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How the Obama DOJ Killed an Open Education Effort at Berkeley

The Obama Administration’s Department of Justice told UC Berkeley last year that it needed to add captions to tens of thousands of free online lectures to make them more accessible to the deaf or risk a lawsuit. UC Berkeley has now resolved this complaint… by removing the lectures from public view entirely. Inside Higher Education reports:

The University of California, Berkeley, will cut off public access to tens of thousands of video lectures and podcasts in response to a U.S. Justice Department order that it make the educational content accessible to people with disabilities.

Today, the content is available to the public on YouTube, iTunes U and the university’s webcast.berkeley site. On March 15, the university will begin removing the more than 20,000 audio and video files from those platforms — a process that will take three to five months — and require users sign in with University of California credentials to view or listen to them.

The university’s calculation was simple: Revising its vast store of free online materials to the DOJ’s satisfaction would be expensive and time-consuming for the cash-strapped public institution. If leaving the lectures online as they are could make the university vulnerable to a federal lawsuit, well, then why not just take them down! In other words, in an effort to expand access to Berkeley’s educational resources, the DOJ has ended up eliminating access for non-students.

Of course, an advocate of the Obama DOJ might have said that this outcome is entirely appropriate—better to signal our absolute commitment to equality in the abstract than to actually improve outcomes in practice. In some cases, such a tradeoff might be called for. But here, it seems clear to us, the costs are too high. The DOJ’s campaign against Berkeley amounts to a crusade not just for equal protection and equal dignity but for equalism—a futile effort to erase every last one of nature’s injustices and in so doing throw sand in the gears of a well-intentioned and worthy project.

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  • Disappeared4x

    Another triumph for the technocrats. Where is the Regulation that imposes fines for the excess dust in the dustbin of history?

    • Jim__L

      I’ve read enough history to think of it as a recycling bin, rather than a dustbin.

      • D4x

        My implicit bias for Dead White Men’s History extends to the postmodernists regulating everything these past 8 years.
        Recycling bin may be more accurate for history, but the EPA DID try to regulate dust on dirt roads. This DoEd regulation seems just as clueless, about relevance and impact.

  • SpiderPie

    Philip K. Howard chronicled this phenomenon in his 1994 book, “The Death of Common Sense.” A good read.

    http://philipkhoward.com/book/the-death-of-common-sense/

  • Jim__L

    Kurt Vonnegut wrote a very good short story on this subject not too long ago.

    http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/harrison.html

  • rpabate

    Whenever the Progress-Left has a bright idea, you can be sure millions will die. The Progressive-Left loves humanity —- Humans… not so much. It started with the French Revolution and million perished. Then their was the communist revolution and tens of millions died. Now it is climate change a.k.a catastrophic anthropogenic global warming and hundreds of million could perish. After all, Gaia is overpopulated by 6 billion. The best way to correct that overpopulation is by de-carbonising the world economy. Matter solved.

  • Joey Junger

    “Equalism” (sic) at Obama’s highly-racialized DOJ was about a lot more than disabilities (unless you consider being black a disability, which, according to Charles Murray and most science, is kind of true). The Disparate Impact mandate was focused more on secondary and primary institutions (since black-on-white bullying takes on more subtle, manipulative, and legally sanctioned forms at the post-secondary level), but the Department of Education’s basic task under Obama was to make sure that if and when black students were disproportionately disciplined, suspended, etc. for inappropriate behavior, those trying to enforce norms in class would be punished for racism. That black children might not be as well-behaved as white or Asian children is true, but truth is poison to managerial elites like Obama and they will not tolerate truth.

    Betsy DeVos couldn’t be as bad as Obama’s surrogates, since even if she’s incompetent, she’s not willfully malicious.

  • Ofer Imanuel

    Obama-ism runs amok.

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