Horses can communicate symbolically: Daily Bullshit, September 22, 2016

Horses

Horses “join a short list of other species, including some primates, dolphins, and pigeons, with this talent,” that is, meaningfully “pointing to symbols.” In the experiment, horses demonstrated an ability to indicate a desire to have a blanket put on or left on in cold weather and to have it taken off in warmer weather.[1] Setting aside that this may be an example of humans using their own (self-serving) criteria to judge the worth of other species,[2] the ability to use symbols indicates a layer of abstract reasoning: When, for example, we use a finger to point to the moon, we distinguish between the finger as a sign and the moon as a referent, and the capacity to understand that distinction indicates that our cognitive capacities are not strictly concrete. Such capacities are a necessary component for intelligence as we understand it and their demonstration further erodes the sharp Cartesian distinctions between non-human and human animals.

Virginia Morell, “Horses can use symbols to talk to us,” Science, September 21, 2016, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/09/horses-can-use-symbols-talk-us


City College of San Francisco

At least City College of San Francisco is not a for-profit and at least its accreditor is not the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (see next section).

Eric Kelderman, “In San Francisco, the Fates of a College and Its Accreditor Are on the Line,” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 22, 2016, http://www.chronicle.com/article/In-San-Francisco-the-Fates-of/237870


For-profit colleges

“The Obama administration on Thursday terminated the federal recognition of the nation’s largest accreditor of for-profit colleges — a rare move that could ultimately jeopardize the ability of hundreds of schools to access federal student aid.”[3] If the decision is upheld, “the colleges accredited by the [Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)] would have 18 months to find a new accreditor.”[4] “Last year, [ACICS] allowed 243 colleges to tap into $4.76 billion worth of Pell Grants and federal student loans.”[5] Allegedly, “[a]bout 600,000 students currently attend ACICS-accredited institutions.”[6]

The process to remove an accreditor’s authority is lengthy, and could take nearly two years to complete even if there are no delays or legal challenges. But if the department’s recommendation regarding Acics is carried out, nearly 250 institutions, mostly for-profit, that together represent about 900 campuses will have to find a new accrediting agency if they want to continue to be eligible for federal student aid, such as Pell Grants and federally backed student loans.[7]

“ACICS will now have 30 days to file an appeal directly to Education Secretary John B. King Jr., who on Wednesday pledged to resolve such an appeal ‘quickly,’”[8] although “the education secretary has no deadline for deciding the appeal,” and the accreditor can also sue,[9] presumably dragging out the process further.

In retrospect, I find it curious that for-profit institutions were ever allowed to have their own accreditor in the first place. How could this not lead to regulatory capture and abuses like those that the for-profits are notorious for?

Jennifer C. Kerr, “Government severs ties with for-profit colleges accreditor,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, September 22, 2016, http://www.startribune.com/gov-t-severs-ties-with-accreditor-of-for-profit-colleges/394492031/

Michael Stratford, “Education Department issues death penalty to for-profit college accreditor,” Politico, September 22, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/education-department-federal-recognition-for-profit-college-accreditor-228555

Michael Stratford, “Education Department terminates federal recognition of for-profit college accreditor,” Politico, September 22, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/for-profit-colleges-accreditor-terminated-recognition-228541


  1. [1]Virginia Morell, “Horses can use symbols to talk to us,” Science, September 21, 2016, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/09/horses-can-use-symbols-talk-us
  2. [2]Louis Pojman, “Do Animal Rights Entail Moral Nihilism?” Public Affairs Quarterly 7, no. 2. (1993): 165-185.
  3. [3]Michael Stratford, “Education Department terminates federal recognition of for-profit college accreditor,” Politico, September 22, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/for-profit-colleges-accreditor-terminated-recognition-228541
  4. [4]Eric Kelderman, “Call to Shut Down a Controversial Accreditor Could Shake For-Profit Higher Ed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 16, 2016, http://chronicle.com/article/Call-to-Shut-Down-a/236829
  5. [5]Michael Stratford, “Education Department issues death penalty to for-profit college accreditor,” Politico, September 22, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/education-department-federal-recognition-for-profit-college-accreditor-228555
  6. [6]Jennifer C. Kerr, “Government severs ties with for-profit colleges accreditor,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, September 22, 2016, http://www.startribune.com/gov-t-severs-ties-with-accreditor-of-for-profit-colleges/394492031/
  7. [7]Eric Kelderman, “Call to Shut Down a Controversial Accreditor Could Shake For-Profit Higher Ed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 16, 2016, http://chronicle.com/article/Call-to-Shut-Down-a/236829
  8. [8]Michael Stratford, “Education Department terminates federal recognition of for-profit college accreditor,” Politico, September 22, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/for-profit-colleges-accreditor-terminated-recognition-228541
  9. [9]Eric Kelderman, “Call to Shut Down a Controversial Accreditor Could Shake For-Profit Higher Ed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 16, 2016, http://chronicle.com/article/Call-to-Shut-Down-a/236829

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