Quick Takes: New Twist on Immigrant Students in NC, Higher Ed Act Update, Black Male Pipeline, 'Last Lecture' Prof Dies at 47, Accreditor Blasts Governance at Oakland CC, First ADA Settlement for For-Profits, Not Guilty but Not Reinstated

July 28, 2008
  • In May, the North Carolina Community College System banned students who could not document legal immigration status from enrolling, but last week the legal rationale for that decision apparently fell apart. In barring the students, the system cited a recommendation of the state's attorney general, who said it would be illegal under federal law to enroll such students. On Friday, however, the system released letters from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to the state attorney general saying that such enrollments were not necessarily illegal, and a letter from the attorney general's office stating that -- based on the federal letter -- it appeared the state community college system was not barred from admitting these students after all. The community college system also released statements indicating that the ban would remain in place for now, but would be discussed by the state community college board soon, based on the new letters.
  • Lawmakers and staff members from the U.S. Senate and House education committees have reportedly reached agreement on a new version of legislation to renew the Higher Education Act, resolving -- at least for the time being-- two deeply divisive issues. The draft legislation circulated over the weekend would discourage states from cutting their funding for higher education, but would not punish those that do so, as advocates for public colleges have sought. (Supporters of the idea of requiring states to maintain their spending insisted that the battle is not over.) The legislation would also create a separate grant program for master's-level programs at predominantly black colleges, rather than letting those colleges participate in an existing federal program for historically black colleges and universities. The latest draft would also drop a specific requirement that colleges notify all students and staff of a campus emergency within 30 minutes (it would continue to require "immediate" notification unless campus officials believe such a notification would do more harm than good), and it includes a provision that gives for-profit colleges added flexibility in meeting a federal requirement that at least 10 percent of their revenues come from other than federal sources. Representatives of the House and Senate could be appointed this week to consider the compromise legislation, but it remains a live possibility that Congress will not reach agreement on the bill before it goes into recess in August, which could push consideration of the measure back until after the November election.
  • A new analysis shows just how poorly many states are doing at graduating black males from high school. The Schott Foundation for Public Education last week released an "education inequity index," comparing black male and white male graduation rates for high school -- and the figures may be chilling for colleges hoping to boost black male enrollments. Nationally only 47 percent of black male students are graduating from high school with their cohorts, and in 10 states, the gap in black male and white male graduation rates is at least 30 points, let by Wisconsin, where the black male rate is 36 percent and the white male rate is 87 percent. Michigan, Illinois and Nebraska also have gaps of more than 40 percentage points. The states with the narrowest gaps (or none) tend to be states where there are relatively few black students, Vermont and Maine for example.
  • Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University whose "last lecture" in 2007 -- prompted by his diagnosis of having three to six months to live -- died at the age of 47. The lecture became a hit on YouTube, prompting numerous appearances by Pausch and inspiring millions. A university announcement has links to the speech and details about Pausch's life.
  • The board of Oakland Community College, in Michigan, "dabbles in micromanagement," and doesn't know how to have constructive discussions, its accreditor has found. Crain's Business Detroit reported that the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools linked poor governance to controversies over management, saying that the board must "learn how to argue, debate and disagree intellectually." The board chairwoman told the newspaper that when the accrediting team was visiting, some board members were "very disgraceful" and "didn't act professionally."
  • The U.S. Justice Department on Friday announced a settlement with the Education Management Corporation under which the company will take steps to remove barriers for people with disabilities at 19 Brown Mackie College campuses that the company owns. The agreement is the first by the Justice Department involving for-profit higher education.
  • The College of Lake County, in Illinois, will not reinstate an instructor who was dismissed after an allegation that he sexually assaulted a student -- even though that charge has been established as false, The Daily Herald reported. The student who made the accusation admitted fabricating the story, but college officials will not say why they won't reinstate the instructor.
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