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National CrossTalk Fall 2001
News Editorial Other Voices Interview

5 of 5 Stories

National Centerís New Senior Fellow

Michael D. Usdan, former president of the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), has joined the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education as a Senior Fellow, working on the National Centerís projects in Washington,D.C.

Usdan is also a Senior Fellow at IEL, where he served as president from 1981 until earlier this year. Before that, he was Connecticutís Commissioner of Higher Education, from 1978 until 1981.

Usdan has written many books and articles on education, particularly about urban schools, the relationship between government, politics and education and, recently, the growing movement to forge closer ties between higher education and the nationís elementary and secondary schools.

"The Learning Connection"-a collection of articles about K-16 partnerships around the country, edited by Usdan; Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education; and Gene I. Maeroff, director of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, at Teachers College, Columbia University-was published last year.

In his role as a senior fellow at the Center, Usdan said he hopes to "push the K-16 agenda," in such areas as teacher education, remedial education and preparation for college.


"Mr. Marcus' assertion is simply untrue"
Editor-I always enjoy your informative publication, and this latest issue was no exception, especially since it featured a wide ranging article by Jon Marcus about the politics of higher education in New York State.

Mr. Marcus is, of course, entitled to his opinions. But your readers need to know there is at least one factual error in his report that reflects a certain lack of knowledge about New York politics. Marcus writes that last year Governor Pataki "cut [the State Education Department's] staff, stripped it of oversight of private and public colleges, and transferred its library and archives to his control."

Mr. Marcus' assertion is simply untrue. Those were the governor's proposals, to be sure, but the legislature rejected them. That should come as no surprise since it is the legislature, after all, that appoints the regents, who in turn oversee the State Education Department. Historically, governors have tried to transfer some aspect of Regents authority to their control. Few have succeeded in any significant way.

Donald J. Nolan
Former New York State SHEEO
(State Higher Education Officer)


An attack on Giuliani
Editor-There are genuine disagreements about higher education, and it is valuable whenever they are discussed on their merits. The article by Jon Marcus, "Politicizing University Governance," however, is little more than an extended ad hominem attack.

The suggestion seems to be that if these people are for a core curriculum, then requiring students to study history, English, math and science must be a terrible thing. If Giuliani-a, gasp, elected official-wants to move remediation out of the senior colleges and into the community colleges and summer programs, it must be a sinister proposal.

All this may be welcome reading to partisans or defensive administrators or people who just enjoy a good smear, but it poisons the well of thoughtful discourse, preventing a serious dialogue about what is the best education for college students, how much remediation is too much, and the other very real issues facing higher education.

Jerry L. Martin, President
American Council of Trustees and Alumni
Washington, D.C.


New York State Board of Regents still in control
Editor-I am writing to point out inaccuracies in Jon Marcus' article in the Summer 2001 issue of National CrossTalk. This article incorrectly reported that the Regents were stripped last year of oversight of private and public colleges. That is not true.

The New York State Board of Regents continues to be responsible for approving the long-range master plans of the State University of New York and The City University of New York. It continues to be responsible for chartering independent colleges and universities, for authorizing degree powers for SUNY and CUNY campuses and for proprietary colleges, and for approving all degree programs at public and private colleges and universities, according to our quality standards.

The article also is wrong in saying that the governor transferred control of the New York State Library and State Museum from the Regents to himself. That did not happen.

The article gives the impression that there was no oversight or review by the Regents of the CUNY Trustees' decision to change their policy on admission to baccalaureate programs and to phase out the offering of remedial courses at CUNY's senior colleges. That decision was subject to the Regents approval as an amendment to CUNY's long range plan.

The Education Department conducted an exhaustive review of the proposal, including a site visit to CUNY by a team of eminent out-of-state consultants, and the Regents held several public hearings on it. In November 1999, the board declined to approve the change that the Trustees proposed without condition. CUNY made several modifications and the Regents approved the modified policy only through the end of 2002.

The article also states that "CUNY's board is now considering a core curriculum." As far as we know, that is not the case. Last summer, as required by New York law, the CUNY Trustees adopted a new long-range master plan and submitted it to the Regents and the governor for approval. As approved by the Regents, the CUNY plan calls on each college to establish its own core curriculum or curricula, a different approach from the university-wide core requirements the SUNY Trustees adopted.

The Regents approved the CUNY long range plan, with condition, and the governor subsequently did so as well. The analysis of the CUNY plan that the Department prepared for the Regents is a public document.

Gerald W. Patton Deputy Commissioner for Higher Education New York State Education Department


Jon Marcus Replies
Nolan and Patton are correct that the legislature stopped Pataki from cutting the staff of the State Education Department, transferring its library and archives, and taking away its oversight of private and public colleges.

The point is that Pataki did, in fact, try to do this-and tried again this year to put the library, archives and museum under a new Office of Cultural Resources-making little secret of the reason: He is dissatisfied with the education department. Even though the legislature has so far thwarted these attempts, Pataki cut much of the funding for the museum, although he did support an allocation for an exhibit about New York State governors.

Patton speaks about "impressions" he believes the story gave. Among them: that the regents did not review the CUNY trustees' decision to eliminate remedial courses, which the story did not say.What the story said was that the Trustees and the Regents by that time (and, in the case of the Trustees, in the nick of time) were firmly in the control of Giuliani and Pataki.

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