Quick Takes: Stimulus Bill Advances, Obama Revokes Bush Order on Records, Open Access, Crichton College Ends Day Classes, Respite for Missouri Colleges, Community Colleges and Latino Immigrants, Remedial Needs in Pa., Gaza and the UK

January 22, 2009
  • So much for the afterglow. Anyone who thought Tuesday's inauguration of President Obama represented a new era of bipartisanship in Washington would have rued Wednesday's scrum in which the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, along party lines, approved the spending portions of a proposed economic stimulus package. Democrats rebuffed repeated Republican attempts to strip out or shift to other purposes spending that they (Republicans) regarded as wasteful, poorly targeted, or designed to achieve political purposes rather than stimulate the economy. (Several of the GOP amendments would have wiped out money for students and colleges, and some aspects of the bill important to higher education were cited as questionable elements for a stimulus package, including funds for the National Endowment for the Arts.) Republicans repeatedly cited a Congressional Budget Office analysis suggesting that a relatively small fraction of the $825 billion in proposed stimulus funds would actually flow this year, with some not making its way into the economy until 2010. That prompted White House officials to vow that no package would win the president's approval unless 75 percent of the money was spent within 18 months, the Associated Press reported.
  • In one of his early acts in the White House, President Obama revoked an executive order by President Bush that could have been used to limit access to materials from his and other presidencies. Historians had been dismayed by the Bush order -- and they greeted the new order with appreciation.
  • In the latest move of for-profit publishing into open access, Springer on Wednesday announced a deal with the University of California under which the university's researchers who publish with Springer will be able to have completely open access versions of their article appear without separate charges or delays.
  • Crichton College, a small private institution in Memphis, will end all daytime classes after this semester and focus on its continuing education program going forward, citing deteriorating finances, WHBQ television reported. The evangelical Christian college reports having 1,000 students and 34 full-time and 60 adjunct faculty members. "Most small colleges, including ours, depend a great deal on donations as well as tuition, student loans," Larry Lloyd, the president, told local reporters. "We know the student loan market has tightened up. We also know donations are down."
  • With many states about to repeat a time-honored but potentially destructive tradition in bad budget times, Missouri's leaders have reached a tentative deal to go in a different direction. Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday announced that he had reached a deal in which the state's public universities had agreed not to raise tuition in return for his commitment to shield them from budget cuts in the 2010 fiscal year. "To turn this economy around, we must ensure that Missouri’s workforce is trained and prepared for the jobs of the future, and Missouri students must have access to an affordable four-year degree,” Nixon said in announcing the agreement, which was cheered by public college officials and students in the state. Some Republican lawmakers, who control the Legislature who will have to carry out the arrangement protecting higher education, expressed concern that the deal would require deep cuts in other state programs.
  • A new report, "Building Tomorrow's Workforce," highlights the roles of community colleges and employers in educating Latino immigrants and preparing them for better jobs. A key statistic reflects the report's theme that immigrant populations are a key part of the workforce, regardless of whether some politicians like to criticize them. The statistic: During the next decade, one in every four new workers in the United States will be an immigrant from Latin America.
  • One third of freshmen enter Pennsylvania's two-year and four-year public colleges not prepared for college-level math or English and require remedial work to catch up, at a cost to the state of $26 million a year, according to a report released Wednesday by Pennsylvania's education secretary. Gerald L. Zahorchak cited the report as evidence of the need for statewide high school graduation requirements.
  • While the situation in Gaza has calmed somewhat, academic debates in Britain have not. Students at King's College London have taken over a lecture room and are demanding that the university rescind an honorary degree given to Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, award five full scholarships to Palestinian students, and donate any surplus educational materials to educational institutions in Gaza, The Guardian reported.
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