Quick Takes: House Panel Adopts AmeriCorps Bill, Transformative vs. Incremental Research, Another Report Blasts Teacher Ed, 'Differential Tuition' Comes to Florida, Boost for English Universities, Friday Classes and Thursday Drinking

June 28, 2007
  • The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor overwhelmingly approved legislation Wednesday that would extend the federal government's AmeriCorps and other national service programs for five years. The measure aims to increase the number of AmeriCorps volunteers each year to 100,000 from the current 25,000 and to increase the annual college stipend for those who engage in community service to $5,225 from $4,725 by 2012. David Elsner, chief executive officer of the Corporation for National Service, which oversees AmeriCorps, applauded the House panel for its bipartisan support for the legislation.
  • A new National Science Foundation report reviews the importance of "transformative" research, as opposed to the incremental research that is the norm in science. The report suggests that the NSF consider how it can be sure it is supporting high-risk studies that have the potential to yield major breakthroughs, especially when many scientists doubt the NSF's interest in the area, and feel that the grant application process does not favor such studies. At the same time, the report noted that many examples of transformative research don't start off that way, but may be receiving support for what appears like it will be simply the next step forward, but then turns out to be a major leap.
  • The National Council on Teacher Quality on Wednesday released a report criticizing most states for their teacher education policies. Among the criticisms: too few "alternate routes" to teaching for liberal arts graduates and others and insufficient monitoring of the academic skills of those entering and graduating from teacher education programs. Most of the criticisms are similar to those made in previous reports -- and are of the sort that teacher ed groups say are outdated. The new report provides state by state analysis in addition to national summary data.
  • Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican, reversed himself Wednesday and said he was willing to sign legislation allowing three public universities -- Florida State University, the University of Florida and the University of South Florida -- to have "differential tuition," The St. Petersburg Times reported. The three universities have been pushing for that right, saying that uniform state rates hold back research institutions, which have broader missions and face more national competition than do other universities.
    • The British government announced Wednesday that it would match up to 200 million British pounds (nearly $400 million) for donations English universities bring in between August 2008 and September 2011, The Guardian reported. The plan is part of a government effort to bolster private fund raising at the universities, which in recent years have tried to adopt American-style development efforts, but which are far behind their counterparts in the United States in these areas.
    • In recent years, one strategy discussed to combat excessive drinking by students on Thursday nights has been to increase the number of classes that meet on Fridays, particularly in the morning. New research from psychology professors at the University of Missouri at Columbia backs the strategy. The researchers tracked the drinking habits of 3,341undergraduates and found that students who don't take classes Friday consume twice as much alcohol on Thursday as those with early Friday classes.

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