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Thursday, April 30, 2020

How bad is it? Bad, really bad - Part 12

Another big jump in new claims for unemployment insurance as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Seasonally adjusted, the jump was 3.8 million. Without seasonal adjustment, the figure was 3.5 million of which 328,042 came from California. We won't call these jumps "off-the-chart" anymore, since we evidently have set a new marker for the chart. The latest news release for new claims is at:
https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf

Obviously, all of this is bad news for general economic conditions and therefore the state budget (and UC budget).

Lawsuit over certain UC fees during coronavirus crisis - Part 2

A previous post on this blog noted a lawsuit was filed against UC demanding refund of certain student fees for spring 2020 due to the move to online and off-campus education.* We now have a copy of that lawsuit. Legal types can read it at:

https://issuu.com/danieljbmitchell/docs/1268000-1268047-brandmeyer__claire_-_filed_complai

It can be both read and downloaded from:
https://archive.org/stream/napolitano-to-uc-unions-4-27-2020/Brandmeyer%20v.%20UC%204.27.2020#mode/2up

Quote from the case:

"University of California has announced that it will return certain room and board costs. University of California, however, has not offered or provided students and/or their families any refund of the system-wide fees or of the miscellaneous campus fees they paid that were unused and will not be able to be used."

The case is Claire Brandmeyer v. UC filed in the US District Court for the Northern California District, Oakland Division, civil action 20-cv-2886.
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*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2020/04/lawsuit-over-certain-uc-fees-during.html

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Health Survey Before Entering Campus

From the BruinAll UCLA employees who work on campus will be required to submit a survey about their health status each day before coming to work starting Wednesday.

Employees are expected to monitor themselves for coronavirus symptoms and report to the UCLA symptom monitoring website every day, said Administrative Vice Chancellor Michael Beck in an email to supervisors.
Those who have internet access will submit the survey prior to coming to campus, according to the email. The university will also provide kiosks on campus for employees who are unable to take the survey remotely.
After submitting the survey, employees will either receive a clearance certificate or be directed to call the UCLA Infection Prevention Hotline, Beck said.
Additionally, certain UCLA facilities, including UCLA Health clinics and hospitals, the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center, UCLA Police Station and UCLA Guest House, will now require temperature checks prior to entry.
If employees have a temperature at or over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, they will not be allowed to enter and will be directed to the UCLA Infection Prevention Hotline.
The UCLA community currently has 25 cases of COVID-19, with 12 students and 13 staff testing positive.
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The last line of the article above says UCLA has 25 cases. This number presumably comes from the official website: https://newsroom.ucla.edu/confirmed-cases
As we have noted in previous posts, the number UCLA lists does not square with the LA Times' article which listed many more UCLA health care workers infected. See:

LAO on Federal CARES Act Funds for UC and Higher Ed

From the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO):
...CARES Act Funds Are Likely Insufficient to Address Total Impact of COVID-19 Outbreak. To date, the data on the fiscal impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on campuses and students is incomplete and inconsistent. Nonetheless, initial data suggest that the federal relief funding provided under the CARES Act likely will be insufficient to address the full effects of the outbreak. For example, through March 2020, UC reported $310 million in lost revenue and higher costs on its general campuses due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This is $180 million more than UC is receiving in federal institutional relief funds through the CARES Act. (Of the $260 million UC is receiving in federal relief funding, $130 million each is allocated for student financial aid and institutional aid.) As UC’s and other institutions’ costs grow as the effects of the outbreak and recession continue, we expect adverse programmatic effects will deepen.
Other Federal Programs Might Provide Relief to Higher Education Institutions. While CARES Act higher education relief grants likely will not be sufficient to cover all of the costs campuses incur in responding to the outbreak, other federal programs could provide some additional relief. Most notably, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is reimbursing state and local agencies for certain disaster-related COVID-19 costs. (We plan to examine the impact of these federal reimbursements on higher education institutions in a forthcoming post.)
State Does Not Have Comparable Ability to Fund Relief Packages. Unlike the federal government, California is required under the State Constitution to enact a balanced budget each year. In large part because of this requirement, the state has very limited options to provide stimulus and relief packages compared the federal government. Notably, apart from internal borrowing and drawing down its reserves, the state does not have the immediate ability to help campuses cover remaining costs after they have exhausted their federal relief funding. Moreover, like other state and local agencies, campuses not only are facing extraordinary, unexpected costs but they also will be affected by the state’s deteriorating budget condition.
Critical for State to Provide Higher Education Institutions With Early Budget Signals. Though the exact magnitude of the drop in state revenues remains highly uncertain, economic data to date suggest the drop could be substantial. In responding to past budget crises, the state typically has started by taking actions such as deferring the timing of payments and repurposing unspent funding from prior years—actions that help preserve ongoing programs. The state then typically has been compelled to enact budget reductions. Given how quickly the current budget crisis has emerged, the higher education segments will have little time to make programmatic adjustments in response to state budget decisions. By August, campuses already will have set their course schedules for the fall academic term (if not begun classes) and staffed accordingly. The less notice campuses receive, the less likely they will be to accommodate programmatic cuts in 2019‑20 and 2020‑21, and the more likely they are to reduce, if not deplete, their reserves. Low reserve levels, in turn, could result in campuses having cash flow problems in 2020‑21 and entering 2021‑22 in a particularly vulnerable fiscal position.
Vigilant Oversight Will Be Key to Assessing Remaining Needs and Building State Budget. Given the amount of flexibility the CARES Act provides higher education institutions and the Governor, we recommend the Legislature conduct oversight hearings focused on the federal higher education relief funds and adopt associated reporting requirements for each of the higher education segments. Understanding the timing of when institutions receive funding, how the funds were spent, and what student and institutional needs remain will help the Legislature make key budget decisions moving forward...

Future Planning Task Force

From an email circulated yesterday:
To the Campus Community:
As we navigate these unprecedented times, our decisions will continue to be guided by the safety and welfare of our Bruin community. UCLA remains committed to providing the best possible experience to our students. We know there are many important questions about the coming academic year and we are dedicated to proactively sharing the latest information about our plans as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds.
Like universities across the nation and the world, UCLA is working to develop plans despite rapidly evolving data and shifting circumstances. We understand these plans will impact all of you and we are committed to a thoughtful approach that is inclusive of the broader campus community. To that end, we have established a Future Planning Task Force that will explore and submit recommendations to us regarding academic planning, student experience, how we continue research and work, our approach to on-campus housing, our policies for events and gatherings and how physical distancing, as one key consideration, will impact these plans.
The task force, chaired by UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Dean Ron Brookmeyer, includes representation from our community of students, faculty and staff, and will take numerous internal and external factors into account. We will share information about key decisions based on those recommendations as soon as we are able.*
As the work of this task force progresses, we wanted to share the latest information available in some key areas.
Decisions on remote versus in-person instruction
While we are all eager to see UCLA return to normal operations, the health and safety of our entire campus community must continue to guide our decisions.
We are weighing various factors and scenarios for the 2020–21 academic year, gathering data and working closely with public health officials before making any decisions. At a minimum, since we know it might not be possible for some students to safely travel to campus, we plan to offer the option of remote learning at least for fall quarter, even if some classes are held in person. As previously announced, remote instruction will continue through the end of this year’s Summer Session A, and we will announce plans for Summer Session C soon.
Tuition and mandatory fees
The UC Office of the President has previously announced that “tuition and mandatory fees have been set regardless of the method of instruction, and will not be refunded in the event instruction occurs remotely for any part of the academic year.”
Recognizing that we need to maintain campus operations, full tuition and mandatory fees will be necessary to cover many ongoing operations related to COVID-19 such as remote instruction and services such as registration, financial aid and remote academic advising.
Housing
In normal times, UCLA is able to offer housing to a majority of incoming and returning students. At this point, it is unclear how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact our operations in student housing and residential life during the 2020–21 academic year and therefore we are unfortunately unable to provide a housing guarantee.
We remain absolutely committed to offering housing to as many students as possible, while adhering to the latest recommendations from public health officials and our commitment to the safety of our students. Because circumstances around the pandemic are rapidly changing, it is not yet possible to know how many students we will be able to accommodate in residential halls and apartments. Please be assured that if we are unable to fulfill housing requests, we plan to offer remote learning as an alternative. We will continue to share information as soon as we are able.
In closing, we thank you all once again for your continued resilience and consideration as we navigate these challenging and unprecedented times. As a world-class public institution, we remain dedicated to sustaining UCLA’s missions of teaching, research and service. All of you and our broader communities locally and globally deserve nothing less.
Sincerely,
Gene D. Block
Chancellor
Emily A. Carter
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
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*Note: There is no link in the message that would provide more information on the task force. Who is on it? How do you make contact with it? Time frame? Agenda?

Time Running Out for Regental State of Denial

As we have noted, the Regents so far have remarkably avoided discussion of the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis on the university and on its various health centers. The most recent meeting of the Regents' Health Services Committee, as we previously posted, steered away from any such discussion.* However, the May meeting of the full Board of Regents (May 19-21) will come after the governor's May revise budget proposal is released (reportedly on May 14 - a little more than two week from now). So further denial will not be possible.

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting (below) on the impact of the crisis on Bay Area hospitals including Stanford Health (which operates as a stand-alone entity independent of Stanford University) and parts of UC-San Francisco. It notes that the UC continued employment guarantee to staff ends June 30.

Bay Area hospitals slash workers’ pay as losses from coronavirus pile up

Mallory Moench, April 28, 2020 Updated: April 29, 2020 6:18 a.m., San Francisco Chronicle

Stephanie Lum Ho lost half her work hours when the coronavirus pandemic forced UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Walnut Creek to halve the number of its physical therapy patients this month and send the rest to telemedicine. Lum Ho and hundreds of other workers at UCSF Children’s Hospitals, Stanford Health Care and Marin General Hospital have lost hours and pay as business has dried up during the shelter-in-place order, hospital executives and workers’ unions said. The University of California said it may begin laying off employees at the end of June.

“I’m living day to day wondering — am I going to be homeless, am I going to have groceries to feed my family?” said Lum Ho, who authorizes insurance payments for the physical therapy office. “The unknown is the most troublesome part of this.”

Since mid-March, Bay Area hospitals have delayed most surgeries and turned away many face-to-face visits with nonemergency patients. The mandatory safety measures cost the medical centers their primary source of revenue as they prepared for the COVID-19 surge that, for the most part, never came. Stanford Hospital postponed more than 3,000 surgeries and saw patient numbers drop in half. President and CEO David Entwistle said the hospital lost more than $135 million in March and April. He said he hopes the hospital will recoup its losses by the end of the fiscal year in September.

In San Francisco, UCSF Health is “incurring significant costs due to this crisis” and reduced patient numbers that which affected revenue, said spokeswoman Jennifer O’Brien. She said it is too early to project the financial impact. At UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, which employs its own staff, some surgical technicians haven’t worked a day in six weeks, said Vanessa Coe, a coordinator with the National Union of Healthcare Workers. At least 300 other workers, including hearing specialists and medical assistants who screen patients, are working as few as one or two days a week, the union said.

Dr. Michael Anderson, the hospital’s president, said in an April 16 letter to employees obtained by The Chronicle that the financial impact and consequences of reducing the number of patients “have been extreme.”

“During the next few months, we will need to make difficult choices to regain financial stability,” Anderson said in the letter. “This is the challenging reality that hospitals throughout the country must address.”

At Marin General Hospital, more than 50 medical technicians lost hours and pay for a day of work per week, said Matt Artz, spokesman for the National Union of Healthcare Workers. Cardiac sonographers and MRI techs lost more days, he said. The hospital was hit with a “significant decline” in revenue from delaying surgeries and has spent $4 million for coronavirus prep and patient care, spokeswoman Jamie Maites said last week.

Stanford Health Care has 14,000 employees, most of whom had to make an unwelcome choice on Monday: take a 20% pay cut for 10 weeks or use paid time off. Nearly everyone took the time off, said CEO Entwistle.

“The reason we’re doing this paid time off ... is to have no layoffs,” Entwistle said. The pay cut to nurses may be more or less than 20%, depending on the number of patients they care for, said Kathy Stormberg, a union vice president. The cut will be especially hard for nurses supporting family members who have lost their job during the pandemic, Stormberg said. “It was hard to support them on a full salary.”

Stanford Health Care is a separate corporate entity from Stanford University, which sits on a $27.7 billion endowment, Entwistle said. “We stand on our own financial feet,” he said. “The endowment of the university does not come into play.”

At Sutter Health, hundreds of employees donated paid-time-off hours into a leave-sharing program to help impacted co-workers, a spokeswoman said. Partly because of that program and another disaster relief fund, the hospital system is still paying employees, even when hours are cut, she said.

UCSF halved Lum Ho’s hours in early April. She hoped UCSF’s policy of paid leave for employees impacted by COVID-19 would cover her, but because her hours were cut due to lower patient numbers, rather than a direct COVID-19 impact — such as a colleague testing positive for the coronavirus — she said her request was denied.

Lum Ho and hundreds of co-workers wrote a letter to management on April 8, asking that leave be made available to those who lost hours because of the outbreak. A week later, Anderson, the hospital president, sent the letter explaining “difficult” choices. He declined the workers’ request.

Coe, with the National Union of Healthcare Workers, said UCSF created a labor pool so that workers could sign up for five shifts at a time, but there weren’t enough for everyone. When Lum Ho logged into the online portal two hours after it opened on Friday, only a couple of spots were left on days she was already scheduled to work. Like many of her colleagues, Lum Ho has used 40 hours of continuing education provided by UCSF and most of her paid time off in this crisis: sick days, holidays, vacation. Just 50 hours remain, she said. It means she won’t visit her family in Hawaii this year. She and her husband will miss his sister’s wedding. Plans to attend a baptism are out. Last week, she applied for unemployment for when her paid time off runs out, but hasn’t heard back yet.  


Source: https://www.sfchronicle.com/health/article/Hundreds-of-Bay-Area-health-care-workers-lose-pay-15232755.php
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*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2020/04/listen-to-regents-health-services.html

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Lawsuit over certain UC fees during coronavirus crisis

According to AP, a lawsuit has been filed against UC and CSU regarding certain supplementary student fees - not basic tuition - on the grounds that the services that would normally be provided by such fees are not available or are of reduced quality or utility:

...“The effect of CSU’s COVID-19-related protocols and messaging is that all students have effectively been forced to leave campus, unless they truly had no other safe place to go,” the Los Angeles suit said. “For students who do remain on campus, services are now extremely limited. For students who do not live on campus, there is no reason to come to campus, since all activities have been cancelled.” ...The fees ranged from around $850 to more than $4,000 for CSU students for the 2019-2020 academic year while the UC basic student services fee was around $1,100, while fees related to specific campuses doubled that or more, according to the lawsuits...

Monday, April 27, 2020

No Fall Tuition Cut at UC-Berkeley

From ForbesIn a message sent to students on Thursday, University of California, Berkeley announced that tuition and mandatory fees will not be discounted should online teaching continue into the fall of 2020.
“Tuition and mandatory fees have been set regardless of the method of instruction and will not be refunded in the event instruction occurs remotely for any part of the Academic Year,” the notice read.
Higher education is in crisis following the shutdown of campuses around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents and students are now weighing their options should campuses remain closed in the fall and the academic year begins with online classes while tuition and fees remain unchanged. The prospect of taking classes in isolation, bereft of the experience of campus life, may prompt many students and their families to reconsider a hefty price tag...
Note: If this is Berkeley's policy, the rest of UC is likely to follow. But since there are obvious problems of continuing with 100% instruction online and yet charging full tuition, something like the "hybrid" approach described in the previous post is probable.

Hybrid reopening in the fall?

One senses there is a consensus forming in the public arena about having a "hybrid" reopening of university campuses in the fall. For example, the president of Brown makes such a proposal in an op ed in the New York Times.* Under such an arrangement, some classes would be held in-person with some kind of "social distancing" enforced. Presumably, smaller classes could be held in classrooms that normally service large-enrollment courses and which, therefore, would allow students to spread out. Large-enrollment courses would be held online, as in the spring.

While the concept is easy to describe in the abstract, the logistics of managing such a system would be complicated. And there are the questions of orientation programs, athletics, dorm management, and food service and, generally, how students and others would be kept apart outside the classroom.

Finally, there is the question in California of what the governor has to say. Of course, there is the issue of the budget which the Regents will finally have to face at their upcoming May meeting (which will occur after the governor issues his May revise budget proposal). Unlike Jerry Brown (and unlike what the current governor did when he was lieutenant governor), Newsom hasn't been a presence at Regents meetings, despite being an ex officio member.

But he has been issuing one executive order after another regarding matters related to the coronavirus. Does he have any opinion about UC should operate in the fall? Even if he chooses to respect the Regents' constitutional autonomy, directives aimed at CSU would create pressure on UC to do likewise.

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*https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/26/opinion/coronavirus-colleges-universities.html. "...Our students will have to understand that until a vaccine is developed, campus life will be different. Students and employees may have to wear masks on campus. Large lecture classes may remain online even after campuses open..."

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Hawaii Telescope Saga Continues

Deal reached on TMT protest policing costs

April 24, 2020, Hawaii News Now

The Hawaii County Council has accepted a $5.3 million agreement with the state for reimbursement of law enforcement overtime costs during demonstrations against the Big Island giant telescope project. The council approved the deal Wednesday after months of delays and revisions, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Thursday.

The amount equals overtime expenses incurred by the Hawaii County Police Department and county mayor’s office because of increased traffic enforcement on Daniel K. Inouye Highway. 
Demonstrators blocked an access road in a months-long protest against the Thirty Meter Telescope Project on the summit of Mauna Kea, the state’s highest mountain.

Telescope opponents have said the project, estimated to cost $2.4 billion, will desecrate land considered sacred by some Native Hawaiians. A previous version of the agreement brought before the council in December would have reimbursed the county up to $10 million, but the council rejected the offer because of ambiguity in the terms. The offer included a stipulation that the agreement would last for five years and surplus funds would be used for unclear purposes. Councilors rejected the deal over concerns the extended agreement could force county police to provide security for telescope construction convoys or other projects.

The approved agreement accepts the exact sum of overtime costs incurred between July 15 and Dec. 31 and does not include a five-year stipulation. Any changes to the agreement must go before the council for approval, County Corporation Counsel Joe Kamelamela said. Council Vice Chairwoman Karen Eoff called the extended reimbursement negotiation “a good exercise in public participation.”

Source: https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2020/04/24/deal-reached-tmt-protest-policing-costs/

New Free Speech Fellows

The University of California’s National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement announced a new class of fellows today, continuing its critical work to help educational institutions and communities foster and protect free speech and civic engagement. The 10 projects, selected from among a highly competitive pool, represent students, professors, law enforcement, policymakers and senior administrators—all of whom are tackling challenging and timely issues pertaining to expression, academic freedom and campus life.
"Our third class of fellows is pursuing critical issues shaping the national conversation around expression and civic engagement,” said Michelle Deutchman, the Center’s executive director. “Their projects will contribute to a rich legacy of research, insight and expertise on free speech in higher education; we are proud to welcome them to the Center.”

Over the course of a year, the fellows will research complex topics such as student activism, student leader information networks, targeted harassment of faculty and the relationship between students and campus law enforcement. Their projects will include developing educational materials and programs that can serve as a roadmap to safeguarding and encouraging the free exchange of ideas while simultaneously ensuring the institutional values of equity and inclusion. Each fellow will spend time on one of the 10 UC campuses to dialogue with students, faculty, administrators and others to inform their ongoing work.

The Center’s 2020-2021 fellows are:
Ernesto Arciniega, UCLA Hispanic Literatures PhD student
- "Lighting the Way for Undocumented Students at the UC: Empowerment, Campus Policies, Free Speech and Civic Engagement”
 
Cerri Banks, Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs, Skidmore College
- "Black Administrators and Black Student Activism - Media’s Impact on Navigating Relationships and Transforming Learning”

Cassie Barnhardt, Associate Professor, Educational Policy and Leadership Studies, University of Iowa, College of Education
- "Comparing Contemporary Campus Mobilization at Scale: Tactics, Intensity, and Media Attention”
 
Ryan Coonerty, Third District Supervisor for Santa Cruz County, California
- "Skokie: Free Speech and Community”
 
Jill Dunlap, Director for Research and Practice at NASPA – National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, and Alice Yau, Police Officer-Instructor-Trainer, Chicago Police Department 
- "Coming Together: Student and Law Enforcement Understanding of Campus Free Speech Policies and Procedures”
 
Nina Flores, Assistant Professor, Social and Cultural Analysis of Education, College of Education, California State University Long Beach
- "Tweets, Threats, and Censorship: Campus Resources to Support Faculty Through Incidents of Targeted Harassment”

Nicholas Havey, UCLA Higher Education and Organizational Change PhD student
- "Are Campuses Echo Chambers? Exploring the Information Networks of Student Leaders”

Jennifer Lambe, Associate Professor, Communication, University of Delaware
- "Best Practices for Balancing Free Speech and Diversity in Higher Education”

Elizabeth Niehaus, Associate Professor, Educational Administration, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
- "Self-Censorship or Just Being Nice? Understanding College Students’ Moral Reasoning around Free Speech in the Classroom”
 
Brian Soucek, Professor of Law, University of California, Davis
- "Institutional Values, Academic Freedom, and the First Amendment”


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Note: More details about the individual projects can be found at: 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Undecided

From the BruinUniversity of California officials have not decided whether to move fall quarter instruction online, as universities across the country begin to create fall contingency plans.

Despite the uncertainty for fall, UCLA has moved all of summer session A and its pre-college programs online. Certain departments have also moved summer session C online, but no decision has been reached about fall quarter, according to multiple administrators and student government representatives.
The UC is using Gov. Gavin Newsom’s six criteria for resuming normal operations in discussions about reopening campuses, said UC spokesperson Sarah McBride. The criteria include the availability of widespread testing and contact tracing, the ability of hospitals to handle patient surges and the ability of institutions and facilities to support physical distancing.
McBride said that while the UC will provide systemwide guidance, campus leadership and local health officials will determine how individual campuses reopen.
During a livestream town hall, Chancellor Carol Christ of UC Berkeley said she thinks fall semester is likely to be a hybrid of virtual and on-site instruction. She added she thinks social distancing and mask requirements may still be in place come fall...

The Way It Is; The Way It Was

California has deferred its tax-due date for its personal income tax from mid-April to mid-July. The personal income tax accounts for almost 7 out of 10 dollars going into the state's general fund. The result, predictably, is less cash going into the state's coffers.

Here is this year (latest data from the state controller):
Last year, the revenue that arrived exceeded the governor's January projection: Here is the chart for last year:


Friday, April 24, 2020

UC Offers A-G High School Admission Courses Online

Yesterday, we posted an item related to UC admissions. Here is another:

UC's online high school opens its doors to students stuck at home

By Nicole Freeling, UC Newsroom, April 23, 2020

The sudden move to online instruction caught many California teachers and schools off guard. But for UC Scout, which offers free online college prep courses to California public school students and teachers, delivering state-of-the-art remote instruction is just business as usual.

UC Scout provides the full range of courses needed for admission to UC and CSU, known as the A-G requirements, plus 26 Advanced Placement classes. It was created to ensure all California students could get the classes they need to be eligible and competitive for college, even if their high school didn’t have those offerings.

Now, it has become a valuable resource for students and schools transitioning overnight to remote instruction.

“What makes UC Scout particularly suited to the present moment is that we didn’t design it just for the present moment,” said Deauna Mansfield, a long-time California teacher who leads UC Scout’s science curriculum and instruction.

“I have all the respect in the world for teachers who are looking to put their courses online, but it’s really hard,” said Mansfield, who spent years as a classroom teacher before joining UC Scout. “This is a process we have been working on and honing for the last seven years. We’ve been able to put a lot of attention into what works and what doesn’t, and to build the classes around that.”

California public school students can guide themselves through any of UC Scout’s 65 A-G approved courses for free. UC Scout also offers a low-fee version of the free online courses that are led by a California-credentialed teacher. Scholarships are available to help cover the cost.

The interactive classes meet California state standards. They feature short modules of high-quality video content that mixes animation and lecture, accompanied by tests, assignments and quizzes to track that students are learning and absorbing the material.

Teachers and schools can access that full curriculum for free, including not only modules and quizzes, but learning management software that helps teachers run an online classroom and track student performance, grades and attendance.

“Teachers are often really surprised to learn about us,” Mansfield said. “I’ve had so many ask me, what’s the catch? They can’t believe this resource is here and it’s free.”...

Full information at https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/uc-online-high-school-opens-its-doors-students-stuck-home

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Opposition by three UC faculty to SAT/ACT as UC admission requirement

UC Regents Should Consider All Evidence and Options in Decision on Admissions Policy

Michal Kurlaender University of California, Davis
Sarah Reber University of California, Los Angeles
Jesse Rothstein University of California, Berkeley*

April 22, 2020

As the University of California (UC) Board of Regents approaches an important decision on the use of the SAT and ACT in UC admissions, a faculty task force report that was meant to inform and clarify has instead mischaracterized key issues.** The report makes recommendations that are neither rooted in evidence nor likely to improve admissions fairness or representation across campuses. The report acknowledges many problems with the SAT/ACT’s use in admissions, but its recommendation that the UC continue to use these tests while taking a decade to develop a replacement would waste both time and taxpayer dollars.

With this commentary and its accompanying detailed analyses of several aspects of the task force report, we seek to provide a more comprehensive understanding of previous research and the options at hand.*** Our goal is to support a better informed decision that will have major consequences for public higher education and the students who aspire to it.

As faculty who have studied these issues for years, we ask the Regents to carefully consider the research and to examine all reasonable options for bringing greater fairness to the process by which students seek admission to the UC. This would be a service not just to those young people but also to the K–12 schools that are the UC’s primary pipeline.

In three separate analyses published together here, we urge the Regents to consider the following:

Admissions policies that put substantial weight on SAT scores create barriers to admission for students from underrepresented groups and lead to less diversity. A fair admissions system would not place as much emphasis on SAT scores—which are proxies for opportunity—as the UC does now. UC campuses could put greater emphasis on high school grades without creating grade inflation that would undermine the fairness or validity of admissions decisions.
Expanding the number of students who meet the Eligibility in the Local Context (ELC) cutoff will do little to change admissions outcomes or increase diversity. Students who are in the top 9 percent (by GPA) of their high school class qualify for the ELC program and are “guaranteed” admission to “a UC campus that has space.” In practice, this guarantee only applies to UC Merced and few students enroll in the UC by this path. A more effective ELC policy would require every UC campus to guarantee admission to some percentage of top students from every California high school.
Too quick dismissal of Smarter Balanced (SBAC) assessments in UC admissions ignores their potential. The SBAC is a professionally developed set of tests administered to all public high school students that is designed to measure how well they have mastered state academic standards. Using the SBAC for admissions would send an important signal: The best way to prepare for college is to master what is taught in the state’s K–12 schools. The task force identified several practical issues that would need to be addressed for the UC to use the SBAC in admissions, in addition to or instead of the SAT/ACT; these could be resolved through a productive collaboration with K–12.
The suggestion that the UC spend close to a decade developing a new test is wasteful and misguided. The UC has the chance now to form a partnership with K–12 on admissions and academic expectations that would strengthen both systems and provide a service to students who aspire to attend the state’s 4-year colleges. Greater reliance on other validated measures of college readiness—such as GPA and the SBAC—could improve equity while simultaneously aligning the now-disjointed expectations of high schools and universities.

Our goal in putting forward these analyses is to support an evidence-based and responsible decision. Unfortunately, the task force report has muddied more than it has clarified and is too hasty in dismissing options that should remain on the table. As the Regents weigh the options before them, we strongly encourage them to consider perspectives beyond the task force report, including those we provide here.
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Michal Kurlaender is Professor of Education Policy and department chair of the UC Davis School of Education, and faculty director of Policy Analysis for California Education and Wheelhouse: The Center for Community College Leadership and Research. Sarah Reber is Associate Professor of Public Policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and Rubenstein Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution. Jesse Rothstein is Professor of Public Policy and Economics at UC Berkeley, where he directs the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment and the California Policy Lab.
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**https://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/_files/underreview/sttf-report.pdf
***https://edpolicyinca.org/sites/default/files/2020-04/uc_regents_admissions_analysis.pdf
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Source of summary above: https://edpolicyinca.org/newsroom/uc-regents-should-consider-all-evidence-and-options-decision-admissions-policy

How bad is it? Bad, really bad - Part 11

Another weekly report on new claims for unemployment insurance with off-the-chart data has arrived. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the new claims were 4.4 million, down from 5.2 million. The seasonally-adjusted figure for last week was 4.3 million. California accounted for 12.1% last week and 12.5% the week before.

We won't have an April unemployment rate until early May and it will reflect the situation in mid-April. There are some technical problems creeping into the gathering of the official unemployment rate. The survey on which it is based is a complicated rotating sample in which new entrants into the survey are normally recruited through in-person contacts. In addition, to be counted as unemployed, you have to cite some activity showing work-seeking activity or indicate you are on temporary layoff. Many of the newly displaced may not be seeking work given the odd circumstances and depressed labor market. How many will consider themselves temporarily laid off is unclear.

In any event, the new claims continue to indicate a collapsing economy (and tax base for the state and thus for UC).

The latest new claims news release is always at https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

No tuition refund

From the Bruin: UCLA will not offer any refund for mandatory spring quarter fees and tuition, despite the reduction in campus services and the move to online instruction. The absence or reduction of campus programs and entities along with the switch to virtual learning has prompted some students to call for a partial refund for the cost of attendance. A Change.org petition with over 43,000 signatures is demanding the University of California provide at least a partial refund for spring tuition, arguing that the majority of students have returned home and are no longer able to benefit from campus services...

However, the University of California has repeatedly said that it does not intend to offer any refund for tuition, citing the continued costs of administration and maintenance on UC campuses. “In many areas the University faces increased costs, not lower costs, due to the pandemic,” UC spokesperson Sarah McBride said in an emailed statement. McBride said increased costs include expenditures on video collaboration, software and website licenses. These licenses are necessary to support large-scale video conferencing for classes on platforms such as Zoom. McBride added that funds are also going towards technology security to support a remote workforce in the UC system. For instance, the UC is paying for additional private networks to ensure security and privacy, and providing laptops for individuals who do not ordinarily work remotely.

Robert Watson, president of the Undergraduate Students Association Council, said he understands the UC is facing added costs because of the move to remote instruction. However, Watson said he is dissatisfied with the lack of student input in the UC Regents and the UCOP decision to not offer a partial refund...

Full story at https://dailybruin.com/2020/04/21/ucla-rejects-possibility-of-spring-tuition-refund-usac-stresses-transparency/

Path Interruption

Let's hope it is true
From an email today:

The UCPath system will be unavailable to all UC employees twice during April and May 2020 while UC San Diego, UCSD Medical, and UC San Francisco transition to UCPath.
Outage Dates and Times
  • Outage 1:  Wednesday, April 29 at 10:00 p.m. until Tuesday, May 5 at 8:00 a.m.
  • Outage 2:  Friday, May 22 at 10:00 p.m. until Thursday, May 28 at 8:00 a.m.
During these outages, you will not have any access to UCPath. This means you will not have access to:
  • View or download pay statements
  • View or download W-2s
  • View leave balances
  • Employee self-service actions, such as signing up for direct deposit or electronically enrolling in benefits because of a qualifying life event
Tips: How to Prepare for the Outage:
  • View and print paystubs and W-2s prior to the outages if you will require copies of these documents.
  • Get employment verifications in advance.
Contact Info
During the outages, the UCPath Center is available to assist with questions related to benefits, including providing forms for benefits enrollment for new hires, and registering a qualifying life event (e.g., marriage, birth of a baby).
You can contact UCPath Center by visiting its website and submitting a question by clicking the “Ask UCPath Center” button.
flyer about the outage is available for departments to distribute to their staff as needed.

What to avoid

Some UCLA employees/retirees have been getting messages such as the one below. They could be dangerous scams. Avoid them. Don't click. Delete.

Each year, as an employee of University of California, Los Angeles you are eligible to schedule a phone call, teleconference, or in-person meeting off campus with a representative for answers to your specific state, federal and individual retirement benefit questions.
At your consultation you will be provided with information on what your expected income will be from UCRP when you retire, and how much longer you will have to work. You will also receive advice on the best ways to utilize your 401(a) options with your UCRP and/or Social Security benefits.
Please be sure to indicate which type of appointment you prefer (off-campus, phone call, or teleconference) in the notes section while scheduling. Please also include your direct cell phone number.
Appointments fill up quickly. Secure your spot by clicking on the link below or simply reply “yes” to this email.
[link]
All licensed representatives are not employees of the college or UCRP.

Because of the last sentence, the senders avoid legal penalties.

Incoming Alumni Regent

From the San Francisco Chronicle: Former California state Sen. Art Torres, a vocal advocate for balancing automobiles with mass transit, is exiting the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors to take a seat as an alumni representative on the University of California Board of Regents. Torres is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz.

“Health and education have long been my two passions, and this opportunity gives me a chance to bring what I’ve learned at UC hospitals to the table,” said Torres, who is also the vice chairman of the Board of Governors for the taxpayer-funded California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

The institute has paid out more than $2.6 billion in stem cell research grants since 2007, with about $1.1 billion going to research at UC campuses. Torres was appointed to the Muni board by former Mayor Ed Lee. His last day is May 20.

“I wanted to stay on so I can help deal with what is going to be a very tough budget,” Torres said.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced Muni to cut service on all but 17 of its 79 lines, and it is losing about $1 million a week.

Torres said the UC system is facing challenges as well.

“Video hookups may work in an emergency, but if the trend continues students will be getting less personal interaction, less on-campus living, even less athletics,” Torres said. “The question will be, will students be willing to keep paying full tuition when they are getting only part of the college experience?” Torres said. “Or will they walk away?”

Torres will take his regent’s seat on July 1. No pay, but UC does cover expenses for attending meetings.

Source: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/philmatier/article/Former-California-state-Sen-Art-Torres-makes-the-15209715.php

Note: Torres is not yet listed on the Regents' webpage (as of 7:30 am this morning).* He was chair of the state Democratic Party for many years. Apart from a BA from UC-Santa Cruz mentioned above, he is also a graduate of the UC-Davis law school.
================
*https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/about/members-and-advisors/index.html

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Admissions Scandal: Remember It?

From the LA TimesJorge Salcedo, the former UCLA soccer coach charged with endorsing the fraudulent admission of two students for $200,000 in bribes, will plead guilty to conspiring to commit racketeering, according to a plea agreement unsealed Tuesday.
In his plea agreement, which Salcedo signed Sunday, prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston said they would recommend a sentence at the low end of a guideline range that calls for 24 to 30 months in federal prison. Salcedo agreed to forfeit $200,000, the sum he pocketed from two families whose children were admitted to UCLA as phony soccer players, prosecutors have alleged. In 2016, Salcedo helped William “Rick” Singer, the Newport Beach consultant at the center of the admissions scandal, ensure that the daughter of a wealthy Bay Area couple was admitted to UCLA, forwarding the girl’s fabricated soccer credentials to his colleagues on the women’s soccer team, according to a series of indictments handed up by grand juries in Boston last year...

UC Loan Payment Suspensions

University of California offers Perkins loan borrowers relief. Will other colleges follow?

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Washington Post, April 20, 2020 via SFGATE

The University of California, one of the most influential public higher education systems, is offering alumni student debt relief in response to the coronavirus pandemic, suspending interest and payments on $140 million in education loans it owns.

The move mirrors much of the student debt relief offered in the $2.2 trillion stimulus package but covers a type of federal loan that was excluded from the deal: Perkins loans. Those loans for low-income students are held by colleges and universities. Although the Education Department is giving schools flexibility on collecting payments amid the crisis, there is no assurance they will extend relief to borrowers.

Nearly 40,000 former students with $92 million in Perkins loans stand to benefit from UC's decision, which also applies to DREAM loans made to undocumented students.

Borrowers will automatically have the interest on their loans waived through Sept. 30, but must choose to temporarily postpone their payments. Anyone who is delinquent will have their payments automatically suspended, according to the university. UC will halt late fees and refrain from turning over accounts to debt collection agencies through the end of September.

"We're trying to level the playing field for students," Shawn Brick, director of student financial support at UC, which has undergraduate campuses in Berkeley, Los Angeles and seven other locations. "We felt it was important to make sure students with loans where UC is the lender of record have the same support" afforded to other federal borrowers through the Cares Act.

Brick said the university system was exploring ways to help alumni with UC-held loans since President Donald Trump ordered the Education Department in March to offer 60-day relief to most federal borrowers. The guidance the department provided on Perkins, he said, made it easier for the university to move forward on those loans...

Given the financial turmoil colleges are confronting because of the coronavirus outbreak, some may not be in a position to forgo money from Perkins loan repayment.


"Depending on the amount of outstanding Perkins Loans a school has, the interest could be a sizable dollar amount," said Bryan Dickson, director of student financial services at the National Association of College and University Business Officers. "That said, it is not unexpected to see colleges and universities prioritizing their desire to assist students in need . . . despite facing their own institutional budget constraints."...

Full story at https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/University-of-California-offers-Perkins-loan-15213341.php