Higher Education Quick Takes
Joe Paterno, the former Pennsylvania State University football coach whose career was ended and reputation tarnished over an explosive sex abuse scandal, died Sunday morning at the age of 85 from complications resulting from lung cancer. Paterno's health deteriorated rapidly after the Penn State Board of Trustees fired him, along with President Graham B. Spanier, for not doing more when informed that his former assistant of 16 years may have been sexually abusing young boys.
The winningest coach in Division I history, Paterno was widely respected and known for imparting to players the importance of ethical behavior and academic success. Just last week, The Washington Post published Paterno's first interview since his dismissal, in which he said he didn't follow up on the allegations against Jerry Sandusky -- the coach relayed what he'd heard to his superiors, but not police -- because he "didn't know exactly how to handle it." In one of the few comments Paterno made as the scandal was unfolding, he said, "I wish I had done more."
The university, which has been criticized by some alumni for its treatment of Paterno, issued a statement Sunday that made no mention of the scandal. The statement said: "We grieve for the loss of Joe Paterno, a great man who made us a greater university. His dedication to ensuring his players were successful both on the field and in life is legendary and his commitment to education is unmatched in college football. His life, work and generosity will be remembered always." The university also reiterated plans to honor Paterno.
An annual survey of the status of women in intercollegiate athletics finds record numbers of female athletes and teams, coaches and administrators in college programs. But the survey, conducted for the 35th year by two emerita professors at Brooklyn College, also finds that the proportion of head coaches of women's teams who are female has fallen below 50 percent, compared to about 90 percent in 1972, when Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was enacted. The report, produced by Linda Jean Carpenter and R. Vivian Acosta, contains a slew of data, on everything from players to strength coaches to trainers for women's teams.
In a decision disappointing to many Christian and Roman Catholic colleges, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that while religiously affiliated employers would have an additional year to comply with a new rule requiring health insurance plans to cover birth control with no cost-sharing or co-pays, the definition of religious employers completely exempt from the requirement will not change. The exemption covers houses of worship but is worded narrowly enough to exclude religiously affiliated groups, including colleges. Two colleges have sued over the requirement.
The Los Angeles Times continues to uncover problems in the management of building projects by the Los Angeles Community College District. The latest discovery: The company hired by the district to oversee $450 million in spending on the campus of Mission College took consulting fees from one of the contractors whose work it was supposed to be monitoring. While it was taking the consulting fees, the company signed off on payments to the contractor -- over the objections of architects and engineers who believed the billing was excessive.
Lt. Governor Sheila Simon of Illinois on Thursday announced a proposed reform package aimed at improving the 20 percent graduation rate for the state's community colleges. In a speech and accompanying report, Simon, who is the governor's point person on education, made the case for performance-based funding and the creation of publicly available report cards that would evaluate each college's progress toward completion goals. And in order to ease the remedial math pressure on two-year colleges, she recommended that public high school students be required to take four years of math to graduate.
Thursday protests at the University of California at Riverside that for much of the afternoon seemed to be heading toward an ugly conclusion ended with reports of some violence. Campus police had warned students multiple times earlier in the afternoon that they would use force against protesters if they didn’t back off, but that was hours before things escalated as the regents prepared to leave. Dozens of campus police officers in riot gear lined up outside the building, and later, students carried barricades and followed a long line of sheriffs marching into the building to escort the regents out. During the live stream, students said police used rubber bullets and batons against students, and at least one person was arrested. The Occupy protesters delayed the start of the UC Board of Regents meeting for about an hour, The Daily Californian reported. The students were protesting rising tuition and student debt, "privatization of higher education," and low pay for professors; some on the campus estimated that up to 2,000 students showed up. In November, UC Regents first called off meetings entirely, citing safety concerns over the planned protests, then tried to hold them via teleconference but ended prematurely when protesters made it impossible to hear. was this the resumption of the meetings that were called off then? dl *** it was a scheduled meeting but yes, I suppose they would have been continuing those previous meetings (which they actually tried to have via teleconference -ag.
One of the holy grails for some players in the student learning outcomes movement is an assessment of an individual's skills or learning that employers might eventually accept in lieu of a college-awarded credential. Several major testing organizations have been building individualized versions of instruments that are most commonly used as institutional measures, and Thursday two of them -- ETS and the Council for Aid to Education -- announced that they were making those tests available to individuals through StraighterLine, which has made a name for itself to date by offering low-cost, online courses directly to students. Under the new arrangement, known as MyLine, beginning next fall students will be able to take ETS's Proficiency Profile and iSkills assessments or CAE's Collegiate Learning Assessment to try to prove their abilities to think critically, solve problems, or do the other things the tests aim to measure.
Officials of the companies -- which tend to sell their assessment products directly to institutions -- said via e-mail that StraighterLine was not the only channel they would use to offer the individualized versions of the assessments directly to students. "We want to deal more directly with learners in the future and we will," said Tom Ewing, a spokesman for ETS. "However, this agreement with StraighterLine allows us to gauge the interest and demand for such products and services, and to do so in cooperation with a company that already occupies that space."
A federal panel continued Thursday to discuss ways to measure program quality at teacher education programs, the second of three days of discussion to kick off the process aimed at recommending new rules to govern how the nation's teachers are trained. The conversations, part of the Obama administration's push to change teacher education, focused on what information states should be required, or encouraged, to collect on teacher preparation programs, and what those programs should have to tell their students if they are considered unsuccessful and forced to shut down. But a central question, as yet unanswered, is whether the Education Department can dictate the states' evaluation criteria at all.
Meetings continue today, when the panel will tackle the definition of a "high-quality teacher preparation program."