Notes & Coffee: May 30-June 4

Happy June! 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.

Who defines what is racist? - “In the heated debates of campus politics these days, it is not unusual for some groups (on or off campus) to demand the firing of a faculty member. But the rancor at Evergreen State College over the last week stands out. There, a professor whom some students want fired was told by the campus police chief that, out of concern for his safety, he should stay off campus for a few days. He did, teaching a class nearby in Olympia, Wash., and is not sure when he can return to campus. The professor's critics say he's racist, and groups of students have been holding demonstrations -- sometimes turning into marches across campus and impromptu searches for the professor.” 

Double-edged sword of duel enrollment - “Community colleges are seeing a steady decline in adult students enrolling at their campuses. As the national economy continues to improve, two-year institutions are finding their adult working and returning student populations dwindling. But many of them are turning to a popular source in an effort to boost those overall enrollment numbers or, at the least, keep them stable -- high school students. The growth of dual-enrollment programs at community colleges across the country has given these institutions an additional source of students -- and sometimes tuition dollars. Some experts worry whether these programs, especially as they become more popular among policy makers, are sustainable, however.”

The case for community colleges - “Few states have taken bigger strides than Tennessee, which not only made community college free for high school graduates beginning in 2015 but also overhauled how its schools organized their curriculums. The schools now offer a structured group of eight disciplines rather than dozens of programs. After two years, more than 33,000 students have taken advantage of the Tennessee Promise, increasing first-year community-college enrollment by 30%. "It has completely changed the conversation at the dinner table," says Tristan Denley, vice chancellor for academic affairs at the Tennessee board of regents, which runs the state's community-college system. "Five years ago, students might ask Mom and Dad, 'Can I go to college?' Now it's 'Where should I go to college?'"

Warren: It’s time to hold DeVos accountable - “Last week, Secretary DeVos and President Trump's Department of Education released a budget that would upend the student aid program and make it much harder for students to afford college and repay their student loans. At the same time, the head of the federal student aid office abruptly resigned amid reports of political meddling by DeVos. With the educational and financial futures of millions of people hanging in the balance, here's a place to start scrutinizing Secretary DeVos.” 

‘I Won’t Give Up’: How first-generation students see college - “April 20th (bonus points please), the day she toured the school in Ohio with United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, was a clear win for both Weingarten and DeVos. Even though they mostly talked past each other on issues like the deep budget cuts Trump has proposed and the desirability of school choice everywhere, the visit did seem to signal the end of the long war between the education department and the teachers unions over the school and teacher accountability issues that have dominated the relationship for the last 17 years or so.” 

Coming of Age: Online offerings are maturing even as community college enrollment dips - “A glimpse at some of the statistics contained in the first-ever Digital Learning Compass report underscored an enrollment trend that has been perplexing community college leaders for several years. Between 2012 and 2015, according to the report, full-time enrollment at two-year public institutions dipped by 9.5 percent, or nearly 690,000 students. As the economy has improved, community college enrollment has plunged, a trend has triggered budget cuts, reduced course offerings and resulted in layoffs at community colleges across the country. The decline in community college enrollment, in fact, is almost entirely responsible for the overall reduction in undergraduate enrollments between 2012 and 2015. Undergraduate enrollment at fouryear public colleges was essentially flat during that time period, increasing by just 4,920 students out of a total enrollment of 10.7 million. Overall enrollment declined by about 662,000 students. But while overall enrollments are dropping, distance enrollments are continuing an upward climb that has been under way for more than a decade.”

More Notes

Storm over sexual orientation

The absence of Betsy DeVos

Advocates view HBCUs future warily

First-gen faculty

How to navigate public-private partnerships in higher ed