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Quick Takes: Lobbying Loophole, Harvard Ups Pay for Medical Instructors, De Anza Suspends 8 Athletes, $125M for Science Education, 'Sports Illustrated' Angers Librarians, Princeton Review 'Partner' Angers Financial Aid Officers

March 9, 2007
  • When the U.S. House of Representatives adopted new rules to restrict most lawmakers' lobbyist-financed travel, one group that lobbies was exempted: colleges and universities. USA Today reported that House leaders said that the exemption was needed so that members of Congress could deliver commencement addresses. But the newspaper also reported on some recent lawmaker travel not related to graduation ceremonies. There is the trip to New York University's villa in Florence, for example, or the George Washington University sponsored trip to Seoul, to check out an exchange program.
  • Harvard University is planning a major increase in payments to physicians who teach medical school students, The Boston Globe reported. Many physicians earn so much more from patient care than from teaching that it has become difficult to attract a teaching cohort in recent years.
  • De Anza College has suspended eight baseball players and called off two baseball games as authorities investigate a reported rape of a 17-year-old girl at a party last weekend attended by many players and others, The San Jose Mercury News reported. No charges have been filed in the case.
  • ExxonMobil plans today to announce the largest ever corporate gift for science education: $125 million to create a new program to better train Advanced Placement teachers and to provide financial rewards to students who do well on AP exams. Company officials cite the track record of the AP program in providing more rigorous science education than otherwise is offered in many high schools. The effort has been endorsed by numerous educators and business leaders, and by Margaret M. Spellings, the secretary of education. But Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, questioned the idea of paying student for their scores. "FairTest's most serious concern is about the plan's reliance on 'bribes' and 'bounties' to get teenagers and their teachers to participate. The 'pay for performance' message can undermine the commitment to education for both students and educators," Schaeffer said. "Linking financial payments to Advanced Placement scores is also likely to result in more teaching to the test -- drilling the narrow range of items expected to be on the exam -- rather than on a rich, college-equivalent curriculum."
  • Sports Illustrated has angered academic librarians by blocking the magazine's annual swimsuit issue from being delivered to school and college libraries, Library Journal reported. The magazine asserts that some librarians in the past complained about the issue, but librarians -- who are expressing their displeasure on electronic discussion boards -- are having none of it, noting that their institutions paid for their subscriptions and that the magazine shouldn't decide which issues aren't appropriate for them.
  • Most college student aid officers aren't big fans of MyRichUncle, the upstart student loan company that -- in complaining about the relationships in which lenders find their way onto colleges' lists of "preferred" loan providers for their students -- has been perceived as questioning the integrity of financial aid offices as well as other lenders. So when one student aid director noticed that the profile for her institution on the Princeton Review's Web site listed MyRichUncle as the university's "partner lender," she wrote an e-mail to Finaid-L, a listserv of financial aid officers. "I have never had any kind of agreement with My Rich Uncle and never will," she wrote, adding that she had checked the profiles of a half-dozen other colleges, all of which also suggested a tie to MyRichUncle. That started a flurry of increasingly irate e-mail messages as other financial aid directors checked their own profiles. "Shame on the Princeton Review!" one wrote to the company's ombudsman, asking whether the lender had paid the testing company for the privilege of being listed as a partner. "Considering the attacks MRU has made on aid professionals in the last year this is unconscionable on your organization's part. Please remove any reference to them being a partner of ours from our entry immediately." Princeton Review officials could not be reached for comment Thursday night.
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