Sucking money from poor kids to subsidize rich kids

This might be one of the most disgusting stories I’ve ever read:

In The Atlantic, Jordan Weissmann does a very good job of summing up the New America Foundation’s important new report,Undermining Pell: How Colleges Compete for Wealthy Students and Leave the Low-Income Behind [PDF], by Stephen Burd. The report documents how private universities in America have raised the cost of tuition to incredible heights, and reserve their “merit scholarships” (paid for with government grants) for wealthy students whose parents can pay the rest in cash, while poor students have to take out punishing loans, effectively subsidizing the rich students’ education and career opportunities.

Sometimes, colleges (and states) really are just competing to outbid each other on star students. But there are also economic incentives at play, particularly for small, endowment-poor institutions. “After all,” Burd writes, “it’s more profitable for schools to provide four scholarships of $5,000 each to induce affluent students who will be able to pay the balance than it is to provide a single $20,000 grant to one low-income student.” The study notes that, according to the Department of Education’s most recent study, 19 percent of undergrads at four-year colleges received merit aid despite scoring under 700 on the SAT. Their only merit, in some cases, might well have been mom and dad’s bank account.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with handing out tuition breaks to the middle class, or even the rich. The problem is that it seems to be happening at the expense of the poor. At 89 percent of the 479 private colleges Burd examined, students from families earning less than $30,000 a year were charged an average “net price” of more than $10,000 annually — “net price” being the full annual cost of attendance minus all institutional and government aid. Less technically, it’s what students can actually expect to pay. At 60 percent of private colleges, that net price was more than $15,000.

In other words, low-income families are routinely being asked to fork over more than half of their annual income for the privilege of sending their child off to campus for a year.

Only commercially viable science for Canda’a NRC….

I just saw this.

The government of Canada believes there is a place for curiosity-driven, fundamental scientific research, but the National Research Council is not that place.

“Scientific discovery is not valuable unless it has commercial value,” John McDougall, president of the NRC, said in announcing the shift in the NRC’s research focus away from discovery science solely to research the government deems “commercially viable”.

Are they joking? No.

Gary Goodyear, minister of state for science and technology, announced last week that the NRC will shift its focus away from so-called basic research — science for no immediate purpose other than knowledge-gathering — to “large-scale research projects that are directed by and for Canadian business.” In other words, the government is set to transform the agency’s $900-million budget into a business subsidy.

I hope the trend does not comes here. You know, that would be disastrous.

I am winking, now.

Should there be a leadership change at Susan G. Komen?

It all started out to be a great calling. Nancy Brinker watched her sister, Susan Komen, die of breast cancer. Susan Koman was only 33 when she died. Nancy Brinker started Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 1982. There isn’t anyone that doesn’t recognize the pink ribbon or the phrase “for the cure.” The Komen foundation is also known for “breast cancer awareness” and the marketing of awareness in the consumer market. Screening and education is a very large portion of Komen’s work. Finding a “cure” seems to be the paramount goal is Susan G. Komen.

But, things, in the past few years some issues have made it tough for Susan G. Komen.

There has been some bad publicity regarding using lawsuits against other charities that use the phrase “for the cure.”

So far, Komen has identified and filed legal trademark oppositions against more than a hundred of these Mom and Pop charities, including Kites for a Cure, Par for The Cure, Surfing for a Cure and Cupcakes for a Cure–and many of the organizations are too small and underfunded to hold their ground.

Sue Prom, who started a small dog sledding fundraiser for breast cancer called “Mush for the Cure” in Grand Marais, Minn., said she was shocked to hear from Komen’s lawyers this summer asking that she change the name of her event or face legal proceedings.

I am sure the very small dog sledding and cup cake events were a true threat to the Komen brand.

Every October the “Pink” comes out. Aisles are filled with “Pink” merchandise. Even though the merchandise helps awareness efforts a great deal how much money from your purchase goes to research for “the cure?” No one really knows. Some “Pink” merchandise in the stores is not affiliated with any cancer charity. Some say to be sure write a check to Komen or your favorite cancer charity directly.

“It’s left up to shoppers to read the labels on pink-packaged products and determine whether their purchase will actually help a breast-cancer charity or foundation, they say.”If the label says, ‘Money will go to support breast cancer,’ well, what does that mean?” says Barbara Brenner, the executive director of advocacy group Breast Cancer Action. “If it says it will support breast cancer awareness without being specific, it’s not going anywhere.”

Merchandising for Komen is an important revenue source, but many companies give Komen a flat donation no matter what sales are of their “Pink” merchandise.

Some “Pink” merchandise has been questionable. A few years back Komen “pinked” KFC pairing cancer awareness with fast foods that cause obesity, a risk factor for cancer. Another little mistake was with fragrance “Promise Me.”

The fragrance contained Galaxolide, a synthetic musk that works as a hormone disruptor and has been detected in blood, breast milk, and even newborns. Toluene  a potent neurotoxicant linked to a variety of demonstrated negative health effects and is widely known as one of the toxic trio. Toluene is banned by the International Fragrance Association.

Along with finding a cure, one of Komen biggest functions is screening. While Planned Parenthood does not have screening facilities, they used the $680,000 annually to help place low income women in screening facilities. In early 2012 the funding to Planned Parenthood ended.

Komen explained its decision by blaming new rules that prohibit it from giving money to groups under federal investigation. Planned Parenthood, which is the subject of congressional inquiry over whether it spent public money on abortions, falls into that category.

Komen went political. Planned Parenthood became a target.

Public outrage over the defunding, prompted Komen Senior Vice President for policy Karen Handel to resign. Karen Handel ran unsuccessfully for Georgia governor in 2010. She called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood in this campaign. Shortly after she resigned, she released a book criticizing Planned Parenthood. Nancy Brinker also announced she would be changing her role at Komen and would search for a new CEO.

Komen did resume funding to Planned Parenthood, but, Komen’s actions did have negative consequences for the charity. Many local affiliates saw donations going down and “Race for the Cure” applications go down as much as 30%.

Allocations to research for the cure have slipped, even before donations went down. In 2008, 29% of donations went to research. 17% in 2009 went to research and 15% in 2011 went to research. Nancy Brinker has also been given a 63% raise in pay from $417,000 in 2011 to $687,717 in 2012. The average nonprofit CEO salary is $132,739.  She still hasn’t given up her position as CEO.

The Komen Foundation has done wonderful work in the name of breast cancer awareness, screening and to some extent, research for a cure. One could ever deny this organization lead an incredible campaign that continues to have big, though some what diminished, support. I would never argue the impact this charity, the past 30 years, has had to the health of many women. I don’t think a single person exists in America that does not know at least one breast cancer survivor and one person that died from the disease. I am close to many survivors.

But, sometimes there is a need to shift to fresh leadership and to recommit and review goals in an organization to push for a renewed effectiveness. It is time for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Really.










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