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Domestic News | November 30, 2012

Crash Course 11.30.12

News roundup

More cuts for part-time workers, chancellor ignores calls to reinstate prof who showed porn in class and green cards for graduates

Youngstown State University (Ryan Leighty / Flickr)

More insuranc-related cuts: Another college has announced plans to limit the number of hours its part-time employees work to avoid providing them health insurance. Youngstown State University in eastern Ohio made the announcement in an email sent to English department employees, according to a report in the Huffington Post. Under Obamacare, employers who provide health insurance must cover employees who work 30 hours or more. Critics of the health care reforms, passed in 2010, warned they would lead to layoffs or reduced hours. Last week, Pennsylvania's Community College of Allegheny County announced it would cut hours for 400 temporary workers, including 200 adjunct faculty, to avoid the insurance mandate. A Youngstown administrator told the Huffington Post the school's policy was still under development.

Standing firm: The chancellor of a North Carolina school who placed a professor on leave after students complained she showed a pornographic video in class is standing by his decision. Appalachian State University Chancellor Kenneth Peacock disciplined sociology professor Jammie Price over the video incident and other comments she made criticizing college athletes. After placing Price on leave, Peacock required her to complete a professional development plan that included lessons on improving her teaching and a classroom monitor. Price refused and appealed her case to a faculty grievance committee.

Last month, the committee ruled Price had been punished unfairly and should be reinstated. Earlier this month, Peacock told Price he would not change his decision. Price must still complete her professional development plan, something she said she would not do, if she wants to keep her job. If the school tries to fire her, Price told The Chronicle of Higher Education she intends to appeal up the chain in the University of North Carolina system. Price claims Peacock's actions violate her academic freedom. The chancellor maintains her actions in the classroom, especially showing students a graphic film without warning, showed "extremely poor judgment." The school sanctioned Price after students and parents complained.

Green cards: House Republicans want to make it easier for foreign students graduating from U.S. universities with advanced science and math degrees to find work in the US. Last week, the House approved a measure that would make green cards more accessible. The idea of keeping foreign students with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math degrees has support from both political parties, as well as the high-tech industries that don't want employee prospects to leave the country and work for competitors abroad. Even so, analysts think the Democratic-controlled Senate unlikely to take up the measure before the end of the session later this month. Democrats criticized the bill for not increasing the number of green cards made available to immigrants. Prioritizing one group would come at the expense of others, they said. The proposed program would take 55,000 permanent residency visas from a program that gives green cards to people with traditionally lower immigration rates, particularly from Africa.