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Quick Takes: Mixed Results on Paying for AP Success, Another Guilty Plea in Alabama, Overprotective British Parents, PIRG's Higher Ed Advocate Departs

August 20, 2008
  • A new program in which students at selected New York City high schools were paid $1,000 for scoring well on Advanced Placement tests will today release decidedly mixed results. The New York Times reported that more students took AP tests, but the number who passed declined slightly. The program in New York City follows concern about racial and income gaps in who takes AP courses -- and a Cornell University scholar's study finding that a similar program in Texas was having positive results.
  • Melinda Umphrey, whose husband was formerly president of Shelton State Community College, on Tuesday agreed to plead guilty to three wire fraud counts related to "fraudulent employment" at the Alabama Fire College, which is on Shelton State's campus, The Birmingham News reported. Under the agreement, she admitted that she held a job as "coordinator" at the college, for which no legitimate work was done, but for which she was paid $127,594 in salary and benefits worth nearly $30,000 from June 2001 to December 2003.
  • Britain's main university admissions service has formally given applicants the right to designate parents as "agents" who can do certain things on their behalf, The Telegraph reported, raising fears that parents may replace actual applicants in preparing many materials. The newspaper quoted critics of the shift as saying that universities might soon become "schools for biologically mature children."
  • Luke Swarthout, who has been U.S. PIRG's point person on higher education since 2004, is leaving the public interest group next month. Swarthout has been an outspoken advocate for increased federal student aid and a frequent critic of the student loan industry during his four years at PIRG.
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