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2VCs on…how is Brexit impacting universities?

Brexit is a huge issue for British universities. Nearly 34,000 academics working in the UK have come from elsewhere in Europe, and vice-chancellors say being able to net the very best staff from abroad is crucial to their ongoing success.

Last month the Russell Group of elite research universities demanded urgent clarity for both their European staff and students. But what exactly does it feel like on the ground? Strikingly many vice chancellors (vcs) have chosen not to speak out individually about Brexit, preferring to leave campaigning to their national mission groups.

In the latest of our new discussion series, 2VCs, Anna Fazackerley talks to Prof Tim O’Shea, vc of Edinburgh University, and Prof Alistair Fitt, vc of Oxford Brookes University, about what Brexit means for their universities.

Edinburgh University, which is a member of the Russell Group, prides itself on being a European university and even has a research centre, the Europa Institute, focusing on European integration. Fourteen per cent of the university’s students are from from Europe, and one quarter of its academics come from other EU countries. Plus 10% of its total research income comes from the EU, and the university says 30% of its academic papers have been co-authored by European academics in the last 10 years.

Oxford Brookes is a leading modern university. Twenty-one per cent of its students are international, drawn from 151 countries worldwide, and this includes 8% from from other countries in Europe. The university has nearly 250 non-UK EU national staff, out of a total of just under 2,000. Although the university’s research income is considerably lower than Edinburgh’s, it nonetheless depends on European sources for a good chunk of its research, with just over a fifth of its total grants and contracts from EU sources in 2015-16.

How have European academics reacted to Brexit?

Alistair Fitt begins by remembering the shock on his campus a year ago, when the news that we were leaving Europe first hit home. “The biggest feeling from our EU staff was one of hurt. A lot of our staff were very upset.” A year on, he says, some still feel the same level of emotion. Others have moved to a feeling of acceptance. But everyone would like more certainty about what their future in Britain will hold.

Oxford Brookes has brought in external experts to talk to staff, run lots of advice sessions, and Prof Fitt has been working overtime on the reassurance. “I’ve tried as often as I can to reiterate the importance of EU and international staff,” he says. “But of course there are still a lot of unknowns.” He feels that it is positive that the rights of EU nationals seem to be one of the key early strands of negotiation, “but the sooner we can have a resolution to communicate to staff to ease concerns among them and their families the better”.

I am expecting to hear Brexit doom from Tim O’Shea, who told MPs on the Scottish affairs committee last October that leaving Europe would be somewhere from “bad to awful to catastrophic” for universities. Yet today he says he is much more hopeful. EU student numbers at Edinburgh are up 4% this year, and Edinburgh has recruited 235 new staff from Europe since the vote to leave last June.

I ask Prof O’Shea whether he has had to do some furious paddling under the water to persuade these people to come in the current climate. “Obviously,” he replies. “We’ve had to provide extra facilities in terms of advice and support, such as free one-to-one advice sessions with immigration lawyers. But clearly there is a network there that is saying Edinburgh will look after you.”

Should there be special pleading for university staff?

The government has talked about the possibility of negotiating a special relationship for workers in key international jobs, such as the city and the car industry.

Prof O’Shea is unequivocal on this. “Higher education more than any other sector requires international mobility of students and staff. It is vital for the future of UK HE that it has special terms.” To prove the point he cites Edinburgh particle physicist Prof Peter Higgs, who won the Nobel Prize in 2013 – shared with Belgian Francois Englert – for devising a mechanism to explain why the most basic building blocks in the universe have mass. “We are world leaders in particle physics and that means working with CERN in Switzerland, and the big labs in Chicago, Stanford and Tokyo,” he says. “Pretty much every country in the world participates in CERN.”

Could today’s academics could be doing more of this global collaboration on skype?

“The world wide web was invented by Tim Berners Lee so that particle physicists could access the data sets at CERN in Switzerland whilst staying in California,” Prof O’Shea admits. “Often it is highly rational to do it remotely.” But he adds that sometimes there is no substitute for actually being there and meeting collaborators and sharing big or expensive facilities.

Prof Fitt agrees: “10 or 15 years ago people were predicting the decline and fall of the academic conference, saying there is no need for people to all be in the same place. We haven’t seen that at all – they still really matter for sharing ideas.”

Are you happy with the idea of Europeans applying for “settled status”?

Both vice-chancellors say they are broadly content with the government’s new plan for all EU citizens living in Britain to apply for a place on a “settled status” register in order to stay after Brexit. One issue they are both anxious about is that European academics should be able to leave and work elsewhere for a couple of years without losing their right to that status.

“If you look at the CVs of the folk who are appointed here it would be very unusual for them to have worked only in the UK,” Prof O’Shea says. In fact he says his university actively prefers people to have had experience at good universities abroad – which has Prof Fitt nodding in agreement.

Are you fearful of losing European staff because of Brexit?

University College London revealed last month that 95% of its senior EU staff have been offered jobs by competitor institutions in Europe. I ask if this is something that is happening across the UK?

Prof Fitt says that their EU staff numbers are slightly up on last year. But he is pragmatic about staff wanting a safety net. “Look, if I was an EU member of staff I would probably consider checking out my options as a sensible thing to do,” he says.

Prof O’Shea refuses to see poaching as a Brexit issue. “We recruit some of the
best people in the world. Naturally their home countries are interested in them, but they were interested in getting them back before Brexit. This hasn’t changed.”

I push them both on whether any potential new European recruits have backed out of appointments following Brexit. Prof O’Shea is adamant that this hasn’t happened. Prof Fitt is a little more open: “I had expected that by now this would be a problem,” he admits. “And I have talked to people in universities who have said what a huge problem it is and what terrible experiences they have had. But I haven’t found a single case of a recruitment issue that didn’t happen because of Brexit. That’s not to say it won’t happen in the future.”

What about research funding?

Earlier this month the government published its Brexit science position paper, outlining its desire to build a “deep and special” partnership with the EU on science. The two vcs are both delighted with the suggestion that Britain will continue to pay into joint European research programmes, including the flagship 80bn euros Horizon 2020 fund. “I think it’s great news, really great,” Prof O’Shea

Prof Fitt says that his key concern is that Britain should have “meaningful access” to the next European research framework. “It’s not just the money, it’s about access to facilities and access to people. And the sticking point will be whether we have any say in what happens to the money.”

Prof Fitt explains that prior to Horizon 2020 there was a big political battle over whether funding should be awarded to projects based primarily on excellence or on the desire to build capacity in certain areas. “The result for Horizon 2020 was awards should be made with excellence as the first criteria. But I dare say if that decision hadn’t been taken the UK wouldn’t still be the only bit of Europe that gets more money out of this pot than we put in.”

He adds: “If FP9 was to become completely focused on capacity building rather than research excellence I think it would be very hard for the UK to do well out of that.”

How has student recruitment been affected by Brexit?

“We won’t know exact EU student numbers for this year until enrolment has finished. But what we are similar to the rest of the sector in that our number of European applications has gone down, but not by a vast amount,” Prof Fitt says.

Prof O’Shea counters proudly that his university is in a very different position, with numbers up. Though with the Scottish government committing to giving them free tuition for their entire course (and that now holds for those starting next year too) this is perhaps to be expected.

I ask whether the two universities are both uncomfortably exposed given their reliance on European students who may decide not to come if they are charged the same high fees as international students post Brexit.

“At Edinburgh we don’t feel at all exposed because our overall demand from around the world is so high,” Prof O’Shea says. “But we would very much prefer to maintain the current mix.”

“We’ve got years of experience recruiting international students, it’s something we know how to do,” Prof Fitt agrees.

Are vice-chancellors in a weak position to make Brexit demands?

It has been a summer of bad headlines for universities, with a public furore over tuition fees, and former education secretary Lord Adonis leading an assault on vcs for paying themselves too much. I ask the VCs whether they worry that this is a bad time to be demanding special favours after Brexit.

Both noticeably dodge any discussion of their own salaries. But Prof Fitt says: “I think people are generally smart. I think they know that what we’ve heard from Lord Adonis is a bit of a red herring.”

Prof O’Shea agrees. “I’m not worried at all. All the positive stories about our research completely swamp all that sort of stuff.” He adds: “I think the new chief executive of Universities UK is doing an exemplary job. But it is a pity that he has to spend time dealing with nonsense.”

Tim O’Shea

Tim O’Shea. Photograph: Edinburgh University

What was your first degree and where did you study?
Mathematics and experimental psychology, Sussex University

What is your secret vice?
Chinese dumplings

What is your signature dish?
Scallops with lardons, onions, garlic, chilli and ginger

Name three things you love about your university city.
Architecture, August Festivals, Arthur’s Seat

Have you ever lived abroad?
Yes, in Schwabia, Texas, California, Kilkenny, Mumbai, Duesseldorf and Ruesselsheim.

What book is on your bedside table?
Days without End – Sebastian Barry

What did you want to be when you were 18?
A chef

Alistair Fitt

Alistair Fitt. Photograph: Oxford Brookes University

What was your first degree and where did you study?
Mathematics, Lincoln College, Oxford University

What is your secret vice?
Nerdy golf technology

What is your signature dish?
Home-made curry

Name three things you love about your university city.
It’s a true city of learning, the city is full of very smart people, and our surroundings are really beautiful

Have you ever lived overseas?

What book is on your bedside table?
1947 Wisden Cricketers Almanac

What did you want to be when you were 18?
A mathematician

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New Dickinson president brings global experience, wants to make local difference

Margee Ensign knows these are changing times, and that the Carlisle college she now leads could be preparing its students for jobs that – due to technology and other changes – have yet to be created.

“I think we have entered a phase where people think it’s just the technical, narrow skills that a person needs to survive in this rapidly changing environment,” the new president of Dickinson College noted.

“I think it’s the contrary – we need those skills, but we need those people who can think broadly, who are open-minded, who have studied across disciplines. Those are the ones who I think will be our leaders and our problem-solvers,” she said.

Giving her students that multifaceted education while being true to the heritage of Dickinson, and increasing the college’s outreach into the Carlisle-area community, are some top goals for Ensign, who began as the college’s 29th president July 1.

She knows that Dickinson was founded 234 years ago this month “to offer students a useful and progressive education in the arts and sciences … grounded in a strong sense of civic duty to become citizen-leaders,” as a college history noted.

Ensign, who will be 63 early next month, is well-known in higher education as the former president of the American University of Nigeria. Her university faced enormous security challenges from the Boko Haram uprising, and Ensign’s work was featured in a Smithsonian Magazine story, “Escape From Boko Haram,” which lauded Ensign as a “fearless American educator.”

In an area where 85 percent of the population was illiterate, Ensign as the AUN president joined leaders in her region – AUN is in Yola, Nigeria – in launching “A Year of Literacy.”

She noted in a recent interview with the Business Journal that “sometimes where you focus on one or two seams (issues), you have more impact. I’m not saying we’re going to do that (at Dickinson), but we’re going to meet with community leaders here to make sure we’re in sync with how they perceive the challenges, whether they’re in health care, education or other areas.”

Ensign, who will be formally installed as the new college president on Oct. 7, plans to soon address what she sees as the top 10 challenges in her college’s community.

“We want to make sure we’re targeting the issues and the challenges that the community leaders see as the key ones, and to maximize everyone’s resources to solve these problems,” said Ensign, who combines a desire to help locally with a global world view and experience.

Ensign earned a bachelor’s degree from New College in Florida and a doctorate in international political economy from the University of Maryland.

Once she was named president of Dickinson earlier this year, “it became quite clear that we’re at such a different time in America and the world, both in terms of economic development and political development,” she said. “It’s a wonderful and challenging time to be home. We may be at a similar point in history as we were in 1783,” when Dickinson was founded, the first school to get a charter in the new United States.

Ensign feels she will be able to use her position to promote Dickinson’s traditional emphasis on civic engagement: “As I learned profoundly in Nigeria, when young people are confronted by the real problems in society, by working on them and by trying to solve them, it really changes the way they think, and it changes the discussions in the classroom” and extends into their lives, she said.

Ensign, who is launching efforts to boost student and staff awareness of various cultures and backgrounds, also is proud of Dickinson’s role in joining, just before she started, the American Talent Initiative effort to boost the college’s number of high-achieving, lower-income students: “That’s where my heart lies, in making sure that we can extend a world-class education to as many young people who have the hunger for this terrific education as possible.”

At the same time, Dickinson’s current enrollment of lower – and moderate-income students is “quite extraordinary – something I’m extremely proud of,” Ensign said.

Ensign lost a valued professional mentor when former Tulane University President Eamon Kelly, who Ensign had worked for, died this past summer.

“That was a hard one, because he was the one I would always go to when I was starting something new, and he knew me almost better than anybody professionally. Those relationships shape you,” she said.

“I’ve really had terrific mentors, both female and male, in my career, so my advice would be to make sure you develop those relationships. If you’re a student, make sure you know your faculty members, because they can give you not only educational advice but also career and personal advice.”

Similarly, Ensign said mentoring younger people and women is a role she embraces: “I would say to young people, it’s about knowledge, skills and having people who can give you honest advice, and it’s important to build those relationships and those networks.

“It’s pretty clear that we need to educate young people to be prepared for the unknown, to ask the big questions and learn how to solve problems,” she added. “I feel very strongly that’s what a liberal-arts and science education does – by forcing students to work across disciplines.”

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‘It’s crucial that deaf learners get the careers advice they need’

Sixty-one per cent of young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) go into further education, compared with 34 per cent of the wider population, studies show. For these young people, it’s vital they receive support from FE colleges to get into employment when they leave.

The UK has major skills shortages in many sectors, and Brexit may mean we are less likely to be able to rely on EU immigration to help plug the skills gap. The education secretary, Justine Greening, recently made a speech in which she talked about creating “an army of skilled young people for British business”, and with the introduction of new T-level qualifications, FE colleges will be at the forefront of helping to prepare young people for the world of work

At the National Deaf Children’s Society, we recently commissioned research into the transitions that deaf young people make from FE into employment, and we found some worrying trends.

The research found that nearly 70 per cent of deaf young people go into FE. Based on the feedback we get from so many young people and their parents, we suspected that the support available to help them find work might be poor and patchy. Sadly our research confirmed this.

Some 59 per cent of parents of deaf young people said their child’s college did not help them find any work experience or placement opportunities, while 39 per cent of parents stated their child had not received any careers support or guidance at college.

On top of this, the research showed that when young people do receive work experience and careers support from their FE college, they are more likely to go into employment or further study as a direct result. Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of deaf young people who received career advice ended up in full-time higher education or employment, compared with 60 per cent of those who did not. Some 86 per cent of deaf young people who got work experience went in to full-time employment or higher education, compared with 64 per cent of those who did not.

‘It’s imperative that careers advice is improved’

It’s deeply concerning that the vast majority of deaf young people are being let down by FE colleges, and are failing to be prepared for a future that will already present many barriers for them. The research provides a strong case for deaf young people having access to tailored careers advice at school and college. It is not just about having the same access to careers advice that their hearing course-mates receive.

Do deaf young people know that they can benefit from Access to Work funding from the government? Do they understand their rights under the Equality Act? Are they aware of the organisations that might be able to provide further support when they leave education? Schools and colleges have a key role in making sure deaf young people receive this type of information.

It’s expected that work experience will be a compulsory part of the new T levels, so we need to make sure deaf young people are getting the support they need on these placements as well.

FE and skills reform has cross-party support and I believe that better investment in FE will benefit many deaf young people. However, before they embark on any technical routes, we need to fight for deaf young people to have better access to decent careers advice so that they can make properly informed decisions about the career opportunities available to them and understand what support is available in the workplace.

I’m deaf myself and I remember that leaving education to find work was very daunting. I am sure it is the same for many deaf young people finishing education today. With such a high proportion of people with SEND going into FE, and such high levels of unemployment for people with SEND when they leave school, it’s absolutely imperative that careers advice in the FE sector is dramatically improved.

Martin McLean is education and training policy adviser at the National Deaf Children’s Society

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes FE News on Twitter, like us on Facebook and follow us on LinkedIn

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To Curb Opioid Abuse, Prescription Meds Should Be Doctors’ Last Resort

All too often opioid abuse starts with a prescription. Michal Jarmolu/StockSnap

The California Legislature has designated September as “Opioid, Heroin, Fentanyl, and Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month,” in a statement that bemoans the alarming facts about opioids, but fails to offer any actions or suggestions for addressing the abuse epidemic.

By contrast, when the Obama administration named a “Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week” last fall, the proclamation came with measures focused on helping people trapped in abuse. It included new funding for both in-patient and outpatient treatment, increased education about the use of the anti-overdose drug Naxolene, and measures to slow imports of illegal fentanyl from China.

In dealing with the epidemic, the Trump administration has focused earlier in the abuse cycle, instituting measures to reduce excessive exposure to opioids. The new measures include prosecuting fraudulent opioid prescribers and new FDA processes for approval and removal of specific opioids. New education programs are being introduced for non-prescribing health care professionals like nurses and pharmacists, and the FDA Blueprint for prescriber education, which advises doctors on how to best deal with pain management, is being revised.

A few weeks after the Trump administration announcements, economists Molly Schnell and Janet Currie published evidence of a “striking relationship” between prescriptions and the ranking of the medical school attended by the prescriber. Doctors from top-tier schools write fewer opioid prescriptions. The variance in prescriptions written extends across most specialties, demographic and geographic groups. Among primary care providers (who are responsible for writing almost half of all opioid prescriptions) those from lower ranked schools write three times as many prescriptions as those from top tier schools. Doctors of Osteopathy numbers are consistent with General Practitioners from lower tier schools.

In validation of FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s prescriber education blueprint, Schnell and Currie found that the school ranking correlation goes away in specialties that require extensive post medical school training in opioid use.

Dr. Lonnie Zeltzer, the Director of the Pediatric Pain Program at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, said “drugs aren’t the only way to treat chronic pain. The prevention and treatment of pain can be addressed through many different modalities, with chiropractic care being one.”

For lower back pain the Annals of Internal Medicine advises nonpharmacological treatment, naming many alternatives, even for acute cases: heat, massage, acupuncture, spinal manipulation, exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, mindfulness-based stress reduction, tai chi, yoga, motor control exercise, progressive relaxation, electromyography biofeedback, low-level laser therapy, operant therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. They recommend that clinicians “only consider opioids as an option in patients who have failed the aforementioned treatments.”

In complement to the Federal attention, the American Hospital Association and the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress have designated September as “Drug Free Pain Management Awareness Month” on health events calendars. The Drug Free Pain Management message focuses on giving sufferers hope that in many cases pain not need to be masked by opioid euphoria, because it can be treated.

My experience with recurring pain started at 19 when I strained a lower back muscle and ended up with two days of excruciating spasms. A few months after recovering I reached for a fallen pen while crossing my college green, and ended up in bed for two days.  Like many lower back pain sufferers, my pain and debility came back again and again for years.  I asked doctors for help.  I went to a sports medicine clinic.  I was examined and massaged and electrically stimulated, and the spasms kept recurring. Thankfully I refused offered prescriptions, and stuck with over-the-counter pain pills. I assumed that I would always suffer, until my back “went out” while traveling through central China.  In miserable pain I let my local partners bring me their Chinese Medicine “expert” who treated me for a few minutes while I looked at ancient diagrams of bodies marked with Qi elements. I was lucky to find healing rather than continued containment of injury.

Every opioid abuse case is unique, and each has its own ending. Too many of the endings are tragic. The best approach on personal, medical, governmental and societal levels, is to limit the use of opioids to those cases where failure to use them would be inhumane, where drug free options have been exhausted, and where non-addictive alternatives are unavailable.

Ken Blaker is a software development and marketing consultant for health care and cloud computing technology. A former finance executive at Subaru of America and Aon Corporation, Ken also operated an international travel company with offices throughout Asia. In addition to his consultancy Ken serves as board Vice President of a Los Angeles Neighborhood Council.

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Ovarian cancer education session tonight at Rock Island Library – Quad

The NormaLeah Ovarian Cancer Initiative will present an educational program tonight on ovarian cancer at the Rock Island Main Library, 401 19th St.

The one-hour program, Sisterly Advice to BEAT Ovarian Cancer, will begin at 6 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public, according to a news release.

Sisterly Advice is a multimedia presentation where women also can ask questions about symptoms, risk factors, diagnostic tests, genetic links and health insurance coverage for risk-reduction strategies, the release states.

CEO and founder of NormaLeah, Jodie Kavensky, also will speak about her experience as a caregiver to her mother and her inherited BRCA mutation, the release states.

Ovarian cancer long has been considered a “silent killer,” according to the release, because the symptoms are subtle and advance slowly. It is hard to detect, difficult to treat and there is no reliable screening test. All women are at risk for ovarian cancer, and about 1 in 75 women will develop the disease during her lifetime.

“This information is critical for earlier detection and better survival rates,” Ms. Kavensky said in the release. “When diagnosed in early stages, there is a 92 percent cure rate,” she said, adding the current survival rate is less than 50 percent. 

“Sisters share a lot of things,” she said, “but ovarian cancer should not be any of them.” 

For more information, call the NormaLeah Ovarian Cancer Initiative at 309-794-0009, or visit

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Presidential Advisory Commissioners Question Educational …

The groups charged with supporting the White House’s efforts to expand educational opportunities to communities of color are facing an unknown future without a renewed direction from the Trump administration.

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders — each housed under the Department of Education with their own presidential advisory commissions — were extended to Sept. 30, 2017, by an executive order former President Barack Obama signed two years ago.

The commissions are considered federal advisory committees, of which there are more than 1,000. As diverse as they are many, the groups are viewed as a conduit between government and citizen. Members provide expert advice on issues from education to healthcare, technology to the environment.

Peggy Brookins, who serves on the Educational Excellence for African Americans commission, told NBC News that since President Trump took office, there’s been no communication about what’s down the pike for the initiative or the commission.

“Since the last meeting that we had during the Obama administration, there has been nothing going on since the transition,” Brookins, who is president and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, said. “We have no idea. Normally we have a September meeting. We’ve not been contacted.”

Appointees of the Educational Excellence for African Americans and Educational Excellence for Hispanic commissions, many of them educators, have used their advisory powers to recommend ways of improving high school and college graduation rates among black and Latino students. The two initiatives also supported Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which sought to close the “opportunity gaps” young men of color faced.

RELATED: Latinas Making Strong Progress on Several Fronts: White House Report

Members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) commission, whose reach extends beyond education, have worked on policy briefs on topics like improving language access to federal programs and immigration reform, according to minutes from the December meeting.

White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) Commissioners' Meeting, Dec. 6, 2016, in Washington, D.C.

White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) Commissioners' Meeting, Dec. 6, 2016, in Washington, D.C.

Advisory committees typically make recommendations to the president, who later reports to Congress how he’ll respond or why he won’t take action.

But since Trump’s inauguration in January, none of the three commissions have formally met, according to several current commissioners who spoke with NBC News.

“There has been, to my knowledge, no communication between the Department of Education and the [Hispanic initiative] commission or the commissioners,” Patricia Gándara, a UCLA professor who currently serves on the Educational Excellence for Hispanics commission, told NBC News.

Asked about any planned reauthorizations in the works, a White House spokesperson said in an email to NBC News there were no public comments on the initiatives as of the time of this reporting.

Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, chair of the African American commission and president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, declined to comment through a spokeswoman.

Several requests for comment as well as phone calls to the chair of the Hispanic commission went unanswered.

There has been no AAPI commission chair since two-thirds of its members resigned in February in protest of Trump’s policies.

RELATED: 10 Resign from President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Bill Imada, a current AAPI commissioner, told NBC News that while there has been no formal meeting this year for their group, a “lag time” between administrations was not unusual.

“Even if Trump doesn’t reauthorize [the initiative and commission] on October 1st, it doesn’t mean he and the White House won’t do it,” Imada said.

But former Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu, who served as the executive director for the Obama-Biden Transition Project, said the comparisons between the transition periods of prior administrations and the current one aren’t necessarily fair.

“During the 2008 campaign, we made an early commitment to reestablishing the initiative, and we continued that commitment with stakeholder meetings right after Election Day 2008,” Lu, who was co-chair of the AAPI initiative during the Obama administration, told NBC News. “The Trump team has demonstrated no comparable commitment.”

Since Trump’s inauguration, new executive directors have not been appointed to any of the three commissions, though each initiative continues to exist and operate with staff members in place.

David Johns, former executive director of the African American initiative, told NBC News that regardless of whether or not a new executive order was signed by the president, the work that the initiative has done over the years will continue in the community.

“I leverage having a federal mandate be a champion to unapologetically and intentionally champion African-American students, which is needed. But there are still career staffers who are still working for the initiatives, civil servants who have leveraged their time talent and treasures to advance the initiative. I don’t want them to get lost in this. They are real people attempting to do real work to support communities day in and day out,” Johns said.

RELATED: Editorial: The Village Work of Supporting Young Geniuses

A request for comment emailed to a senior adviser for the African American initiative was not returned. An Education Department spokesperson, responding to an email sent to a senior adviser for the Hispanic initiative, referred inquiry on the future of the program to the White House. The AAPI initiative staff also referred comment to the White House.

The oldest of the three, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, was established by former President George H.W. Bush through executive order on Sept. 24, 1990. It has been renewed by presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

Commissioners over those years have been tasked with making recommendations on a host of issues, including how to close the achievement gap among Hispanic students.

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders was established by Clinton in 1999. Originally heavily centered on education, it shifted direction in 2001 under Bush to focus on business and economic issues before being moved back to the Education Department under Obama.

RELATED: White House Hosts First-Ever Summit on Asian Americans

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans was created by Obama through executive order in July 2012. The initiative hosted a series of summits in 2014 aimed at bringing leaders and community members together to improve learning and development for African American children.

Trump did sign an executive order on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in February, similar to those authorized by presidents starting with Jimmy Carter. On Sept. 18, Johnathan Holifield was named executive director of the HBCU Initiative, seven months after it was re-authorized.

With the future of the three initiatives up in the air, some commissioners are wondering what’s next.

“I think it’s something that we as a group would have to decide,” Brookins said. “Do we just continue on our own doing some of this work and advocating for students and speaking truth to power? Or, you know, do we form a group and get together and decide what our focus is going to be and continue that focus?”

Without the imprimatur of the White House, Gándara said it’s “conceivable that there could be some other free-standing commission,” but added that “the whole notion behind the White House commission is that it advises the president.”

“There has been no leadership from the White House or at the federal level,” Gándara continued. “The commissioners don’t have the wherewithal to meet on their own, and I guess there’s a real question about what purpose that would serve if it’s an advisory commission and there’s nobody to take the advice.”

Former AAPI commission chair Tung Nguyen questioned how a future AAPI commission would function under Trump.

“I don’t understand how they can get much done for the community when the underlying agenda of this administration is very anti-our community,” Nguyen told NBC News.

While noting the importance of having a direct pipeline to the White House, National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García said their work will continue, with or without the White House.

“Now we will have to step up our game in building those important coalitions, in building the body of research that then helps the right decisions to be made — and not from somebody’s ideological perspective,” Eskelsen García, a member of the Hispanic commission, told NBC News.

Meanwhile, 12 members of the Hispanic commission and a former executive director of the initiative issued a statement on Sept. 11 calling on Trump to meet with them about renewing the initiative and commission.

Brookins, the African American commissioner, said the combination of not meeting and the radio silence since Trump took office has exacted a toll.

“Well, I think you don’t have somebody advocating within the administration for the community, and that’s always detrimental for any community,” she said.

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Anxiety over education standards unfounded: Mentor

Advisers are able to meet the new academic qualification requirements much more easily than many expect, according to training company Mentor Education.

In a statement, Mentor managing director managing director Mark Sinclair said that the new education standards would see “heightened levels” of trust and confidence in the financial advice industry, and reinforce financial planners’ positions as “highly respected professional practitioners”.

“Although there continues to be small pockets of resistance and negativity to the academic and professional industry standards, the reality is they herald the start of a new and exciting era for the advice sector,” Dr Sinclair said.

Mr Sinclair noted that the new education standards had prompted older advisers to head for the exits and enter “succession mode”, but added that time was “still well and truly” on their side.

Completing a Masters of Financial Planning degree requires advisers to complete 12 units, for which the average adviser will receive four exemptions, and as each of the remaining units can be completed within three months, advisers will typically be able to complete their course in two years, Mr Sinclair said.

Additionally, Mr Sinclair said that each unit will provide as many as 50 CPD points, and that research conducted by Mentor found that many financial advisers find studying “worthwhile and gratifying”.

ifa logo Last Updated: 18 September 2017 Published: 18 September 2017

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Colleges offer help to Dreamers as hope wanes





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Rangitīkei teacher investigated over alleged poo punishment

A South Makirikiri School teacher is being investigated for allegedly forcing pupils to look at poo.

A South Makirikiri School teacher is being investigated for allegedly forcing pupils to look at poo.

A teacher at a North Island primary school is under investigation for allegedly forcing pupils to look at images of human poo while they ate.

The South Makirikiri School teacher, in Rangitīkei, is understood to have made some pupils eat their morning tea while looking at several pictures of human poo that had been smeared on the walls of the boys’ bathroom.

This was done after the teacher suspected one of the pupils had created the mess.

South Makirikiri School, Marton.

South Makirikiri School, Marton.

The Marton school has a  roll of about 150 pupils and is one of the district’s oldest primary education centres, having been established in 1873.

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The incident follows reports from earlier this year about the same teacher becoming angry at pupils for putting general rubbish in the paper recycling bin.

The school is part of a zero waste scheme and the teacher allegedly tipped the rubbish on the floor and made pupils sort through it.

Principal Stu Devenport and board of trustees chairwoman Rachel Cunliffe said they were aware of the alleged incidents and were investigating.

Devenport said no complaint had been received by the school, but the New Zealand School Trustees Association was working with them to carry out the investigation.

“Until the investigation is completed, the board is not in a position to comment further,” Devenport said.

A source close to the school, who asked to remain anonymous, said it was believed a pupil had smeared the poo on the wall.

The incidents have prompted criticism from a group of parents who believed the teacher’s alleged behaviour was out of line with modern teaching practices, the source said.

Trustees association president Lorraine Kerr could not disclose what their involvement was, but said the association often visited schools to offer advice.

Ministry of Education head of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said if the alleged incidents happened as described they would be considered “very unusual”.

The ministry was not aware of either incident and Casey said there was no requirement for the school to report it. Schools would generally contact the ministry when seeking advice or assistance, Casey said. 

“Without knowing the detail and the context it’s not appropriate to comment further – particularly as the principal and board chair have been clear that they are investigating the allegations,” Casey said.

“It is good to see that the principal and board are taking the allegations seriously and are investigating them. We have been in contact with the principal and the school does not require assistance at this stage.”

 - Stuff

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Students treated to rock concert mixed with financial advice

Students at a small high school in the North Dakota Badlands were treated to a rock concert mixed with financial advice.

The band Gooding stopped in Beach — — near the North Dakota-Montana border — earlier this week as part of its “Funding Futures Tour” meant to help students learn how to manage money.

Lauren Strinden, the investment education leader for the North Dakota Securities Department, said a headline calling the band the “coolest financial adviser” in the U.S. caught her eye.

“Of course I was interested in this, and there was a picture of a rock and roll band. It was Gooding,” Strinden told KXMB-TV .

Steven Gooding, the band’s front man, said the message is not really about money.

“It’s about giving them hope,” Gooding said. “Some type of belief that by working hard something good can come out of it.”

Gooding said the band tries to get students into the beat first before talking about credit scores, student loans and credit cards.

“I always say music makes the medicine go down,” he said. “We play first … that way we get that teachable moment. We get that vibe in the room where we can really talk to them.”

About 160 students came to event in Beach and Gooding said he was impressed with their participation.

“We are getting financial literacy questions. The kids really seem receptive,” he said.

The band will visit about 100 schools before the tour is over.

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