Quick Take: DREAM Act Blocked, Teacher Ed Group Changes Standard, Taser Use Deemed OK, California Fires, Strike Averted at Rider, 'Faulty' Plan for Loan Auction, Another College Goes SAT-Optional, Towson Drops Male Program, Debt at Oral Roberts

October 25, 2007
  • The U.S. Senate fell short Wednesday of the 60 votes needed to proceed to a vote on the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would offer a pathway to permanent residency for students in the country without documentation who complete two years of college or military service. In a statement on the floor following the 52-44 vote, the bill's sponsor, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D.-Ill.), pledged his commitment to continue pushing the bill - derided by many as an amnesty act - although he conceded, "I don't know when the next chance will be."
  • The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education has clarified its standards, removing "social justice" from a list of desired qualities for programs to encourage in students. Conservative groups have repeatedly portrayed the inclusion of social justice as evidence that the accreditor was pushing a liberal agenda on education colleges. The clarification issued by NCATE said that social justice was never actually required, but was simply one "illustrative example." As a result, NCATE said, it wasn't abandoning any policy it had, but was avoiding the confusion caused by including the term, which the group said was "widely and wildly misinterpreted by commentators."
  • A state panel has determined that University of Florida police officers did not violate procedures in using a taser to stop a student from continuing a barrage of questions during a campus lecture last month, WFTV News reported. The panel found that police officers considered the use of pepper spray, but ruled that approach out because of the crowd at the talk. Likewise, police officers said that simply subduing the student might have caused him more harm. The use of the taser has been widely criticized by Florida students. Bernie Machen, president of the university, issued a statement in which he said that regardless of the legal issues involved, the university would continue with a review of how it could best "foster an open environment that is also safe for our ever-changing campus community."
  • San Diego area colleges remain closed, as institutions deal with the fires raging in the area. The colleges emphasize that their campuses and students are not in danger, but that they realize people can't commute to and from campus right now. Several colleges -- among them the San Diego Community College District, San Diego State University, the University of California at San Diego and the University of San Diego -- have called off classes for the rest of the week.
  • The faculty chapter of the American Association of University Professors and Rider University have reached a tentative contract agreement, averting a strike that had been viewed as a possibility. Among the contract provisions: 4 percent raises, followed by raises that match the national average as reported by the AAUP; no "significant increase" in the number of full-time, non-tenure track faculty positions; an assurance that 65 percent of sections will be taught by full-time faculty members.
  • A plan to begin auctioning some federal loans for parents is based on "several faulty assumptions" and "will likely result in market consolidations, fewer loan providers, fewer benefits for borrowers, and limited savings for taxpayers," the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators argues in a paper released Wednesday. The association said it released the document about the plan -- which was enacted as part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act that President Bush signed this fall -- to stimulate discussion.
  • Washington College, a liberal arts institution in Maryland, has announced that it will no longer require the SAT for applicants who have a high school grade-point average of at least 3.5 or who are in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. SAT or ACT scores will still be required for merit scholarships or for those for whom English is not their first language.
  • Towson University has dropped an unusual effort to recruit more male students through a program that favored applicants with high SAT scores but low grades, The Baltimore Sun reported. Towson officials told the Sun that retention rates were not as high as those for other students. The program was open to women too, but was designed to match the characteristics of many male students at a time that colleges nationally are seeing their proportions of students who are male shrink. Deborah Leather, associate provost at Towson, told the newspaper: "Basically, we are proving what has already been known, which is that grade point average is a better predictor of student success than SAT scores."
  • Oral Roberts University isn't just facing a scandal involving allegations of misconduct by its president (currently on leave) and his wife. The university has financial woes as well. The Tulsa World reported that the university has debt of $52.5 million, and that officials said that managing the debt made it difficult to invest in improvements for the university.
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