Newsletter: The chronicles of higher education

The University of California will suspend SAT and ACT testing requirements for admission through 2024 and eliminate them for California students by 2025.
The University of California will suspend SAT and ACT testing requirements for admission through 2024 and eliminate them for California students by 2025.
(Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, May 22. I’m Christopher Goffard, filling in for Julia Wick, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

The 10-campus University of California system is the nation’s premier public university system and provides a vast base of customers for the SAT and ACT. So the UC regents’ decision Thursday to scuttle the tests as an admission requirement is expected to have far-reaching consequences for the future of the standardized tests.

Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, an ex-officio regent, called the vote “the beginning of the end” for the SAT.


The UC system, which decided to require the SAT half a century ago, now joins more than 1,000 other colleges and universities that have dropped the standardized-test requirement. Under a five-year plan advanced by UC President Janet Napolitano, the SAT and ACT will be eased out as the UC system develops its own assessment, which is expected to be in place by fall 2025.

The vote came after vigorous debate. Proponents of the tests say they are a useful and uniform measure of academic preparedness; opponents say they are unfair to disadvantaged students.

[Read “UC makes landmark decision to drop ACT and SAT requirement for admission” in the Los Angeles Times]

Elsewhere in higher education, the college-admissions scandal has resulted in agreements to plead guilty from television actress Lori Loughlin and her husband J. Mossimo Giannulli, court documents reveal.


The pair paid $500,000 to William “Rick” Singer, the Newport Beach college-admissions consultant, and were accused of conspiring with him to pass off their two daughters as promising rowing recruits to win admission to USC.

For more than a year, the pair have steadfastly maintained their innocence, saying Singer misled them into believing the money was being used for legitimate university purposes, rather than as a “side door” into the school that involved bribing an administrator.

But the defense suffered a major blow when a judge declined to dismiss any charges or throw out a series of recorded calls that captured the couple’s conversations with Singer.

Mossimo Giannulli, Lori Loughlin
In this April 2019 photo, actress Lori Loughlin and husband, clothing designer Mossimo Giannulli, depart federal court in Boston after facing charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal.
(Steven Senne / Associated Press)


Under a deal from prosecutors, Loughlin and Giannulli, whose trial was set for October, will plead guilty to fraud. She has agreed to spend two months in federal prison, while he would get five months, with fines and community service for both. Prosecutors will drop money laundering and bribery charges.

The deal will have to be approved by U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton, who has already sentenced four other defendants in the scandal to prison terms ranging from five to nine months.

[Read “Lori Loughlin to plead guilty in college admissions scandal, faces 2 months in prison” in the Los Angeles Times]

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:


Business begins to return. More than two-thirds of Southern Californian counties have received the green light to reopen their economies more quickly, including San Diego, Ventura and Kern. Los Angeles Times

Campsites are reopening. Joshua Tree National Park is open. Some campgrounds in the San Bernardino National Forest plan to reopen today, with others following this weekend. Los Angeles Times

As for Yosemite National Park, which has been closed since March 20, it is expected to reopen in early June, though the number of visitors will be sharply limited. Los Angeles Times

A future of remote work at Facebook. The company’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, says half of his employees may be working remotely in 5 to 10 years, a trend accelerated by the coronavirus. Mercury News


San Francisco OKs tent encampment. A look at the city-sanctioned “Safe Sleeping Village.” SF Gate


Los Angeles County has reached a promising new milestone in its fight to control the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus. The transmission rate in the nation’s most populous county, home to 56% of COVID-19 deaths in California, is now in its best position since the magnitude of the outbreak became clear in March. Los Angeles Times

Independent bookstores in a time of pandemic. Curbside service is one way they are trying to stay afloat. Los Angeles Times

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Trump in Michigan. The president visited the election-year battleground state amid a clash with its officials. He also wore a face mask, albeit not in front of the media. Los Angeles Times


Child cyber-abuse. With children spending more time on-line under stay-at-home orders, police have seen a surge of tips about online child abuse. Los Angeles Times

City Hall is reflected on the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. LAPD’s Internet Crimes Against Children unit received nearly 3,000 tips in April, up from 1,355 in March.
(Nick Agro / For The Times)



Beijing exerts control. The Chinese government has announced plans to impose new national security legislation in Hong Kong, which many fear will lead to the suppression of dissidents in the former British colony. Los Angeles Times


“Labor of Love.” A look at Fox’s new dating show, whose brutal catchphrase is “I don’t see us starting a family together.” Los Angeles Times

“Some Good News” gets a new home. The digital series, created and originally hosted by John Krasinski, is coming to CBS All Access, with a new host. Los Angeles Times


A Tahoe trip for this holiday weekend could get you a $1,000 fine. Chico Enterprise-Record


Haim’s new album. The new album from the Los Angeles musical trio, called “Women in Music Pt. III,” is set to come out June 6. Los Angeles Times


Jacaranda trees are defying the sheltering order and blooming with purple pride. Press-Enterprise

A poem to start your Friday: “Full-Time Driver” by Marcus Jackson. New York Times

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Los Angeles: sunny, 78. San Diego: partly cloudy, 71. San Francisco: cloudy, 69. San Jose: cloudy, 75. Fresno: mostly sunny, 83. Sacramento: sunny, 80. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Kathy Warnert:

As young newlyweds in 1980, we drove from the Midwest to make our new home at bustling George Air Force Base near sleepy Apple Valley. I recall the sweet smell of lemon blossoms near San Bernardino and the beautifully stark, clean air, and wide-open landscapes of the high desert where a new three-bedroom went for under $50,000. Each town was distinctly separate and small. There was a certain Wild West romanticism of dusty roads, Joshua trees, horse ranches and rocky outcrops. My younger self was in love with this exotic, new land.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)


Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.