I Went From Prison to Professor – Here’s Why Criminal Records Should Not Be Used to Keep People Out of College Stanley Andrisse was once branded a career criminal and served time in prison. Today, he is a professor at two medical schools and an advocate for higher education for those who’ve served time.

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Beginning next year, the Common Application – an online form that enables students to apply to the 800 or so colleges that use it – will no longer ask students about their criminal pasts.

As a formerly incarcerated person who now is now an endocrinologist and professor at two world-renowned medical institutions – Johns Hopkins Medicine and Howard University College of Medicine – I believe this move is a positive one. People’s prior convictions should not be held against them in their pursuit of higher learning.

While I am enthusiastic about the decision to remove the criminal history question from the Common Application, I also believe more must be done to remove the various barriers that exist between formerly incarcerated individuals such as myself and higher education.

I make this argument not only as a formerly incarcerated person who now teaches aspiring medical doctors, but also as an advocate for people with criminal convictions. The organization I lead – From Prison Cells to PhD – helped push for the change on the Common Application.

My own story stands as a testament to the fact that today’s incarcerated person could become tomorrow’s professor. A person who once sold illegal drugs on the street could become tomorrow’s medical doctor. But this can only happen if such a person, and the many others in similar situations, are given the chance.

There was a time not so long ago when some in the legal system believed I did not deserve a chance. With three felony convictions, I was sentenced to 10 years in prison for drug trafficking as a prior and persistent career criminal. My prosecuting attorney once stated that I had no hope for change.

Today, I am Dr. Stanley Andrisse. As a professor at Johns Hopkins and Howard University, I now help train students who want to be doctors. I’d say that I have changed. Education was transformative.

US incarceration rates the highest

The United States needs to have more of this transformative power of education. The country incarcerates more people and at a higher rate than any other nation in the world. The U.S. accounts for less than 5 percent of the world population but nearly 25 percent of the incarcerated population around the globe.

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Concordia College Alabama to close at end of spring semester

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Image: Selma Times Journal

From The Associated Press…

Concordia College Alabama, a historically black Lutheran college, will close its doors at the end of the spring semester.

The Selma Times-Journal reports Dr. James Lyons, the college’s chief transition officer and interim president, shared the news with faculty, staff and the student body on Wednesday.

The school was founded in 1922 and has a current student population of around 400. It is Selma’s only four-year college accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

In-depth story from Selma Times Journal

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Is Ending Affirmative Action the Real Objective Behind the Justice Department’s Look at College Admission Practices?

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The New York Times reported Tuesday that the Justice Department’s civil rights division is preparing to sue universities for using affirmative action to practice anti-white discrimination and is even seeking lawyers for the effort. Interested attorneys reportedly have until Aug. 9 to apply.

But late Wednesday, Justice Department officials denied it would pursue this controversial course of action, and claimed its inquiry was limited to only one complaint. Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told the AP that the job ad referred to a single 2015 complaint filed by a group of Asian-American organizations that had sued Harvard University and other Ivy League schools for discriminating against high-performing Asian-American students in admissions.

Many civil rights groups are skeptical of the Justice department’s denial, conservative Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a history of anti-Black bias that once cost him a judgeship for allegedly using a racial slur. In a statement Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., stated “Affirmative action is rooted in our nation’s fundamental commitment to equality, a commitment this Administration woefully lacks and has expressed hostility towards.”    Others point out that if the Trump administration is anything like George W. Bush’s administration, there’s little reason to believe his cabinet will actually direct the Justice Department to fight for civil rights for people of color. Spokeswoman Flores said the agency “is committed to protecting all Americans from all forms of illegal race-based discrimination.” But if Trump’s ideas on immigration, police misconduct and the wrongfully convicted are any indication, it’s unlikely that “all Americans” includes the marginalized Black and brown people who desperately need affirmative action just to get their foot in the door.

Flores specified that the Justice Department had no intentions of conducting a broad investigation into the nation’s affirmative action policies. But by the time Flores explained the Justice Department’s plans, the New York Times report had already renewed a national dialogue about affirmative action that dates back to the 1960s, when the term “affirmative action” was coined in 1961 and when President Lyndon Johnson issued Executive Order 11246 in 1965 requiring federal contractors to use affirmative action to diversify the workforce.

Arguably, the biggest misconception about affirmative action is that whites don’t benefit from it. But white women, and by extension their largely white husbands and sons, do benefit from diversity policies. In 2006, Columbia University law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw pointed out in the University of Michigan Law Review that white women are affirmative action’s primary beneficiaries in the area of employment.

There’s also the idea that whites stand to benefit the most if affirmative action is eliminated. But in the late 1990s, when California, Florida and Texas barred the use of race as factor in college admissions (Texas’ ban was reversed in 2003 and later challenged again), the number of Asian-Americans in these institutions rose, while the number of whites declined. At the University of California, San Diego, first-year white students dropped from 56.9 percent in 1990 to 33.3 percent in 2005, researchers found. (California banned affirmative action in 1996.) Demographic shifts mean that universities across the nation, with and without affirmative policies, are growing more diverse.

“For those who campaigned for the elimination of affirmative action in the belief that it would advantage the admission of white students, the trend … can hardly be satisfying,” the researchers said.

Affirmative action foes also overlook the fact that in the job market, black workers receive more scrutiny than their white colleagues and are more likely to be fired from their jobs for making the same kinds of mistakes that white employees do, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. This finding is just one of many reasons that affirmative action is needed to level an uneven playing field. But another finding concerns Abigail Fisher, the Texas student who sued the University of Texas at Austin, the state’s flagship public university, for not admitting her in 2008. In a case that went before the U.S. Supreme Court last year, Fisher argued that students of color had edged her out of a slot at the competitive campus. But it turned out that UT Austin also rejected 168 Black and Latino students with better scores than Fisher. The Supreme Court upheld UT Austin’s holistic admissions policy.

For now, there appears to be a wait and see attitude as to what next for the Trump administration on a broader attack on affirmative action policies, but that doesn’t mean supporters of the practice should breathe a sigh relief. The Obama administration made a concerted effort to strengthen the Justice Department, hiring attorneys with experience fighting for civil rights. The first Black president’s approach to the department differed markedly from George W. Bush’s administration. According to the New York Times, “its overseers violated Civil Service hiring laws … by filling its career ranks with conservatives who often had scant experience in civil rights law. At the same time, it brought fewer cases alleging systematic discrimination against minorities and more alleging reverse discrimination against whites, like a 2006 lawsuit forcing Southern Illinois University to stop reserving certain fellowship programs for women or members of underrepresented racial groups.” With a shift back to a right-wing agenda under the Trump administration, it seems only a matter of time before affirmative action becomes the next target in undoing the priorities of the Obama administration.

By Nadra Nittle/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

HBCUs, advocates looking for help from Trump on funding

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The nation’s historically black colleges and universities are pushing for President Donald Trump to set aside more federal contracts and grants for their schools, and take a greater hand in their welfare by moving responsibility for a key program for those colleges to the White House.

President Donald Trump shakes hands as he meets with leaders of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Image: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The presidents of the nation’s 100-plus HBCUs, pressing their case for greater attention from the new Republican-controlled government, met with Trump briefly in the Oval Office and later with Vice President Mike Pence. On Tuesday, they planned to meet with GOP lawmakers.

 “Know that beginning today, this administration is committed to ensuring that historically black colleges and universities get the credit and the attention they deserve,” Pence said after the meeting. “Our administration at the president’s direction is working to find new ways to expand your impact so that more students, especially in the underserved communities of this country, have a chance at a quality education.”
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It’s Official: Black Women Are The Most Educated Group In The U.S.

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Image: blackamericaweb.com

According to the National Association of Education Statistics, African-American women are the most educated group in the U.S. population. Between 2009 and 2010, Black women earned 68% of associate’s degrees, 66% of bachelor’s degrees, 71% of master’s degrees and 65% of all doctorate degrees awarded to Black students.

“By both race and gender there is a higher percentage of Black women (9.7 percent) enrolled in college than any other group including Asian women (8.7 percent), white women (7.1 percent) and white men (6.1 percent),” reported Slate.

The percentage of Black students attending college has increased from 10%-15% from 1976 to 2012, while the percentage of white students fell from 84%-60%.

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As enrollment drops, University of Phoenix parent for sale

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Facing declining enrollment at its online chain of colleges and heightened scrutiny by regulators, Apollo Education Group — parent of the University of Phoenix — is exploring options including a possible sale, the for-profit company said last week.

“The Board is currently in discussions that could potentially lead to a change of control of the company,” Apollo Education said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the company declined further comment.

News that the company was exploring a possible sale came as the for-profit educator reported a fiscal first-quarter loss of $60.8 million and revenue of $586 million, short of Wall Street’s expectations.

Shares of the company have plummeted 76 percent over the last 12 months, and are down 14 percent since the start of the year. On Monday, however, its shares rallied, up more than 5 percent.

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2016 starts very badly for Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson

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Stanford alum Fiorina kicked off the new year with a tweet that may well appear on worst-of lists at the end of the year:

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