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A working group of UNC’s Board of Governors will be meeting tomorrow and Thursday to hear presentations from 34 centers and institutes from across the university system.

This week’s meetings is part of a system-wide evaluation of academic centers and institutes by the board of governors, and a final report will make recommendations about whether any centers should be dissolved or have state funding reduced.

The meetings, which are open to the public, begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Spangler Center, UNC General Administration Building, at 910 Raleigh Road in Chapel Hill.

The state legislature paved the way for up to $15 million in cuts in last year’s budget by requiring that the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors and campus leaders “shall consider reducing State funds for centers and institutions, speaker series, and other nonacademic activities.” (Click here for more background on the review.)

Several of the centers scheduled to make presentations this week include groups that provide services or study issues affecting minority or disenfranchised groups of North Carolina residents. Those include groups like the Center for New North Carolinians at University of North Carolina-Greensboro and the Center for Civil Rights; the Sonya Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History and the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, all on the Chapel Hill campus.

 

The schedule of presentations is below:

 

Centers Institutes Working Group Agenda Dec 10 and 11.pdf by NC Policy Watch


N.C. Policy Watch will be at the meetings Wednesday and Thursday, and you can get updates via Twitter at @SarahOvaska.

Commentary

UNCIn case you missed it over the weekend, ECU English professor Robert Siegel made a compelling case in Raleigh’s News & Observer for a more energetic resistance from the higher education community against the sustained attack being waged by the state’s conservative political leadership. In particular, Siegel faults UNC administrators — saying they’ve “confused access with influence.” He points to the way Wake County’s public education community fought back against the hostile takeover engineered by conservatives a few years back:

“When schools were attacked in Wake County, an outraged citizenry packed school board meetings, demonstrated on the streets of Raleigh and committed civil disobedience. That public outcry translated into door to door campaigning and phone calling that resulted in defeating five out of five board members and returning the schools to a mainstream course.”

He concludes this way:

“UNC administrators all the way up to the president and Board of Governors need to get out from behind their desks and get away from their interminable meetings. Talk to the people, not just students on your campuses. That’s preaching to the choir. Get out into the smaller towns and more rural counties. Hold town meetings. Explain to citizens the importance of higher education. Many of their sons and daughters are the first in their families to attend a college or university. Explain what this state will become if higher education fails.”

Now is the time to speak truth to power. Rent a bus and, in the spirit of great civil rights activists, speak truth to power. That would be a bus we would be proud to ride.

Read the entire op-ed by clicking here.

Commentary

UNCThree UNC system schools will now be able to admit students with lower SAT scores if their grade point average (GPA) is higher than required. The three year pilot program, approved by the UNC Board of Governors on Friday, will allow North Carolina Central, Elizabeth City State and Fayetteville State Universities to admit students on a sliding scale where the lowest admissions requirement would be an SAT score of 750 and a GPA of 3.0.

The schools selected for the program are all historically black colleges and all suffered enrollment declines when the UNC system raised minimum SAT (and GPA) requirements from 700 to 750 in 2011 and then again to 800 in 2013.

According to data released earlier this month by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, African American high school seniors scored lower on the SATs than any other race. This is consistent with African American students performance on the SATs for the past twenty years. Yet, historically black colleges tend to always require SAT scores whereas many predominately white universities have made it optional.

One factor that can affect SAT scores is a family’s economic status. Read More

Commentary

If there’s anything good coming out of the sickening situation involving former NFL running back Ray Rice in recent days, it’s the growing national chorus that much more must be done to end the scandal that is this nation’s record when it comes to violence against women.

Along these same lines and in case you missed it, check out this morning’s lead commentary on the main Policy Watch site by local attorney Chavi Khanna Koneru “Sexual assault on college campuses: The need for federal legislation.” 

As the article explains, UNC Chapel Hill is at the epicenter of what is clearly a national epidemic.

UNC is currently under investigation by the federal government for mishandling sexual assault complaints. However, the problem is not limited to UNC. More than 60 other colleges around the country are also being investigated and students are continuing to come forward with personal stories of unsatisfactory treatment of their complaints.

The mishandling of sexual assault complaints by colleges is a longstanding problem, but these recent stories dramatize the lax federal oversight that allows these matters to continue to be improperly addressed. Universities often underreport the number of sexual assault cases on their campuses and fail to properly investigate complaints yet there have been no effective sanctions against the schools for these blatant violations.

One partial solution to the problem lies in the passage of federal legislation that provide feds with some real tools to force colleges to replace the “good ol’ boy” systems that far too many still employ with respect to such matters — especially when high profile athletic departments are involved. As the author notes:

Read More

Uncategorized

Education-budgetLate last night, lawmakers released a final budget deal brokered between the House and Senate that provides pay raises for teachers and a number of other education funding adjustments.

There’s a lot to process in the mammoth document, so let’s just get started with the basics on education, and I promise you — there will be more to come.

Teacher Pay

Lawmakers say they’ve provided an average 7 percent pay increase for teachers in this budget, but there’s widespread dispute over that figure since longevity pay has been wrapped up into the pay raises.

To see a side-by-side comparison of the old and new teacher pay schedules, click here.

Senator Phil Berger called the teacher pay raise the largest in North Carolina’s history, although the folks at ProgressNC fact-checked that claim and found it to be false.

Teacher Assistants

Lawmakers say TAs are “preserved” this year in the budget, but there are a few catches.

Lottery revenues will pay for a share of the funding for teacher assistants, and a portion of TAs will also be funded with non-recurring funds – meaning there will be another fight to keep them next year.

Also mentioned at Tuesday’s press conference– $65 million that was supposed to pay for TAs was moved back into funding for teacher positions. But local superintendents have the “flexibility” to move that money back over and save more TAs.

*However, that figure is not apparent in the budget’s money report. What we do know, however, is that in the certified 2014-15 budget, TAs were slated to cost $477,433,254 — but this latest budget spends $368.3 million.

Finally, while most state employees will get a $1,000 raise, TAs only get a $500 raise, along with public school custodial workers, cafeteria workers and other non-certified and central office personnel.

Higher Education

While lawmakers said on Tuesday they were able to preserve current funding levels for the university system, what actually is in place is a now slightly increased $76 million dollar cut that was in the original two-year budget passed in July 2013, but not in the most recent budget proposals.

This cut comes on top of years of cuts to the university system that have resulted in thousands of lost jobs and eliminated courses.

In 2011, the state’s universities had to cut $80 million, or 3.4 percent of its overall budget. Five hundred classes were eliminated, 3,000 jobs were cut and another 1,500 vacant jobs were eliminated. In the four years prior to 2011, state funding to the university system was slashed by $1.2 billion. Read More