WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Education Department announced in today's Federal Register that it would hold a series of negotiations aimed at developing new regulations to govern teacher education programs and to define how states should assess the performance of such programs. The agency had announced in May that it would conduct a new round of negotiated rule making, but it did not identify the topics at that time. This month, the Obama administration said it would pursue a new approach to overseeing teacher education programs, with the primary aim of directing aid to those that graduate the teachers who produce the most successful outcomes in the students they teach. The new round of negotiated rule making -- which in recent years have been increasingly fractious over topics such as accreditation and the integrity of financial aid programs -- is set to begin in January.
Higher Education Quick Takes
You may have heard that Smith College was about to ban meat from campus, but don't worry about it -- just present a good argument. That's because the report that the college was going to ban meat and non-locally produced food was never true, but was a rumor started by two professors who teach a course on logic, and who like to spread semi-outrageous rumors to teach lessons about how to make arguments, The Boston Globe reported. Many Smith students believed the rumors and were outraged by the prospect of losing meat options and that staple of most college students, coffee (which isn't grown in New England).
The College Board and the Educational Testing Service have hired a top security firm to review SAT security, and the two organizations will consider any changes that inquiry recommends, the Associated Press reported. The news came Tuesday at a New York State legislative hearing on SAT security, scheduled in the wake of arrests of Long Island students charged with having someone else take the SAT in their names. Lawmakers have suggested that security needs more scrutiny, noting that one of the students arrested was a woman who is alleged to have had a man take her exam.
Trustees of public and private colleges are generally well engaged with the institutions on whose boards they serve, but could also benefit from more education, according to a study released Tuesday by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.
While the findings were generally positive, one concern identified was in risk assessment. The AGB study found that only about one-third of all boards have a formal process for comprehensive risk assessment. The top areas for risk assessment include finances, compliance, facilities, and campus security.
The Student Aid Alliance, a group of 74 higher education associations, advocacy groups and other organizations, announced a lobbying campaign Monday to fight possible cuts to federal financial aid as the Congressional committee on deficit reduction enters the final month before its Nov. 24 deadline.
Pell Grants are considered a possible target of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, known as the "super committee," which is charged with cutting $1.2 trillion from the long-term deficit before Thanksgiving. In a statement of support intended to be signed by college presidents, faculty members, associations and others, the alliance said that, given the tough economy, it is "more important than ever to preserve, protect and provide adequate funding for the core federal student aid programs -- such as Pell Grants and student loan benefits." By the end of the business day Monday, it had 618 signatures and was quickly growing. The campaign is also urging members to contact their Congressional representatives to discuss federal aid programs. The drive came amid reports that the White House will announce new measures Wednesday aimed at helping student loan borrowers -- focused on letting more of them consolidate their loans at a savings.
Steven Maranville has sued Utah Valley University, charging it with breach of contract after he left a tenured appointment with the University of Houston to teach at Utah Valley and then was told after a one-year probationary period that his style was not working with students, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The suit charges that the decision was based inappropriately on student complaints. The university has said that it will defend itself against the suit, but has not provided details of its perspective on the issues.
Some faculty members at the University of Sydney are calling for officials to call off a campus event with Israeli scientists, saying that such a program would offend Muslim students, The Australian reported. An e-mail circulated among faculty members said that Israeli universities are complicit in government mistreatment of the Palestinians, and that Israeli universities should teach in Arabic. Organizers of the event with Israeli scientists note that another such event is planned with Arab scientists. Manuel Graeber, a neuroscientist at the university, e-mailed colleagues in defense of the planned program. "The event with Israel should go ahead exactly as planned," he wrote. "There is absolutely nothing questionable about it. Academics must not be held hostage by ideologies."
The number of first-time applicants to medical school increased by 2.6 percent in 2011, to 32,654, the Association of American Medical Colleges reported on Monday. The AAMC also reported an increase of 3 percent, to 19,230, in the entering class in 2011. Medical educators have been pushing for increases in enrollments, citing projected physician shortages in the years ahead, especially in general medical fields.
Enrollment increases were also reported this month by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, which found that total enrollment at osteopathic medical colleges now tops 20,600, a 6.5 percent increase.
Adjuncts at Northern Michigan University have voted to join a union of tenured and tenure-track faculty members. The expanded unit is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors. The vote of adjuncts to join the union was 54-5. That means that about 100 adjuncts will join the roughly 300 faculty members already in the union.