues DeVos.

It is unclear how student earnings will be calculated, considering DeVos has already been ordered not to collect students’ income data and was fined $100,000 for continuing to do so after a court ruling.

Out Of This World

The Headline

SpaceX is sending marijuana into space

The Grind

Elon Musk’s company SpaceX is planning to include cannabis as part of a resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) scheduled for March 2020.

The unusual shipment is part of a study by Front Range Biosciences, an agri-tech company that wants to test the effects of zero gravity on cannabis.

The Details

The weed samples sent to the ISS will be cultures of hemp, a legal form of marijuana with low levels of THC. The samples will stay at the ISS for one month while researchers observe them remotely from the University of Colorado.

After 30 days, the cultures will return to Earth so Front Range can determine the effects (if any) of space radiation and microgravity on the plants’ gene expression.

“There is science to support the theory that plants in space experience mutations,” explains Front Range CEO Jonathan Vaught. “This is an opportunity to see whether those mutations hold up once brought back to Earth and if there are new commercial applications.”

Did you know… On October 28, 2013, wind power provided 100% of Denmark’s power.