Quick Takes: Obama's Pick for OCR, UNC Greensboro Ends Laptop Requirement, $6.5B More for NIH Added to Stimulus, Condi Rice Turns Down Pac-10

February 5, 2009
  • President Obama on Wednesday nominated Russlynn Ali as assistant secretary of education for civil rights. Ali is vice president of Education Trust and executive director of Education Trust-West, and has previously held positions at the Children's Defense Fund and with the Los Angeles public school system. Most of her work has focused on the ways that disadvantaged children -- many of them from minority groups -- receive poor elementary and secondary school educations. This op-ed in the Los Angeles Times reflect her work to combat the "achievement gap" in educational preparation. The Office for Civil Rights, which Ali will lead, was controversial in the Bush administration for its positions expressing skepticism of affirmative action and its push to make it easier for colleges to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. While Ali has not been a vocal participant on such debates, advocates for affirmative action and women's athletics are expecting to find OCR more agreeable under her leadership.
  • Citing costs, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is ending a requirement that all undergraduates have a laptop.
  • As the Senate continued its consideration of its version of the economic stimulus package, and Republicans pushed to transform the legislation to focus more on tax cuts and less on spending, lawmakers actually went in the opposite direction, to the delight of advocates for biomedical research. The Senate approved an amendment late Tuesday (sponsored by Sens. Tom Harkin, Richard Durbin and Arlen Specter) to add $6.5 billion in research spending at the National Institutes of Health.
  • Condoleezza Rice, until recently secretary of state, is known as a serious sports fan -- serious enough that she was approached about becoming commissioner of the Pac-10 Conference, The Seattle Times reported. She turned down the offer, however, and is sticking with her plans to return to Stanford University.
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