The office of the chancellor of the California Community College has announced that its review of two-tiered tuition at community colleges in the state has found that the practice would be illegal. The office has been studying the issue since Santa Monica College announced a plan -- since abandoned -- to charge more for some high-demand courses. The chancellor's office consulted with the state attorney general's office on the issue, but a spokeswoman for the chancellor's office said that no formal opinion was requested or provided. But she said that, based on the review and the consultations, the chancellor's office is "comfortable" feeling that two-tiered tuition "is not permissible and is therefore illegal" under California's education code.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Two University of Michigan graduate research assistants have filed a lawsuit against the state over a new law that bars graduate research assistants from unionizing, The Detroit Free Press reported. Republican lawmakers pushed through the legislation just as organizers appeared on the cusp of winning the right to form a union. The suit charges that the law violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection requirements by creating a special class of workers (graduate research assistants) who are denied rights available to other workers.
Annette M. Spicuzza has announced plans to retire as police chief at the University of California at Davis, The Sacramento Bee reported. Spicuzza has been criticized for the use of pepper spray on seated, peaceful students at a protest in November. In an e-mail message, she said: "As the university does not want this incident to be its defining moment, nor do I wish for it to be mine. I believe in order to start the healing process, this chapter of my life must be closed."
The University of California at Berkeley sports program has fallen $270 million short of its fund-raising goal for a renovation of its football stadium, and the university may have to borrow -- and pick up the bond payments -- out of general campus funds, The Wall Street Journal reported. While Berkeley administrators say that any such payments are years away, the prospect of another athletics-related drain on the university's budget agitates faculty members, who have bristled in recent years at significant budget deficits in the athletics program.
The College Board will subsidize Advanced Placement classes in about 200 California high schools in hopes of bringing more of the college-level courses to poorer communities. In part a response to a new state law asking high schools to offer at least five AP classes, the program will provide teacher training and course supplies. The College Board will identify potential new AP classes based on students’ PSAT scores.
Students receive credit (or at least place out of requirements) for high AP test scores at many colleges. But the test takers tend to be whiter and wealthier than the population at large, leading critics to suggest that AP can place poor or minority students at a greater disadvantage. This project targets schools with a high number of students whose test scores suggest they can succeed in AP courses that aren’t offered.
Participating schools must offer the new AP classes for three years starting this fall or next fall. The College Board will then study the results to see if students in those classes are better prepared for college and then consider expanding the program elsewhere.
State leaders in Texas have set admirably ambitious goals for its public colleges and universities, but some of those goals are not compatible, and huge inequities persist across the system, according to a new report by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Higher Education Research. Texas has also failed to understand the "policy tradeoffs" required to make needed improvements, the report said. For example, the state's push to expand the research capacity of its "emerging" universities is an expensive venture at a time when state financial aid has not kept pace with tuition increases. The report is the fourth of a five-state study from the institute.
Complete College America today released a report that diagnoses the failure of the current national approach to remedial education. The study, which includes self-reported data from 31 states, found that students who place into remediation are unlikely to eventually earn a degree or even complete associated college-level courses. Across all sectors, the report found that 30 percent of students who complete remediation don't even attempt credit-bearing "gateway" courses within two years.
Among the fixes proposed by the group, which is at the forefront of the college completion movement, is the report's recommendation that states and colleges end traditional remediation and instead use "co-requisite models." Under this approach, colleges place remedial students into "redesigned first-year, full-credit courses with co-requisite built-in support, just-in-time tutoring, self-paced computer labs with required attendance and the like."
A U.S. Senate panel approved legislation Tuesday that would increase spending on the National Science Foundation by $240 million, or about 3.2 percent, in the 2013 fiscal year. The bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, science, and related agencies would provide $7.3 billion for the NSF. The legislation would also provide a slight cut in funds for science programs at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and a slight increase for the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology.