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Higher Education

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New Mexico lawmakers are drafting legislation aimed at overhauling high school graduation requirements and reducing the minimum number of class-unit credits. High school teacher and state Rep. Andrés Romero of Albuquerque said Tuesday he’ll work as the lead sponsor on a bill that would eliminate algebra 2 as a graduation requirement, among other changes. New Mexico has gone about 20 years since the last comprehensive overhaul of high school graduation requirements. Separately, the state Public Education Department proposed a spending increase of $261 million tied to a possible expansion of minimum annual instructional time at K-12 schools and a 4% raise for teachers and school personnel.

The American Museum of Natural History has chosen college president Sean Decatur to become its next president, making him the first Black leader of the institution. The museum says Decatur, currently the president of Kenyon College in Ohio, will succeed Ellen Futter in April of next year. Futter was the first woman to be the museum’s president. She will be stepping down in March after 30 years in the role. Decatur is an Ohio native with a biophysical chemistry doctorate from Stanford University. He has taught at institutions including Mount Holyoke College and Oberlin College.

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President Joe Biden has visited the building site for an Arizona computer chip plant to emphasize how his policies are fostering job growth in what could be a challenge to the incoming Republican House majority. The Democratic president has staked his legacy in large part on major investments in technology and infrastructure that were approved by Congress along bipartisan lines. Biden maintains the factory jobs fostered by $52 billion in semiconductor investments and another $200 billion for scientific research will help revive the U.S. middle class. Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy has attacked the government investments as a “blank check” and “corporate welfare.”

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A contentious charter school operator linked to a conservative Michigan college is taking another swing at opening schools in Tennessee. This time, American Classical Education is targeting five counties, including three that rejected its applications earlier this year. American Classical Education is supported by Hillsdale College, which licenses the curriculum for free and provides training and other resources. Hillsdale holds outsize influence with Republican politicians, including Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. Hillsdale President Larry Arnn recently spearheaded the “1776 Curriculum," inspired by former President Donald Trump’s short-lived “1776 Commission.” The commission was a direct response to The New York Times’ “1619 Project” focusing on America’s history of slavery.

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As more nurses leave their jobs in hospitals and health-care centers, foundations are pouring millions of dollars into efforts to ensure that more stay in the profession and get more out of the job than just the applause and pats on the back they got during the bleakest days of the pandemic. Philanthropic pledges announced this year to help nurses and the nursing profession include a $125 million donation in February from Leonard Lauder, heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune, to the University of Pennsylvania to create a tuition-free program that eventually will train 40 nurses a year.

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Former U.S. Education Secretary John King Jr. has been named chancellor of the State University of New York, the nation's largest university system. The appointment announced Monday marks a return to New York for King, who was once the state's education commissioner. King is scheduled to begin in January at a salary of a $750,000. King served as President Barack Obama’s education secretary in the last year of his presidency.  He ran for governor of Maryland earlier this year, losing in the Democratic primary. As New York’s first Black and Puerto Rican education commissioner, King was at the helm during the contentious rollout of the Common Core academic standards.

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A federal prosecutor says a wealthy Maryland businessman bought the run-down home of Harvard’s fencing coach for well above its value, bankrolled the renovation of his $1 million condo and helped pay the coach’s bills in a scheme to secure coveted spots for his sons at the elite university. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian Stearns told jurors in his opening statement Monday that Peter Brand “gave into corruption” to accept more than $1.5 million in bribes from Jie “Jack” Zhao in exchange for recruiting Zhao's two sons to the fencing team. Defense attorneys say the payments were loans between good friends and not bribes.

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Tensions over gender identity and sexual orientation pervade the campuses of hundreds of U.S. Catholic and Protestant universities. The Christian teachings they ascribe to hold that God created humans in unchangeable male and female identities, and sex should only happen within the marriage of a man and a woman. But today’s students are used to far different values. The majority of Christian colleges and universities list “sexual orientation” in their nondiscrimination statements, and half of them also list “gender identity” – a big increase from even a decade ago. But translating that into practice creates struggles affecting most campus life — curriculum, enrollment at single-gender institutions, housing, restroom design, and pronoun use.

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Tensions over gender identity and sexual orientation pervade the campuses of hundreds of U.S. Catholic and Protestant universities. The Christian teachings they ascribe to hold that God created humans in unchangeable male and female identities, and sex should only happen within the marriage of a man and a woman. But today's students are used to far different values. The majority of Christian colleges and universities list “sexual orientation” in their nondiscrimination statements, and half of them also list “gender identity” – a big increase from even a decade ago. But translating that into practice creates struggles affecting most campus life — curriculum, enrollment at single-gender institutions, housing, restroom design, and pronoun use.

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The CIA Officers Memorial Foundation provides college tuition and other expenses to children of fallen officers. Unsurprisingly, much of the charitable work to support those families goes on in private. The leaders want to change that by holding gatherings for the children of fallen officers and gradually telling more of their stories publicly. The foundation recently hired the daughter of one of seven officers to die in a December 2009 attack on the CIA's base in Khost, Afghanistan. Calista Anderson wants to help other children of fallen officers and shares her memories of her mother, Jennifer Matthews.

Two college students have won $100,000 in tuition after a confusing finish in the SEC championship game’s halftime competition. Boos rained down from the fans in attendance for the game between No. 1 Georgia and No. 11 LSU when one of the two students appeared to win the Dr Pepper ball toss competition in overtime on a technicality. The winner was due to get $100,000 and the runner-up $20,000. Baylor student Reagan Whitaker and St. Augustine student Kayla Gibson exchanged leads multiple times in regulation. In overtime, they tied again, but Whitaker was declared the winner. It was announced on the broadcast in the fourth quarter of the game that Dr Pepper would gift both Whitaker and Gibson with $100,000 in tuition.

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A surge of anti-Jewish vitriol spread by celebrities is stoking fears that public figures are normalizing hate and ramping up the risk of violence. Former President Donald Trump hosted a Holocaust-denying white supremacist at Mar-a-Lago. The rapper Ye expressed love for Adolf Hitler in an interview. Basketball star Kyrie Irving appeared to promote an antisemitic film on social media. Those are just a few recent examples of influential people abusing their platforms to amplify antisemitism in a way that has been taboo for decades in the U.S. Some people say the incidents harken back to a darker time in America when powerful people routinely spread conspiracy theories about Jews with impunity.

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Indiana's Republican attorney general can continue his investigation of an Indianapolis doctor who spoke publicly about providing an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim. The girl had traveled from Ohio after its more-restrictive abortion law took effect this summer. A judge on Friday rejected an attempt to block Attorney General Todd Rokita's investigation of Dr. Caitlin Bernard. Rokita alleges Bernard violated child abuse reporting and patient privacy laws. Bernard denies wrongdoing. The same judge also ruled Friday in a separate lawsuit that Indiana’s abortion ban adopted in August violates the state’s religious freedom law. The Indiana abortion ban was already on hold because of another legal challenge.

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It’s been nearly three weeks since four University of Idaho students were found stabbed to death in a home near campus, but there are still many questions surrounding the investigation. The horrific case has left the small town of Moscow stunned and grieving for Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin. It has also grabbed the attention of thousands of would-be armchair sleuths, many of whom are posting speculation and unfounded rumors online. The Moscow Police Department has not yet identified a suspect in the case. The department wrote in a Facebook post Thursday evening that all the speculation is stoking community fears and spreading false information.

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A rural Arizona county has certified its midterm election results after blowing past the deadline in state law. The Cochise County Board of Supervisors voted Thursday to follow the orders of a judge who ruled that they broke the law when they refused to sign off on the vote count by this week’s deadline. Two Republicans on Cochise County’s three-member board of supervisors did not cite any problems with the election results as a reason to delay. Rather, they say they weren’t satisfied that the machines used to tabulate ballots were properly certified for use in elections, though state and federal election officials have said they were.

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The Supreme Court says the Biden administration program to cancel student loans will remain blocked for now, but the justices have agreed to take up the case in late winter. The court’s decision to hear arguments relatively quickly means it is likely to determine whether the widespread loan cancellations are legal by late June. That’s about two months before the newly extended pause on loan repayments is set to expire. The administration had wanted a court order that would have allowed the program to take effect even as court challenges proceed. But as a fallback, it suggested the high court hold arguments and decide the issue.

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As hundreds of students mourned together inside the University of Idaho’s stadium Wednesday night, family members of four slain classmates urged them to raise their eyes from grief and focus on love and the future. The vigil was held in honor of Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin. The four students were stabbed to death in a home near campus in November, and police have yet to make an arrest in the case. Goncalves' father Steve Goncalves told people at the vigil that the only cure for pain is love. He urged mourners to honor the students' memories by being kinder and more loving to each other.

A Kansas Supreme Court justice has resigned in protest from a part-time teaching job at a state law school following what he says was an unsuccessful university attempt to pressure students into canceling an event featuring a leader of a group that opposes LGBTQ rights. Justice Caleb Stegall’s protest last week came amid ongoing national debates over free speech on college campuses and what’s taught in colleges and in K-12 classrooms. Stegall decried what he called the law school's closed culture. The law school's dean disagreed with that assessment but said it values Stegall's views. Disputes in other states have prompted lawmakers to pass laws dealing with free speech.

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The ACLU of Arizona says it is suing the city of Phoenix in order to block resumed sweeps of a huge homeless encampment downtown that they say has displaced people and destroyed identification documents, prescription medications and other belongings. The ACLU says it filed the complaint late Wednesday in the U.S. District Court of Arizona to halt the city's possible resumption in December of raids that were paused at the beginning of 2022. It's the latest move in an ongoing tug-of-war between advocates and cities in Western states over how best to tackle the problem of homelessness.

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Yale University is being accused of discriminating against students with mental health disabilities, including pressuring some to withdraw from the prestigious institution and then placing “unreasonable burdens” on those who seek to be reinstated. The lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Connecticut on behalf of current and former students seeks no monetary damages. Rather, it demands changes to Yale’s current withdrawal policies, including the required forfeiture of health insurance and tuition payments, among other rules. The plaintiffs contend Yale needs to implement a process for handling students with mental health needs that’s more accommodating for individuals. Yale's president has said the reinstatement policy has been eased.

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New Mexico's state Canvassing Board certified results from the midterm election on Tuesday in a 3-0 vote amid praise for election administrators and poll workers. The board meeting was the culmination a once-routine process that in some locations has become a focal point for those voicing distrust in voting systems. Election results have largely been certified without issue in jurisdictions across the country, though Republican officials in a rural Arizona county have so far refused. New Mexico’s 33 counties already certified results of the Nov. 8 election. Democrats maintained control of every statewide elected office and flipped a congressional seat.

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Postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers on Tuesday reached a tentative labor agreement with the University of California. But they'll remain on strike in solidarity with thousands of graduate student workers at all 10 of the university system's campuses. The union representing the scholars and researchers said the deal would provide “substantial wage increases that address cost of living.” The agreement must be ratified in a vote by members. The postdoctoral employees and researchers make up about 12,000 of the 48,000 union members who walked off the job three weeks ago. About 36,000 graduate student teaching assistants, tutors and researchers are bargaining separately and remain on strike.

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A program offering cash and free outdoor adventures to remote workers to move to West Virginia with the hope of offsetting population losses has welcomed 143 new residents since its launch. The public-private program Ascend West Virginia on Tuesday added a fourth destination where out-of-state workers can apply to live. Applications are being accepted immediately for the Elkins area in the northeastern part of the state, as well as three other previously announced areas. Successful applicants will receive $12,000 along with free passes to indulge in whitewater rafting, golf, rock climbing, horseback riding, skiing and ziplining. The 2020 census found that West Virginia lost a greater percentage of its residents than any other state in the past decade.

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Chinese universities are sending students home and police are fanning out in Beijing and Shanghai to prevent more protests. That comes after crowds angered by severe anti-virus restrictions called for leader Xi Jinping to resign in the biggest show of public dissent in decades. Authorities have eased some controls after demonstrations in at least eight mainland cities and Hong Kong. But they showed no sign of backing off their larger “zero-COVID” strategy that has confined millions of people to their homes for months at a time. Security forces have detained an unknown number of people and stepped up surveillance. With police out in force, there was no word of protests Tuesday in Beijing, Shanghai or other major mainland cities. A small group gathered at a university in Hong Kong.

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