Quick Takes: Anti-Science Bias Seen in Political Science Textbook, How Yale Was Duped, Business Officers Back Cell Phone Tax Reform, Double Dipping in Florida, House Panel to Consider Loan Legislation

April 9, 2008
  • A New Jersey high school student has prompted a major publisher to remove some passages and consider revisions in a textbook used for Advanced Placement government courses and in many introductory colleges in political science, the Associated Press reported. Matthew LeClair noticed statements questioning global warming and implying that climate change -- now accepted by a wide consensus of researchers -- is not reality. The textbook in question is Houghton Mifflin's American Government, by James Q. Wilson and John J. Dilulio Jr., both prominent conservative scholars. The scholars did not respond to inquiries, but the AP reported that the publisher said it had removed some passages and was studying others. The College Board is also reviewing the appropriateness of the text for use in AP courses. LeClair shared his concerns with the Center for Inquiry, a nonprofit group that is critical of religious efforts to restrict science and that center has issued a highly critical report on the textbook. LeClair and others are also questioning the book's statements about separation of church and state.
  • A former student at Yale University is facing charges that he used a fake transcript to earn admission and thus defrauded the university to collect $47,000 in financial aid. An article in The Hartford Courant details how the former student went through an entire year at Yale without being detected. His story apparently fell apart when his then-boyfriend learned his real age (26, not the 21 he was telling people) and then found other details that weren't consistent in his stories about himself. As their relationship ended, the then-ex-boyfriend reported that the fake student threatened to kill himself and the ex reported receiving a threat, at which point he turned to a Yale professor and the police were informed. The story was first reported by The Yale Daily News.
  • The National Association of College and University Business Officers is backing legislation that would end requirements that colleges and other employers keep detailed records on the cell phones and Blackberrys and similar services that they give to employees to show any non-work use of the devices. While a college need not track the use of a college land line for periodic personal use, tax law has never caught up to newer technologies, creating a significant record-keeping burden. NACUBO's president, John Walda, has written to Congress backing legislation that would change the law. "We strongly support this legislation to bring a decades-old policy on cell phone usage in line with today's work environment," Walda wrote.
  • More than 475 employees of Florida's public colleges have "retired" but returned to the payroll, while also collecting retirement benefits, The St. Petersburg Times reported. The news comes at a time that Florida higher education is bracing for major budget cuts.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives education committee will meet today to vote on legislation, unveiled last week but formally introduced Tuesday, aimed at ensuring that students continue to have access to the federal financial aid they need to go to college despite the credit crunch now affecting student loan providers and the broader financial markets.
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