If one more Republican senator abandons Betsy DeVos, her nomination will likely fail

Two moderate Republican senators plan to vote against education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos — the first Republican defections that seriously endanger confirmation of one of President Trump’s Cabinet nominees. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) both said on the Senate floor Wednesday that they ultimately would vote against DeVos… This level of opposition is unprecedented for education secretary nominees, who usually sail through the Senate confirmation process with little pushback. But DeVos, a billionaire Republican donor with scant experience with traditional public schools, has sparked an overwhelming response from activists, who have flooded the Senate switchboard with calls and showed up to protests in at least three cities over the weekend.

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by Libby Nelson, Vox.

Campus admin, UC professor discuss future of public university system

The idea was to have a public discussion about the way the university is envisioning their future,” said Michael Burawoy, event organizer and Berkeley Faculty Association co-chair. “That is, of course, particularly pertinent when the federal government shows no interest in public education.” … Newfield advocated for a return to free tuition for all in-state students. Total undergraduate tuition would cost the state 300 million dollars a year — less than 10 percent of total tuition revenue, according to Newfield… Christ argued that free tuition is an unrealistic goal to strive for within the current California tax structure and that the conversation should instead revolve around the proportion of those who can and cannot pay tuition.

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by Audrey McNamara, The Daily Californian.

Public Higher Education: Free Tuition for California Students to the UC, CSU and Community College Systems Is Possible Today

In 1960, lawmakers created the Master Plan for Higher Education, which was originally committed to free tuition for all Californians pursuing education in California’s community colleges, the 23-campus California State University system, and the 10-campus University of California. Highly successful in building a system with the best public universities in the world, the plan quickly became a key component of the state-funded infrastructure that has made California the sixth largest economy in the world. Beginning around 2000, this public model increasingly shifted to one in which higher education has been viewed as a commodity. State funds have been slashed and replaced with billions in student debt as tuition and other fees have risen dramatically. The “reset” proposal described in the paper would restore state per-student funding to the three-segment public higher education system to the level it received in 2000-2001 while ending tuition and mandatory fees.

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by The Council of UC Faculty Associations, San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center.

Senate panel votes in favor of Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary pick

A Senate panel on Tuesday narrowly voted in favor of President Trump’s nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, sending her nomination to the full Senate for final approval. All 12 Republicans on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions voted in favor of sending her nomination to the Senate floor, while all 11 Democrats voted against… Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), made clear that they have not yet decided how they will vote on the floor, suggesting that DeVos’s confirmation is not yet assured… Alexander decided to hold Tuesday’s vote over objections from Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the committee’s ranking Democrat, who sought a delay to ask more questions of DeVos.

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by Emma Brown and Moriah Balingit, The Washington Post.

Trump’s immigration ban is already having a chilling effect on science

For researchers like them, who attend many international scientific conferences a year, restrictions on travel will take a heavy toll on crucial collaborations with other scientists from around the world, not to mention their personal lives. The online petition they launched on Friday (https://notoimmigrationban.com/), where their peers in academia can voice their opposition to the ban, now has more than 7,000 names, including 40 Nobel laureates. It calls the executive order discriminatory and unduly burdensome for the people affected — but it also describes how much it will hurt “American leadership in higher education and research.”

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by Julia Belluz, Vox.

Study says free college education in California could be easily accomplished

A new study released this week says that California can offer tuition-free college to its residents, and for half of taxpayers the cost would be $48 or less per year. “The $48 Fix: Reclaiming California’s Master Plan for higher education,” was released on Tuesday, touted by its authors and by the California Faculty Association as a way to get the state’s college system back on track… The study’s reference to the Master Plan, refers to the 1960 blueprint adopted when Gov. Pat Brown, the current governor’s father, was in the statehouse. It established a program for community colleges, Cal State universities and the UC schools, that provided access to students based on their standing after high school graduation. There was to be no cost for tuition.

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by Mark Muckenfuss, The Press Enterprise.

Thousands flood Senate phone lines seeking to halt confirmation of DeVos

Senators’ offices have been flooded with thousands of calls and letters opposing the nomination of Betsy DeVos — with some Democratic offices saying the opposition to DeVos is stronger than for any other Cabinet nominee… DeVos is a GOP mega-donor and education advocate who has long been a top target for Democrats. But her shaky performance during her confirmation hearing last week, in which she appeared to be confused about federal special education law and referenced a Wyoming school with grizzly bears when discussing gun policy, appears to have emboldened her critics… Still, DeVos maintains a high level of support among Republicans, and she’s expected to be confirmed by the Senate.

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by Kimberly Hefling, Politico.

Californians Favor Higher Taxes over Higher Tuition

Today, when many policy preferences are often divided along party lines, there is partisan consensus on this issue: at least 70% of Californians across parties say they would be unwilling to increase student fees to fund higher education. Indeed, less than a third of Californians across all regions and demographic groups say they would be willing to increase student fees. At the same time, a majority of Californians (67%) believe that the current level of state funding for public colleges and universities is inadequate. So what are Californians willing to do to increase funding for public higher education? Overall, they are twice as likely to say they are willing to pay higher taxes as to say they are willing to increase student fees (48% to 23%).

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by Lunna Lopes, PPIC.

A master plan for free tuition

California has continued to decrease the budget for higher education across all three higher education sections; the community colleges, CSUs and UCs. The privatization of education, which is the shift of making higher education a societal obligation to one that is funded by students, their families or private funding, has negatively impacted the education outcomes of California students, according to the report… “The $48 fix paper being released today helps chart a path forward, a solution if you will, for our students and for California,” Eagan said.

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by Josselyne Rivas, The Sundial.

Reports Argue for Changes to California Higher Ed

One report, from the Reclaim California Higher Education Coalition, argues for restoring per-student state funding to 2000 levels after adjusting for inflation, for offering all students seats and for eliminating tuition in order to return California to the original spirit of its vaunted Master Plan for Higher Education. Such moves would only cost the median California household $48 per year in additional state income tax, it says… The other report, from College Futures Foundation, says California should change the way it funds its public university systems and makes financial decisions about them. The report notably calls for reform in revenue stability and predictability…

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by Rick Seltzer, Inside Higher Ed.