Leading the News
Media Analyses: Keystone Veto A Signal To GOP Majorities.
The President’s veto of legislation authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline generated extensive media coverage. Reports cast the veto as a win for environmentalists, while noting that the President, in his veto statement , did not rule out approving construction of the pipeline once he is assured that it will have no harmful effects on the environment. Because of that fact, some commentators downplayed the importance of the veto, which had been widely expected. For example, in an editorial, the Washington Post (2/25) bemoans the “attention slathered on this overblown issue,” which should be dispatched “to the footnote it deserved in the first place.” The main theme in today’s media coverage, however, is the idea that yesterday’s veto marks the launch of a new strategic phase in the Obama presidency as he grapples with GOP majorities in both the House and Senate who are intent on undoing his agenda.
To the Los Angeles Times (2/25, Parsons, Hennesey), for example, Obama “unceremoniously opened a fourth chapter of his presidency Tuesday – the veto era.” While “Obama’s first two years were built around legislative victories…the final two years…will almost certainly be dominated by defense as he fends off Republican efforts to undo his policies.” The AP (2/25, Lederman) says the President “sought to reassert his authority” while “rebuffing GOP lawmakers,” and USA Today (2/24, Korte) notes the White House “has already issued 13 formal veto threats so far this year – the most ever at this point in a new Congress since President Reagan first started issuing written veto threats in 1985.” Politico (2/25, Lerner) ran a similar analysis under the headline “Keystone Veto Will Be First Of Many For President Obama,” while the New York Times (2/25, Davenport, Shear, Subscription Publication) describes the veto as “a demonstration of political strength directed at Republicans.”
Canadians Confident Pipeline Will Be Built. Politico (2/25, Schor) reported “the Canadian government put on a brave face, predicting that Keystone will eventually be built.” Canadian Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said in a statement, “It is not a question of if this project will be approved; it is a matter of when.”
Report: ED College Dropout Statistics May Be Overstated.
Bloomberg News (2/24) reports that according to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, ED’s statistic saying that “almost 41 percent of students who start college won’t finish…could…be unnecessarily pessimistic.” The report says that ED’s methodology “doesn’t account for a big, but hard-to-track, group of students: the ones who transfer midway through college.” The article notes that roughly one quarter of US college students transfer.
Inside Higher Ed (2/24) explains that the center “tracked 2.7 million students who first enrolled in college in the fall of 2008, following them for 6 years.” The center found that “one in three community college students earned a credential at an institution other than the one at which they first enrolled” and 13% of four-year students “completed at a different institution.”
The Wall Street Journal (2/25, Korn, Subscription Publication) reports that the report’s findings could complicate ED’s efforts to craft a college rating system, along with state efforts to link higher education funding to individual colleges’ perceived success rates.
Senators Pushing For Simplified College Regulation.
The Washington Post (2/24, Anderson) reports on bipartisan efforts in the Senate “to simplify federal regulations of colleges and universities, seeking to lay the groundwork for a rewrite of the nation’s higher education law.” The article notes that “it’s no surprise” that Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander would focus on cutting regulation, given Republican opposition to Federal regulation, but finds it “somewhat notable that Democrats are not belittling the effort.” The Post notes that the Senators released a report this month “on ‘recalibrating’ regulation of colleges and universities.”
The Cleveland Plain Dealer (2/25) reports that Alexander said that if the FAFSA were simplified, “more students would apply to college and institutions would save millions.” This piece notes that Alexander said that the report released this month “shows a ‘jungle of red tape’ that ‘should be an embarrassment to all of us in the federal government.” The Chattanoogan (2/25) and the Baltimore Sun (2/24) also cover this story.
More Students Attending For-Profit Colleges.
The Hechinger Report (2/24) reports that while community college enrollment fell in the 2014-15 school year, that rate increased at “private, for-profit ones.” The piece says that since “they’re both drawing from a similar pool of older, low-income students,” an observer might “expect these two types of institutions to experience similar trends.” However, demographic shifts are contributing to a decline in community college enrollment, and for-profits are “both recruiting more new students and hanging on to more of the ones they have.”
Student At Center Of UMass Iranian Admissions Controversy Profiled.
NBC News (2/25) reports that “the woman who inadvertently sparked” the controversy surrounding the now-rescinded decision by UMass Amherst to bar Iranian students from certain science and engineering programs “is now stuck at home, her career on hold, an accidental victim of diplomatic red tape.” As Zahra Khalkhali planned to return to the US from a visit to her home city in Iran, “a routine immigration inquiry into her research — on fuel cells used to produce clean energy — prompted the university to drop its sponsorship.”
Research and Development
Cruz Says Human Space Exploration A National Priority.
USA Today (2/24, King) reports that Sen. Ted Cruz (R) “isn’t a proponent of big government programs,” but he said on Tuesday that NASA’s “human space exploration program as a national priority that deserves congressional support.” During a Senate hearing, Cruz said that developing a Mars program is “critical,” while he “also stressed the need to speed completion of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.”
University Of Arkansas Engineer Gets $500,000 NSA Grant.
Arkansas Business (2/25) reports that the National Science Foundation has given a Faculty Early Career Development Program grant for $500,000 to University of Arkansas engineer Jing Yang “to further develop sensing and transmission systems for energy-harvesting, wireless sensor networks.” The piece explains that such networks “are systems that include collaborating embedded devices, such as sensor nodes, that are capable of sensing, computation and communication.”
JWST Segments Preparing To Undergo Testing.
The ABC News (2/24, Newcomb) website reports that NASA is about to put the James Webb Space Telescope’s (JWST) Pathfinder Backplane, “through a litany of cryogenic challenges” at the “newly renovated space simulating Chamber A at the Johnson Space Center” to make sure it can survive in space. The article notes that moving the 3,000-pound backpane safely from the Goddard Space Flight Center to JSC was “no small feat.” In a statement, NASA engineer Andrew Booth said, “We’ve got to test the test. … That’s why this Pathfinder is so valuable because it will ensure the testing on the actual telescope is accurate.”
Aviation Week (2/25, Svitak), in an article titled, “Despite JWST Progress, A Key Subsystem Faces Delays,” notes that the telescope’s Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) is also ready to undergo “a series of environmental tests this summer.” The article notes that the ISIM team claims that it has “overcome a series of challenges plaguing all four of the module’s instruments.”
Report Points To Lingering Lack Of Diversity In STEM Workforce.
US News & World Report (2/24) reports that according to a new report from Change the Equation, which is “a coalition of Fortune 500 companies focused on increasing STEM education,” “the STEM workforce is no more diverse now than in 2001” despite “a national focus on directing more students toward science, technology, engineering and math fields.” The group on Tuesday held “a panel discussion on the stagnant nature of STEM diversity and what needs to be done to better target women and minority students who may represent overlooked talent in schools nationwide.”
Op-Ed: Raytheon Promotes Women Engineers.
Raytheon Missile Systems President Taylor W. Lawrence writes an opinion piece in the Arizona Daily Star (2/24, Lawrence) advocating for Raytheon’s role in advancing women engineers. The op-ed provides examples of female students in Arizona who were encouraged in their engineering career by Raytheon.
Engineering and Public Policy
Thune Backs Off Effort To Push Net Neutrality Legislation.
The New York Times (2/24, A1, Weisman, Subscription Publication) says in a front-page story that the push for net neutrality has been “the longest, most sustained campaign of internet activism in history,” and one “that the little guys appear to have won.” The Times adds that on Tuesday, Sen. John Thune (R) “all but surrendered on efforts to overturn” the ruling, expected to be passed by the FCC on Thursday. Thune cited ongoing opposition from Democrats to even discussing bipartisan legislation on the issue until after the FCC had acted.
In a similar theme, the Washington Post (2/24, Fung) says in its “The Switch” blog that the expected passage “marks a key achievement for tech firms after a months-long campaign against some of the communications industry’s most sophisticated lobbying operations.” The Post adds that it is “easy to point to the coming FCC’s vote as another indication Silicon Valley’s time has come in Washington” but the “reality” is that the industry “has already arrived, and in a major way.”
Democratic Commissioner Reportedly Seeking Late Changes To Proposed Rules. However, in a potential late wrinkle, The Hill (2/25, Hattem) reported that Mignon Clyburn, one of the three Democrats on the FCC, “wants to narrow the scope” of the rules. Clyburn has asked Chairman Tom Wheeler “to roll back some of the restrictions before the full commission votes on them, FCC officials said,” though Wheeler has yet to respond. The move puts Wheeler in “the awkward position of having to either roll back his proposals, or defend the tough rules and convince Clyburn to back down.” Wheeler needs Clyburn’s vote to enact the rules, as the Democrats have only a 3-2 majority on the commission and both Republicans oppose the rules.
Meanwhile, in an editorial, the Wall Street Journal (2/25, Editorial, Subscription Publication) says that while net neutrality is drawing most of the scrutiny right now, Wheeler also is seeking to override state authority to regulate municipal broadband networks. The Journal bemoans his desire to preempt state laws that bar or limit municipal broadband.
Grijalva Seeks Information On Whether Big Oil Swayed Climate Scientists.
The Washington Post (2/24, Warrick) reports that Rep. Raul Grijalva (D), the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, is “seeking an expanded inquiry into whether fossil-fuel companies have been secretly underwriting the research of some of the country’s most prominent scientific skeptics of climate change.” Grijalva “sent requests to seven universities asking for detailed records on the funding sources for affiliated researchers who have opposed the scientific consensus on man-made global warming.”
Tiny Alaska Village To Be Relocated Due To Climate Change. The Washington Post (2/24, Mooney) reports that the 400 residents of the “tiny and isolated” Alaska town of Kivalina will have to be relocated because the ice around the island on which the town lies has become too thin in recent years to allow the Eskimo residents to continue to hunt bowhead whales. The Federal government says that soon, because of climate change, it “may be too dangerous to live here at all, with less sea ice to protect the barrier island from powerful waves that wash across the village.”
Nashville High Schools Offering Career And Technical Education Classes.
On its website, NPR (2/24, Siner) reports on a plan by public schools in Nashville, TN to encourage “every high school student, regardless of college plans, to take three career-training classes before they graduate,” allowing them to gain career and technical education and certification straight out of high school. The article features comments from Nashville educators who tout the potential of the program as it allows training for both students who want to go to college and those who want to enter the workforce immediately.
Program Helps Students Educate Others On Tech.
The Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram (2/24) reports on an after-school club at two schools in the Keller school district which “equip third- and fourth-graders to be ambassadors of technology with their peers and teachers.” The Tech Ninjas Club at Park Glen and Bluebonnet Elementary schools were aimed at teaching students about technical and computer applications, and using that training to help educate teachers and fellow students. “We wanted them to model 21st century learning and unlock these hidden resources to assist other students and teachers,” said Tech Ninjas co-founder and Park Glen librarian Suzanne Ross.
Students Design Prosthetics With 3D Printers.
The Chicago Tribune (2/23, Lawton) reports on students at East Leyden High School in Franklin Park, IL, who are working with a nonprofit called e-NABLE, which helps distribute 3D-printed prosthetics to children in need. The article examines how the students have to learn about the various aspects of 3D printing in order to volunteer, and highlights their enthusiasm for the program. “We’re trying to find something that is more challenging but also more engaging for students… Students have responded. We’ve had students stay through lunch (working on prosthetic hands),” said instructor Frank Holthouse.
Florida High School Inserts Academics Into Tech Training.
The Pensacola (FL) News Journal (2/24) reports on the West Florida High School of Advanced Technology in Pensacola and examines the secrets of its success. The News Journal says, “Students combine hands-on technical training with rigorous academics,” with one supporting the other. “‘What they’re doing is completely algebra, but they think it’s just part of the electrical work, then they go back and ace their math test,’ said Jennifer Landrum Grove, Gulf Power’s community development manager who helped launch the Gulf Power Academy at West Florida in 2001.” The News Journal notes the experience of “Alex Allen, who graduated from West Florida in 2006 and went to work at Gulf Power Co.’s Crist Plant generating facility.”
Tuesday’s Lead Stories
• EPA To Institute Stricter Tests For Measuring Auto Fuel Economy.