Higher Education Quick Takes
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."
The University of California at San Francisco, a powerhouse in medical education and research, is pushing for much more autonomy from the University of California, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The university says it doesn't want to secede, but does want its own board and to be free of fees it pays the central university. Further, officials question the need to participate in numerous discussions within the university about issues such as undergraduate education, which doesn't exist at UCSF. Officials of the medical campus say that they need the greater independence to focus resources on their programs.
Mountain State University's board on Thursday announced that it had fired Charles H. Polk as president. The Charleston Gazette noted that the West Virginia university had been facing accreditation problems both as an institution and for its nursing program, as well as criticism of Polks 7-figure compensation package.
About 43,000 Americans are enrolled in degree programs outside the United States, with a plurality (44 percent) pursuing master's degrees, 39 percent seeking undergraduate diplomas, and 17 percent in doctoral programs, according to a study released Wednesday by the Institute for International Education. The report, a supplement to the institute's annual Open Doors report on the flow of students into and out of the United States, was done in conjunction with Project Atlas. The leading fields for degree study were the humanities, social sciences, and business and management, and Britain was the top destination.
An Iowa State University professor whose class on applying Biblical principles to business was canceled now says he disagrees with parts of a controversial textbook he planned to use. That book was among the reasons faculty members cited when protesting the course, saying it was inappropriately religious for a public university.
Professor Roger Stover, who declined to speak with Inside Higher Ed for the initial story, wrote Wednesday that his class was to be “a critical evaluation of a popular book’s prescriptions.” The text, Dave Anderson’s How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK: A Biblical Blueprint to Bless Your Business, at one point advises Christians not to go into business with nonbelievers.
In a statement released to Inside Higher Ed Wednesday evening, Stover called that an “extreme recommendation." Stover added that “I professionally disagree with much of the book’s recommendation on borrowing money.”
The professor said he planned to focus his one-credit, independent study class on chapters like “Four Mandates to Maximize Your Time” and “How to Lead Through a Crisis.”
“This was a proposed business management class,” Stover wrote. “These are hardly theological issues – they are management issues.”
Stover’s course was called off after three Iowa State faculty members campaigned against it, saying it violated the separation of church and state. An award-winning finance professor, Stover has been on Iowa State’s faculty since 1979. He said suggestions that he designed the class to preach to students are unfounded.
“My intention was to have the students study academic management literature on the topics of the book and use that background to evaluate whether the author’s suggestions have any merit,” Stover wrote. “This form of inquiry is what business school faculty do all the time. Given the growth of interest in the role of spirituality in business management, our students may well be exposed to this in their career. I feel it is incumbent on us to prepare them for such exposure.”