With the cost of both private and public college tuition soaring, policymakers across the country are looking for ways to keep higher education affordable. Even President Barack Obama has jumped into the fray: In August, he announced his idea for a federal ratings system that would measure the "value" of colleges, serving as a resource for families and possibly as a guide that would redirect financial aid toward schools that score higher on its metrics.
The plan has been met with sharp criticism from Congressional Republicans and education leaders, which puts its scheduled fall 2015 start in doubt. Just last week, Obama's former Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, who took over as president of the University of California in September, expressed her doubts about the idea of a college scorecard.
"I am deeply skeptical that there are criteria that can be developed that are in the end meaningful, because there will be so many exceptions, once you get down to it," Napolitano told the Washington Post. "It's not like — you know, you're not buying a car or a boat."
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education continues to solicit feedback on the project. Deputy Undersecretary of Education Jamienne Studley, along with U.S. Reps. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, and John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, will be at UC Davis' Vanderhoef Studio Theatre at 10 a.m. for a public forum on college affordability and the proposed ratings system.
VIDEO: California's slowing population growth has far-reaching implications, Dan Walters says, affecting everything from education to real estate.
FIGHT ON: Mixed Martial Arts fighter Fallon Fox caused a stir in March when she came out as transgender to Sports Illustrated. Now the California State Athletics Commission, which licenses athletes in the combat sport, considers new regulations allowing transgender fighters to compete, including whether to check hormone levels to maintain fairness in MMA matches. The meeting takes place at 10 a.m. at 2005 Evergreen St. in Sacramento.
IT'S A HARD-KNOCK LIFE: More than one-in-five children live in poverty, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. An all-day conference, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the California Endowment in Los Angeles, aims to address what the state can do to get the most out of its poverty-relief programs and how it can help to break the cycle for future generations. Among the expected attendees are state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento; state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: The Joint Legislative Audit Committee reviews two recently completed audits, 10 a.m. in Room 126 at the state Capitol. One concerns off-budget accounts, launched after the California Department of Parks and Recreation and Cal Fire were both discovered to be holding millions of dollars in unreported funds; the other is focused on the state Department of Justice's safety mechanisms for prohibiting people with certain mental illnesses from buying or owning guns.
CELEBRATIONS: A belated happy birthday to Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, who turned 72 yesterday, and to California Democratic Party chairman John L. Burton, who turned 81.
PHOTO: President Barack Obama speaks on No Child Left Behind Reform, Sept. 23, 2011, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. The Associated Press/Pablo Martinez Monsivais