Protecting Against “Heterosexism” — for $200,000?

Harvard’s president Derek Bok has written that universities have something in common with gambling addicts and exiled royalty – there is never enough money. One reason why that’s true is that people on campus are almost always spending other people’s money and when that’s the case, there’s a strong tendency to demand all sorts of unnecessary things. After all, if available money doesn’t get spent on what you want, it will get spent on what someone else wants.

The story of the proposed Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Center at NC State is a good illustration of the infighting that erupts when interest groups battle over how to spend other people’s money.

House approves rules for UNC nominations

House members approved this week a bill that outlines the procedures for nominating members to the UNC Board of Governors.

The bill sets specific deadlines for when nominations can occur, as well as when a vote must take place. Many of these procedures were missing in previous administrations and the publication of the rules brings transparency to the nomination process that has been missing in years past.

House members must approve eight members to fill their portion of the 16 open seats on the Board of Governors. These terms would begin on July 1.

Easley’s budget request makes rounds at General Assembly

RALEIGH – A week after Gov. Mike Easley released his record-setting $20 billion budget, legislators were at work dissecting the proposal.

Members of Easley’s budget team were in the General Assembly Tuesday and Wednesday providing legislators details of the proposals included in the budget for the 2007-09 biennium. With Easley’s budget being released last Thursday, it was difficult for appropriations meeting to start until now, because members typically leave Raleigh following Thursday’s sessions.

Easley’s budget, as has been the case throughout his administration, calls for increases in the spending on education, which comprises 58 percent of the governor’s budget. The University of North Carolina would receive an appropriation of $2.7 billion, an 11.3 percent increase from the 2006-07 appropriations. The percent increase far outpaces those of other branches of governments.

Let the Sunshine In

Last November, voters in Michigan overwhelmingly mandated an end to the use of racial and ethnic preferences in, among other things, public university admissions there. In a Democratic year in a blue state–and over the opposition of the educational establishment, most leaders in both political parties, the media, big business and labor unions, and even prominent clergy–58 percent of the people rejected this kind of discrimination.

One would think and hope that the citizens of North Carolina would feel the same way. Most Americans agree that, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, people should be judged not on the color of their skin, but the content of their character. When it comes to higher education, that means treating all applicants under the same standards, not having different criteria depending on a student’s race.

Legislature Should View “EARN” Scholarship with Caution

Responding to Governor Mike Easley’s plan to provide tuition-free college for two years, Shannon Blosser of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy said, “The legislature should view this program very cautiously. It could create an expensive entitlement for students that will put heavy burdens on taxpayers.”

“It seems to be more of an effort by the governor to leave an education legacy than a sound program for students and taxpayers,” said Blosser. “Most of the students who will benefit will be students who have already been planning to go to college – and preparing for it academically and financially.”

Governor Easley’s “EARN” initiative (Education Access Rewards North Carolina) would allocate $150 million over the next two fiscal years to cover scholarships in the University of North Carolina system. The scholarships, at $4,000 per year, would cover two years of college. They would dovetail into the existing Learn and Earn program, which allows high school students to attend a community college while still in high school and complete an associate’s degree in one year after high school at no charge.

Gov. Easley releases budget recommendations

RALEIGH – Gov. Mike Easley on Thursday released his $20 billion budget recommendation to the General Assembly, which calls for a new $150 million scholarship grant as well as a special bond election for university projects.

The budget also increases spending on on-line education programs offered through the University of North Carolina and the North Carolina Community College System.

Easley presented his budget at a press conference in Raleigh. Officials from his administration will meet with legislators Tuesday morning to discuss further details of his budget proposal.

House Committees Announced

House committee assignments were handed out this week, completing the committee assignment process for the General Assembly. Senate committee assignments were announced last week.

Four committees (including subcommittees) will take up higher education issues during the 2007-08 legislative session in the state House. That also includes a committee charged with nominating members to the UNC Board of Governors.

In 2005, the selection process was
clouded in controversy
when legislators failed to follow General Statutes that outline the nomination and voting procedures. General Statute 116-6, which lists the BOG election procedures, states “If a sufficient number of nominees who are legally qualified are submitted, then the slate of candidates shall list at least twice the number of candidates for the total seats open.” It also says that nominees are to be approved 30 days after legislative appointments are completed. Legislators followed neither provision in 2005, leaving some to vocally criticize the vote.

Boseman, Swindell named to leadership posts

RALEIGH – State Senators A.B. Swindell and Julia Boseman will be among the key legislators that will push higher education policy and funding through the North Carolina Senate during the 2007-08 legislative session.

Both were named to key leadership posts on committees that have oversight of higher education spending and policy in the state Senate. Committee assignments for state senators were announced Thursday. The state House has not made committee assignments.

Swindell and Boseman, both Democrats, will chair the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and Higher Education as well as the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee. Swindell is the senior chairman.

Republican Richard Stevens, of Wake County, will serve as the ranking Republican co-chairman on both committees.

Bush FY 2008 budget includes more financial aid

Increases in federal higher education spending were among the proposals included in President Bush’s $2.9 trillion budget for fiscal year 2008, which he presented to the Democratic-controlled Congress Monday.

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings’ Commission on the Future of Higher Education, which issued a report in September, had foreshadowed many of the budget proposals, including increases in Pell Grant funding and reforms of the federal financial aid system.

According to White House budget information, Bush is proposing a five-year increase in the Pell Grant funding. The increase would take the maximum Pell Grant award from $4,050 to $5,400.

Is Leftist Bias on College Campuses a Myth?

Conventional wisdom has long claimed that campuses are hotbeds of leftist thought with professors far more likely to be Marxists than Republicans. Recent research has taken steps to substantiate these claims. Eight separate studies of faculty politics and campus climate have demonstrated that professors with a leftist philosophy vastly outnumber those with a conservative or libertarian philosophy at four-year universities across the nation. The various studies address two major themes: that faculty members are liberal and that their liberal inclinations can affect classroom performance.

Now, a new study conducted by John B. Lee for the American Federation of Teachers concludes that those studies documenting liberal bias on campus might be incorrect, or at least inconclusive. “The ‘Faculty Bias’ Studies: Science or Propaganda,” takes eight of the recent studies on faculty politics and judges them by five general tests of social science research. According to Lee, “basic methodological flaws keep a critical reader from accepting the conclusions suggested by the authors.”

Unfortunately, Lee misses the point. Instead of refuting the results, Lee devotes his time to dissecting the methods employed by the researchers who have found evidence of leftist domination. Quibbling over details shouldn’t detract from the seriousness of the problem. Whether the number of professors who use their classrooms to peddle their own socio-political views is in the millions or in single digits, it shouldn’t be tolerated at all.