Too expensive to play
Regents for the University of New Mexico voted last week to cut four athletic teams in a bid to stem long-standing budget deficits. The board voted unanimously to end programs for men’s and women’s skiing, beach volleyball, and men’s soccer, which has had some success in NCAA competitions. The men’s soccer team has made it to the Final Four twice and reached the championship game once. University President Garnett S. Stokes called the cuts absolutely necessary. The university’s athletic department has overspent its budget for nine out of the last 11 years, racking up a nearly $5 million deficit. Even with spending cuts, administrators still predicted a $2.3 million deficit in 2019.
Title IX also played a role in the decision. An audit conducted earlier this year showed that while the school has 11 percent more women on campus than men, the athletic department devotes 13 percent more resources to men’s teams. Fixing the disparity by putting more money into women’s sports would have cost too much, especially since the athletic department was already over budget, administrators said. —L.J.
Street smart and school savvy
Sesame Street is paving the way for a classroom takeover. Through a new partnership with textbook publisher McGraw-Hill Education, the nonprofit company Sesame Workshop will develop an elementary school curriculum that could be in use as early as the 2019-2020 school year. The materials will focus on social-emotional and literacy lessons. And of course they will feature the characters children already know and love. Companion material will help parents reinforce lessons at home. The partnership has some educators worried about other media companies trying to hone in on the classroom space. “When you introduce a commercial influence on a nonprofit endeavor, I think everyone naturally has some concerns about the tension that ensues,” said pediatrician David Hill, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics. —L.J.
After an uproar over proposed changes to its Advanced Placement World History curriculum, the College Board announced it would expand the time period covered—but only by 250 years. The new world history class will begin in the year 1200, instead of 1450. The change isn’t likely to mollify critics, who note cutting out so much “ancient” history makes the world seem more Eurocentric than it really is.
Armed but illegal
Virginia’s Lee County School Board voted last week to arm its teachers and staff despite a state law preventing educators from carrying guns on campus. The district can only afford to pay four police officers to protect its 11 schools, said school board member Rob Hines, and that’s not enough: “You can sit around and you can plan and you can think about things, but at some point, you’ve got to do something. We have a sworn duty to protect our children and our staff, and that’s what we’re trying to do.” The board must now seek court approval for an exemption to the state law.
In Florida, Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is getting metal detectors. Officials haven’t decided yet whether to use stationary devices students must walk through or portable wands that can be waved over people coming through the door. Speed will be a major consideration. The school has 3,200 students, and checking each one could create long lines. —L.J.