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S.F. nonprofit may lose stimulus money
Nov 4, 2009; San Francisco Chronicle | The San Francisco nonprofit, Economic Opportunity Council, is so poorly run that it should not be given $159,000 in promised federal stimulus funds, California’s inspector general said Tuesday. The problems, identified by San Francisco officials, include spending as much as $542,000 in state money on disallowed items. That includes the $8,300 Cache Creek Casino retreat, $2,300 spent on water, buying $700 worth of coffee and shelling out $460 for facial tissue. The EOC has been ordered to provide monthly status reports to the state and by Dec. 1 create a plan detailing how it will address the changes and reforms needed. Put a check in the “win” column for oversight, for now, but we’ll check back in with the EOC for a progress report later.Aaron Lester

As Tuitions Rise, So Does Presidents’ Pay
Nov 2, 2009; Washington Post | The Boston Globe reported Monday that for the second consecutive year, Suffolk University’s David J. Sargent ranked among the nation’s highest-paid active presidents of private colleges and universities, receiving nearly $1.5 million in salary and benefits. According to an annual survey released Monday by The Chronicle of Higher Education, his compensation trailed only that of Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who took in close to $1.6 million. While many of us are concerned for the very existence of our livelihoods, 23 presidents of private colleges and universities made more than a million dollars in 2007-2008. And median pay for presidents at major private research universities surged by more than 15 percent to $627,000. But wait, there’s more. The Washington Post reports that former George Washington University president Stephen J. Trachtenberg received $3.7 million in pay and benefits in 2007-2008, $2 million more than the total compensation that year for any other current or former leader in private higher education in the United States, according to the Chronicle’s report. Does it concern you that at a time when budgets are being slashed and tuition continues to increase university presidents continue to take in evermore compensation? Don’t worry, according to his bio, Trachtenberg, as adviser to Korn/Ferry International, is helping to find the next generation of university leadership. And if his is any indication, the next generation of compensation packages too.Aaron Lester

After Complaints, Gates Foundation Opens Education Aid Offer to All
Oct 28, 2009; New York Times | Although the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is about as a large as the GDP of most nations, Bill Gates has been compelled to change his stance on political influence a bit due to push-back from state governments. During the summer, Gates announced the foundation’s plan to give $250,000 grants to states to pay for their grant proposals to the Department of Education for the $4 billion authorized in the stimulus package as Education’s “Race for the Top” program. But the Gates money would only be made available to 15 states, the other 35 need not ask. And those 15 states would have to pitch programs largely in accord with the Gates Foundation’s education priorities, including a lot of focus on charter schools (one of Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s priorities as well). The Foundation’s preselected states (Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas) would win the ability to access Gates-funded McKinsey consulting services in pitching their wares (“experts” said that these 15 had the best chance of winning in the Race). To some of the other 35, it looked like the Foundation and the Department had already determined who would be selected for the Race moneys, making the purportedly open competition for the money not quite so open. Some complained, with the result this month that the Foundation agreed to let all 50 compete for its quarter-million-dollar grants. Does that mean that the Foundation is suddenly open to the states that weren’t in the original list of 15? Is the competition rigged? Well, the AP reported on October 25th that Minnesota was always working with McKinsey on its application, funded by a Gates quarter-million-dollar grant. And to apply, states have to agree to an 8-point checklist of the Foundation’s priorities in educational reform. The items on the checklist include, apparently, “linking teacher pay increases to student performance, allowing charter schools to operate largely independent of local school boards and adopting national academic standards.”  Another article suggests those stipulations might include lengthening the school day and replacing school staff. The Foundation’s influence with the Department of Education has led some wags to describe Bill Gates as the “real” Secretary of Education.Rick Cohen



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