The National Center for Education Statistics needs increased autonomy to better do its job, according to a report issued Sunday by the American Educational Research Association. The report also calls for flexibility for the Institute of Education Sciences to develop and carry out its research agenda.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A long article in The Washington Post examines the ties between The Washington Post Company, the newspaper and Kaplan Higher Education. The article notes that while many credit Kaplan with providing the company with a secure financial base at a time of declining journalism-based revenue, the relationships have not always been smooth and have led to uncomfortable scrutiny. "Post Co. executives blame outside forces, including a drop in political support for private-sector education companies and 'financial and corporate agendas,'" the article says. "They also acknowledge missteps. Current and past officers say The Post Co. did not keep close-enough tabs on its fast-sprawling education unit, even as it focused heavily on customers who were poorer and thus at the riskier end of the business. But they say serving that disadvantaged population is important."
Accreditors yanked recognition of Compton Community College more than five years ago, effectively forcing it to shut down, but local residents are still pushing for it to be revived, the Los Angeles Times reported. El Camino Community College has been managing a center in Compton, but local residents complain that their low-income community should have its own college. A special trustee overseeing efforts in Compton has been pushing for change, while warning that it will take some time to win accreditation as a free-standing institution. She ousted the campus's chief executive, changed a number of procedures and said in a speech Friday that it was time for some faculty members to "do less-than-better somewhere else."
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights refused on Friday to reconsider suspending its investigation into discrimination against women in university admissions, voting 4-3 against putting a motion on the agenda that would have reopened the inquiry. The commission voted by the same margin last month to suspend the study, which had subpoenaed data from 19 colleges within a 100-mile radius of Washington, D.C. The goal was to discover whether colleges relaxed standards for men, but not women, in order to achieve gender balance. Commissioners supporting the inquiry argued that a significant amount of data had already been collected and that abandoning the study would be a waste of resources. Its opponents, who last week argued against continuing with incomplete data, said that nothing had changed their minds.
The Florida A&M University board voted Thursday for cuts of more than 200 jobs (many of them paid for to date with federal stimulus funds) and the consolidation of many academic programs, and the elimination of others, WCTV News reported. Students have been organizing rallies against the cuts, which the university says are painful but necessary. "We're going to need more than English to make it out there because we're not just competing with English-speaking people for jobs anymore," said Ciara Taylor, a student in a Spanish program that is being cut.
Arizona lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to legislation that would allow concealed and openly carried guns in public spaces on the state's public college campuses, The Arizona Republic reported. To try to assure passage, the bill's backers had narrowed its scope in recent days; the measure originally would have allowed weapons anywhere on the campuses, including in classrooms. Governor Jan Brewer is expected to sign the legislation, which is one of several such measures moving through states in recent months.
A professor at Folsom Lake College last week offered to raise students' grades if they helped the college's fund-raising efforts, but the offer was withdrawn after faculty members and students voiced concerns, The Sacramento Bee reported. Bernard Gibson, the professor, did not return calls from reporters.
The Battle of Wisconsin rages on. With the University of Wisconsin System's Board of Regents set to meet Thursday to hear a proposal for greater flexibility for all of the system's campuses, the chancellor of Wisconsin's flagship campus at Madison urged the university's supporters to lobby for its own autonomy plan over the system's proposal. In a letter to the Madison campus, Chancellor Carolyn A. (Biddy) Martin said that the system's Wisconsin Idea Partnership "does not come close to doing for UW-Madison what public-authority status would," and that it is time for them to "express [their] support more openly and visibly." She asked them to ask legislators for their support, and to speak out "as individuals, citizens and taxpayers, and not on behalf of the university."
David Protess, a leading journalism professor at Northwestern University known for his work investigating wrongfully convicted individuals, has been in a high-profile dispute with the institution, which suspended his teaching duties this semester. Protess and his supporters have accused the university of failing to protect his rights as law enforcement officials have questioned his tactics. But on Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune reported, Northwestern officials told faculty members that Protess had doctored records and lied repeatedly to the journalism dean.