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A recent New York Times op-ed blames the rules and regulations of the federal Pell Grant program for many of our nation’s higher education access and completion problems. The emphasis on that relatively small technical issue distracts from a much more important point: the Pell Grant – which currently maxes out at $5,645 for the academic year – is not nearly enough to cover college costs for any of its recipients. That is the key issue legislators must grapple with when thinking about how to raise graduation rates.
Public and private colleges and universities continue to struggle with the many issues involved in changing their mascot since the National Collegiate Athletic Association enacted a policy banning “hostile and abusive” mascots, nicknames or imagery at NCAA championships -- a prohibition that largely forced changes at institutions that used Native American names or imagery.
Give high school students Pell Grants to pay for college courses. Have students earn federal student aid based on how much they learn, rather than the amount of time they spend in class. These are some of the ideas the U.S. Department of Education would like to see tested at colleges willing to be "experimental sites" for the delivery of federal student aid, according to a Federal Register notice published last week. A letter of invitation and a blog post by department officials outlined more details on how the program would work.
Advocates for adjunct instructors at Catholic colleges have begun accusing the colleges of defying the church's own teachings by exploiting instructors who work off the tenure track and by opposing their unionization in petitions and newspaper opinion pieces. Associations that represent Catholic colleges have argued, however, that the institutions should be allowed to decide for themselves, on the basis of economic and other considerations, whether to let their adjuncts unionize. They also argue that adjunct unionization threatens the colleges' religious freedom if it occurs through unwelcome involvement by the National Labor Relations Board in their union elections and labor affairs.
A group of faculty members at Brandeis University reccomends restarting a partnership with a Palestinian university. Brandeis severed ties with Al-Quds University last month over the Palestinian institution’s handling of a controversial campus protest in which demonstrators raised a traditional Nazi salute and honored “martyred” suicide bombers. But the three faculty members, who are affiliated with Brandeis’s International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, said in a fact-finding report that administrators at Al-Quds had responded “promptly and appropriately” to the November 5 rally.
For this winter’s Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities' symposium, starting on Monday in Washington, the association holds its inaugural “State of the Workforce Symposium,” focused on employment trends, the “skills gap,” and how colleges (and not just for-profit ones) can prepare the work force. Speakers include economists from George Washington University and the RAND Corporation, a former president of the Service Employees International Union, advocates for veterans, chief executive officers from employers like Siemens, and representatives of nonprofit education associations. The theme is likely to return for years to come.
The administration of Seattle University, a Roman Catholic institution, has moved to head off the unionization of its contingent faculty members by announcing its opposition to any such organizing effort.
Some private colleges that managed to weather the recession are finding new troubles. So they are announcing layoffs, cutting programs and more. Almost all of these small to mid-sized privates are tuition-dependent and lack large endowments. National declines in the number of traditional college-age population mean students just aren't showing up to privates, which are facing competition from public colleges that are more stable now than a few years ago and the reality that privates cannot afford to indefinitely lure students by cutting prices with generous financial aid packages.
Is the point of public higher education to sort out those who can achieve at a predetermined level from those who can’t? If this is its purpose -- replacing an aristocracy of money with an aristocracy of talent -- then relatively high attrition rates are just signs of rigor. Another school of thought holds that -- to put it bluntly -- degrees create jobs. I’ll call this the Everybody Gets a Trophy camp. These folks point out, correctly, that in the aggregate, college graduates have higher incomes, longer lives, lower divorce rates, and lower incarceration rates than non-grads.
Higher education is for everyone. And every single student in Montana needs to hear that message. Unfortunately, some are not. Some students are being told, implicitly or explicitly, that college isn’t the best post-graduation option for them. As a consequence, instead of deciding which route to higher education to pursue, some Montana high school seniors are trying to decide whether to pursue higher education at all.
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