I really enjoyed my DIY U events in the Bay Area: an event sponsored by PR&Company at the Hub coworking space in San Francisco, attended by some edupreneurs worth checking out such as Toolwire and Inigral, as well as the amazing Dawn Danby who’s doing her own work at Autodesk with software that teaches sustainable design.

; a screening of Default, a new student loan documentary at the historic Red Victoria movie house on Haight Street, featuring a live Q&A with the directors Serge Bakalian and Aurora Menenghello, me and another of the movie’s talking heads, Edie Irons, an old compadre who works for the Institute for College Access and Success doing the tough work on student loan and college affordability awareness (made the acquaintance there of another free-education radical who you’ll likely be hearing from soon);

;And finally last night a book reading at the amazing Book Passage in Marin County with another whole set of conversations and connections.

If it sounds exhausting, it is. But exciting! There are lots of mentions out there on the web, some great, some not (this is a feather in my cap for sure, and I’m really proud to be associated with Phil’s work, and you should definitely read Chrissie’s post, but overall I’m less concerned with critical notices/reax to the book per se than the quality of conversations that are swirling around and around these ideas.

So here’s some ideas that are kicking around my brain after all this ferment.
One: How to use technology to showcase the work of star teachers, either in their mode as raconteurs or offering their services as mentors?

Two: What is happening and needs to happen with student loans and the subsequent effect on college costs and college calculations. The ability to discharge student loans in bankruptcy is a basic consumer protection that must be restored for both private and federal student loans (read Alan Collinge for much, much, much more.) Ron Lieber at the Times has been doing great work on this point lately. Bills currently in the Senate and House of Representatives would make private, unsubsidized student loans (the Sallie Mae Signature type of loan, with the higher interest rate, made directly by banks to students) more easily dischargeable in bankruptcy–today you must be a destitute paraplegic to walk away from any type of student loan. Perhaps more importantly, Sallie Mae has acquiesced to this idea in theory.

What happens if private student loans become dischargeable in bankruptcy? Well, more young people would declare bankruptcy. Lenders would have to be more careful about who they gave out their money to. There would be less money available, in total, to finance college. This means, all else being equal, that colleges would no longer be able to charge whatever the hell they feel like, year after year, and that students and parents will continue to have to think more and more carefully about the cost of that college or graduate program.

I think this could potentially be a good thing, if public university systems (perhaps in conversation with a host of new nonprofits–the charter school community college idea I talked about earlier) take it as a cue to get deadly serious about providing truly low-cost educational options for the lower-income student. Otherwise, it just means more poor kids priced out of opportunity.

more to come…

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