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Professor Accused of Providing Drugs to Students

A professor at Oakland University in Michigan has been arrested on charges of operating a drug house out of his home and providing drugs to students, among other offenses, Local 4 News reported.

Joseph Schiele, a business professor at Oakland, has been charged with seven counts, including a felony related to firearms, possession with intent to deliver and operating a drug house.

The university police chief said he had received two anonymous tips during a six-month period, both relating to parties at the professor’s home in Oakland Township.

“There were references to drugs, illegal drugs, and underage drinking made during the anonymous tips,” Mark Gordon, Oakland University police chief, said. “There was enough consistency between the two of them, from two different people, that we said there’s probably something to this.”

Because the events occurred off campus, Gordon handed the case over to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the allegations and found ketamine in Schiele’s home.

A 22-year-old female student visited Schiele’s house more than 30 different times to drink and do drugs, according to court transcripts. She specifically mentioned using cocaine and ketamine at his house. A 19-year-old male students said he had been to the professor’s house fewer than 10 times and had been provided alcohol, marijuana and ketamine.

The professor has been at Oakland since 2004 and was tenured in 2010. He declined a request for comment from Local 4 News.

The university has placed Schiele on paid administrative leave.

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Why virtually all faculty members should be concerned about problems with remedial math (essay)

There is a crisis in our traditional remedial mathematics education. Many, likely most, math faculty members have already heard much about this crisis. But many faculty members outside math departments are unaware of it and how it negatively affects them, which it probably does. Once you are aware of it, you may want to contribute to solving it, which you possibly can.

The basis of the crisis is that 60 percent of new freshmen in the United States are assessed as unprepared for college-level work, most commonly in math, as Mari Watanabe-Rose, Daniel Douglas and I summarize in a recent paper on the topic (a paper that provides citations for much of the research reported in this article). Only about half of students who start taking remedial math ever complete it, and many students, though they are required to do so, never take remedial math at all. Evidence even shows that students assessed as needing lengthy remedial math courses, while accepted to college, are less likely to actually begin it, contributing to what is known as “summer melt.”

The end result is that students assessed as needing remedial math are far less likely to graduate than students who have been assessed as being college ready. For example, at the City University of New York, only 7 percent of the new freshmen assessed as needing remedial math graduate from a community college in three years vs. 28 percent of other students. Being assessed as needing remedial math (which most commonly consists of elementary and/or intermediate, as opposed to college, algebra), may be the single largest academic block to students graduating in our country.

Numerous Impacts

So if you’re not a math faculty member, why should you care? If huge percentages of the new students coming to your college are failing remedial math or never taking it, how does that affect you? Let me count the ways.

First, of course, even though they are not necessarily students in your classes, or majoring in your discipline, they are students at your college, and you are likely to have some compassion for them and wish that they could be successful in their math courses. Students who are assessed as needing remedial math are disproportionately students from underrepresented groups, the first in their families to go to college and from families with limited financial resources. Graduating from college will, on average, significantly enhance the quality of life of these students and their families. Students who do not obtain a degree earn less, are more likely to default on their student debt, pay fewer taxes, are less healthy and are more likely to go to prison -- all of which can harm not only the students and their families themselves but also hurt you as a taxpayer.

In addition, the United States is only 11th in the world in terms of the proportion of young adults with college degrees. Meanwhile, the percentage of jobs that require a college degree is growing, and the number of such degrees that we produce is projected to be increasingly inadequate. So the graduation block of remedial math may be harming our country’s economic growth and competitiveness.

But perhaps such consequences are all too vague or delayed to have much impact on you. Let us consider some consequences of students getting past the remedial math block (or not) that may be closer to home.

Students who have been assessed as needing remedial math usually don’t reach the point of being allowed to take college-level math courses -- or nonmath, college-level courses that require math as a prerequisite or co-requisite. That means that if you teach such courses, your enrollments are probably lower because such students can’t enroll in them. And if those students drop out or transfer to another college, then virtually no matter what you teach you’ve lost enrollment for your courses. (Follow-up data from our research on a successful alternative to traditional remedial math show that students assigned to traditional remediation are indeed more likely to transfer or drop out than students assigned instead to college-level statistics with extra support.) And with lower enrollment comes the lower probability that courses will continue to be offered, lower operating budgets for departments, lower probability of tenure, lower budgets for hiring part-time faculty and lower numbers of full-time faculty in a department.

Moreover, in terms of your institution as a whole, lower enrollment can mean lower total funds for the institution because it receives less tuition or government support. The majority of the states now tie public higher education funding to graduation rates (performance-based funding). Currently in the United States, only about 61 percent of all new freshmen in bachelor’s degree programs receive their bachelor’s degree within six years from any institution (not just the one at which they started), and only 39 percent of new freshmen in associate’s degree programs receive any degree -- associate’s or bachelor’s -- within six years from any institution (not just the one at which they started). What is the percentage for your institution? It may not be as high as you have been led to believe. And could remedial-math reform at your institution boost that percentage?

And what if your college is one that wants to help fill its seats with transfer students? Not completing remedial work can hurt a student’s ability to transfer. At CUNY, students assessed as needing remediation can’t transfer into, or be admitted to, a baccalaureate program. California has similar challenges.

But, you may say, I don’t want students who cannot pass remedial math in my courses, because they won’t be able to do well in, or perhaps even pass, my course. Let’s dig down into that statement.

First, such a statement may be based on an assumption that students who are placed into remedial math are students with significant limitations in how to learn, at least in how to learn algebra. However, research now shows that the placement tests and other mechanisms for deciding which students do not know remedial math are often wrong. Students sometimes don’t realize the import of the test and so don’t prepare for it or take it seriously when they are indicating their answers. Perhaps a minimal brushup is all they need to do well in a college-level course, not a full-semester remedial course. Or perhaps a student wasn’t feeling well the day of the placement test or was late getting to the testing site due to a transportation problem.

Judith Scott-Clayton, associate professor of economics and education at Teachers College, Columbia University, has found that 25 percent of students assigned to remedial math could have passed a college-level math course with at least a B if they had instead been assigned directly to that course. Placement tests are not perfect predictors of who knows something and can make use of that knowledge, and who does not and cannot. The cutoff scores for remediation versus college-level math are somewhat arbitrary, are set differently by different colleges and can have many false negatives and false positives no matter where they’re set.

But, you might say, given so many students don’t pass remedial math, that must show that most students placed in it should not have been put in a higher-level math course. However, even failure to pass remedial math doesn’t necessarily indicate that a student is limited in his or her ability to learn math. Students don’t pass these classes for many reasons that don’t have anything to do with the student’s ability.

One is simply that they do not take these classes -- the thought of having to take a course they took in high school is too aversive, paying for a course that will not give them any college credits is too hard to swallow and the goal of graduation just seems too far away. None of that has anything to do with ability, but everything to do with motivation.

Students also may not pass remedial courses because of poor teaching. Remedial math is more likely than, say, calculus, to be taught by a rotating cast of part-time faculty. Some of those faculty members may have insufficient training or inadequate time to dedicate to student success. And students taking remedial math may feel stigmatized by being identified as “remedial” -- as only capable of high school courses. So they may be less motivated to work in the class, as some evidence suggests.

Finally, saying that you do not want students who do not pass remedial math taking your own college-level course assumes, particularly if you do not teach math, that whatever limitations these students have regarding remedial math are limitations that carry into other courses as well. But many students placed into remedial math are able to pass their science and other general education requirements without ever having taken remedial math.

However, what if you believe that any student graduating from your college, even those majoring in, say, English literature, should be able to demonstrate a knowledge of math? Then you need to consider whether what you think is important is knowledge of algebra (the traditional focus of remedial math) or rather a facility with the numbers and quantitative expressions that most college graduates are likely to encounter. Because if it’s the latter, research has shown that students are more likely to pass courses with such material (e.g., statistics) than traditional remedial courses, which can contain topics such as quadratic equations and are considered, at least by some people, to be less connected to the quantitative aspects of our daily lives.

Better Solutions

So do we have to keep putting so many otherwise successful students into remedial math (algebra) only for them to avoid the course or fail it -- and thus never enroll in our or our department’s courses or leave our institution entirely? No. Based on rigorous empirical research, we can place students using high school grades, even self-reported high school grades, which predict future performance in quantitative courses better than do tests. We can provide students with just the remedial instruction needed to pass their college-level courses, in combination with those college-level courses (what is known as co-requisite remediation). And we can allow students to take courses in statistics and/or quantitative reasoning instead of algebra to satisfy their general education requirement (unless, of course, a student needs algebra for his or her major).

Yet such changes are being made only sometimes, and slowly. For example, at CUNY, four colleges are actively involved in remedial math reform (three of them through the Project for Relevant and Improved Mathematics Education, PRIME, funded by the Teagle Foundation), but 10 CUNY colleges still offer remedial math.

Maybe it is time for nonmath faculty to become more involved in this issue. At your college or university, does each department get to decide what course or courses all the institution’s students should take from that department? Or do all faculty members get together and decide, as a group, what skills and knowledge each graduate from that institution should know and be able to do, and then design courses consistent with those decisions? If it is the latter, are the nonmath faculty weighing in on the nature of the math requirement? Particularly if that math requirement is preventing potentially successful students from being in your classes? And particularly if that requirement isn’t needed to pass college-level non-STEM classes? Or even some STEM classes?

So if you are a college or university faculty member who is not in math, know that what is going on in many math departments can be directly hurting your own department, and possibly your own teaching preferences -- in addition to potentially harming the lives of students and your local economy. Perhaps your institution, department or courses already have all the enrollment and revenue that you want, and perhaps your institution’s graduation rates are already stellar. But if that isn’t all the case, maybe you or your department should get involved in what is happening in math. It’s up to you.

Alexandra W. Logue is a research professor in the Center for Advanced Study in Education at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

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Advice for how research scientists can best mentor those who work in their labs (essay)

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Adriana Bankston provides advice for how research scientists can positively influence the personal and professional development of the trainees who work in their labs.

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Clay Christensen sticks with predictions of massive college closures

Despite emerging questions about applicability of his "disruption" theory, the business guru still believes half of colleges could close in a decade, driven by the spread of online learning.

North Carolina, Wisconsin Bills Would Mandate Punishment for Campus Speech Disrupters

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin and North Carolina are circulating bills that would require state universities to punish students who disrupt campus speech and remain neutral on political and social issues. Both are based on model legislation from the Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank.

In North Carolina, House Bill 527 mandates that public universities “ensure the fullest degree of intellectual freedom and free expression,” according to The News & Observer. Institutions would have to teach students about free speech during freshman orientation and punish those who disrupt or otherwise interfere with invited speakers and others’ free speech rights. The bill, which passed the state House, 88 to 32, this week, would also require the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to establish a Committee on Free Expression to report annually on university barriers to free speech and how it maintains “a posture of administrative and institutional neutrality with regard to political or social issues,” The News & Observer reported. In response, some legislators have wondered whether the bill will bar scientists from talking about such things as climate change.

The Wisconsin bill’s authors described it in a memo to fellow lawmakers this week as "Republicans' promise to protect the freedom of expression on college campuses in order to encourage the broadening of thought and growth of ideas," according to the Wisconsin State-Journal. Under the Campus Free Speech Act, the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents would be required to develop a free expression policy stating that universities' "primary function … is the discovery, improvement, transmission and dissemination of knowledge," and that it is not the role of an institution "to shield individuals from speech protected by the First Amendment," the State-Journal reported. The board also would have to develop rules for disciplinary hearings and sanctions for anyone affiliated with a state university who "interferes with the free expression of others." Any student found to have violated the policy twice would be subject to a suspension of at least one semester, up to expulsion.

A spokesperson for the Madison campus said that it shares lawmakers' goal of ensuring free expression, but that it already has policies in place for dealing with misconduct. So mandating certain sanctions would take power away from campus committees to administer appropriate punishments, the spokesperson, John Lucas, said.

The Goldwater model legislation was co-written by Stanley Kurtz, who has written frequently about campus speech debates for the National Review. “As both a deeply held commitment and a living tradition, freedom of speech is dying on our college campuses and is increasingly imperiled in society at large,” it says. “Nowhere is the need for open debate more important than on America’s college campuses.” Among other things, it says that “any student who has twice been found guilty of infringing the expressive rights of others will be suspended for a minimum of one year, or expelled.”

The model says that it’s inspired in part by the University of Chicago’s 2015 Stone Report on free speech, which articulates the institution's commitment to uninhibited debate. Chicago also recently released a report recommending punishments for those who disrupt campus speech, though it says that sanctions should be developed by a campus committee on a case-by-case basis.

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Study: Professors widely oppose campus carry as inimical to academic freedom but fewer would alter teaching habits

Study suggests professors widely oppose campus carry as inimical to academic freedom, but fewer would alter their teaching habits under the law.

Exploring the issues of campus sexual assault as scholars as well as mothers of daughters (essay)

Sexual Assault on Campus

Sarah Prior and Brooke de Heer, who teach and research about campus sexual assault, say they're more cognizant of the issues as mothers raising daughters.

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The impact of a previous sexual assault on a person's grad school experience (essay)

Sexual Assault on Campus

An anonymous writer examines how to make higher education, in particular graduate education, more supportive for sexual assault survivors.

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Debate Over Policy Changes at 2 Christian Colleges

Two Christian colleges are facing criticism from some students and faculty members over policy changes that the colleges say are consistent with their faith and mission, but that others see as hurting academic values.

  • Cedarville University is now requiring faculty members to apply the New Testament verse Philippians 4:8, on the importance of purity, Christianity Today reported. The impact is that faculty member may no longer teach R-rated films, even something like Schindler's List, and students may no longer perform plays that have any swear words.
  • Montreat College is requiring all faculty members to sign a "covenant," which requires, among other things, "chastity among the unmarried and the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman," WLOS News reported. While the college says this just clarifies existing policy, some faculty members may leave rather than sign the pledge.
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