“D.C. debates growth of charter schools.” By Emma Brown. Washington Post. February 11. 2013. It’s the latest sign that the District is on track to become a city where a majority of children are educated not in traditional public schools but in public charters: A California nonprofit group has proposed opening eight D.C. charter schools that would enroll more than 5,000 students by 2019. The proposal has stirred excitement among those who believe that Rocketship Education, which combines online learning and face-to-face instruction, can radically raise student achievement in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.Rocketship’s charter application — which is the largest ever to come before District officials, and which might win approval this month — arrives on the heels of Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s decision to close 15 half-empty city schools, highlighting an intense debate about the future of public education in the nation’s capital. A growing number of activists have raised concerns that the traditional school system, facing stiffer-than-ever competition from charters, is in danger of being relegated to a permanently shrunken role. And they worry that Washington has yet to confront what that could mean for taxpayers, families and neighborhoods. “Maybe we need an entire school system full of charters,” said Virginia Spatz, who co-hosts a community-radio talk show on D.C. education. “But we need to have that after public conversation, not by accident.” Politicians appear to have heard the call. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) acknowledged in his State of the District address Tuesday that charters — which are publicly funded but independently run — are likely to soon educate half the city’s students.
“Education commissioner recommends 5 new charter schools.” By James Vaznis. Boston Globe. February 15, 2013. The Massachusetts commissioner of elementary and secondary education announced today that he is recommending approval of five new charter school proposals and the expansion of 11 existing charter schools. The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will vote on the proposals at its monthly meeting on Feb. 26. The board almost always approves the commissioner’s recommendations. The five charter school proposals, including two in Boston, prevailed in a crowded field that originally boasted 22 proposals last summer. That field was subsequently winnowed down in the fall to 11 finalists. “We have many outstanding charter schools in Massachusetts, and I support the continued establishment and growth of quality charter schools that set high expectations, demonstrate results, and prepare all students for success in college, career, and life,” said Mitchell Chester, the state commissioner of elementary and secondary education. “I believe the five new charter schools that I am recommending are well positioned to become academically successful and viable organizations that will close proficiency gaps and equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.”
“S.F. district raises charter school rent.” By Jill Tucker. San Francisco Chronicle. February 15, 2013. Imagine renting a 1,000-square-foot San Francisco apartment for $950 – a year. It may seem impossible in one of the least-affordable real estate markets in the country. Except for city charter schools. For the past 10 years, the alternative public schools have paid a relative pittance to rent space from the school district. At 95 cents per square foot annually, the district was nearly $2 below Oakland’s charter school rental rate, $5 shy of Los Angeles and nearly $8 less than Berkeley, which has only one charter school that rents space. To rent on the retail market would cost a school around 15 times what San Francisco Unified charges charters. San Francisco district officials, who hadn’t raised charter school rent in five years, realized this year that they could charge more under state law and decided to triple the rent to $2.79, phasing in the increase over two years. Eight charter schools will be hit with the increase, generating an additional $500,000 a year for the district. But charter schools and their advocates say any rent increase will have an impact on what happens in the classroom.
“$10 Million Donation To Fund New Endowment at Divinity School.” By Zohra D. Yaqhubi. Harvard Crimson. February 11, 2013. The Harvard Divinity School announced a $10 million gift from James R. Swartz ’64 and former Divinity School artist-in-residence Susan Shallcross Swartz last Wednesday. The donation—one of the largest in the school’s history—will fund the creation of the Susan Shallcross Swartz Endowment for Christian Studies, supporting new professorships, fellowships, and programming at the Divinity School. “My hope is that the endowment will inspire scholarship and reinvigorate debate, service, and teaching for generations to come,” Susan Swartz said in a press release. The gift comes as Harvard plans to embark on a University-wide capital campaign as soon as late 2013. Swartz said she hopes the endowment will “allow [Divinity School] Dean [David N.] Hempton to take the School into the future, and to improve the currency of the leadership that HDS exercises.”
“Yale partners with Banco Santander.” By Julia Zorthian. Yale Daily News. February 13, 2013. Spanish bank Banco Santander entered a formal agreement with the University last week when it committed significant funding to the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. Ernesto Zedillo GRD ’81, director of the Center for the Study of Globalization Director and former Mexican President, said Banco Santander will give $250,000 a year to the organization for the next three years. The bank will provide the funds through Santander Universities Global Division, an organization through which Banco Santander creates partnerships with universities worldwide to support progress in education. The agreement is the next step in a partnership that has existed since January 2011, when Banco Santander first agreed to issue grants to the University. Banco Santander has an established commitment to funding universities worldwide as well as specifically in the United States through its Universities USA foundation. Universities USA has formed agreements with 26 universities and colleges since its creation through Sovereign Bank in 2009, according to a Feb. 6 press release from the Yale Office of Public Affairs and Communications. The Office of Public Affairs and Communications declined to comment beyond its press release.
“Studying the Soul of a City at NYU.” By Lisa Fleisher. Wall Street Journal. February 13, 2013. “What you hope is that they have built the infrastructure to deal with that big influx of people,” he said. Those kinds of challenges, facing cities world-wide, seemed to consume Mr. Marron’s thoughts these past few months, as he and top administrators at New York University planned the opening of the Marron Institute on Cities and the Urban Environment, which will be announced Wednesday. Mr. Marron, a university trustee, the founder of Lightyear Capital LLC and former chairman and CEO of PaineWebber Group Inc., will donate $40 million to launch the institute. Richard Revesz, the outgoing dean of the NYU School of Law, will lead the institute, which will consolidate the university’s scholarship and research on cities and urban issues. The idea was born two years ago when Mr. Marron and other trustees were hearing an early presentation on a university bid for city funding for an applied-sciences center. NYU President John Sexton said he remembered looking over at Mr. Marron, who was writing down line after line of notes. “If I were to say there was a moment where the spark lit the flame of knowledge, it was [then],” Mr. Sexton said. “He said to me, ‘This is very important, but the issue’s bigger. This isn’t just a matter of applied science, it’s a matter of social science, it’s a matter of humanities and the soul of a city.’”
“Sororities Extend Bids to 174 Women.” By Laya Anasu and Elizabeth S. Auritt. Harvard Crimson. February 13, 2013. The voices of a crowd of women fell to a hush in the Mount Vernon Ballroom at the Sheraton Commander Hotel as the clock hit 7 p.m. 174 pairs of hands rushed to tear open envelopes containing cards revealing the identity of their new sisters. The women shrieked with excitement as they ran to locate their sororities. At this year’s bid day, sororities at Harvard extended bids, or offers of acceptance, to 174 girls, a modest decrease from the 199 bids offered last year. Each of the three sororities on campus, Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Kappa Kappa Gamma, met the limit of at least 54 new members. Members of the Cambridge-Area Panhellenic Council have worked to inform women about the addition of Alpha Phi to Greek life at Harvard by talking to students and sporting Alpha Phi memorabilia such as water bottles and pins. “We’re all walking around and trying to spread the word on campus,” Duarte said. After the women received the bids from their sororities, each chapter held their own festivities to welcome the new members.
“With end of Levin years, donations expected to rise.” By Julia Zorthian. Yale Daily News. February 14, 2013. University President Richard Levin may only have four and a half months left in office, but when it comes to fundraising, Yale’s leader of 20 years has no intentions of easing up now. Levin said the University is currently negotiating a number of large donations which he said could raise this year’s fundraising total well above last year’s, though he declined to comment on the precise number or size of the potential gifts. Vice President for Development Joan O’Neill said in an email that the fundraising total for new gifts and pledges is higher now than this time last year, a positive result of what Levin called an informal push for donations at the end of his presidency. Levin and O’Neill said the donations will primarily fund core budget expenses in order to create a comfortable fiscal starting point for President-elect Peter Salovey when he takes office this summer. “It’s my last year, and I am trying to raise some significant gifts,” Levin said. “The number of significant conversations going on is pretty large, so hopefully we’ll end up with a year that is considerably better than last year.” The promising number of gifts and possible donations may be a direct result of more assertive fundraising on the parts of Salovey, Yale College Dean Mary Miller and other members of the faculty and development staff, whom Levin and O’Neill said are also meeting with donors. O’Neill told the News in September that she expected this push in light of Levin’s departure.
“Negative credit outlook given to higher ed.” By Sophie Gould. Yale Daily News. February 13, 2013. Though Moody’s Investor Services affirmed Yale’s top credit rating last month, the agency recently expressed concerns about the financial future of the higher education sector at large. In a January report, Moody’s — a prominent credit rating agency — revised its “outlook” for the entire higher education sector to “negative,” indicating its expectation that the political and economic conditions in which educational institutions operate will continue to deteriorate. The announcement marks a shift from recent years, when although Moody’s gave most of the higher education sector a negative outlook, it considered top research universities, including Yale, “stable.” David Jacobson, a spokesman for Moody’s, told the News that the agency extended the negative outlook to even the top universities this year in response to several trends that have been putting pressure on universities’ traditional sources of revenue, but Jacobson and Yale administrators interviewed agreed that Yale is in no danger of losing its “Aaa” credit rating. “In previous years, the higher-rated universities received a good stream of income from their endowments and from research grants from the government and other places,” Jacobson said. “Now, endowment returns have not been good for this past year, and there are talks of both budget and sequestration issues [in the government] that may cut back on some of the funds for research as well.” The report said anemic endowment returns in the fiscal year that ended June 30 would reduce universities’ abilities to support their budgets with endowment funds over the next several years. Universities with larger endowments are more dependent on their endowments to cover their operating costs, Jacobson said. Universities’ endowment returns for the current fiscal year will depend largely on the investment environment, which has the “potential to be volatile,” Jacobson said.
“A Michigan Avenue Institution.” By Joel Henning. Wall Street Journal. February 13, 2013. ‘I can remember the first time that a work of art knocked my socks off. It was Van Gogh’s ‘Peach Trees in Blossom,’” recalled Douglas Druick, the wiry, diminutive president and director of the Art Institute of Chicago. The 67-year-old, now in his second year on the job, was promoted from within after 26 years in the Art Institute’s curatorial ranks, most recently as chairman of both the department of prints and drawings and the department of medieval to modern European painting and sculpture. We are talking in his office hard by one of his old haunts—the department of prints and drawings. Mr. Druick was 15 years old when he first saw that Van Gogh painting in Montreal in 1960, and from then on this Canadian-born son of an American mother and Canadian father, raised in Montreal, has been passionate about art. After completing his studies at Oberlin and Yale in art history and philosophy, Mr. Druick headed back north, quickly taking charge of European and American prints at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. But as early as 1981, Chicago’s Art Institute had its eye on him. Harold Joachim, the curator of prints and drawings, was thinking of retirement and, according to Alan Artner, the Chicago Tribune’s former art critic, “expressed a hope that it would be Douglas Druick” who succeeded him. Two years after Joachim’s death in 1983, Mr. Druick did take that post, and he hasn’t left the Michigan Avenue building since. Appointing a curator with no executive experience to lead an encyclopedic museum on a par with the Metropolitan Museum and the National Gallery is unusual. But the timing was right for Mr. Druick. Mr. Cuno oversaw the final planning and fund-raising for the $294 million, 264,000-square-foot Modern Wing of the Institute, designed by Renzo Piano, and John H. Bryan, former chairman of the Art Institute’s board of trustees, said that “Douglas is his perfect successor. He is internationally regarded for his curatorial talent, and nobody knows the Institute’s collections and its staff better than Douglas. He was my choice and the unanimous choice of the trustees. And, Jim Cuno himself recommended Douglas as his successor.”
“$5 Million Gift to Aid Juilliard Program for Minority Students.” By Daniel J. Wakin. New York Times. February 14, 2013. The Juilliard School said on Thursday that it had been promised a $5 million gift that will go a long way toward guaranteeing the survival of music lessons for poor minority schoolchildren. The money comes courtesy of a former journalist turned venture capitalist, Michael Moritz, and his wife, Harriet Heyman, a writer. Juilliard said it needed $7 million to fully endow its Music Advancement Program. The course provides 65 students between 8 and 14 with ear training, instrument lessons and theory classes on Saturdays, at low cost. The conservatory was poised to suspend the program in 2009, citing budget cuts and difficulty raising money for operations. News reports at the time about threats to the program prompted an initial round of contributions that kept it alive. Mr. Moritz and Ms. Heyman said they were making the gift in memory of Ms. Heyman’s father, Carl K. Heyman, a public school student on Chicago’s South Side who “had a good ear and could not read notes, played five-string banjo in a band, and cut an accounting final to go hear George Gershwin and Paul Whiteman play ‘Rhapsody in Blue,’” according to a dedicatory note.
“Cooper Union’s Tradition of Free Tuition May Be Near an End.” By Ariel Kaminer. New York Times. February 15, 2013. The new academic building was glamorous, its perforated metal skin shooting up dramatically from the streets of the East Village, then swerving around a daring gash of glass. It made a statement about just how far the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art had come, from its 19th-century origins as a charity for the poor to one of the most selective colleges in the nation. But that was before market convulsions shook the school’s finances, and before the truth about its dire budgetary situation came to light. Now the audacious building, at 41 Cooper Square, completed in 2009, has become the most visible symbol of a debate about the future of Cooper Union on the eve of what could be the most important decision in its history. The university, which offers world-class instruction in art, architecture and engineering, but no expensive athletic programs, no tricked-out student centers, no plush lawns to sprawl on between classes, is currently losing $12 million a year, about a fifth of its overall budget. So 153 years after the inventor and industrialist Peter Cooper founded a school long rhapsodized as “free as air and water,” it is considering whether to end its most famous tradition, and start making undergraduates pay to attend.
“An Ohio Christian College Struggles to Further Define Itself.” By Mark Oppenheimer. New York Times. “He made Cedarville feel more like Heaven,” said Zak Weston, a senior at Cedarville University, a Baptist college near Dayton, Ohio. “If you thought someone would be untouchable, it would be Carl.” It’s not often that a college’s chief disciplinarian inspires such love. But Carl Ruby, who last month resigned as vice president for student life at this little-known Christian college, has become a symbol of some very public trials, as faculty, students and trustees at Cedarville try to figure out what kind of Christians they are. Are they sectarian or broad-minded? Fundamentalist or open? Republicans, or independent of political parties? Those who want a less fundamentalist, more open Cedarville believe that Dr. Ruby is a martyr to their cause. For much of its history, Cedarville, which was founded in 1887, was affiliated with the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, a fundamentalist organization wary of association even with other conservative groups. But over the past decade, Cedarville, which has 3,400 students, has moved away from its Regular Baptist identity.
“Laurie Tisch gives $15M for food programs; With part of the money, the philanthropist will launch a center for food policy at Columbia’s Teachers College.” By Lisa Fickenscher. Crain’s New York Business. February 13, 2013. Philanthropist Laurie Tisch, who has long been active in the arts community, is deepening her involvement in food-related issues with a $15 million commitment to help hunger organizations and to fund a new policy center at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Her foundation, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, will announce on Thursday the launch of the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy at Teachers College, during a forum being held at the school. Among the roster of public officials who will be speaking are New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and USDA Undersecretary of Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon. Ms. Tisch’s foundation will disburse $15 million over the next five years, including $3.5 million to establish the policy center at Teachers College, which will focus on research that Ms. Tisch hopes will help influence government programs. “Public officials like Christine Quinn and Cory Booker want to know where public dollars can make a difference, and they are making their decisions based on what information is out there,” Ms. Tisch said. In December, Mr. Booker made headlines when he lived on just $33 worth of food a week to learn about what it’s like for people who rely on food stamps and to shine a light on government-assisted nutritional programs for the poor. The $3.5 million will allow Teachers College’s program in nutrition to hire more faculty members and to provide fellowships for students, among other things, said Illumination Fund Executive Director Rick Luftglass. “The specifics are to be determined.”
“Stanford Tops College Fundraising List.” By Richard Gonzales. All Things Considered/National Public Radio. February 20, 2013. Stanford University has set a new record for college fundraising: more than $1 billion in a single year. How did the school do it and what does it do with the money? Financial donations last year to colleges and universities rose to the highest amount since 2008. It’s one sign that the economy might be finding its feet. On a list released today by the Council for Aid to Education, the usual schools demonstrate their fundraising prowess: Harvard, Yale, USC, and topping them all is Stanford. In 2012, it became the first university to raise more than a billion dollars in a single year. Yes, that’s billion with a B. NPR’s Richard Gonzales reports on how Stanford brought in that money and what the school might do with it.
“Morehouse gets $3 million gift from Ray Charles Foundation; Obama to give commencement speech at Morehouse College; Ray Charles Foundation recovers unspent money.” By Fran Jeffries. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. February 17, 2013. The Ray Charles Foundation has awarded Morehouse College a $3 million gift. The gift will secure the naming of the academic wing of the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center at the college after the late singer’s mother, Aretha Robinson The announcement was made Saturday night during Morehouse’s 25th Annual “A Candle in the Dark” gala, the largest fund-raiser for the historically black college for men. “I know that Ray Charles had a long-standing relationship with Morehouse based on professionalism, integrity and honesty,” Valerie Ervin, president of the foundation, said in a statement. “He genuinely valued the education and preparation that Morehouse provides to young men.” Ervin noted that the relationship between Charles and Morehouse began several years ago when he was invited to Atlanta to perform with the college’s jazz ensemble. Ray Charles’ friend and former Morehouse Trustee Bill Cosby opened that performance, but it was his long-time manager, Joe Adams, who introduced Charles to Morehouse, Ervin said. Adams was an avid contributor to Morehouse, having given a personal gift in support of the construction of the performing arts center, now named for Charles.
PUBLIC SCHOOL PHILANTHROPY
“Anonymous donor offers $20 million to rebuild Palo Alto High School athletic facilities. By Jason Green. San Jose Mercury-News. February 14, 2013. An anonymous donor is offering to give the Palo Alto Unified School District up to $20 million to rebuild the outdated indoor athletic facilities at Palo Alto High School, district officials revealed this week. The unprecedented gift was greeted enthusiastically by trustees at Tuesday night’s board meeting. “We are incredibly lucky to have a community that cares as much about our schools and our facilities as much as our community does,” said Board Member Melissa Baten Caswell. Although the small and main gymnasiums at Paly are in need of replacement, they were not among the projects that made the cut to receive funding from a $378 million bond measure passed by district voters in 2008. “It’s in our plans, but it is far out in our plans,” Baten Caswell said. “We would have to do some more bonds beyond where we are today in our plans. This would speed that up dramatically.” The anonymous donor is a parent of a student in the district and his extended family has a long history of community involvement and philanthropy, according to a report prepared by Bob Golton, the district’s bond program manager. Under a plan the district is developing with the donor, the $20 million would be combined with $5.47 million in bond funds that have been allocated for a new weight room at Paly, Golton said. The donor would then work with an architect and construction company to build new gymnasiums as well as a wrestling room, dance studio,
“L.A. Unified aviation training center gets $100,000 donation; The mechanics vocational school had been facing closure or relocation after 40 years at Van Nuys Airport because of budget cuts and a rent increase. The gift will keep it going at least a year.” By Dalina Castellanos. Los Angeles Times. February 11, 2013. Single-engine Cessnas and a former Coast Guard HH-52 helicopter will continue to line one of the most unique classrooms within the Los Angeles Unified School District, thanks to a $100,000 donation announced Monday. The North Valley Occupational Center-Aviation Center had been facing closure or relocation after 40 years at Van Nuys Airport because of budget cuts and a rent increase. In recent weeks, the vocational school — which has produced thousands of mechanics — gained some high-powered backers, including L.A. Councilman and mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti. Now the owners of the largest aircraft antenna manufacturer in the United States have contributed $100,000 to keep the center in place for at least another year while district officials negotiate a new lease with Los Angeles World Airports. The current rent is about $12,000 a month.