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Interim charges for House Higher Education

1. Conduct a review of current funding formulas for community colleges. Specifically, focus on the elements of the instructional funding structure created by the 83rd Legislature: core operations, student success points, and contact hour funding and also the adequacy of state funding to sustain community colleges in light of the variance in resources available to individual colleges. Make recommendations for possible changes to the funding structure of community colleges or changes in the levels of current funding given the future workforce and higher educational needs of the state. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Appropriations)

2. Review the state's community college system, including a discussion of taxing districts, service areas and any barriers to access. Examine the governance structure to ensure that campuses in multi campus districts that are outside of a college taxing district receive fair and equitable treatment. Review the accounting and reporting requirements of community college districts to ensure open government and transparency. Study ways community colleges could offer accessible and affordable baccalaureate degree programs in areas where the state has a significant workforce shortage without compromising quality of education and training. Make recommendations to maximize efficient student pathways and to offer more affordable educational opportunities such as through dual credit and early college start programs.

3. Study the affordability and accessibility of undergraduate college education in Texas, including a focus on middle-class students. Analyze the cost of attendance and tuition rates, comparing Texas institutions to their national peers. Review the availability and effectiveness of financial aid programs, and analyze student debt and default rates. Study and recommend ways to promote timely and cost efficient graduation.

4. Study current policies and initiatives at institutions of higher education, including community colleges, and make recommendations toward the prevention and elimination of sexual assault on college campuses. Identify, evaluate, and recommend reporting mechanisms to ensure that students have safe, appropriate, and accessible avenues for reporting sexual assault. Study the existing campus support systems in place for students who are victims of assault, and provide recommendations of best practices. Evaluate the effectiveness of current policies and make recommendations to support the prevention and elimination of sexual assault at institutions of higher education in Texas.

5. Study the long-term viability of the Hazlewood Act, in particular the legacy tuition exemption provision. Review eligibility requirements and recommend changes to ensure that the program can remain solvent. Examine the costs of the program to institutions of higher education, including foregone tuition, additional infrastructure, administrative and instructional support costs, and the financial impact on nonveteran/legacy students. Analyze and report any effect changes to this program would have for veterans and their families. Review current data systems related to this exemption and recommend improvements to ensure quality and accuracy of information. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Defense & Veterans’ Affairs)

6. Review educational opportunities for non-traditional students, including adult learners who did not complete a secondary education credential. Recommend possible funding options to promote degree, credential, and/or certification completion. Develop recommendations to promote programs that simultaneously allow adult learners to complete degrees, credentials, and/or certifications for the purpose of promoting and increasing workforce ready graduates.

7. Conduct legislative oversight and monitoring of the agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction and the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 84th Legislature…and the new higher education strategic plan for Texas as proposed by the Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Open forum gives faculty platform to speak

By Darcy Sprague, The University Star

A lively debate was sparked among university faculty members across the state after Senate Bill 11, otherwise known as the campus carry legislation, was passed by the 84th Texas Legislature in June.

The Texas Faculty Association is hosting two open forums about campus carry for faculty members Oct. 26 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Oct. 29 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Both forums will be conducted in the LBJ Student Center in 3-7.1 and 4-1.9, respectively.

Full Article

He Won't Teach Under Campus Carry

By Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed

Proponents of Texas’s new campus carry gun law say it could help save lives in an active shooter scenario, since those with guns could theoretically intervene or defend themselves. But that rationale has lots of critics -- many of the them faculty members -- who say more guns won’t reduce violence and weapons have no place on college campuses. And the law itself has already led to one faculty casualty at the University of Texas at Austin, with the resignation of an actively teaching professor emeritus of economics who says being on a campus with untold numbers of firearms is simply not worth the risk.

Full Article

5 Things Colleges Should Know About the New Secretary of Education

By Kelly Field, The Chronicle of Higher Education

John B. King Jr., who will lead the Education Department through President Obama’s final year in office, isn’t well known in higher-education circles. Like his predecessor, Arne Duncan, who announced on Friday that he would step down in December, Mr. King is most famous (or infamous, depending on whom you’re talking to) for his efforts to remake elementary and secondary education. Here’s what readers need to know about him:

Full Article

Education Secretary Arne Duncan Will Step Down in December

By Andy Thomason, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Arne Duncan will step down as U.S. secretary of education in December, an Education Department official confirmed on Friday. The news was first reported by the Associated Press.

Mr. Duncan has been a mainstay of President Obama’s cabinet, serving as the White House’s top education official since Mr. Obama took office, in 2009.

Full Article

10 Dead And 7 Injured In Oregon College Shooting, Officials Say

Scott Neuman, NPR

A shooter at a community college in western Oregon has killed 10 people and wounded seven others, according to the Douglas County Sheriff. Officials would not say whether the shooter, who was killed by police in an exchange of gunfire on campus, was included in the 10 fatalities.

Full Article

Crick and Watson Rejected?

By Paul Jump for Times Higher Education

“A double helix? Bit speculative.”

“I regret to say that we cannot offer publication at this time. While your model is very appealing, referee three finds that it is somewhat speculative and premature for publication.”

No doubt most scientists have been on the receiving end of similar comments from journal editors, but surely Francis Crick and James Watson’s landmark 1953 papers on the structure of DNA would be immune to such quibbles?

Not so, according to Ronald Vale, professor and vice chair of the department of cellular and molecular pharmacology at the University of California at San Francisco, who argues that the University of Cambridge pair's research would have been knocked back by Nature if they submitted their work today.

Full Article

The Complexity of Accountability

By Michael Stratford, Inside Higher Ed

BALTIMORE -- Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s call on Monday for a greater focus on student outcomes at colleges was an effort to pivot away from discussions that he said are focused too narrowly on the burden of student loan debt -- discussions administration officials feel are crowding out the debate over structural flaws in America’s higher education system.

The refocusing of attention on accountability, though, again exposed contentious political fault lines that tend to emerge when the federal government tries to use its hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of leverage to reward and punish colleges and states, as Duncan proposed. (A written transcript of his speech is available here.)

Some of those politics have complicated previous efforts that the Obama administration touted as important accountability measures.

Full Article

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