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For-profit college VP named to student aid panel

Gov. Jerry Brown this week named an East Bay woman to the California Student Aid Commission, but an article I read recently makes me wonder whether he’s appointed a fox to guard the henhouse.

Brown appointed Terri Bishop, 58, of Lafayette, to the California Student Aid Commission, the stated mission of which is “making education beyond high school financially accessible to all Californians. The appointment requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Bishop is a Democrat.

According to its website, the commission is “the principal state agency responsible for administering financial aid programs for students attending public and private universities, colleges, and vocational schools in California” and “provides financial aid policy analysis and leadership, in partnership with California’s colleges, universities, financial institutions, and financial aid associations.” It administers the Cal Grant program, which provides public money to students for use at colleges and universities within the state; the program has suffered grievous cuts in recent budgets, even as public university and community college tuitions have increased.

Bishop has worked at the Apollo Group – parent company of the University of Phoenix, a for-profit system of more than 200 campuses plus online learning – since 1997, including serving most recently as executive vice president of academic strategy and senior advisor to the chief executive officer. From 1989 to 1997, she was senior vice president of the Online Campus at the University of Phoenix.

Now, I don’t know Bishop, and I have no reason to doubt her or her motivations on an individual, personal or professional basis. But the hair on the back of my neck rose a bit when I read about this appointment, as I recalled an article in the October issue of Harper’s which cast the University of Phoenix and schools like it in a not-so-favorable light.

From that article:

Currently, proprietary institutions educate about one in ten American college students while taking in nearly a quarter of all Title IV funding – $4 billion in Pell Grants and $20 billion in guaranteed loans in 2009.

All this government funding is notable because enrolling at for-profit colleges turns out to be a terrible deal for most students. Almost three fifths drop out without a degree within a year, and virtually all take on debt to help pay for their education. They default on their loans at about twice the rate of students at public colleges and universities and three times the rate of students at private ones. Those who graduate often wind up in low-paying jobs, doing tasks with minimal connection to their degrees.

The article also notes that University of Phoenix gets about 88 percent of its revenue from federal funding.

Those one or two who get degrees and otherwise would have been shut out of the system may justify the cost of letting schools like Phoenix occupy such a prominent place in our educational landscape. What isn’t clear is how many Americans understand that this is the bargain we’ve signed up for: throwing enormous resources at places like Phoenix so that they can graduate one or two out of every twenty entering freshmen.

Posted on Thursday, December 29th, 2011
Under: education, Jerry Brown | 6 Comments »

Miller denounces end of ‘No Child Left Behind’ talks

Rep. George Miller

The House has ceased bipartisan talks around the reworking of No Child Left Behind, national legislation intended to help boost the quality of education in poor and minority communities.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, one of the authors of the original legislation and the ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, issued this statement:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Committee, issued the following statement after committee Republicans confirmed that they are abandoning bipartisan talks to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as ‘No Child Left Behind’ in the law’s recent iteration. Miller has been working in a bipartisan manner since 2007 to rewrite the law so that it works better for our nation’s students and families.

“I have communicated to Chairman Kline my disappointment that he has chosen to go the partisan route. Partisanship means the end to NCLB reform in this Congress. Bipartisanship is the only successful way forward. The Senate has moved a bipartisan bill out of committee. The House could do the same if it had the political will to do so. Our nation’s children deserve a real process for achieving consensus, not partisan political games.”

Posted on Friday, December 16th, 2011
Under: Congress, education, George Miller | 3 Comments »

Brown names two to college financial aid board

Gov. Jerry Brown today named two Bay Area students as student representatives to the California Student Aid Commission, a body charged with “making education beyond high school financially accessible to all Californians” by administering Cal Grants and other programs.

Ishan Shah, 19, a Democrat from Fremont, is pursuing a degree in political science at Ohlone College. Shah served as a commissioner on the Human Relations Commission in Alameda County from 2010 to 2011, and as a student senator for the California Community Colleges from 2010 to 2011.

Johnny Garcia Vasquez, 22, a Democrat from Berkeley, is pursuing a degree in ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley while working as a student assistant at Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at Berkeley School of Law. He was a community outreach program assistant for the Health Initiative of the Americas in 2011.

These positions require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem.

The Cal Grant program gave financial aid to more than 370,000 students last year. Brown last month signed into law the rest of the DREAM Act so that, starting in 2013, illegal immigrants accepted by California’s public universities will have the same access to Cal Grants as do legal citizens.

Posted on Monday, November 21st, 2011
Under: education, Jerry Brown | 1 Comment »

Loni Hancock speaks in support of faculty strike

State Senator Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, joined striking faculty members, staff, students and California Faculty Association supporters at a rally this afternoon at California State University, East Bay in Hayward.

From her prepared remarks:

“This is a pivotal moment for California’s educational system. In times of economic fragility such as we are in now, we are faced with gut-wrenching choices. It is all too easy for high-level managers to shift a disproportionate burden of cutbacks and suffering to those who are the real heart of the university system – the faculty, staff and students.

“I am here to congratulate and support the faculty of this great university for having the courage to stand up for fairness and for making a stand against the destruction of our education system.

“You have been more than patient as you have watched the California university system diminished by drastic budget cuts, skyrocketing tuition and fee increases, reduced resources for faculty and staff and an intransigent administration refusing to compromise on contracts.

“You have been more than patient as you have watched students suffer the consequences. Every day, I hear from frustrated and angry Americans worried about being able to send their kids to college because their savings have been depleted thanks to Wall Street greed and mismanagement.

“I urge the university’s administration to listen to you – to heed the voices of the faculty, staff and students who are the heart and soul of this great university. You are the 99 percent, and your voice will be heard.”

Posted on Thursday, November 17th, 2011
Under: California State Senate, education, Loni Hancock, state budget | 6 Comments »

Leland Yee supports UC/CSU protests & strike

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, says he supports today’s University of California and California State University day of action, including a student and faculty strike:

“As an alumnus and as a State Senator, I stand with UC and CSU students in their two-day strike. I am proud to have voted against cuts to public higher education and to have taken on the egregious executive compensation practices of the Regents and the Trustees. Faculty and students are united in saying, ‘enough is enough.’

“If we are going to turn around our economy and give working families a chance in California, the UC and CSU governing boards need to stop raising fees on students and stop allowing their top executives to live high on the hog – receiving pay hike after pay hike.

“While a student at UC Berkeley, I protested during the People’s Park movement of the late 1960s, and I thus understand the frustration many students and their families are currently facing. They are right to stand up to the UC and CSU administration, which seems more interested in taking care of the top executives than addressing the needs of our students and low wage workers. It is time to immediately put a moratorium on student fee hikes and executive pay raises.”

Yee has made the public universities’ executive compensation and lack of transparency his legislative cause celebres.

Posted on Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
Under: California State Senate, education, Leland Yee, state budget | 3 Comments »

Education online town hall set for tonight

California Superintendent of Public Schools Tom Torlakson will participate in an Internet town hall on education starting at 7 p.m. tonight.

Torlakson, a former state senator and assemblyman from Antioch, will join state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and California Community College Chanceller Jack Scott in a live, online discussion of the state’s severe financial crisis and it will hit schools unless voters approve tax extensions.

To submit questions and watch the town hall, click here.

Read on for the full news release. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, June 2nd, 2011
Under: California budget, education | No Comments »

Brown names two to community college posts

Gov. Jerry Brown today announced the appointments of two Bay Area women to posts in the state’s community college system.

Natalie BergNatalie Berg, 75, of San Francisco, has been appointed to the Community Colleges Board of Governors. She has served as an elected member on the board of trustees for the City College of San Francisco since 1997; she also has worked as an independent consultant with her own firm, NKB Strategies. Earlier, Berg served with the City College of San Francisco in a variety of instruction and administrative positions from 1967 to 1997, retiring as dean of the School of Health on the John Adams Campus. Berg is a member of the Bay Area Council, and current president of Jewish Vocational Services. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Berg is a Democrat.

Van Ton QuinlivanVan Ton-Quinlivan, 42, of Burlingame, has been appointed as the Community College Vice Chancellor of Economic and Workforce Development. Ton-Quinlivan has been serving as the director of workforce development for PG&E since 2006; earlier, she served as an adjunct faculty member for De Anza Community College from 2002 to 2004, as vice president for internet marketing at Knowledge Universe from 1999 to 2001, and as director for strategic marketing at Digital Island. Ton-Quinlivan also served as a corporate strategist for Pacific Bell from 1995 to 1997. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $116,508. Ton-Quinlivan is a Democrat.

Posted on Friday, May 20th, 2011
Under: education, Jerry Brown | No Comments »

The old ‘tough on crime’ is tough on budgets

I co-authored a story in last Friday’s Tribune about how “tough on crime” – a phrase always subject to interpretation, but well-worn enough in modern politics almost to be considered cliché – is in a state of flux as fiscal conservatives start to say that locking them up and throwing away the key doesn’t make sense anymore.

Today, I see more evidence that this is so, and more strange bedfellows as a result. Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, Bush Administration Education Secretary Rod Paige and former American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene will join NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous on Thursday to launch a campaign to influence state budgets and federal policy in order to reduce incarceration.

“We need to be ‘smart on crime’ rather than ‘tough on crime’ and address soaring incarceration rates in this country,” Jealous said in a news release. “Failing schools, college tuition hikes and shrinking state education budgets are narrowing the promise of education for young people all across the country. Meanwhile, allocations for our incarceration system continue to increase, sending our youth the wrong message about their future.”

Thursday’s rollout of the NAACP’s report entitled “Misplaced Priorities: Under Educate, Over Incarcerate” will take place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a pair of bills into law yesterday that he says will fundamentally change California’s correctional system to halt the costly and inefficient “revolving door” of low-level offenders and parole violators through state prisons.

“For too long, the state’s prison system has been a revolving door for lower-level offenders and parole violators who are released within months—often before they are even transferred out of a reception center,” Brown said in his AB 109 signing message. “Cycling these offenders through state prisons wastes money, aggravates crowded conditions, thwarts rehabilitation, and impedes local law enforcement supervision.”

AB 109 changes the law to realign certain responsibilities for lower level offenders, adult parolees and juvenile offenders from state to local jurisdictions; the governor’s office says it will give local law enforcement the right and the ability to manage offenders in smarter and cost-effective ways. It won’t go into effect until a community corrections grant program is created by statute and funding is appropriated. “I will not sign any legislation that would seek to implement this legislation without the necessary funding,” Brown said.

No strange bedfellows here, however: GOP lawmakers have opposed Brown’s effort to secure funding for this realignment. “In the coming weeks, and for as long as it takes, I will vigorously pursue my plan to balance the state’s budget and prevent reductions to public safety through a constitutional guarantee,” Brown said.

Brown’s office was careful to note that when AB 109 is implemented, no inmates currently in state prison will be released early; all felons sent to state prison will continue to serve their entire sentence; all felons who are convicted of a serious or violent offense — including sex offenders and child molesters — will still go to state prison; and felons who are not eligible for state prison can serve their sentence at the local level.

UPDATE @ 1:47 P.M.: Assembly Budget Committee Vice Chairman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, underscored his caucus’ opposition to this bill with a news release today.

“Governor Brown signed AB 109 after sunset yesterday the so-called Public Safety bill, which is everything but that. It was appropriate that he chose to sign this abominable legislation as dark descended on California.

“This legislation turns California’s Criminal Justice System profoundly, in favor of criminals, and unarguably places all of us and our families at vastly greater risk to become victims of crime.

“Upwards of 68,000 un-rehabilitated, unremorseful criminals will be in our communities, largely unsupervised, without even bare minimum rehabilitative opportunities and greatly diminished, if any, consequences for their continued victimization of Californians.

“The governor signed the bill even though there is no funding to pay local government for the burden being dumped on them.

“It would appear to be a cynical ploy to coerce Legislators and the people of California to support tax increases. In fact, AB109 is now the most compelling reason to oppose these taxes – starving this beast of a bill before it’s unleashed.

“I urge all Californians to speak loudly and long against this ill-conceived travesty of justice.”

But prison-reform advocates aren’t crazy about the bill either.

“This plan is a shell game that would simply shift corrections costs from the state to the counties without addressing the real problem: California is locking up too many people for low-level offenses for too long,” Allen Hopper, police practices director with the ACLU of Northern California, said in a news release. “The massive cost of incarceration is robbing the people of California of vitally needed services, including education and healthcare. What we need is real sentencing reform, such as shortening the sentences for simple possession drug crimes. It’s time for California to stop wasting hundreds of millions of dollars incarcerating people who pose no threat to public safety.”

“This plan would allow people to be locked up in local jails for up to three years, triple the current limit. Research consistently shows that longer sentences do not produce better outcomes. In fact, shorter sentences coupled with re-entry and prevention tactics are both more effective and more cost-effective,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, deputy state director in Southern California for the Drug Policy Alliance. “We’re talking about people convicted of low-level offenses, like drug possession, prostitution and petty theft, often related to a drug problem. But the plan doesn’t include a dime for drug treatment or mental health care. In fact, the governor has proposed reducing funds for those services.”

“Any California corrections reform must include sentencing reform,” said Kris Lev-Twombly, director of programs at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. “A felony conviction is a life-long sentence that should not be applied to low-level offenses. No matter how old the conviction, people with a felony on their record will face significantly diminished employment opportunities and much lower lifetime earnings. They may also be prohibited from accessing student loans, food stamps and other public assistance. This works against individual, family and community wellbeing and public safety.”

Posted on Tuesday, April 5th, 2011
Under: education, Jerry Brown, Public safety, state budget, State Prisons | 4 Comments »

Bay Area people named to education equity panel

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today appointed two Bay Area figures to co-chair a national Equity and Excellence Commission that will examine how school finance impacts educational opportunity and recommend ways to make funding fairer.

Named as co-chairs were University of California, Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. Also named to serve on the 28-member panel were Stanford University professors Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, Linda Darling-Hammond and Eric Hanushek.

The Department formed the commission in response to a congressional request included in the fiscal year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act. Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, had helped lead the fight for that request.

“All our children should have an equal opportunity to achieve prosperity, not just those at the top,” Honda said in a news release today. “Closing our achievement gap, however, is not just about those at the bottom. It is about making sure that every working and middle class neighborhood has a world-class school. The Equity Commission represents an important opportunity to reframe the issue of education equity and raise its profile in the national debate.”

“We have known for years that equal opportunity is a fallacy in our public schools. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which shows the U.S. lagging badly behind most of the developed world in reading, math and science, highlights how equity/inequity in education correlates directly with global competitiveness or lack thereof,” Honda continued. “As poverty increases in our schools, our scores steadily decrease. This finding should make our goal simple: To make every school as good as the schools in our wealthiest communities.”

The commission will meet for the first time in public session next Tuesday, Feb. 22 in Washington to discuss the scope of its work, outreach efforts, and the timetable for completion of its report.

Edley, Berkeley’s law dean since 2004, cofounded the Civil Rights Project at Harvard, where he taught law for 23 years; and Berkeley’s Chief Justice Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity; he held White House policy positions under Presidents Carter and Clinton, served on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and – after having had Barack Obama among his Harvard Law students – advised the current President’s transition team.

Hastings co-founded his DVD-rental-by-mail company in 1997, has been an actiive educational philanthropist and board member of many nonprofits, and served as president of the California State Board of Education from 2000 to 2004; he has led successful statewide political campaigns for more charter public schools and easier passage of local school bonds.

Cuéllar is Professor of Law and Deane F. Johnson Faculty Scholar at Stanford Law School, focusing on administrative law, immigration and citizenship, and international and national security. From early 2009 through last summer, he was on leave from Stanford to serving as Special Assistant to the President for Justice and Regulatory Policy at the White House; President Obama named him last July to the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States, an independent agency charged with recommending improvements in the efficiency and fairness of federal regulatory programs.

Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University where she has launched the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and the School Redesign Network and served as faculty sponsor for the Stanford Teacher Education Program. She’s a former president of the American Educational Research Association and member of the National Academy of Education. Her research, teaching, and policy work focus on issues of school restructuring, teacher quality and educational equity.

Hanushek is the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, and has been a leader in the development of economic analysis of educational issues, and his work on efficiency, resource usage, and economic outcomes of schools has frequently entered into the design of both national and international educational policy. His research covers areas such as the impacts of teacher quality, high stakes accountability, and class size reduction on achievement along with the role of cognitive skills in international growth and development.

Other commission members include NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous; Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund President and General Counsel Thomas Saenz; National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel; and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

Posted on Thursday, February 17th, 2011
Under: education, Mike Honda, U.S. House | No Comments »

Former Michigan Gov. Granholm to teach at Cal

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and her husband, Daniel Mulhern, will teach interdisciplinary courses on energy, leadership, state budgets and the economy at the University of California, Berkeley’s schools of law, business and public policy, the university announced this morning.

The academic appointments will be part time this semester and full time in the fall.

Jennifer GranholmThe Democrat served as Michigan’s first woman governor from 2003 through the start of this month. The automotive and manufacturing sectors plummeted during this time, forcing Granholm to work to diversify the state’s economy – including an emphasis on clean energy – while shoring up the vastly changed automotive industry.

“We are simply delighted that a governor of this caliber and expertise with such a strong legacy has agreed to teach here,” Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley said in a news release. “We teach our students how to apply their studies to solve the most intractable real world problems. Governor Granholm is a role model in this arena. She’s a distinguished policy expert who’s charted a new course for Michigan through hard work and innovation.”

Granholm, 51, will teach several courses while working closely with several UC Berkeley’s think tanks. At the Goldman School of Public Policy this spring, she will teach about state budgets, clean energy jobs, diversifying the economy, and leadership; in the fall, she will add a course on state budgeting and governing in times of fiscal crisis.

She also is scheduled to speak in Cal’s Chevron Auditorium at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 2 on “Cracking the Code: Creating Jobs in America (in the wake of globalization).”

“In these times of tough budget choices and increasing demands on government to solve problems, no one is better equipped to teach about leadership and policy-making than Governor Granholm,” Goldman School Dean Henry Brady said in the releasel. “We are thrilled to have her at the Goldman School of Public Policy to continue our tradition of teaching students how to face tough problems directly, analytically and imaginatively.”

Granholm graduated from Cal in 1984 with B.A. in both political science and French, and from Harvard Law School in 1987. She said returning to her alma mater is “a terrific opportunity to offer students an insider’s look at the challenges of running state government during fiscal crisis. It also gives Dan and me a forum to debate public policy with the university’s stellar thinkers and scholars.”

Granholm, who also is scheduled to be a regular contributor to NBC’s “Meet the Press with David Gregory,” became a federal prosecutor in Detroit in 1990 and was elected Michigan’s first female attorney general in 1998. She was then elected governor in 2002 and re-elected in 2006.

While in office, she signed into law a college prep curriculum for every high school student in the state and some of the toughest turnaround requirements in the nation for low-performing schools. In 2007, she launched a “No Worker Left Behind” program for displaced adults, in which the state pays the community college or technical school tuition of any unemployed and underemployed citizen seeking training for a high-demand job. Michigan under her leadership won recognition by the Pew Center on the States as being one of the best managed states in the country and one of the top states for adding new business expansions.

Mulhern is a leadership coach; the host of “Everyday Leadership,” a radio show on the Michigan Talk Network; and the author of two books: “Everyday Leadership: Getting Results in Business, Politics and Life” (2007); and “Be Real: Inspiring Stories for Leading at Home and Work” (2010). He’ll teach two courses in this year’s fall semester: one on gender, work and leadership to be offered jointly by the Goldman School and Berkeley Law, and another at the Haas School of Business on leadership.

Mulhern also will join faculty affiliated with Berkeley Law’s Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute and its project on health, economic and family security. He graduated from Yale University in 1980 with a degree in religious studies and from Harvard Law School in 1986.

UPDATE @ 3:50 P.M.: University spokeswoman Susan Gluss, whom I’d contacted earlier to find out how much Granholm and Mulhern will be paid, just e-mailed me to say I should contact the campus public records office, presumably with a formal California Public Records Act information request. I’ve just left a voice mail for the public records coordinator, and e-mailed him a formal written request.

UPDATE @ 5:32 P.M.: My esteemed colleague, Matt Krupnick, just heard back from Gluss that Granholm and Mulhern each will receive a salary of $150,000, which she said is “somewhat below the average Berkeley salary for starting assistant professors in law or business.”

Posted on Monday, January 24th, 2011
Under: education | 8 Comments »