WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 16-22, 2009)

EDUCATION

CHARTER SCHOOLS

In Arizona, a laboratory for charter schools yields mixed results; Study finds that gains fall short of success in regular schools.” By Nick Anderson. Washington Post. November 16, 2009. Arizona’s flourishing charter school movement underscores the popular appeal of unfettered school choice and the creativity of some educational entrepreneurs. But the state also offers a cautionary lesson as President Obama pushes to dismantle barriers to charter schools elsewhere: It is difficult to promote quantity and quality at the same time. Under a 1994 law that strongly favors charter schools, 500 of them operate in this state, teaching more than 100,000 students. Those totals account for a quarter of Arizona’s public schools and a tenth of its public school enrollment, giving charters a larger market share here than in any other state. But a Stanford University research institute reported in June that Arizona charter students did not show as much academic progress as their peers in traditional public schools. Charter backers dispute the study’s methods and findings but agree that schools vary widely in quality.

D.C. charter schools put out a call for protection; Officers should be helping to derail area’s spillover violence, NE principal says.” By Michael Birnbaum. Washington Post. November 22, 2009. Facing a plague of violence, DC charter officials are asking why charter schools, which enroll more than 38 percent of public school students in the city, don’t get regular protection like that at traditional public schools, where about 100 officers walk the halls full time.

HIGHER EDUCATION

State cuts give private colleges an edge; Some campuses are luring students away from UC and Cal State schools with grants and assurances.” By Larry Gordon. Los Angeles Times. November 16, 2009. In the face of massive cuts in higher education funding by the State of California, private colleges and universities have launch an effort to turn the budget crisis at the state’s public campuses to their advantage through savvy marketing and, in some cases, special deals. The private schools are leery of being seen as attacking public higher education, but they also don’t want to miss a chance to gain good students while UC and Cal States campuses struggle with reduced enrollment and classes.

Budget cuts hit Harvard harder.” By Vivian Yee and Nora Caplan-Bricker. Yale Daily News. November 18, 2009. At both Yale and Harvard, administrators have capped salaries, trimmed budgets and laid off about hundreds of employees in an effort to close budget gaps caused by their endowment’s 25 to 30 percent tumble. But some of Harvard’s schools may be suffering more than their counterparts at Yale because the rival universities structure their budgets differently.

Frohnmayer: Make Oregon universities public corporations.” By Bill Graves. Oregonian. November 18, 2009. Oregonian. Dave Frohnmayer, former president of the University of Oregon, recommends in a report Wednesday that Oregon convert its three largest universities into public corporations so they have more freedom to raise money, manage their operations, and revitalize the state’s stifled higher education system.

FAS To Decrease Size of Faculty; Hiring to continue but….” By Noah S. Rayman and Elyssa A. L. Spitzer. Harvard Crimson. November 19, 2009. Dean Michael D. Smith said he will shrink the number of professors in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, ending a decade-long expansion in order to offset the school’s $110 million deficit. In an interview, Smith said FAS would achieve the cuts by leaving vacancies unfilled and offering early-retirement packages to professors. He said the scale of the reduction hasn’t been determined.

Tufts Says Wealthy College Endowments Should Take Less Risk.” By Janet Frankston Lorin. Bloomberg.com. November 19, 2009. American colleges and universities with the largest endowments should abandon an investment strategy that has contributed as much as 49 percent to their annual operating budgets because such risk-taking resulted in disruptive cost-cutting in the aftermath of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow said. Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University and Stanford University, the wealthiest U.S. schools, said they recorded declines in the value of their endowments of at least 23 percent partly because of stakes in hedge funds, private equity and illiquid investments. As those schools drew on the endowments to provide 29 to 49 percent of their budgets last year, the richest universities are suffering the most, said Bacow in a November 17 interview at Bloomberg’s Boston bureau.

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