A Summary of Education in the News
COUNCIL FOR ADVANCEMENT AND SUPPORT OF EDUCATION
TOP STORIES IN THE UNITED STATES
- A NEW ERA IN WASHINGTON STATE
State and university officials in Washington are busy trying to figure out
how to end gender and racial preferences in accordance with Initiative 200,
the anti-affirmative action measure that voters approved earlier this month.
Although the measure passed easily with 58 percent of the vote, enacting it
could prove difficult in a state where the governor, a Chinese American, and
many business and education leaders are staunch defenders of affirmative
Almost immediately after the passage of Initiative 200, the University of
Washington announced that it would end racial preferences in admissions.
Other public institutions, however, hinted that they might attempt to
circumvent the ban. Higher education officials in Washington agree they are
in a tougher position than California institutions were after Proposition
209 became law. California colleges and universities used the passage of
Prop. 209 to intensify their recruiting efforts among the state's large
black and Latino populations. But in Washington, which has a homogenous
population that is more than 80 percent white, there are relatively few
minority students to target.
(Sources: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/5/98; U.S. News & World Report,
11/9/98; The Washington Post, 11/13/98.)
- CAMPUS ALCOHOL ABUSE ATTRACTS COVERAGE
Alcohol abuse on the nation's college and university campuses continues to
receive substantial coverage by the major print news media. Following a
spate of alcohol-related deaths among college students last fall, the media
jumped on the issue of excessive drinking on campus. A year later, the
media are now focusing on college and university efforts to curb students'
A recent USA Today story titled "Lifting an Alcoholic Fog" examines campus
efforts such as task forces on binge drinking, institutionally-sponsored
non-alcoholic events, tighter alcohol policies, and tougher sanctions. The
report also notes a concern among many college and university officials that
such efforts may have minimal effect, given the nationwide acceptance of
A recent U.S. News & World Report story titled "Cooling it on Campus" also
looks at campus policies to reduce alcohol consumption. Taking a different
tack is a series of reports in The Chronicle of Higher Education that
examine who will be assigned the blame in upcoming trials about
alcohol-related deaths among fraternity members: the institutions, bars, or
the fraternities themselves.
(Sources: The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/6/98; U.S. News & World
Report, 11/9/98; USA Today, 11/16/98.)
- FRAUD IN GIVING AND RECEIVING
Recent news reports warn of fraud by organizations that claim to award
scholarships to college students in need, and by groups that portray
themselves as worthy charities. The New York Times reports that increasing
college costs have given rise to fraudulent scholarship brokers that, for a
fee, guarantee scholarships that never arrive. The Federal Trade Commission
recently filed eight lawsuits against companies that had bilked some 19,000
students. A common scheme is for companies to charge several hundred
dollars for personalized seminars at airport hotels.
The Associated Press reports that the U.S. government is encouraging people
to scrutinize the charities to which they donate during the holiday season.
Scam artists posing as legitimate organizations use direct mail and phone
solicitation to make the ask. In a survey by the American Association of
Retired Persons, 80 percent of respondents made a charitable donation in the
last year in response to a phone or mail solicitation. About 57 percent
said they didn't ask how their donations would be spent.
(Sources: Associated Press, 11/12/98; The New York Times, 11/15/98.)
- ALUMNI ASSOCIATIONS OFFER RECIPROCAL BENEFITS
Newsday recently examined the benefits offered by alumni associations to
both the institutions with which they are affiliated and the alumni
themselves. Alumni associations traditionally benefit institutions by
encouraging members to donate money to their alma mater. The associations
benefit alumni by helping them maintain personal and emotional ties to their
institution. "If you care about a place, you want to be connected," CASE
President Eustace Theodore told Newsday.
The story goes on to say that alumni are looking to their associations as a
resource for more than just meeting and maintaining contacts. Many
institutions now promote continuing education among alumni. St. Johns
University in Queens offers alumni a 20 percent discount on many continuing
education programs. Princeton University offers distance education courses
to alumni at no charge.
(Source: Newsday, 11/14/98.)
- ACCREDITATION HEADACHES
An increasing number of academic administrators believe that the
accreditation system for colleges and universities is out of control,
reports The New York Times. The administrators argue that visiting
accreditation teams take up valuable staff time and ask questions that are
not central to how students learn.
The two types of accreditors -- regional accrediting agencies and
specialized or occupational agencies -- each receive a healthy share of
criticism. The regional agencies, which focus on broad criteria such as
fiscal stability and administration effectiveness, reportedly avoid closing
down substandard institutions, despite having the power to do so. The
complaint against the specialized or occupational groups is that there are
too many of them. With about 75 such groups in existence, a single medical
school may be examined by 40 or 50 separate accrediting agencies.
(Source: The New York Times, 11/11/98.)
- WISCONSIN VOUCHER PROGRAM SURVIVES
The U.S. Supreme Court this month decided not to hear arguments in a case
challenging the constitutionality of using taxpayer money to send children
to private religious schools. The court's rejection of the case is a
victory for school choice advocates who favor allowing students to use
taxpayer-funded vouchers in private schools.
The case, Jackson v. Benson, involves a Wisconsin initiative that allows up
to 15,000 Milwaukee children to leave the public school system for private
schools. The U.S. Supreme Court's decision lets stand a Wisconsin Supreme
Court ruling that vouchers for religious schools do not violate the
Constitutional separation of church and state.
A few days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the National Council of
Churches, a national Protestant group, announced that it believes public
money should go only to public schools, reports the Chicago Tribune. Most
conservative religious groups favor vouchers, but a growing number of
liberal Christian and Jewish groups, as well as African American churches,
(Sources: The Washington Post, 11/10/98; Chicago Tribune, 11/11/98.)
AROUND THE WORLD
- MACLEAN'S UNIVERSITY RANKINGS KEEP STATUS QUO
It was mostly more of the same in the latest ranking of 48 Canadian
universities by the weekly news magazine Maclean's. The 8th annual rankings
issue, a source of anxiety for university administrators, appeared on
newsstands Nov. 16. The top spot in all three institutional categories went
to the same universities as last year. The first-ranked medical-doctoral
university is the University of Toronto, followed by Queen's University in
Kingston, Ontario, with McGill University in Montreal, Quebec ranking third.
The top-ranking comprehensive university is Simon Fraser in Burnaby, British
Columbia, with Guelph and Waterloo, both in Ontario, placing second and
third. The top ranking small, primarily undergraduate universities -- all
in the Maritime provinces -- are Mount Allison in New Brunswick, with Acadia
and St. Francis Xavier, both of Nova Scotia, ranking second and third.
The university rankings issue is Maclean's top seller annually, although
institutions have long grumbled about the weighting measures Maclean's uses
to determine its rankings.
(Sources: Maclean's, 11/23/98; Ottawa Sun, 11/16/98; Sudbury Star,
11/16/98; The National Post, 11/17/98.)
- FEMALE CANADIAN UNDERGRADS INCREASE
The number of Canadian women aged 18 to 24 in full-time undergraduate study
increased by 6.4 percent to 236,000 between 1992-93 and 1997-98, while the
number of university-enrolled Canadian men in that age group declined by 2.3
percent to 182,200, according to Statistics Canada. Full-time undergraduate
enrollment in 1997-98 stood at 497,100, virtually the same as five years
earlier. Despite an overall rise in youth participation at universities,
the total number of undergraduate students in Canada, including full- and
part-time, has dropped for the fifth straight year. This is largely because
of a 24.1 percent decrease in the number of part-time undergraduate students
between 1992 and 1998, education experts say.
(Sources: Brockville Recorder and Times, 10/14/98; Kingston Whig-Standard,
- HI-TECH TEACHERS NEEDED IN BRITAIN
Demand is soaring for information technology teachers in Britain. But like
their counterparts in the United States, recent IT graduates from British
institutions are finding that they can make significantly more money in
industry. However, universities with technology-oriented teaching programs
are reporting high numbers of applicants, many of whom have already worked
in computing or a related industry. Education experts theorize that former
industry workers enter teaching because they want to "give something back"
to the institutions that trained them.
(Source: The Independent, 11/12/98.)
- UNIVERSITY CLASS SIZE MATTERS
Large class sizes at the university level can have a negative impact on
students, according to Hugh Fletcher, a scientist at Queen's University,
Belfast. Fletcher studied student performance over an eight-year period in
his first-year genetics class. The class more than doubled in size from 68
students in 1988 to 151 students in 1995. During that time, students'
scores fell by an average of 16.6 percent. One explanation for the downward
trend involves the fact that increasing class size reduces opportunities for
lecturers to offer individual help to students. Also, the classes had a
higher proportion of weak students as their size grew. Students from the
largest classes reported a lack of motivation and discipline in their work.
(Source: The Independent, 11/12/98.)
REPORTS ON EDUCATION
- PARENTS SAVING TOO LITTLE FOR COLLEGE
Parents who intend to pay for their children's college education save
dramatically less than they will need, according to a recent study. A
report by the U.S.A. Group Foundation and the Institute for Higher Education
Policy shows that parents save an average of $9,956, just 25 percent of the
total expense for four years at a public institution. The results indicate
that parents are not realistic in considering how much they will have to pay
for their children's education. Half of the survey respondents said they
planned to pay all or most of their children's college expenses, and 42
percent planned to pay some of the costs.
(Source: Education Week, 11/4/98.)
- CHARITABLE GIVING BY THE WEALTHY
Most wealthy Americans increased their charitable contributions during the
1990s, according to a recent study by U.S. Trust. The survey, which polled
a sampling of the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, found that nearly 70
percent of respondents increased their charitable giving in the 1990s,
probably as a result of the bull market. On average, the top 1 percent
wealthiest Americans donate 8 percent of their after-tax income to charity,
compared with 3 percent for the general population, the survey found.
While almost half the respondents said they would curtail their charitable
giving if the stock market declined, nearly all said they usually increase
their donations in times of need, and two-thirds said they do so when the
government reduces spending.
The two most often-cited reasons for giving to charity were "a desire to
support worthwhile causes" (79 percent of respondents), and a belief that
the wealthy "have a responsibility to share their good fortune" (69
percent). Respondents said they decide which charity to support according
to the reputation and integrity of the charity (81 percent), the need served
by the charity (79 percent), and the charity's efficient use of the donor's
time and money (75 percent).
More than a third of respondents said they prefer being approached for a
contribution by a personal friend, while only 1 percent said they prefer
(Source: U.S. Trust press release, 11/17/98.)
- PROLIFERATION OF ONLINE COURSES
The number of colleges and universities offering online courses is growing
fast, as is the number of institutions offering whole programs or degrees
through the Internet, reports The New York Times. But the trend is so new
and developing so fast that significant questions have yet to be answered,
such as how good the education is, who owns the courses, and how faculty
members should be paid.
With the proliferation of institutions and companies that offer online
courses, students should beware of diploma mills that offer phoney degrees.
But despite the warnings, online courses are gaining acceptance as well as
popularity. A committee of the American Association of University
Professors concluded last year that Internet courses could be a valuable
tool that increase access to higher education. But the committee also
warned that the trend could compromise academic quality, academic freedom,
and other cornerstones of academia.
(Source: The New York Times, 11/2/98.)
- RESEARCHING COLLEGES ONLINE
Forget college catalogues. They're being pushed aside by a bevy of online
college-search sites that ask for some simple information from students and
produce a customized list of recommended institutions. At least a dozen
such sites exist, including GoCollege, CollegeView, CollegeNet,
CollegeQuest, and the most popular of all -- College Board Online.
To help determine which colleges and universities are best for a particular
student, these sites ask students to enter their SAT score, major, type of
institution preferred, and even how much tuition they can pay. High school
guidance counselors, worried about automation of the college selection
process, warn students against making important decisions from raw data.
Experts also caution families to verify the data offered by college-search
(Source: The Christian Science Monitor, 11/17/98.)
- ONLINE PARENTING
Parents of students at Gettysburg College near Harrisburg, PA can use the
Internet to gain a wealth of information about their children, including
their grades, long-distance phone bills, bookstore purchases, and even
campus activities. An experimental campus computer link offers everything
from course descriptions to information about campus events to financial
data. Students must authorize the college to give their parents access to
the system, and can decide what information to make available.
About 140 of Gettysburg's 2,100 students have taken advantage of the College
Navigation Project, or CNAV. Campus officials admit they do not know if
parents and students will deem the idea a success or failure.
(Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11/10/98.)
- 'CRITICAL' ROLE OF COMMUNITY COLLEGES
Community colleges will be "critical" in helping to train high tech workers
and improve access to technology, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates told a conference
of the League for Innovation in the Community College this month. Gates
said his company and others are suffering from a lack of skilled workers,
and that community colleges can help to solve the problem. Microsoft is
working with community colleges and high schools to train students to use
Microsoft products. Gates said his company's involvement in this area will
grow in the coming years.
(Source: Academe Today, 11/4/98.)
- CHILDREN'S STUDIES POPULAR
Following in the steps of academic movements focusing on African Americans,
the family, and women, the study of children and childhood is quickly
growing in popularity on the nation's campuses, reports The Washington Post.
Childhood history courses are growing in number at colleges and universities
across the country, as are scholarships for childhood studies. An Internet
discussion group for childhood historians was launched in July and has more
than 400 subscribers. The scholars are mostly Baby Boomers who are
fascinated with their own childhood and want to examine childhood in other
places and times.
(Source: The Washington Post, 11/13/98.)
- CAMPUS HOUSING FOR RETIREES
A growing number of campuses are opening university-affiliated retirement
homes that house educated, affluent seniors who want to continue their
personal growth and intellectual stimulation, reports The Washington Post.
Residents are attracted by the small-town atmosphere of many college
campuses. In return, the residents often serve as subjects for gerontology
students, consumers in campus stores, patients for university medical
centers, and possible donors to the institution. Retirement complexes exist
on an estimated 100 university campuses, including Stanford University, the
University of Virginia, Ithaca College, Iowa State University, and
Pennsylvania State University.
(Source: The Washington Post, 11/9/98.)
- LIBRARY SPENDING -- College and university libraries will spend $1.9
billion on books and non-book materials this year, a 5.6 percent increase
over 1997. They are expected to spend $1.31 billion on periodicals, $460.7
million on books, $60.3 million on bindings, $46.8 million on microfiche and
film, and $14.4 million on audiovisuals such as videos, movies, filmstrips,
books and music on tape, and CD-ROMs. (Source: USA Today, 11/18/98.)
ABOUT FLASH POINTS
CASE is proud to be in its third year producing Flash Points, the education
issues bulletin. Flash Points is normally published twice a month and is
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CASE values your comments, suggestions, and questions. Please direct your
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- END -
SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
Nov. 24, 1998
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