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44 Responses

  1. David says:

    So should I cancel my plans to tell the entire city of Minneapolis to snort my taint?

  2. Shawn says:

    As a resident of Sioux Falls, which is only a very short distance from the border, I gladly welcome anyone who wants to escape the state that gave us gems like this and Michelle Bachman!

  3. rmv says:

    If things come to a head, I would hope there to be some Popehat signal/Institute for Justice help for any who wish to disregard this nonsense.

    (I don't imagine Minnesota higher education peeps to be stupid enough to do something they're sure to regret, but who knows with govt bureaucrat-types)

  4. ShelbyC says:

    How would they have jurisdiction over a website that doesn't have any presence in Minnesota, doesn't mail any catelogues or packages to Minnesota, etc?

  5. strech says:

    I'm not sure they would have jurisdiction, given the lack of physical locations or goods. I think they just want money:

    George Roedler, manager of institutional registration and licensing at the Minnesota Office of Higher education, clarifies that his office's issue isn't with Coursera per se, but with the universities that offer classes through its website. State law prohibits degree-granting institutions from offering instruction in Minnesota without obtaining permission from the office and paying a registration fee. (The fee can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, plus a $1,200 annual renewal.)

    Nevermind that applying this principle could end up shutting down the website as every state would proceed to shake down every university offering courses.

  6. This Guy says:

    The flavor of this hattery is ass.

  7. Mike says:

    I used to work in admissions at a school here in Dallas. We had an online program. This school, let's call it "Directional U," became aware of this law the hard way. One of our students didn't like his grade and complained to the Minnesota AG. The result of the complaint was, of course, no more offerings to potential students in Minnesota.

    I wonder what the practical effect would be of offering courses anyway; who is Minnesota going to pursue if there is no physical presence?

    strech: Don't give them any ideas.

  8. Keith says:

    I couldn't get the gist of your post, as my computer screen is smeared with lutefisk hotdish.

  9. En Passant says:

    Mike wrote Oct 19, 2012 @9:47 am:

    I wonder what the practical effect would be of offering courses anyway; who is Minnesota going to pursue if there is no physical presence?

    strech: Don't give them any ideas.

    I think the federal Department of Education already did.

  10. htom says:

    We select very special people to be administrators here in Minnesota. You'd be very surprised at what they will attempt to do. One of them is rumored to have said "If we could just get rid of the students, we could run a proper university." (Minnesotans have all heard that before, and know of our special administrators, so they're not learning anything by my posting here.)

  11. mojo says:

    The Rent Seekers are on the move.

  12. Jonathan says:

    Darn it. I got about halfway through that blog post and started to learn something, so I stopped. But, then I realized I was not in Minnesota, and so resumed my regularly unscheduled learning.

  13. Globex Corporation says:

    I hadn't noticed your Canadian EULA before. Thanks for pointing that out to me, I have now scuttled my plans to drag you before the BCHRT for some imaginary offence you may or may not have caused me.

    Truth time: I'm pretty left leaning. I lean "lefter" than both Kodos and Kang in your pending presidential election. But, I'm a staunch supporter of free speech and I am often embarrassed by our various human rights tribunals. This one made me want to cry:

  14. Lizard says:

    I thought this reminded me of something… . Professional protectionism FTW! I am curious as to the justification for the law. (I mean, the *alleged* justification. The real justification is obvious:"We want your money.")

  15. Steve Florman says:

    I promise not to learn anything. That shouldn't be difficult, as not only do I still live in Minnesota, but the people of my Congressional district keep electing Michele Bachmann. (In our defense, you should see what the other party usually gives us for an option.)

  16. twency says:

    Dear residents of Minnesota: by reading the rest of this post you consent to being enrolled in my online course in Special Relativity.

    (energy equals mass times the speed of light squared)

    Say that out loud, three times, right now.

    Congrats! You've graduated.

    Minnesota Office of Higher Education: COME AT ME BRO.

  17. Charissa says:

    I saw this this morning on another site and already sent an email to the Office of Higher Ed. Ridiculous that a stat that somehow manages to get credit for having well-educated citizens should attempt to ban something like this.

  18. Jack B. says:

    Does this mean that Minnesota won't honor my degree from Glenn Beck University?

  19. Boxy says:

    @En Passant: Your link is broken, and it sounds interesting.

    Would this hold up under the first amendment if given a serious challenge? They're not offering any kind of certification, just information, and the state seems to be putting a prior restraint on speech. I don't see anything particularly magical about the word "course" that removes its constitutional protections.

  20. Ukko says:

    Here in Minn-ah-sohhh-ta, we believe in hiring the mentally disabled. If they're severely retarded, we promote them to the Office of Higher Education.

  21. Mike says:

    @globexcorporation – its hard days to be a free speecher in Canada.

    The FCA is allowing the S. 13 shenanigans against Lemire to continue even though the Commons (but not the Senate) has voted to repeal s. 13

  22. En Passant says:

    Just a half-baked thought here. Don't try this at home, kids. Do it online, but only after donning your legal bozo costume —

    The best grounds for challenging the Mn Office of Higher Education are dormant commerce clause grounds, not First Amendment grounds.

    Mn isn't forbidding the speech. Mn is requiring out of state educational institutions offering coursework to Minnesotans to pay an Mn tax or fee.

    Mn taxes the out-of-state institutions credits to discourage competition with in-state institutions. That is discrimination against interstate commerce.

  23. Kevin Horner says:

    Ok. Good to know. I'll stop reading then. Thanks for all the fun.

  24. ElSuerte says:

    Are these free courses accredited and transferable?

  25. Ben says:

    Makes perfect sense; can't have any authorized learnin' going on. It'd be anarchy!

  26. En Passant says:

    Boxy wrote Oct 19, 2012 @1:06 pm:

    @En Passant: Your link is broken, and it sounds interesting.

    Bad link! No cookie for you! That'll teach this one to work right.

  27. Bear says:

    Uh oh. I have free downloads of some of my how-to articles on my web site. While it seems unlikely that Minnesota residents, who let these idiots out of the Mickey Ds mainstreaming program and into gov service, would actually _learn_ from my tutorials, I better not take any chances.

    Ken, I'm not all lawyerly and stuff, so I need to s/t/e/a/l/ make educational fair use of your new Terms of Use. 'Kay?

  28. Tarrou says:

    I'm not from Minnesota, but just to be on the safe side, I've stopped learning altogether!

  29. BLM4L says:

    LOVING the subtle dig at Slate.

  30. StephenM3 says:

    It appears this was just a misunderstanding, or Minnesota officials are backpedaling, because they're now acknowledging that they have no authority over free, degree-less courses.

  31. matthew says:

    As a current resident of MN I want to say a few things:
    1) I'm from WI, not MN.
    2) While reading Popehat, this site has only lowered my IQ, and there has been no actual learning at any point by myself
    3) Also, while I have read back the contents of Popehat to others in MN, it has had a similar mind numbing effect on them as well.
    4) I'm from WI, not MN.

  32. wgering says:

    So does this only apply to programs offering degrees?

    Personally, I'd love to see a few of the shadier "online universities" (really just the educational equivalent of snake-oil salesmen) go under, but I'd rather it be from the collective realization that the people running them are gelatinous masses of greed and malevolence than from government intervention.

    Now, if this is meant to apply to any form of online course material (such as Khan Academy or MIT's OpenCourseWare)…well…I really have no response for that. I don't believe that the free spread of knowledge is something any reasonable person could oppose, and so I have trouble accepting that there are, in fact, people who oppose it.

    On the upside, it's good to know that California doesn't have the dumbest state legislature anymore!

  33. Lago says:

    saw this story earlier today, haha

    @StephenM3; it seems they informed Coursera that the schools they work with would have to comply with the registrations thinking Coursera would cooperate. Coursera gave them the middle finger and adjusted their TOU instead. Roedler isn't backpeddling or even saying it was a misunderstanding, he's actually trying to defend what they did.

  34. M. says:

    Popehat, the only blog that regularly compels me to check that it isn't actually April 1.

  35. Earle Williams says:

    Damn! There goes my chance to get a degree in Pony Studies.


  36. piperTom says:

    @Steve Florman "… you should see what the other party usually gives us for an option."

    Consider voting Libertarian. We support None Of The Above as an official option on all ballots. In the mean time, we are NOTA for you.

  37. Damon says:

    I never understand why people are credulous enough to believe stories like this.

  38. NickM says:

    You can still tell Minnesota residents to snort your taint. You just can't tell them how to.

  39. Random Encounter says:

    Coursera may have ulterior motives, since MN state officials apparently told them that they didn't even have jurisdiction to charge licensing fees to an out-of-state institution offering free courses to MN residents *before* they started making noise about this.

    Here's a discussion on it:

  40. David says:

    As a recalcitrant resident of the State of Minnesota, I hereby submit my plans to a) ignore the Coursera requirements, and b) follow with great care all requirements set forth on Popehat.

    Thank you.

  1. October 19, 2012


  2. October 22, 2012

    […] NOTICE: AMENDMENT OF POPEHAT TERMS OF USE FOR MINNESOTA RESIDENTS To the extent that a society limits its government to policing functions which curb the individuals who engage in aggressive and criminal actions, and conducts its economic affairs on the basis of free and willing exchange, to that extent domestic peace prevails. When a society departs from this norm, its governing class begins, in effect, to make war upon the rest of the nation. A situation is created in which everyone is victimized by everyone else under the fiction of each living at the expense of all. — Rev. Edmund A. Opitz […]