An article in The New York Times today highlights several recent studies suggesting that education gaps between rich and poor students are growing -- from elementary school through college. At the same time, race-based gaps are narrowing. “We have moved from a society in the 1950s and 1960s, in which race was more consequential than family income, to one today in which family income appears more determinative of educational success than race,” said Sean F. Reardon, a Stanford University sociologist.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A case study of the impact of Pell Grants on Kansas community colleges has found that a higher maximum Pell Grant has led to more students attending college, particularly in rural parts of the state. The study, released today by the University of Alabama Education Policy Center, found that Pell Grant dollars distributed to Kansas students nearly doubled between 2008 and 2010, and that enrollments at community colleges, including the proportion of students attending full time rather than part time, increased as well. In addition, the study found that "maintenance of effort" provisions in the 2009 federal stimulus law were successful at reining in state increases in tuition price.
The case study was part of a larger look at the impact of Pell Grants on rural community colleges published by the center earlier this year. "This report just explodes the myth that the Pell Grant program is an urban program," Stephen Katsinas, the director of the policy center, wrote in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed. "Pell funding made a tremendous difference in Kansas."
When should scholarly associations honor a boycott? The Organization of American Historians is promoting a philosophical discussion of the issue, which has been challenging to many disciplinary associations, in an online discussion that will serve as an introduction to discussion at the OAH's annual meeting this year. Several disciplinary associations -- including the OAH -- have moved meetings because of boycotts of particularly hotels or cities or states. Most disciplinary meetings are set up years in advance, making it difficult to predict where a boycott may be in effect, and last-minute moves can be very expensive to associations, which may be stuck with bills for unused hotels. The online discussion features a sustained conversation among a group of noted historians -- including officers of the OAH and the American Historical Association. While the discussion suggests that participants would see some boycotts as appropriate in some circumstances, many questions are raised about when a disciplinary association should take a stand, and whether it is responsible to do so if such actions would endanger the financial health of the associations. The OAH is now inviting others to join the online discussion.
The board of Kean University on Thursday night heard impassioned speeches in favor of keeping and getting rid of President Dawood Y. Farahi before a lengthy executive session at which no decision was made, The Star-Ledger reported. Farahi has clashed with faculty leaders for years, and has to date had strong backing from his board. But the current debate is over the veracity of numerous résumés for Farahi that show papers that never appear to have been published. Farahi has said that he did not prepare the résumés in question, but that staff members he did not name made the errors when preparing versions of the documents.
At Thursday's meetings, supporters of Farahi accused faculty members of having a vendetta against Farahi and said that they were using the résumé issue. Jose Sanchez, head of social sciences, said he couldn't understand the "hatred" many feel for Farahi. Apparently addressing faculty critics of the president, he said: "It may be a lot of fun for you to do all this, but it is sadistic and wrong." But Ashley Kraus, a junior who spoke at the meeting, read from Kean's academic integrity policy and asked why requirements should apply to students but not administrators. "It’s just wrong. It teaches the wrong morals," she said.
The University of Texas Board of Regents on Thursday adopted tougher rules for post-tenure reviews for faculty members in the university system, The Texas Tribune reported. Tenured faculty members will receive annual reviews as the basis for salary changes, and they will receive "comprehensive reviews" at least once every six years. The annual reviews will lead to one of four rankings: exceeds expectation, meets Expectation, does not meet expectation and unsatisfactory. Faculty members performing poorly will receive guidance on how to improve. Those faculty members who receive two unsatisfactory reviews will get a comprehensive review that could lead -- if improvement does not follow -- to termination for such reasons as lack of competence, neglect of duty or "other good cause."
Some alumni of the Yale University School of Management fear that it is abandoning its unique qualities in a bid to compete with top business schools, Bloomberg reported. Yale's management school -- which didn't offer an M.B.A. until 1999 -- has historically had much more of a focus on preparing leaders for the nonprofit or government world than has been the place at leading business schools. But Yale is also ranked well below the top business schools. A new dean who intends to challenge the top b-schools has set off the concerns. He is Edward Snyder, who was recruited from the University of Chicago.
A contentious lawsuit by a law professor against the dean of the Widener University law school has been settled, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The suit by Lawrence Connell charged that Dean Linda L. Ammons defamed him by making false statements that he was racist and sexist. Connell argued that those statements were made because of his conservative political views. No terms of the settlement were announced, except that Connell no longer works at Widener.
The never-ending saga of the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname and logo has been extended again, with the university tentatively embracing the controversial moniker while a statewide referendum plays itself out, the Associated Press reported. After several years of machinations and stops and starts, the university stopped calling its teams the Fighting Sioux in late 2010 under pressure from the National Collegiate Athletic Association, whose 2005 campaign to end the use of Native American nicknames and mascots considered to be "hostile and abusive" targeted about 20 colleges. At risk was the university's ability to play host to NCAA championships, among other things. But state legislators approved a law last March requiring the university reinstate the Fighting Sioux name, which was promptly repealed in a special legislative session last November, citing the continued threat of NCAA retribution.
Now a group of Fighting Sioux advocates are petitioning to force a statewide vote on the matter, and the university's president said he had reinstated the name and logo to honor the state's referendum process, which mandates that a law must be in effect if it is to be legally challenged. The AP said that state officials would meet soon to decide whether to once again seek legal action to block reinstatement of the law, since the NCAA remains poised to punish North Dakota if the Fighting Sioux nickname is retained.