Govenor Brown Suggests Ways to Save Community Colleges

Here’s an interesting little tidbit I found in the news today.

Governor Jerry Brown thinks the idea of paying for grades might be just the ticket to saving our community colleges.

The governor has suggested several ways to change community colleges. Restricting how many units a person can earn is one. Another is to pay students for finishing their course work.

Although nothing is final yet, Brown’s idea is to kick back money to students who finish their courses with good grades.

A unit that now costs students $49, could get a $10 rebate or more.

Studies show that the sooner students finish their classes, the better their chance of graduating.

Via KGO-TV/DT.

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U.S. Education Dept. Offers Tools for Evaluating Ed. Tech.

Education technology, to state the obvious, is everywhere. But how can school officials judge the effectiveness of the myriad tools and products being marketed to them, and their usefulness in terms of meeting the particular needs of teachers and students?

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology has released a draft report, “Expanding Evidence Approaches for Learning in a Digital World,” designed to offer the education community some guidance for navigating the crowded tech landscape.

The report is meant to provide approaches for school officials and others seeking to gather evidence on digital learning systems, guidance that can be adapted to the needs of individual schools and districts. The document draws from the perspectives of education researchers, school technology developers, and educators themselves.

The report was released earlier this month in draft form for public comment, Karen Cator, the director of the office of educational technology, explained in an e-mail. Cator also discussed the goals of the document in a recent online blog post.

The document includes a “framework” meant to help educators and others evaluate the uses of education technology. One of the goals of the framework is to give school officials “greater confidence that investments in cost-effective and cost-saving technology-based interventions are wise, capable producing the outcomes sought,” the report says.

That framework includes an evidence “reference guide,” which focuses primarily on six approaches for using evidence to evaluate school technology, as well as other approaches commmonly used in education. It presents readers with an evidence “decision-making model,” that can be used to gather evidence on digital learning resources, once they have been selected, so that they can be implemented effectively. (Read more.)

Via Sean Cavanagh, Education Week.

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Civic Group Challenges Shared Governance at Calif. Community Colleges

The Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges should amend regulations that permit faculty senates to exercise excessive power in decision making at the state’s community colleges, argues a legal challenge submitted to the board on Wednesday by the nonprofit group California Competes.

In recent years, the state’s community colleges have experienced numerous turnovers in leadership and deep budget cuts. Now 27 of the system’s 112 colleges also face sanctions or warnings from the regional accreditation body, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

“California’s community colleges have become notorious for their inability to handle their affairs, and a major contributing factor is the byzantine and confusing management and decision-making process,” argues the petition submitted by California Competes. The organization, a bipartisan council of business and civic leaders who make recommendations about higher-education needs for the state’s economy, is led by Robert M. Shireman, a former U.S. Education Department official. Any interested party may challenge community-college regulations under state law.

The legal challenge urges the state board to amend sections of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations that were added in 1990 and that, the petition maintains, are inconsistent with previous legislation that outlines procedures for governance and oversight at the state’s community colleges. The sections require district boards to “consult collegially” with faculty senates on specific matters, and describe two methods of consultation whereby the boards may “rely primarily” on faculty senates or reach “mutual agreement” with them. (Read more.)

Via Alina Mogilyanskaya, The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

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Support for Calif. Referendum Crucial to Colleges Remains Below 50%, Poll Finds

Public support for Gov. Jerry Brown’s initiative to raise taxes remains below 50 percent, but the measure no longer appears to be on a downward trajectory, leaving Brown within striking distance one week before Election Day, according to a new Field Poll.

Likely voters favor the initiative 48 percent to 38 percent, with 14 percent undecided, according to the poll.

Voters surveyed late last week and early this week were marginally more likely to favor the initiative than those surveyed in previous days. Of voters who have already cast ballots, 54 percent voted for the initiative, the poll found.

“If there was some reason to believe that this thing was sinking, you should have seen it over the course of the two weeks we were interviewing,” poll director Mark DiCamillo said. “It seems to be treading water. … All they need are two or three percentage points, and there’s certainly a sufficient number of undecideds from which to get that.”

The Field Poll follows two other public surveys last week showing support for Proposition 30 dipping below 50 percent. In Field’s last measure, in September, Proposition 30 led 51 percent to 36 percent. <Read more.>

Via David Siders, The Sacramento Bee.

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Texas Is Trying to Put Brakes on High Cost of University

Ashton Curlee, the ambitious daughter of two teachers, received official notification of her acceptance to the new Texas Science Scholar Program at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin on the first day of college.

“It’s a really awesome program,” said Ms. Curlee, a native of Monahans. “There’s a lot of good stuff that comes along with it.”

Savings top that list. If Ms. Curlee stays on track, maintaining a 3.0 grade point average and completing 30 hours of course work each school year, she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2016. Instead of paying more than $6,300 per academic year in tuition and fees — the current cost for a regular student — Ms. Curlee will pay $2,500 per year.

That adds up to a $10,000 degree, a notion that has taken on grail-like status in some Texas higher education circles as the state struggles to address rising tuition at its public universities.

In Gov. Rick Perry’s 2011 State of the State address, he called on the state’s universities to create degrees that cost no more than $10,000, including books. And he reiterated his desire for those institutions to lock in tuition rates for four years for incoming students. Some schools scrambled to create low-cost degrees, but the latter request was largely ignored.

Mr. Perry recently signaled his intention to once again call for a four-year tuition guarantee during the coming legislative session, teeing up a conversation about the rising price of a college education that he has been eager to engage in. (Read more.)

Via Reeve Hamilton, The New York Times.

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