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Quick Takes: McCain Criticizes Teacher Ed, New Poet Laureate, No Rush in California, SUNY Candidates, Rethinking Pre-Med, Dean Out at Toledo, Bonus Repaid, FOIA Limits in Michigan, Laureate Keeps Buying, Canadians Rethink Jewish Holidays

July 17, 2008
  • Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, gave one of his more detailed talks on education Wednesday, in a speech to the NAACP. The speech focused on elementary and secondary school issues, with a focus on school choice, which he favors. On higher ed, McCain was critical of state requirements for those who didn't attend teacher education programs and want to become teachers. "We should also offer more choices to those who wish to become teachers," McCain said. "Many thousands of highly qualified men and women have great knowledge, wisdom, and experience to offer public school students. But a monopoly on teacher certification prevents them from getting that chance. You can be a Nobel Laureate and not qualify to teach in most public schools today. They don't have all the proper credits in educational 'theory' or 'methodology' -- all they have is learning and the desire and ability to share it. If we're putting the interests of students first, then those qualifications should be enough." Sharon P. Robinson, president of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, disputed the idea that many people are being kept out of teaching because of licensing requirements. She said that there were "numerous" paths to teaching, and that she was "certain that any motivated individual who is committed to the teaching profession is capable of completing one of these options." Robinson also said she would be happy to brief any presidential candidate on the range of ways people can become teachers, as well as on other education issues.
  • Kay Ryan, a prize-winning poet who teaches remedial English at the College of Marin, will today be named poet laureate of the United States, The New York Times reported. The article includes links to some of her writing.
  • Key University of California leaders on Wednesday expressed support for a plan to change admissions requirements, most notably by dropping the need to submit SAT subject scores. But the Los Angeles Times reported that members of the Board of Regents indicated that they didn't fully understand the plan, wanted to avoid any indication that they were lowering standards, and wanted to move slowly. Mark G. Yudof, the new president of the university system, expressed support for the proposed changes, but -- noting their importance -- encouraged careful study before a final vote.
  • The search for the new chancellor of the State University of New York is in its final stages, amid signs that some non-traditional candidates have been or are under consideration, The Albany Times-Union reported. Lloyd Constantine, a key aide to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, has interviewed for the job, and another candidate is Nick Donofrio, an IBM executive vice president, the newspaper said.
  • Pre-medical requirements lack both the rigor and specificity they need, writes Jules L. Dienstag, dean of medical education, in an essay in today's issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. "In recent years, calls have come from various quarters for medical schools to require and for colleges to teach ethics, altruism, compassion, listening skills, and skills relevant to health policy and economics -- at the expense of science requirements," Dienstag writes. "In my view, these aspects of medicine are best reserved for medical schools, where they can be taught in the meaningful context of interactions with patients. Medical educators take seriously their responsibility to equip students for the practice of scientifically anchored medicine. If medical schools are to have the freedom to fulfill that responsibility, students should arrive with a higher level of scientific competence, and colleges can contribute by preparing students more efficiently for the study of contemporary, sophisticated, biologically relevant science."
  • Nearly three months after the president and provost of the University of Toledo considered throwing an unpopular dean "under the bus," Yueh-Ting Lee has resigned as head of the College of Arts and Sciences, the university announced. Lee, who just wrapped up his first year as dean, will "laterally transition" into a newly created administrative position within the Department of Human Resources, according to an e-mail Provost Rosemary Haggett sent to the faculty. Lee had been criticized for his management style, and faculty voted no-confidence in him in April. After the faculty vote, Haggett and Lloyd Jacobs, president of Toledo, had a frank e-mail exchange about the dean's future. In this exchange, which was made public through a student-issued records request, Jacobs notes that "For several days I thought the best thing to do was to throw [Lee] under the bus and get on with our agenda." Both Jacobs and Haggett, however, worried that removing Lee would reward the "bad behavior" exhibited by faculty who voted no confidence in Lee. Matt Lockwood, director of public relations, said Tuesday that "it was the dean's free decision to resign."
  • Lu Hardin, president of the University of Central Arkansas, is repaying a $300,000 bonus he received, and that prompted widespread criticism of university trustees, Arkansas Business reported.
  • Home addresses and phone numbers of University of Michigan employees do not need to be released under the Freedom of Information Act, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. The Ann Arbor News reported that the court ruled that the information fell under exemptions in the state law for material that is personal in nature and that could represent an invasion of privacy. Organizers of a union drive for clerical workers had sought the information.
  • Laureate Education Inc. announced two more purchases Wednesday: Kendall College, a culinary institution based in Chicago, and the New School of Architecture in Design, based in San Diego.
  • Several Canadian universities are changing policies that have called off classes on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, The Toronto Star reported. York University is currently in mediation with a professor who complained that the institution's policy of calling off classes on the Jewish High Holidays violates the rights of members of other religious groups. Prompted in part by that dispute, the University of Windsor law school will no long cancel classes on those days -- although students of all faiths will be entitled to time off for religious holidays. The University of Toronto has announced a review of its policies, which are similar to those being challenged at York.
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