WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 28-December 4, 2011)

EDUCATION

CHARTER SCHOOLS

Individual Los Angeles schools gain new autonomy; Under a union pact with L.A. Unified that still needs ratification, charters lose some of their competitive edge.” By Howard Blume. Los Angeles Times. November 29, 2011. The Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers union have agreed to a new pact granting local schools more autonomy over hiring, curriculum and work conditions and virtually ending a 2-year-old policy that allowed charter operators and others to take over low-performing and new campuses. The agreement, tentative until union members vote on it, doesn’t resolve key contract disputes, including whether teacher evaluations should include students’ standardized test scores, a provision L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy is seeking. And teachers will continue to work under the terms of the larger labor contract that expired July 1. But the agreement, negotiated over the last couple of months, does provide for significant changes at local campuses that were championed for years by teachers union leaders. Schools would be able to choose their own teaching materials, schedules and campus rules. They could hire teachers and other staff of their choice. If they wanted to diverge from policies of L.A. Unified, officials could not say no, provided that all laws and legal requirements are honored. But this local control also would limit union authority. If staffers at a school wanted to void portions of the thick union contract, United Teachers Los Angeles could not stop them. “I think of this very much as unleashing the power of the professional,” Deasy said during a school board meeting. Teams of teachers, he said, are “uniquely qualified” to drive improvement at schools “better than the system writ large.” Under the plan, Deasy said, all district schools could have the same freedoms as independently operated charter schools, which are publicly funded and mostly nonunion. L.A. Unified has more charters than any other school district in the country, enrolling more than 10% of its students in them. “These reforms thrive in an environment … free from constraints,” Deasy said.

Michigan Charter Schools: Legislature Continues Debate Over For-Profits.” By Simone Landon. Huffington Post. November 29, 2011. As a bill that would lift the cap on Michigan’s charter schools is back up for debate in the state House this week, one lawmaker is trying to ensure that for-profit schools are not included in that expansion. Senate Bill 618 narrowly passed the Senate 20 to 18 in October, with some Republicans siding with Democrats to oppose it. Critics say it includes too few quality controls and opens the state up to more underperforming charter school operators, some of which are just out to make a quick buck. State Sen. Rebekah Warren is proposing a constitutional amendment that would ban for-profit charter operators from opening schools in Michigan. Warren offered a similar measure as an amendment to SB 618, but it did not pass. So now, she says, she’s appealing to the larger legislature and amendment process to ensure that any charter school expansion excludes for-profit operators. “It doesn’t even limit the number of charter schools in existence,” Warren said of her proposed amendment. “What it does do is say they have to operate like our public schools do — as a nonprofit.” Warren was joined by state Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood in announcing the amendment Tuesday, and said she had garnered 10 cosponsors in the state legislature. Some 80 percent of Michigan’s 225 charter schools are currently run by for-profit companies, while nationally the figure is close to 30 percent. In addition to opening the field for more charters, SB 618 would also lift restrictions on out-of-state charter operators, many of which are for-profit

Chicago Charter Schools Return Erratic State Test Results.” By Lizzie Schiffman. Huffington Post. November 30, 2011. After being touted as the solution to low-performing Chicago public schools, state achievement test data released Wednesday showed erratic student performance at Chicago’s charter schools, even between schools within the same franchise. Chicago was ranked second highest nationally on the Brown Center on Education Policy’s Education Choice and Competition Index (ECCI), which scores large school districts based on 13 categories of policy and practice, including availability of alternative education options and implementation of effective competition systems. But state achievement test data, released for the first time in more than a decade, suggests that alternative options–particularly publicly-funded charter schools, which have more autonomy to develop curricula and have established a growing presence in Chicago education–don’t consistently outperform public schools when it comes to standardized tests. Only one of nine charter franchises averaged a higher percentage of students who passed the ISAT/PSAE than the districtwide public school average, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The overall passing rate at two multi-site school operators lagged behind the CPS average at every site. (See the full data set at the Sun-Times.) Chicago International Charter Schools (CICS), which with 11 elementary campuses and four high schools runs the largest charter operation in the city, produced widely varied results. Their ISAT performances averaged from 18 percent below the CPS average to 19 percent above in their elementary schools, and from 10 percent below to 10 percent above on the PSAE across their high schools. The scores could foreshadow additional changes within the charter school system, which is already facing major adjustments. Last week, CPS issued a release announcing that 36 charters had applied for a grant to extend their school days by 90 minutes starting in January.

FOR-PROFIT SCHOOLS & COLLEGES

For-Profit Colleges Need Stronger Oversight From States: Report For Profit College.” By Chris Kirkham. Huffington Post. December 1, 2011. The federal government has moved to crack down on aggressive recruiting and crippling student debt levels at for-profit colleges over the past two years, yet major inconsistencies exist in the way state governments protect students from being deceived by unscrupulous institutions, according to a report released Thursday. The report from the National Consumer Law Center found that many state higher-education departments lack adequate resources to follow up on student complaints on such issues as overstated promises about career placement or troubles with financial aid and billing. Oversight bodies in several states are also stocked with representatives of the for-profit college industry — a conflict of interest that “can seriously undermine state efforts to protect consumers,” according to the report. As for-profit colleges have expanded dramatically over the last decade, with many becoming publicly traded national corporations offering online courses only, the variations in oversight across state lines create an uneven playing field for students. The for-profit college industry encompasses a wide array of institutions, from mom-and-pop beauty and mechanical schools to mammoth online universities such as Kaplan University and DeVry University. As the bleak economy has prompted more and more Americans to reconsider higher education as a path to opportunity, the industry has been under heightened scrutiny. Students at for-profit institutions are more than twice as likely to default on student loans. Tuition is on average nearly twice as expensive as that at public institutions: nearly $31,000 at for-profit colleges, compared to nearly $16,000 at public institutions, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education. Until recently, when the federal government stepped in with stricter regulations, many college corporations were seeing record profits. At the same time, many students were left to shoulder unmanageable debt loads, given their meager job prospects upon graduation.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Yale will halt future investments in HEI.” By Gavan Gideon. Yale Daily News. November 29, 2011. Three years after students first protested Yale’s investments in HEI Hotels & Resorts, the University has announced it will not invest further in funds managed by the company. Yale’s investment decision, which was announced Nov. 18 on the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility’s website, makes the University the third Ivy League school to halt future investments in HEI. But while Brown University made its decision based on accusations of unethical labor practices against HEI, Nigel Hurst, senior vice president of human resources for HEI, said a Yale representative told him that the University was motivated by “purely portfolio reasons.” Yale will remain committed to its current investments in three of HEI’s real estate funds, Hurst said, and has only decided not to invest in a fourth new fund. “Ethical reasons were never mentioned,” Hurst said Monday, adding that the University can still commit to other HEI investment opportunities in the future. Jonathan Macey, chair of Yale’s investor responsibility committee, said Monday that Chief Investment Officer David Swensen informed him of the Investments Office’s decision earlier this month, and noted that it did not follow from a recommendation of Macey’s committee. Swensen declined to comment for this article, and Macey said he could not know for sure what brought about the decision. HEI first came under fire in fall 2008 when students at universities across the country protested the company for allegedly mistreating its workers and interfering with their unionization efforts. At Yale, the Undergraduate Organizing Committee arranged a sit-in at the Investments Office in November 2008 to express disapproval of the University’s connection to the company.
Related story:
Rethinking Reinvestment; The Harvard Management Company should reevaluate its relationship with HEI.” Editorial. Harvard Crimson. December 2, 2011.

Alums team up with Bono venture.” By Andrew Giambrone. Yale Daily News. November 29, 2011. The Association of Yale Alumni’s newest service venture will partner former Elis with ONE, the international nonprofit cofounded by U2 lead singer Bono. Devoted to fighting poverty and preventable disease, ONE and the Yale Alumni Service Corps — an AYA program that has coordinated service opportunities abroad for alumni since 2008 — announced a new program last Tuesday that will offer service trips and educate alumni about development issues in Africa. Three alumni interviewed said the AYA has worked to expand its community service initiatives in recent years, and that by joining forces with an established nonprofit, the University is creating a sustainable outlet for helping those in need. “This partnership is a win-win for both Yale and ONE,” AYA chairman Michael Madison ’83 said. “ONE gets access to intelligent, engaged people to expand their mission, while Yale alumni interested in pursuing service opportunities get the chance to work with a well-known humanitarian organization. This project helps us recognize that we are global citizens with global obligations.” Yale-ONE’s inaugural service project, a trip to Ghana in July and August 2012, will send more than 100 alumni along with 10 to 15 representatives from ONE to work on a variety of community service initiatives in the country such as efforts to improve health care and education. Madison said ONE will provide “educational infrastructure” by teaching alumni about conditions in Ghana and challenges facing West Africa, while Yale will primarily coordinate logistics. The trip to Ghana is part of a five-year “strategic plan” the AYA released in 2007 to improve communications among alumni and increase the number of community service projects, among other goals.

Student nonprofit wins $25,000; The Elmseed staff mobilized members of the Yale community to secure a spot as the 28th most popular non-profit in a contest held by JPMorgan.” By Clinton Wang. Yale Daily News. November 28, 2011. The student-run nonprofit Elmseed Enterprise Fund clinched $25,000 last week after spamming panlists and engaging students outside of dining halls in pursuit of votes in a contest conducted by banking firm JPMorgan Chase. Elmseed, which provides microcredit and consulting services to low-income entrepreneurs in the New Haven community, attained 1,757 votes from Facebook users over eight days to attain 28th place in the fourth Chase Community Giving contest, which awarded a total of $3 million to 100 U.S. nonprofits. Elmseed CEO Jared Jones ’12 said the funding will help Elmseed continue the group’s effort this year to increase the number of loans it provides. In 2011, Elmseed has lent a total of $27,000 so far, Jones said, up from $4,000 in 2010. “This is the largest funding we’ve ever received by far,” Jones said. “The grant will allow us to expand and improve our services. I hope Elmseed can eventually be recognized as the organization that drives economic growth in New Haven from the bottom up.” Noah Sheinbaum ’13, Elmseed’s strategy director, said the award will provide a significant boost to Elmseed’s $8,000 annual operating budget, allowing the organization to offer more loans and attract more clients. Elmseed currently serves about 70 clients and offers loans of up to $5,000 at 10 percent interest to its borrowers. Though Elmseed entered the two-week contest six days late, members mobilized quickly to reach out to all circles of the Yale community. Voters had to “like” and allow access to the Chase Community Giving application on their Facebook account, and then they could vote for up to 10 nonprofits. Jones said the staff allotted specific tasks to all Elmseed members: Some offered candy and explained Elmseed’s mission outside of dining halls, while others pursued votes from from alumni, clients and other local nonprofits.

USC School of Public Policy gets $50-million gift; The school will be renamed in honor of USC alum Sol Price, the founder of the Price Club chain of warehouse stores. The Sol Price Center for Social Innovation is also planned.” By Larry Gordon. Los Angeles Times. November 29, 2011. The USC School of Public Policy is getting a $50-million donation from the charity established by the founder of the Price Club warehouse-style shopping chain, university officials plan to announce Tuesday. The school will be renamed for the late Sol Price, who earned an undergraduate and law degree from USC and went on to success in discount membership retailing and in real estate investments. Price died in 2009 and his wife, Helen, who also graduated from USC, died the year before. Robert Price, their son and president of the San Diego-based Price Family Charitable Fund, said USC’s public policy programs in real estate, urban planning and health administration dovetail with his father’s endeavors. “This is a very good time to honor my father and to align his interests and what he did with his career with this naming opportunity,” he said. Robert Price said he began to think about the donation at his son’s recent graduation from the school, which has been called the USC School of Policy, Planning and Development. Some of the money will be used to establish the USC Sol Price Center for Social Innovation, a think tank that will seek to promote sustainable community development in low-income urban areas. Other earnings from an endowment will fund fellowships and faculty projects, Price said. USC has landed several unusually large donations in the last year, including its largest to date, a $200-million gift from alumnus David Dornsife and his wife, Dana, to the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. In August, USC President C. L. Max Nikias launched what is thought to be the most ambitious fundraising campaign goal in U.S. academia: To garner $5 billion in donations by 2018, on top of $1 billion given to the school in the last year.

Campus sees surge in registered organizations.” By Caroline Tan and Antonia Woodford. Yale Daily News. December 1, 2011. Nearly a year after the Yale College Dean’s Office increased efforts to encourage more registration among student organizations, administrators are seeing more groups register. The number of registered organizations reached a peak of almost 450 earlier this fall, Associate Dean for Student Organizations and Physical Resources John Meeske said. That figure marks a significant increase from previous years, Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee Chair Allen Granzberg ’13 said, since there have never been more than 400 registered groups. Meeske said cases like the Delta Kappa Epsilon incident last fall — in which pledges of the unregistered fraternity shouted offensive chants on Old Campus — demonstrated the need for organizations to register so that the Dean’s Office can quickly contact group leaders if problems arise. Still, many groups, and fraternities in particular, are resisting the Dean’s Office’s push. “We’re not trying to force anyone to [register], but we’re trying to encourage thinking about it,” Meeske said. “Our main interest is knowing what groups we have on campus, and who to contact about those groups if there are issues that come up.”Yale College Dean Mary Miller said that the Dean’s Office also wants the opportunity to work with student leaders and ensure that groups share the University’s values. As part of this effort, she said the University will require that registered student groups send representatives to training sessions on sexual misconduct prevention.To provide an incentive, Miller said administrators have made sure nonregistered groups do not receive the benefits available to registered ones, such as access to University funding and facilities and the ability to recruit at the annual freshman extracurricular bazaar. Unregistered organizations, including WYBC radio and the News, were asked to leave the bazaar this year.

Yale upholds commitment to private equity.” By Gavan Gideon. Yale Daily News. November 30, 2011. Despite a Bloomberg News report earlier this month that Harvard is looking to rid itself of roughly $1.5 billion in illiquid private equity investments, Yale appears to remain committed to its holdings in such funds. While private equity investments bolstered significant growth in higher education endowments over the past decade, the asset class also contributed to the dramatic declines that endowments nationwide experienced when the financial crisis struck in late 2008. As Harvard’s endowment proceeded to plunge 27.3 percent that fiscal year, the Harvard Management Company adjusted its strategy to reduce reliance on illiquid assets — an effort that has continued with the investments team’s recent plan to sell private equity holdings. Though the Yale endowment also declined during the 2009 fiscal year, the University does not appear to have altered its approach toward private equity, and two financial experts said attempting to sell established private equity commitments can force institutions to accept poor prices and damage relationships with fund managers. “Yale has established a reputation for being a very patient and intelligent investor in these funds,” School of Management professor Andrew Metrick ’89 GRD ’89 said. “You run some risk of harming that if you dump your shares in the secondary market.”Harvard has worked to increase the liquidity of its portfolio since Jane Mendillo ’80 SOM ’84 became president and CEO of the Harvard Management Company in 2008. The Harvard Management Company’s policy portfolio is aiming for a 12 percent private equity allocation this fiscal year — a slight decrease from the 13 percent private equity allocation in fiscal year 2005, according to an endowment report released by the university in September. Over the same period, the amount of Yale’s endowment allocated to private equity has increased steadily, from 14.8 percent in fiscal year 2005 to a targeted allocation of 34 percent in the fiscal year that began July 1

Donor relationships crucial to new VP.” By Tapley Stephenson. Yale Daily News. December 2, 2011. When Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach departs Yale in June 2012, her successor will have a long list of tasks to complete before the next fundraising campaign begins. Though the University concluded its $3.88 billion Yale Tomorrow development campaign in June, administrators are already looking forward to the next campaign that will begin in two to five years under Reichenbach’s successor. But before that project can get underway, Levin said the University’s new vice president for development will need to develop relationships with Yale donors and faculty — something Reichenbach has often described as critical to successful fundraising. Cultivating relationships with administrators, deans, donors and volunteers requires earning trust over time, and is the Office of Development’s most important job, Reichenbach said, adding that there is no “textbook approach” to this task. Several major donors and Yale Tomorrow officials praised Reichenbach’s ability to form close personal relationships with the University’s benefactors. John Jackson ’67, who donated $50 million to found the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, said he was impressed with both Reichenbach’s “warm, friendly and caring” personality and her attention to detail. Though administrators and members of the Office of Development have largely attributed the unprecedented success of Yale Tomorrow — which launched publicly one year after Reichenbach arrived at Yale in 2005 — to her leadership, she noted that donors do not only have relations with the vice president for development but also with the University and other development staff. These connections will help ensure that the donor relationships formed during the five-year Yale Tomorrow campaign continue after her departure, Reichenbach said.

UC and Stanford rank high in earnings from business spinoffs.” By Lisa M. Krieger. San Jose Mercury-News. December 1, 2011. Stanford University and the University of California continue to be fertile breeding grounds for breakthrough technologies, generating many millions of dollars in annual income for two schools that have played a central role in building Silicon Valley. Despite continuing difficult economic conditions, in 2010, Stanford collected $65.5 million from the commercialization of its inventions, up slightly from $65 million in 2009, according to a new survey from the nonprofit Association of University Technology Managers. The 10 campuses in the University of California system also did well, earning a total of $104.5 million in licensing income — up slightly from last year’s earnings of $103.1 million. “As a university, it’s our responsibility not just to create knowledge, but to diffuse it into the real world, where it can be most useful,” said Bruce Margon, vice chancellor for research at UC Santa Cruz. Such relationships, he noted, aid both schools and businesses. “Universities represent a huge source of potential intellectual talent for industry, most especially in these difficult economic times when many corporations have sharply cut back on internal research efforts,” Margon said. “We want industry to be aware of our eagerness to form relationships, which will then mutually benefit our students, our faculty and the company,” he said.

PRIVATE & PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS

Film honcho donates $5 million to U. of C. Laboratory Schools; Sherry Lansing: ‘It’s truly the most wonderful school in the world’.” By Barbara Brotman. Chicago Tribune. November 30, 2011. There is a place in Chicago that profoundly influenced Sherry Lansing, shaping her 30-year career as one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood and the philanthropic role she has taken on since leaving it. On Wednesday, she will say a $5 million thank-you. The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools plan to announce that Lansing, who graduated from the Lab’s high school in 1962, has pledged that amount to support a new arts wing. The centerpiece, a 250-seat performance venue, will be named the Sherry Lansing Theater. Describing her experience at Lab, Lansing, who grew up in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood, reached for superlatives. “It’s truly the most wonderful school in the world,” she said by phone from Santa Barbara, Calif., where she was spending the Thanksgiving holiday. “It was a totally nonjudgmental environment,” she said. “You were totally free to be yourself.” Housed in Gothic, vaguely Hogwartian buildings on the U. of C. campus, Lab is one of the city’s top private schools. The Obamas and the Pritzkers have sent their children there. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s children enrolled there when he returned from Washington. Lansing’s gift, part of the Lab Schools’ campaign to raise $55 million — the largest fundraising effort in their history — and her account of her years at Lab offer a window into the institution.

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