Secretary DeVos Applauds Consensus on Higher Education Reforms

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos welcomed news today that the committee debating her proposed “Accreditation and Innovation” higher education reforms reached consensus on the text of the draft rules. The package of higher education regulations is aimed at rethinking higher education to improve outcomes and accountability for students, institutions and taxpayers. The draft regulations, which will next be published for public comment, come after months of negotiated rulemaking that engaged a wide variety of higher education stakeholders.

“Today’s historic action proves just how much can be accomplished on behalf of students when we put their needs above all else,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “Rethinking higher education required each person at the negotiating table to challenge assumptions and examine past practice in order to better serve students. I commend them for doing just that.

“The committee recognized that higher education has changed in many ways since the last reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, including in the use of innovative technologies. These changes will allow students to work at their own pace to earn a college degree, obtain credit for proving what they already know and earn a credential aligned with employers’ job requirements.  The new policies and procedures will also work against unnecessary credential inflation that drives up cost and reduces the opportunity for low-income students to prepare for certain jobs.

Full story at ed.gov

Study: Public Universities Prioritize Out-of-State, Wealthy, White Students

SOME PUBLIC universities disproportionately direct their recruiting efforts on out-of-state students from affluent, white communities and private schools, a new study shows, adding fuel to an increasingly fiery debate about inequity within higher education that colleges and universities have been trying to sidestep for years.

“In contrast to rhetoric from university leaders, our findings suggest strong socioeconomic and racial biases in the enrollment priorities of many public research universities,” researchers wrote.

“A small number of universities exhibit recruiting patterns broadly consistent with the historical mission of social mobility for meritorious state residents,” they said. “However, most universities concentrated recruiting visits in wealthy, out-of-state communities while also privileging affluent schools in in-state visits.”

Full story at US News

Study: Public Universities Prioritize Out-of-State, Wealthy, White Students

SOME PUBLIC universities disproportionately direct their recruiting efforts on out-of-state students from affluent, white communities and private schools, a new study shows, adding fuel to an increasingly fiery debate about inequity within higher education that colleges and universities have been trying to sidestep for years.

“In contrast to rhetoric from university leaders, our findings suggest strong socioeconomic and racial biases in the enrollment priorities of many public research universities,” researchers wrote.

“A small number of universities exhibit recruiting patterns broadly consistent with the historical mission of social mobility for meritorious state residents,” they said. “However, most universities concentrated recruiting visits in wealthy, out-of-state communities while also privileging affluent schools in in-state visits.”

Full story at US News

Secretary DeVos Issues Statement on President Trump’s Higher Education Executive Order

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement today on President Trump’s Executive Order on “Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities”:

“All students should have access to relevant, accurate, and transparent data when making decisions about their education. President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order on ‘Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities’ once again demonstrates this Administration’s commitment to supporting and empowering students with meaningful resources as they pursue their life-long learning journeys and future careers.

“Per the Executive Order, the Department will continue its efforts to update the College Scorecard so that it includes clear information on the cost of college, expected earnings after graduation, and student loan repayment rates. We will also continue our Federal Student Aid modernization efforts that began with the launch of our first ever mobile app.  Right now, students can use the app to complete the FAFSA. And, building on the President’s directive, the app’s capabilities will expand to give students access to information about loan balances, payments, and repayment options right at their fingertips. We believe that these important reforms, along with the Department’s ambitious negotiated rule making agenda, will make college more affordable, break down barriers to innovation in higher education, and encourage new approaches and new partnerships for the benefit of students.

Full story at ed.gov

U.S. Mathematician Becomes First Woman To Win Abel Prize, ‘Math’s Nobel’

“I find that I am bored with anything I understand,” Karen Uhlenbeck once said – and that sense of curiosity is part of why she won the prestigious Abel Prize, from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

Uhlenbeck, an influential mathematician who was for decades a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and who has sought to encourage women to study mathematics, has become the first woman to win the Abel Prize — often called the Nobel Prize of math.

Uhlenbeck’s complex and wide-ranging work includes analyzing the “minimal surfaces” of soap bubbles and finding ways to unite geometry and physics through new mathematical approaches. She’s widely respected for her work on esoteric topics, such as partial differential equations and the calculus of variations.

Full story at NPR

Secretary DeVos Issues Statement on Higher Education Act Reform Principles Introduced During National Council for the American Worker Meeting

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement on the Administration’s Higher Education Act reform principles released during today’s meeting of the National Council for the American Worker:

“To meet the needs of our nation’s students and our growing economy, we must rethink higher education. Right now, there are 7.3 million unfilled jobs in the United States, yet too many Americans remain out of the workforce because they lack the skills necessary to seize these opportunities. We must do better for our students and workers. There should be multiple educational pathways to a successful career, and the federal government shouldn’t pick winners and losers amongst them. At the same time, higher education should be more affordable, nimble and relevant. Institutions of higher education need to be freed-up to implement new ideas that could fill the many gaps between education and the economy. The Department of Education is currently leading that effort through ambitious negotiated rule making which seeks to break down the barriers to innovation in higher education and encourage new approaches and new partnerships.

Full story at ed.gov

White Privilege and the College Admissions Scandal

“WHAT WE DO IS WE HELP the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school.”

William Rick Singer, a Newport Beach, California-based college admissions expert, wasted no time cutting to the chase in a conversation with a parent, which the FBI recorded last June.

“They want guarantees, they want this thing done. They don’t want to be messing around with this thing. And so they want in at certain schools. So I did 761 what I would call, ‘side doors.'”

He elaborated: “There is a front door which means you get in on your own. The back door is through institutional advancement, which is ten times as much money. And I’ve created this side door in.”

Full story at US News

U.S. Department of Education Finds ESEA Restriction on Religious Organizations Unconstitutional, Will No Longer Enforce

WASHINGTON—U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today at the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) State Directors Annual Meeting that the Department will no longer enforce a restriction barring religious organizations from serving as contract providers of equitable services solely due to their religious affiliation.

The U.S. Department of Education, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Justice, determined the statutory provisions in Section 1117(d)(2)(B) and 8501(d)(2)(B) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that require an equitable services provider to “be independent of … any religious organization” are unconstitutional because they categorically exclude religious organizations based solely on their religious identity.

These provisions run counter to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, 137 S. Ct. 2012 (2017) that, under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, otherwise eligible recipients cannot be disqualified from a public benefit solely because of their religious character.

Full story at ed.gov

In Oregon, a Lawsuit Aimed at Supporting Disabled Students

A FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND lawsuit charging that the state of Oregon has failed to provide full school days to students with mental, emotional and behavioral disabilities could create a model for other states to stop the practice of shortening school days.

The class action lawsuit – filed Jan. 22 in U.S. district court by Disability Rights Oregon and other groups – says Oregon violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by the “unnecessary segregation” of children with disabilities. The lawsuit alleges that schools in Oregon, mainly in rural areas, send students home on a regular, sometimes daily basis, for all or parts of the school day, citing behavior issues or safety concerns stemming from behavioral, mental and emotional disorders such as autism.

Joel Greenberg, a Disability Rights Oregon attorney, says the practice often makes disabled students feel “that they don’t belong in school.”

Full story at US News

Teachers Union Launches National Education-Funding Campaign

THE AMERICAN FEDERATION of Teachers, the 1.7 million-member teachers union, announced a major education initiative Monday aimed at pressing lawmakers in state capitals and Congress to increase funding for public schools and universities.

The move, which includes a six-figure advertising campaign, further catapults to the national stage the educator unrest that’s unfurled across the country as teachers take to the picket lines to protest underfunded school systems, low pay, overcrowded classes and lack of resources for special education and support staff, including nurses, librarians and school counselors.

“You’ve seen a growing frustration of parents and students and educators sweeping the nation,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said Monday. “While those have been very inspiring sparks, we are having funding fights in virtually every state capital and in Washington, D.C. And the root cause of every single one of those teacher walkouts that have been roiling the country is the lack of appropriate investments.”

Full story at US News