Is Gov. Brown’s proposal for a public online community college a good idea? Some educators say no

A Brown-heralded online program at San Jose State was abruptly scrapped in 2013 after half the students failed to pass final exams. “What makes education really come alive for students is interaction with instructors and other students,” says Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers… “It’s a misnomer to think that people can’t get over to a college,” he says. “For those who can’t, colleges already offer online opportunities. To create a whole independent college that does just online courses seems counterproductive. I’m not opposed to online education, but schools already offer that stuff.” …But there’s general agreement that community colleges have been snail-slow in developing online courses. And Brown deserves credit for stepping in and trying to do it himself.

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by George Skelton, The Los Angeles Times.

Jerry Brown Proposes Inadequate Higher Education Budget

Nonetheless when it comes to higher education over thirty years of inadequate funding continues to take its toll and Brown’s budgets have at best only held the line, if they have not made things worse. This week the governor released his initial proposal for the 2018-19 fiscal year and it was more of the same… CFA proposed an increase of $422.6 million, which would fund a 5% increase in enrollment. Last year the system turned away one in ten eligible students — some 31,000 people — owing in good measure to inadequate funding. Brown nevertheless proposed an increase of just $92.1 million for the CSU, which amounts to 1.4 percent of the university’s operating budget.

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by Hank Reichman, Academe Blog.

California State University maxes out, turns away more students than ever

California State University turned away more qualified applicants than ever last year — 1 in 10 students, or 31,000 people — even though the state’s Master Plan for Higher Education says they should be admitted… Only six of the 23 CSU campuses have enough room to accommodate all qualified freshmen, while just seven can take all qualified transfer students. Meanwhile, state Education Department records show that the number of high school graduates who qualify for CSU has more than doubled in the past 20 years, to 194,689 students from 96,879. CSU applications are also on the rise.

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by Nanette Asimov, The San Francisco Chronicle.

AFSCME proposes amendment to expel UC Regents by two-thirds vote

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is proposing that Section 9, Article IX of the state constitution be amended to allow the California State Legislature to expel regents following a two-thirds vote of both houses of the legislature. AFSCME created the proposal in December, after student leaders called on Regent Norman Pattiz to step down because of sexual harassment allegations against him, said John de los Angeles, the union’s communications director.

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by Sydney Coneeny, The Daily Bruin.

University presidents: We’ve been blindsided

University presidents say they have been blindsided by charges that they are catering to the wealthy at the same moment that conservatives attack them for elitism, turning their once-untouchable institutions into political punching bags… the sweeping changes to the tax code would still target universities in a way they’ve never been targeted before, taxing the richest private schools’ endowments… Rice University president David Leebron put it this way: “If you go back 15 years, I think universities were held — not where the military is, but pretty much just below that. Now, we’ve fallen a lot.

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by Benjamin Wermund, Politico.

The Republican tax bill saves grad students’ tuition benefits

The final draft of the Republican tax bill kills a proposed tax on tuition waivers. It is a big win for grad and PhD students, and higher ed advocates who opposed the measure. House Republicans’ tax bill included a provision that would count tuition waived by universities as taxable income, meaning that graduate students could be on the hook for thousands of dollars more in taxes each year. Approximately 145,000 graduate students could have been affected by the measure. Student groups held rallies and info sessions on campus, blasted the bill on social media, mailed postcards and letters to lawmakers, and hounded Capitol Hill offices with phone calls. And on November 29, students organized a walkout at about 60 universities to protest the measure.

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by Jen Kirby, Vox News.

Apparent Relief for Grad Students

Lawmakers from the two chambers of Congress agreed to drop provisions that would treat graduate student tuition benefits as taxable income and repeal student loan interest deductions. Both provisions were included in House tax legislation passed last month but left out of a bill that narrowly cleared the Senate Dec. 2. Another provision of that House bill that was reportedly excluded in negotiations would have eliminated interest-free private activity bonds, an alarming prospect for the many private colleges that use the bonds to save on construction of new campus facilities.

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by Andrew Kreighbaum, Inside Higher Ed.

Universities are also to blame for the GOP’s ‘grad student tax’

Graduate students are worried. The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would tax our tuition waivers from universities. For many of us, this would drastically inflate our tax obligations… For good reason, the debate over this proposal has thus far focused on Republicans in Congress. University administrations have urged graduate students to join them in lobbying against the change… It’s not the norm for PhD students to pay any tuition.

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by Sarah Arveson, The Washington Post.

Elitists, crybabies and junky degrees A Trump supporter explains rising conservative anger at American universities.

… “Why does a kid go to a major university these days?” said Antenori, 51, a former Green Beret who served in the Arizona state legislature. “A lot of Republicans would say they go there to get brainwashed and learn how to become activists and basically go out in the world and cause trouble.” … Adjusted for inflation, states spent $5.7 billion less on public higher education last year than in 2008, even though they were educating more than 800,000 additional students, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association… Education advocates worry that conservative disdain threatens to undermine universities.In July, a Pew Research Center study found that 58 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents believe colleges and universities have a negative effect “on the way things are going in the country,” up from 37 percent two years ago. Among Democrats, by contrast, 72 percent said they have a positive impact.

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by Kevin Sullivan, Mary Jordan, The Washington Post.

Doctoring an Audit

The University of California Office of the President interfered with an audit of the institution by tampering with the results of surveys sent out to various campuses, an independent investigation is expected to say today. The special investigation into the allegations, which surfaced last spring after the state auditor declared the parts of the audit unusable and tainted because of unauthorized tampering by the Office of the President, is expected to contradict testimony UC President Janet Napolitano gave to lawmakers and acknowledge her role in approving the plan that led to the tampering — though it is not expected to find her at fault. Two of her aides — her chief of staff and deputy chief of staff — resigned earlier this month, more than a year after the original tampering effort first started.

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by Nick Roll, Inside Higher Ed.