Quick Takes: SAT Fiasco Prompts Spellings Questions, Archaeologists on Ethics, Revolving Door for Minority Professors, Senate Leader Shuns Higher Ed Bill, Legal Wrangling Over Appropriation to Ky. Religious College, Alan Merten vs. George Clooney

April 26, 2006
  • The recent scoring errors on the SAT prompted Education Secretary Margaret Spellings to gather leaders of the testing industry Tuesday to discuss whether they are capable of handling the increased demand for tests, the Associated Press reported. Spellings was particularly concerned because the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind legislation has led many states and school districts to increase the use of various tests. The AP reported that the testing officials said that they did have sufficient capacity to handle more tests.
  • A number of leading archaeologists are questioning whether scholarly groups should rethink policies against studying or writing about objects for which no provenance can be determined. The statement, published on the Web site of the Biblical Archaeology Society, says that the policies are not achieving their goal of preventing looting, and that the policies keep scholars away from important objects for research. The society also published a statement from the Archaeological Institute of America defending the ban on using undocumented objects.
  • Efforts to hire more members of racial minority groups onto college faculties are undermined by significant turnover of those who are hired, according to a report by the James Irvine Foundation and the American Association of Colleges and Universities. The report, which was based on a review of faculty hiring at 27 private colleges in California between 2000 and 2004, found that the proportion of black, Hispanic and Native American/Alaskan Native professors rose from 7 to 9 percent over the period. But it also found that three of every five minority faculty members hired were replacing other minority professors. “With the revolving door spinning minority faculty right back out, efforts to increase faculty diversity are simply not having the impact they should,” said José F. Moreno, assistant professor of Chicano and Latino studies at California State University at Long Beach, the report's lead author.
  • Those college officials and others hoping that passage of the Higher Education Act renewal might be on the horizon shouldn't hold their breath. In a letter sent to his Republican colleagues late last week, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) listed his legislative priorities for the next two months -- weighty issues like the war on terror and the rising price of gasoline, and arguably more marginal matters like flag burning -- and nowhere among them was consideration of the key higher education legislation, which passed the House of Representatives late last month.
  • The governor of Kentucky and the head of a gay rights group in the state both have asked a state court to weigh in on whether legislators can give state funds to a religious college that expelled a student for acknowledging openly that he is gay. Christina Gilgor, head of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the legislature's decision to provide $11 million to help finance a new pharmacy school at the University of the Cumberlands, as well as Gov. Ernie Fletcher's decision not to veto the funds. Her lawsuit says state law prohibits taxpayer funds from going to institutions that discriminate unconstitutionally and that are "unconstitutionally supportive of religion." The governor's office filed documents Tuesday, too, asking a court to rule on the constitutionality of the General Assembly’s appropriation to Cumberlands.
  • His basketball team may have been the darling of the NCAA tournament, but Alan Merten knows his limits. The president of George Mason University and the presidents of Virginia Tech and the University of Delaware were supposed to speak at the National Press Club in Washington at lunchtime tomorrow about the role of academic research in America's future competitiveness. But some guy named George Clooney is scheduled to talk at the press club about his recent trip to Darfur, Sudan at just about the same time. A spokesman for George Mason, Dan Walsch, said that Merten and the other presidents had concluded that the Clooney speech might draw a few reporters away from the higher ed event, and so they've canceled it for the time being. "What are the odds that two internationally known sex symbols would be in the same building at the same time?" said Walsch, tongue planted firmly in cheek. The event will be rescheduled.
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