AJC On Campus: HOPE on lawmakers’ minds; professor becomes babysitter

Morehouse College visiting professor Nathan Alexander volunteered to watch the child he's holding when his student, Wayne Hayer, right, could not find childcare before Alexander's class on Friday, March 1, 2019. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.

Morehouse College visiting professor Nathan Alexander volunteered to watch the child he's holding when his student, Wayne Hayer, right, could not find childcare before Alexander's class on Friday, March 1, 2019. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.

The state of Georgia received national acclaim a quarter-century ago when it created the HOPE Scholarship to help more academically-eligible students pay for college. That scholarship and the Zell Miller Scholarship were on the minds of several Georgia lawmakers last week who reviewed bills and discussed ideas aimed at strengthening funding and expanding opportunities for recipients.

In this week’s AJC On Campus, we took a look at those discussions, the money crisis at one school, the president’s potential power move on higher education and how a professor rocked a student’s baby to sleep while still teaching the class.

Hopes for a new scholarship funding stream

Could Georgia have a new revenue stream for the HOPE Scholarship? Gov. Brian Kemp's spokesman signaled last week his boss won't stand in the way of a constitutional amendment that would let voters decide whether to allow casinos in Georgia, with the money used for the popular lottery-funded HOPE scholarship. The comments from the governor's office are a shift from Kemp's stance last year on the campaign trail. Click here to read more about it.

HOPE eligibility changes

Speaking of HOPE, the state House of Representatives Higher Education committee on Friday tweaked House Bill 218, which would allow Georgia college students to receive the HOPE Scholarship as many as 10 years, instead of the current seven years. A similar bill was favorably reviewed by the committee last year, but didn’t make it to the governor’s desk. The bill’s supporters say they want to extend eligibility to help students who may have to temporarily leave school for reasons such as military service or having children. The students must still maintain a 3.0 grade point average to keep the scholarship. Lawmakers are waiting for estimates detailing the financial impact of the change.

Zell Miller Scholarship changes

More students could be eligible for one of the state’s most sought-after scholarships if Senate Bill 161 gets to Gov. Kemp’s desk. The Georgia Senate’s Higher Education committee on Thursday voted unanimously for a plan that would add an extra 0.5 to the grade point average of students taking Advanced Placement, dual credit or International Baccalaureate courses for grades ranging from an A to a D. The scholarship provides full tuition funding to undergraduate Georgia residents who graduate from high school with a 3.7 or greater GPA and a score of at least a 1,200 reading and math score on the SAT or an ACT composite score of 26.

Trump’s threat

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Hanoi.

Credit: Evan Vucci

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Credit: Evan Vucci

President Donald Trump hasn't talked much about colleges since he's been in office, but that might change. Trump vowed in a speech Saturday to the Conservative Political Action Conference he'll sign an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support speech rights on campus in order to be eligible for federal research dollars. Georgia's colleges get more than $1 billion annually in federal research money. Many conservative students and some faith-based organizations have complained in recent years that colleges treat them unfairly or illegally when they want to speak or post displays on campus. The AJC has reported on some of these disputes in Georgia.

Argosy University’s troubles

Federal education officials set a deadline of March 11 for the company that owns Argosy University to show why it should continue to participate in federal student aid programs. Many schools that lose such status often close. Argosy holds classes in Dunwoody and has about 1,500 students. Here's more about the situation.

Morehouse’s babysitter

A Morehouse College professor got a surprise last week when one of his students brought his infant girl to class after being in need of childcare. The professor, Nathan Alexander, not only allowed the child into his class, but held the baby to help the student focus and take better notes. Read more of the professor's story here.

All Rise

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas laughs before speaking to an audience at McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)

Credit: Bill Rankin

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Credit: Bill Rankin

U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and Georgia native, Clarence Thomas is scheduled to speak at a Mercer University School of Law event on March 11. The event is private and all seating is spoken for. A live video stream to an overflow room will be available for faculty and staff members, students, alumni and local judges and attorneys.

Not so tasty

AJC education reporter Vanessa McCray took a look at the recent drama concerning more than two dozen Fulton County middle school students were hospitalized for eating cereal treats containing THC, a chemical found in marijuana. Check out her story about it here.

The number of the week: $340,984

Kennesaw State University students raised $340,984 for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta during a 12-hour dance marathon on Saturday, March 2, 2019. The student group that organized the event, Miracle at KSU, has raised more than $1 million for the hospital since the group started 11 years ago, KSU officials said. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.

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That’s how much money Kennesaw State University students raised during a 12-hour dance marathon on campus Saturday for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta through Miracle at Kennesaw, a student group.

Coming this week

Thursday is “Crossover Day.” the last day for most bills to be passed by either the state House of Representatives or Senate. Some of the bills we mentioned and others involving higher education must go through one chamber by Thursday in order for them to become law. Stay tuned.