TIME Education

NCAA and UNC Want Lawsuit Over Fake Classes Dismissed

The NCAA logo is shown on the field where the Maryland Terrapins played against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Championship at Villanova Stadium on May 26, 2013 in Villanova, Pennsylvania.
G Fiume—Getty Images The NCAA logo is shown on the field where the Maryland Terrapins played against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Championship at Villanova Stadium on May 26, 2013 in Villanova, Pennsylvania.

At least four people were fired as a result of the scandal

The NCAA and the University of North Carolina each filed a motion asking a federal judge to throw out a class-action lawsuit related to the school’s academic scandal involving fake classes for athletes.

The NCAA says in the filing that it is not “subject to liability for the independent actions of its member institutions.”

“And, finally, even if plaintiffs’ allegations were not otherwise facially insufficient to state a claim for relief, plaintiffs’ claims against the NCAA would be barred by the applicable three-year statutes of limitations,” the NCAA said.

In January, the school and NCAA were sued by former football player Devon Ramsay and women’s basketball player Rashanda McCants, claiming breach of contract and negligence, but the NCAA said it was not legally responsible for any academic fraud that may have occurred.

At least four people were fired as a result of the scandal after a U.S. Justice Department report showed that about 3,100 athletes and other students earned artificially high grades for nearly two decades.

North Carolina wants the lawsuit dismissed on the basis of the 11th Amendment, which limits federal courts from hearing cases where a state is sued by an individual from another state or country.

UNC says in the filing that the plaintiffs claims were “based on an ‘educational malpractice theory’ uniformly rejected under applicable precedent,” and that the case’s statute of limitations has run out.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

MONEY College

Former Corinthian College Students Won’t Pay Their Debt

Students of the now-defunct Corinthian College are refusing to pay off their student loans, saying that the for-profit college left them saddled with unreasonable debt.

MONEY Inequality

New Research Shows Education Won’t Fix Inequality

differently scaled books
Max Oppenheim—Getty Images

A new study shows giving more Americans a college education will help lower-income groups, but won't do much to close the income gap.

There is a growing acknowledgement that inequality is one of the most pressing national issues. President Obama certainly feels that way. In his State of the Union Speech this past January, Obama focused his speech around the issue, framing the debate as a question about the future of America.

“Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well?” the President asked. “Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?”

Obama made no secret of his own position, or that education was his preferred method of closing the gap between rich and poor. His address centered around a number of policies that would increase college access for lower-income Americans, including a $60 billion proposal to make community college free for all.

But is education really the solution to inequality that it’s often presented as? A new paper from the Hamilton Project, co-authored by former Treasury Secretary and former Harvard University president Lawrence Summers, argues that the answer is no. Instead, the researchers assert, policymakers tend to conflate two separate issues: helping lower-income Americans become more financially secure and decreasing inequality overall.

Increased educational attainment across lower-income brackets would indeed result in higher income and more economic security for vulnerable groups, the paper finds. But so much income is concentrated among America’s richest citizens that a modest increase in earnings at the bottom end of the income distribution will barely make a dent in overall inequality.

To reach this conclusion, Summers and his co-authors—Hamilton Project director Melissa Kearney and visiting fellow Brad Hershbein—created a simulation in which one out of every ten American men between the ages of 25 and 64 without a bachelor’s degree suddenly graduated from college. (The simulation was restricted to men because less-skilled males have seen particularly steep drops in employment, earnings, and college attainment.)

“To be clear, this would be a tremendous accomplishment,” the researchers note. Creating this many new graduates would be “only slightly less than the observed increase in the college share over the entire 34-year period of 1979 to 2013.”

The authors then randomly assigned each of the newly credentialed Americans an income based on the earnings of actual graduates, and adjusted for the reduced premium a college degree would offer if more workers obtained one. The results show income in the bottom 25th percentile would increase from $6,100 to $8,720, and median income would increase from $34,000 to $37,060, while those with higher incomes were hardly affected.

Despite this significant surge in the earnings—the above increase would be “enough to nearly erase the decline in median earnings between 1979 and 2013, and cut the decline at the 25th percentile by one-third,” according to the paper—inequality barely budged. Under the simulation’s conditions, the Gini coefficient, a metric for measuring income inequality, declined from 0.57 to 0.55. For comparison, the Gini coefficient for the U.S. in 1979 was 0.43.

“Overall earnings inequality would hardly change—and would not come close to 1979 levels—if the share of working-age men with a college degree were to increase by even a sizable margin,” add the authors.

Why does more education attainment have such a small effect? The researchers find that decreasing the portion of the population without a college degree primarily helps those in the bottom 25% of earnings, raising their wages relative to higher income groups. Meanwhile, this scenario would do little to decrease inequality in the top half of the earnings spectrum, where most of the nation’s income disparity is contained.

The authors are clear to note that better access to higher education, whether it reduces inequality or not, is still an important goal. “Our nation should aim to increase the educational attainment and, more generally, the skills of less-educated and lower-income individuals because in the long-run, this is almost surely the most effective and direct way to increase their economic security, reduce poverty, and expand upward mobility,” the paper concludes.

However, the group notes, fixing inequality and growing the salaries of the less-educated are not the same issue, and won’t be solved by the same policies. “These are distinct, albeit interrelated challenges,” the researchers explain, “and the public discourse would be much improved if it stopped conflating them.”

MONEY Student Loans

22 States Where You Could Lose Your License for Not Paying Your Student Loans

female driver handing over license to officer
Jeremy Woodhouse—Corbis

You have a lot to lose if you default on your student loans, and in some states, that includes state-issued licenses.

Failing to repay student loans has all sorts of terrible consequences, but in some states, more than just your financial well-being is at risk — student loan default could cost you your professional certification or even your driver’s license.

Two state legislatures (Iowa and Montana) are considering bills that would repeal laws that allow states to suspend the driver’s licenses of student loan defaulters, Bloomberg reported in a March 25 piece on the topic. Even if those repeals succeed, several other states have such laws in place. Some states suspend licenses needed to practice in certain fields, from health care to cosmetology, though license suspension can extend to driving, too.

Repeal advocates argue that license suspension is a counterintuitive punishment for student loan defaulters, because it may keep them from working, which theoretically enables them to repay their debts. That’s the case Montana state Rep. Moffie Funk is making for the bill she introduced to repeal the state’s law that allows driver’s license suspension, Bloomberg reports.

According to a list from the National Consumer Law Center, 22 states have laws that enable suspension of state licenses issued to student loan defaulters. The professions and licenses affected by suspensions vary by state and cover a wide range of earning potential, but some of them include doctors, social workers, barbers, transportation professionals and lawyers — the lists can be quite extensive. If your state is on the list and you’re at risk of defaulting, you might want to research the details:

Alabama
Alaska
California
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Illinois
Iowa
Kentucky
Louisiana
Massachusetts
Minnesota
Mississippi
Montana
New Jersey
New Mexico
North Dakota
Oklahoma
Tennessee
Texas
Virginia
Washington

Student loan default trashes your credit, and the loans continue to incur interest and fees as long as they remain unpaid, so getting out of default can be very challenging. If you have federal student loans, as most people who borrow do, there are many options available to you before you’re 270 days past due on your student loan payments (that’s the definition of default): You can apply for income-based repayment or pay-as-you-earn programs, in addition to applying for an extended repayment period, which will raise the cost of your loans in the long run but make them more affordable now.

If you want to see how your student loans are affecting your credit, you can get your free credit scores, updated monthly, on Credit.com. You can check your credit reports for free once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. Because student loans are generally not dischargeable in bankruptcy and default can be catastrophic for your credit, it’s crucial to prioritize making your loan payments on time.

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

TIME Education

Boy With Special Needs Told He Can’t Wear Varsity Letter Jacket

The high school student was told to take his jacket off

A Kansas mom is outraged after her son, who has special needs, was forced by his school to remove his varsity letter jacket.

Jolinda Kelley of Wichita, Kansas, bought a varsity letter for her son Michael’s letter jacket after he was recognized for participation for playing basketball, but she says when Michael wore it to school he was asked to take it off.

“Another parent, from what I’ve been told, was upset that my son was wearing his letter jacket,” Kelley told Wichita’s KSNW.

She said Michael took off the jacket and was given a girl’s sweatshirt to wear instead…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Parenting

How to Talk to Your Kids About Scary News Events

Cheyenne Glasgow—Getty Images/Flickr Select

"It can be scarier not to talk about them.”

We all want to protect our kids from the hard truths of life. Nobody wants to explain why the plane went down in the Alps, why that kid did what he did on that ISIS video, or the symptoms of Ebola.

But if our kids don’t learn to face bad news eventually, they can’t thrive. So how does a parent walk that line?

Richard Weissbourd, a child and family psychologist on the faculty of Harvard’s School of Education, and the author of The Parents We Mean To Be, says what a lot of parents already know: there’s no easy answer.

But that makes it even more important to talk with kids about tough realities, Weissbourd says. “Kids are thinking about these things anyway. They’re seeing things on the news, and overhearing the things adults are saying. So it can be scarier not to talk about them.”

And every kid is different, Weissbourd says: they “vary in levels of anxiety, and vulnerability.” With his own kids, Weissbourd shared tough truths based on “who they are, and what I felt they could emotionally manage.”

Still, there are some rules of thumb parents can follow.

At elementary age, fairy tales that may seem grim to parents actually work for kids because, Weissbourd says, “they’re trying to get some mastery over those really deep fears.” But kids that age are also concrete thinkers. So it’s good to start with concrete answers. And it’s all right not to have all the answers. According to Weissbourd, the real goal is just to have the conversation.

By the time kids reach middle school, they’ll have seen a lot of troubling things for themselves. But “sometimes they understand much more and sometimes much less than we think,” Weissbourd says. So it’s important at this stage for parents to listen. Hearing what kids are wrestling with, and how they’re trying to make sense of it, is key.

By high school, parents can begin to explore the deeper questions with kids, looking not just at immediate problems, but at the underlying reasons for them–and what they might be able to do to make a difference. According to Weissbourd, research shows that people deal best with problems when they “convert passivity into activity.”

So that’s actually the most powerful response to tough realities at any age, Weissbourd says: finding something we can do to make a difference.

For the best parenting stories and advice every week, sign up for TIME’s weekly parenting newsletter by clicking here.

TIME Education

Racist Chant at Oklahoma University Was Ingrained by SAE Frat

The Sigma Alpha Epsilon house at the University of Oklahoma on March. 9, 2015.
Nick Oxford—AP The Sigma Alpha Epsilon house at the University of Oklahoma on March. 9, 2015.

The frat members learned the chant on a leadership cruise sponsored by the national SAE organization

Correction appended, March 30

The racist chant by members of a University of Oklahoma fraternity caught on video on March 7 was part of the institutional culture at the chapter, an investigation by the school released Friday revealed.

The chant, which included at east one reference to lynching, was sung by fraternity members on a chartered bus on the way to the chapter’s annual Founder’s Day event in Oklahoma City.

The university took swift action after the video of the chant emerged, expelling two of the students caught singing it. Sigma Alpha Epsilon also quickly closed the chapter. As part of the university’s response, the student affairs office investigated the origins of the chant and determined it was an ingrained part of the life and culture of the SAE chapter at OU.

According to the investigation, members of the Oklahoma chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon learned the chant on a leadership cruise sponsored by the national SAE organization four years ago. The chant was then taught to pledges as part of the formal pledging process. As part of the chapter’s recruitment on Founder’s Day, about a dozen high school students were on the bus during the chant.

More: 3 Ways to Fix Fraternities

More: Civil Libertarians Say Expelling Oklahoma Frat Students May be Illegal

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly identified the school that investigated the racist chant by members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. It is the University of Oklahoma.

TIME Education

Oklahoma University Frat Members Learned Racist Song at National SAE Event

The Sigma Alpha Epsilon house at the University of Oklahoma on March. 9, 2015.
Nick Oxford—AP The Sigma Alpha Epsilon house at the University of Oklahoma on March. 9, 2015.

Frat members refuse to say where they learned the song

The University of Oklahoma says it has determined that fraternity members learned a racist chant at a national event organized by Sigma Alpha Epsilon four years ago — and it wants to know what the leaders are doing about it.

OU President David Boren is expected to announce the results of the school’s investigation into the disgraceful episode at 1 p.m. CT Friday, but revealed some findings in a letter to the frat’s executive director.

“The chant was learned by local chapter members while attending a national leadership cruise sponsored by by the national SAE organizations four years ago,” Boren wrote…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Education

3 Ways to Fix Fraternities

How to prevent problems before they start

Correction appended, March 27, 2015

It’s been a rough school year for fraternity bad-boy behavior.

A spate of high-profile incidents—and the swift response from national fraternity organizations and the universities themselves—suggest that the institutions responsible for these young men are becoming less inclined to say “boys will be boys.”

A video of members at the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter singing a racist chant went viral. Not long after, members of Penn State’s Kappa Delta Rho chapter were accused of sharing images of nude unconscious women on a Facebook page. And a notebook filled with racist and sexist slurs allegedly belonging to members of Pi Kappa Phi was found in a restaurant on campus at North Carolina State. The universities and national fraternities in charge of these men acted fast. SAE closed the University of Oklahoma chapter and two students were expelled, Penn State suspended the chapter in question and North Carolina State disbanded it all together.

MORE Civil Libertarians Say Expelling Oklahoma Frat Students May Be Illegal

But how can fraternities and universities prevent these problems in the first place? Here’s what experts told TIME.

Get rid of alcohol

When it comes to “going dry,” it’s easier for the national fraternities to make the change than it is for the host universities. In 1997, Phi Delta Theta announced plans to ban alcohol in every chapter house across the country by 2000. Skeptics said the move would hurt its ability to recruit new members. But the opposite has been true. Since the change, Phi Delta Theta has grown from 8,500 student members to over 12,000, according to Bob Biggs, the frat’s executive vice president. There have been other positive changes, too. The average GPA for members has gone from 2.7 to 3.1 and liability insurance costs have dropped by half, from $160 per person per year before 2000, to $80.

“We wanted to get out of the entertainment business and into the fraternity business,” Biggs said.

While private colleges can mostly make any policy they like, it can be more difficult for public universities to govern fraternities on campus. But it can happen. Colorado State University made changes to its alcohol policy at fraternities after 19-year-old sophomore Samantha Spady died of apparent alcohol-related causes at a fraternity house in 2004. Today, fraternity houses at Colorado State University are dry.

Bring in the adults

In most on-campus residential life, colleges typically have one staff member for every 15-20 students, according to Mark Koepsell, the executive director of the Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors. But when it comes to Greek life, the ratio is one staff member to every 750 students.

The reason for this may be that many colleges don’t want to assume the liability that comes with fraternities. “There’s [variation] across the country between campuses that pull fraternal organizations close and those that put them at an arms length distance,” Koepsell said. “Campus attorneys are of the belief that an arms length distance is better for reducing liability. My personal opinion is that’s the environment where problems occur and it blows back on the university anyway and no one wins. The first advice: Pull them in close.”

Koepsell prefers models like the “Greek Village” at the University of South Carolina, where frat and sorority students live in University-sponsored housing, which comes with more supervision.

But it’s also possible for national fraternities to spend more money themselves to ensure better staffing in the houses. In 2000, Sigma Phi Epsilon began creating Residential Learning Communities through some of its chapters, which now exist at 40 of the 227 chapters across the country. As part of this program, some chapters have what is called a resident scholar, a graduate student who gets free room and board and a stipend or a scholarship to live at the fraternity house and provide some structure for the students.

Integrate or eliminate

Eliminating fraternities or allowing women to join is not an option at public universities where students have the First Amendment right to associate. But private schools have more leeway. Last year, Wesleyan ordered its fraternities to admit women. It is now facing a lawsuit from Delta Kappa Epsilon trying to block the move. The case is being closely watched.

Read next: Dartmouth Investigates Frat for Branding Pledges

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

Correction: The original version of this story misspelled the first Greek word in the fraternity chapter at North Carolina State. The correct fraternity is Pi Kappa Phi.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 26

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Al Qaeda and ISIS are locked in an ideological war, and for once, it’s good to be their mutual enemy.

By Daniel Byman and Jennifer Williams in Lawfare

2. For the millions left behind by America’s new economy, disability claims — legitimate or otherwise — are skyrocketing.

By Chana Joffe-Walt in Planet Money by National Public Radio

3. Maybe universities shouldn’t measure prestige by the number of applicants they turn away.

By Jon Marcus in the Hechinger Report

4. When younger women have heart attacks, they’re twice as likely to die as their male counterparts. Is medicine’s gender bias to blame?

By Maya Dusenbery in Pacific Standard

5. Can the triumph and tragedy of soccer help Harvard students appreciate the humanities?

By Colleen Walsh in the Harvard Gazette

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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