Notes & Coffee: March 26-April 1

Notes & Coffee is here to keep you informed of all the trending student affairs and higher ed news stories most critical to our field as they develop. In the age of information overload, we’re here to bring you vetted examinations of the stories that matter to our field. We invite you to brew a favorite morning beverage, kick back, relax, and catch yourself up for the week ahead with Notes & Coffee.  

A ‘work-around’ to U.S. ban on student-level data - “The University of Texas System on Monday released a database of its graduates’ earnings, a first-of-its-kind tool using Census Bureau data that its officials say is designed both to help students and to show the benefits of investing in higher education. System representatives described the project as a powerful but “imperfect” workaround to the current ban on a federal database that would link student-level educational data to national employment data, which was forbidden by the 2008 Higher Education Act. As politicians and the public have increasingly questioned the value of a college degree, many policy makers and some higher education associations have pushed for collection and publication of more data about college graduates' salaries and other student outcomes.”

As civil rights office gets more money, it limits investigations - “The omnibus spending package passed by Congress last week will give a serious boost to the Department of Education’s civil rights enforcement arm, even as that office narrows the scope of its investigative work. The legislation provides a total of $117 million for the Office for Civil Rights for fiscal year 2018. That’s about $8.5 million more than the office’s funding levels for the previous year. And it makes the third straight budget cycle in which the office has seen Congress increase its funding -- despite proposals from the Trump administration to cut support for the office. OCR, however, has taken steps recently to streamline its investigation of civil rights complaints, limiting its use of broad systemic reviews and mandating that cases be automatically dismissed under a range of circumstances.”

Opinion: Creating racially and ethnically diverse faculties - “The national movement to increase the proportion of Americans who have postsecondary credentials is quite visible and laudable. As Lumina Foundation, the foremost champion of this idea, argues, learning beyond high school increases American talent and is essential for reducing inequality in our society. But I worry that the steps that states and institutions are now taking -- such as setting ambitious goals for attainment, reforming the focus on remediation in higher education and creating clear pathways for postsecondary students to earn a certificate or degree -- aren’t enough. Too often, they’re datacentric approaches that focus on structures, not people, to achieve more equitable outcomes."

Student voice: Three lessons on beating the odds, from a first-gen college student - “My eyes started to glaze over as I read the seemingly endless questions contained in the 10-page federal financial aid application. I had to complete the form so I could get the money I needed to attend college. Some of my high school classmates had parents, older siblings or friends who’d gone to college to turn to for help. Me? I was on my own. This was last summer as I started the process of getting ready to enroll as a first-year student. I’d later find myself away from home for the first time as a first-generation college student at Loyola University New Orleans. To say I had a lot on my plate is an understatement.”

MORE NOTES

Duty to protect

Tuition hikes hurt diversity

A racial slur in a white sport 

College attainment, future success begin with improving financial aid 

A state-federal partnership to cover college costs