By Craig Kapitan
Josefina Alexander Gonzalez, 98, and deceased sister Delfina Alexander, who owned about 1,000 acres of South Texas land, formed five companies between 1995 and 2002 for developing the property. Read more…
Josefina Alexander Gonzalez, 98, and deceased sister Delfina Alexander, who owned about 1,000 acres of South Texas land, formed five companies between 1995 and 2002 for developing the property. Read more…
As parents and students struggle to keep up with rising college tuition and take on greater burdens of debt, universities are being challenged to justify the ballooning athletic fees they tack on to the bill. Read more…
In 2011, during his first regular session, state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, filed a bill to repeal the state’s decade-old law allowing some undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates to attend public universities in Texas. Read more…
The Huffington Post | By Tyler Kingkade
At the Texas Tribune festival, a three-day public policy forum in Austin, Perry said students who go to state universities should have the same tuition for their senior year as they do when they enter as freshmen. According to reports, Perry seemed intent to push for a tuition freeze in the next legislative session. Read more…
by Megan McArdle
Mythomania about college has turned getting a degree into an American neurosis. It’s sending parents to the poorhouse and saddling students with a backpack full of debt that doesn’t even guarantee a good job in the end. With college debt making national headlines, Megan McArdle asks, is college a bum deal?
Why are we spending so much money on college? Read more…
It likely won’t take the same form – the removal and reinstatement of a university president. But somewhere, sometime, probably sooner rather than later, the governing board of a public university, claiming to be acting to move the university forward and addressing 21st-century challenges, is going to make a move that upsets faculty members and other traditional university stakeholders. Read more…
We wanted to get your thoughts on this highly controversial issue. Let us know how this effects you. Pick up Time Magazine to read the original article, and read below, comments from the author.
Advocates for a moratorium on tuition increases at public universities — specifically at the University of Texas System — will attempt to deliver bags of ice to the Capitol offices of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and other key officials this afternoon as part of their “Freeze Tuition Now” campaign. Read more…
Americans have finally awakened to the decades-long corruption of higher education
Written By Gabriela Guadalupe Fox News Latino
José Díaz-Balart, chief political analyst for Telemundo
José Díaz-Balart, chief political analyst for Telemundo, had one important task during the September 7, 2011, Republican debate—to ask the candidates about immigration. Díaz-Balart asked his question, got his answer and was dismissed from the stage. The stereotype was fulfilled; a Latino asked one question and the one question was about immigration. With that box checked, the moderators and candidates were able to return to “non-Latino” issues. Read more…
By Emery Cowan
Tse Chi “Chad” Yen will graduate from Fort Lewis College this December with a degree in psychology and a promising job prospect at a nonprofit in Denver. Yen acknowledges he is in a better place than many in this struggling economy, but not without a cost: about $27,000 in student loans.
But without those loans and some scholarships, “I wouldn’t be here,” Yen said.
The most recent numbers show that college students around the country are taking on more debt in order to finish their degrees. College seniors who graduated with student loans in 2010 owed an average of $25,250 – up 5 percent from last year, according to a report released this month from the Project on Student Debt at the Institute for College Access & Success. At the same time, there are fewer and fewer good-paying jobs awaiting recent graduates:. Read more…
It sits in the mailbox and taunts us: The thin sliver of an envelope, recognizable by the logo in the top-left corner, arrives every month. And my wife and I instantly react with a deep sigh.
It’s the latest statement from the company servicing her nearly six-figure student loan debt, which hangs over our heads like a grand piano on a rope. The sheer size of the number is so daunting that we fear that we’ll never be able to pay it off in full. And the psychological burden is so heavy that it haunts our relationship and our future.
We know that we’re responsible for landing in this mess, and that knowledge consumes us with guilt — for taking on the loans in the first place, for not making timely payments and for negligently consolidating them at an 8.5 percent interest rate.
But we wouldn’t be crushed by the loan debt if tuition had been affordable, if financial counseling had been available, and if the interest rate was not so punitive. This is how tuition fees function in most parts of the western world — except in America. Read more…
“Texas Gov. Rick Perry has an unexpected defender: former president Bill Clinton. … ‘It makes my skin crawl when they attack Rick Perry for one of the best things he did,’ Clinton says, that is, his support of a Texas law that grants in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants brought to the state as children. ‘What would they like?’ Clinton demands. ‘Would they like the kid to stand on a corner and sell dope or something?’” — Bill Clinton sticks up for Rick Perry on immigration, USA Today
What’s behind the runaway cost of a college education? According to the College Board, tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students at public four-year colleges are up an average 8.3 percent this year, roughly three times the overall rate of inflation. (In South Carolina, the increase was a more moderate 2.5 percent.) The costs for in-state undergraduates average $8,244; out-of-state undergrads pay a mind-boggling $20,770.
Private non-profit four-year colleges charge an average $28,500, an increase over last year of “only” 4.5 percent. For-profit colleges charge $14,487, up 3.2 percent. (The latter, obviously, are providing a service deemed less prestigious than the non-profits. Whether the education their enrollees receive is half that of their higher priced competitors is another question.) Read more…
By CANDICE CHOI and EILEEN AJ CONNELLY
While a few hundred have been camping out in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, many more join in for a few hours or a day to add their voices. Here’s a look at some of the protesters who ventured by in the past week, and the financial issues they’re dealing with:
John Smith, 31, of Brooklyn, N.Y., works part time at Trader Joe’s because he hasn’t been able to find work in his field for over a year, despite having a master’s degree. He has about $45,000 in student loan debt. His girlfriend, Meropi Peponides, 27, a graduate student at Columbia University, will have about $50,000 by the time she graduates.
“I don’t know in the end what exactly this will achieve, if anything. But if it makes people wake up just a little bit, it’s worth it,” Peponides said. “The potential is huge. That’s why I’m here. I felt the potential somehow.”
Smith said he has sent out about 200 resumes in his search. He’s looking mainly for work with non-profit organizations. “The jobs that I’ve been applying for are all entry level jobs in my career field. I don’t think I’m shooting for the stars trying to get those jobs.” Smith said, noting that five years ago, before grad school, he was able to get work at that level.
He was carrying a sign that said, “I am the 99 percent,” a slogan that resonated with him. “It’s true. I am one of the many people that are having a lot of trouble finding ways to make it through things right now.”
Tracy Blevins, 41-year-old Manhattan resident, has a doctorate in biomedical science but lost her job as an adjunct professor at Touro College this spring. She’s since been getting by on odd jobs; most recently, she acted as a cross-country driver for $2,000.
“I’m earning money off a license I got when I was 16, and still paying off the loans I had to take out to get my degree,” she said.
Even after nine years of paying down her loans, Blevins said she owes $10,000. She’s current on payments now, but said the loans have crippled her credit score and even prevented her from getting work in the past.
“I have paid and paid and paid and I still owe $10,000. It’s the interest that keeps me in debt,” she said. Read more…
The nation‘s educators must work to improve college completion rates for Latino students if the United States is to remain economically competitive in the world, according to a report released Friday by the College Board. While Latinos make up the fastest growing group of students in the nation, they are behind the national average for college completion by more than half. At present, 19.2 percent of Latinos who enter college complete college, while the national average hovers around 40 percent, according to the report. Read more…
By Brendan Sasso
Boosting college graduation rates for racial minority groups would help to reduce disparities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, according to a study released Monday by the Commerce Department.
This gap mirrors the disparity in education levels between the groups. The researchers concluded that encouraging more minority students to go to college would lead to more minorities in STEM fields. Read more…
“Hire the best, honor the mission, and measure the results.” The president of my university — the big one in Austin, with tower bathed perpetually in orange — has it right. That way lies academic greatness and prestige, assuming we all agree on the meaning of “best” and “mission,” and the means of measuring results.
The fun begins when disagreement arises — a common component of democratic, First Amendment-based discourse.
President William Powers, delivering his annual assessment of the state of the University of Texas, confesses himself weary of “contentious debate” over the university’s perceived slowness to confront and deal with modern challenges, such as fast-rising costs and ever-lengthening periods necessary for graduation.
So might Texans in general confess the same weariness. When the great majority of onlookers, researchers, and commentators pursue the very same goal — academic excellence, in the present case — unity serves the purpose better than discord. The latter condition obtains, generally speaking, when insiders fancy themselves under siege by odoriferous yahoos hurling beer bottles instead of bearing constructively framed suggestions for change.
An urgent point for consideration is that no one I know of has ever suggested the University of Texas at Austin is a place of academic degeneracy, ripe for the fate the Romans visited on Carthage. It’s a great place, UT. Hook ‘em! Read more…
Author: Bryan Clark
In the past online degrees from for-profit colleges and universities were viewed as subpar alternatives to their brick-and-mortar brethren. In a study of 449 human resource professionals by the Society for Human Resource Management released in September indicates that 87-percent regard online degrees in a more favorable light than they did merely five years ago. Degrees from top online universities were viewed even more favorably.
In the past, the biggest gripe with for-profit universities was that they recruited their students, and often these students were minorities. Now, minorities make up around 40-percent of all online students, which is much closer to the 28-percent that offline universities enroll. Recruiting standards have also been tightened as the federal government made it illegal to pay headhunters, or recruiters bonuses based on each student, or how many students they enroll online.
Regulation for the “wild wild west” of the college world can only help things as most of us are working more hours than ever, and few have the time or money to attend an offline campus once we’ve started a career.
Big players like the University of Phoenix, and Kaplan University dominate the cyber education world and offer courses in everything from web design to information technology. Trying to bridge the gap between a traditional four year college and an online school, the University of Phoenix, as well as many others have begun the arduous process of creating offline schools as satellite campuses of the main online school. This is just one of many things that the so-called electronic universities are doing to help improve their image. No one would argue that it doesn’t work, I assure you. Having a physical campus as well as an online program certainly makes you look more legitimate.
Read more: http://technorati.com/business/article/top-online-universities-are-leading-the/#ixzz1Z9dPAOSr
Kate Dargie, 23, said money she saved by getting her two-year degree at Central Maine Community College helped her become a homeowner. Dargie, who works in communications at the college, is among a growing number of students who picked a community college after the Maine Technical College System became the Maine Community College System in 2003. Dargie is working on her bachelor’s degree online through St. Joseph’s College.
After he got out of the U.S. Coast Guard, Ronald Fowler, 28, enrolled in a criminal justice program at Central Maine Community College in Auburn. Fowler said the affordability of the community college was important. Fowler plans to get his bachelor’s degree through St. Joseph’s College.
With Texas Gov. Rick Perry at–or near the top–in polls to be the Republican nominee for President, his proposals for higher ed reform as Governor are gaining attention (if that is even possible, given that his proposals–especially his call for a $10,000 bachelor’s degree–had already garnered extensive media coverage). With Gov. Perry’s ideas in the background, a raging debate has swept through the higher ed sector in the State of Texas over the past year (CCAP fanned the flames a bit when we released our preliminary analysis of faculty teaching and research “productivity” at the University of Texas at Austin).
In response to the calls for increased transparency and accountability for the public colleges and universities in Texas, the University of Texas system’s chancellor, Francisco G. Cigarroa, drafted a plan, which the UT Board of Regents subsequently adopted. The plan, as the Chronicle put it, “responds to calls for more transparency about the performance of its campuses and spends $243.6-million to raise four-year graduation rates, expand the use of technology, and improve efficiency throughout the system.” Ironically, perhaps, is that the most remarkable feature of this plan wasn’t anything actually in it as much as the fact that it earned extensive praise from groups who fiercely opposed each other during the debate over faculty productivity.
Despite the bipartisan support for Chancellor Cigarroa’s plan (and there are certainly a number of components in this plan which are laudatory), in terms of the substance, it is “disappointing,” according to Robert C. Koons, professor of philosophy at UT-Austin. As he argued in an essay for Minding the Campus:
when we dig down to the details, we find that all that is being demanded of the System’s bureaucrats is that they go on doing bureaucratic things, like “completing action plans”, “approving tuition policies”, “hiring experts”, “identify strategies,” and so on. The Plan reads like something written, not only by a committee, but by an entire panoply of committees—which is actually the case.
I think Professor Koons makes a good point here: why should we expect a highly bureaucratic approach in this instance to end up with improved accountability? Couldn’t this approach wind up resulting in less transparency? It reminds me of the story Richard Vedder is fond of retelling, of how the State of Ohio told its public colleges and universities that faculty teaching needed to increase by 10%. His university, predictably, formed a committee to look into the issue and eventually decided not to do anything about it, though he would joke that to ensure compliance with the law, he “talked 10% faster in class than he did in the past.” Improvements in higher ed accountability requires much, much more than a generic statement in support of transparency. Read more…
By Robert C. Koons
Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas – The Chancellor of the University of Texas system has issued a disappointing response to pressure from the public and Governor Rick Perry for greater accountability on the system’s nine campuses. The Plan is packed with words like “action items”, “goals”, “metrics” & “responsible parties”, all designed to give the casual reader the impression that UT is serious about producing real results.
Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa”s “Framework for Advancing Excellence,” although approved unanimously by the Regents and praised even by some conservative activists, represents the same educational administrative mindset that has produced decades of spiraling costs and falling standards.
When we dig down to the details, however, we find that all that is being demanded of the System’s bureaucrats is that they go on doing bureaucratic things, like “completing action plans”, “approving tuition policies”, “hiring experts”, “identify strategies,” and so on. The Plan reads like something written, not only by a committee, but by an entire panoply of committees—which is actually the case.
Apart from the unsurprising idea of obtaining more money from donors, there is only one real goal in the entire Plan: a commitment to raise graduation rates. Is this real accountability? Hardly.
Raising graduation rates is precisely the metric that every administrator desires, since administrators, who award the degrees, can raise the graduation rates without improving the system in the slightest. They don’thave to make professors work harder or (more importantly) smarter at teaching. All they have to do is encourage them to drop academic standards still further. Read more…
After the UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa’s speech and the UT regents blessing for his plan, we thought the UT controversy was over and progress now could be made in moving forward with positive measures. Apparently UT president Bill Powers wants to keep the fight going – all in our opinion to the detriment of the students, parents and taxpayers in an effort to continue with the status quo of rising fees.
In the article by Reeve Hamilton of the Texas Tribune titled – “President Bill Powers: We Are a House Divided” it appears he actually does have his, “head in the sand” and his “feet dug in against change.”
Read and decide for yourself.
Update: University of Texas President Bill Powers stuck to his prepared remarks (scroll down to view), and the audience — made up mostly of UT faculty, students, and boosters — responded enthusiastically. Powers’ expressions of support for the faculty and his reference to Gov. Rick Perry‘s $10,000-degree challenge met with the biggest responses.
Original Story: University of Texas President Bill Powers isn’t mincing words in his State of the University address, scheduled for this afternoon. According to prepared remarks distributed before the speech (and subject to change), he takes head-on the controversy that has dogged the state’s higher education community for several months.
“To paraphrase Lincoln, we are a house divided about our fundamental mission and character,” he says.
In the remarks, Powers prescribes his own path to bring people back together and implement transformational changes to higher education. He also takes some thinly veiled swipes at those that have criticized the university in recent months, including Rick O’Donnell, the controversial former adviser to the University of Texas System whose hiring sparked much of the controversy.
Months after his position was unceremoniously eliminated, O’Donnell released an analysis of UT data that grouped professors into different categories based on productivity. “Dodgers” were a particularly unproductive subset of the unproductive group he termed “coasters.” This did not go over well at UT.
Powers calls for a tone that is more respectful of faculty. “The tone of discussion would take a positive turn if everyone in the UT family — even those who call for more extensive change — would publicly defend our faculty and our campus from outside attacks,” he says.
He disputes the notion that UT has its “head in the sand” or its “feet dug in against change.” He also answers Gov. Rick Perry’s challenge for universities to create a $10,000 bachelor’s degree, noting that a quarter of current freshmen — after scholarships and grants — pay less than $2,500 per year for their UT education.
Powers’ speech includes a few bold challenges of his own. Playing off remarks he made in May calling for the university to raise its four-year graduation rate to 70 percent from its current perch around 53 percent. Today, he calls for that to happen in five years. Read more…
By Danny Serna
The report, published by the New Haven-based non-profit Connecticut Voices for Children, shows that Connecticut lost 119,000 jobs in the 22-month recession, and that young people, Hispanics and African-Americans joined the ranks of the unemployed at higher rates than the general population. Additionally, the study showed that recent college graduates in Connecticut were having difficulty finding stable, long-term employment within the first year of graduation.
“[College graduates] will get a job,” said Orlando Rodriguez, a policy fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children and one of the study’s authors. “It’s just going to take longer and you’re going to work harder at it.”
And while they wait for that long-term career to come along, more and more graduates are turning to part-time employment. Among recent graduates from the Connecticut State University system, the school on which this portion of the study is based, unemployment jumped from 5 percent to 10 percent from 2006 to 2010. Part-time employment among recent CSU graduates jumped 12 points, from 16 to 28 percent, while the percentage of students holding full-time jobs dropped from 79 percent to 62 percent. Rodriguez said he had seen similar figures from the University of Connecticut. Yale data was not included in the study.
The study, which the institute publishes each year around Labor Day, also showed that urban areas and rural towns were impacted most adversely by the recession. New Haven is no exception — the city posted the state’s fourth-highest unemployment rate in June 2011, at 13.8 percent. The city also saw the second-highest change in unemployment at 6 percent.
Still, Rodriguez said New Haven was in the “middle of the pack” in terms of job loss. And in response to the growing unemployment, Kelly Murphy, the city’s director of economic development, pointed out that the city had actually seen enough job growth since the end of the recession to erase any recession-era job losses. She also pointed out that Connecticut has still not recovered jobs lost in the recession of the late 1980s. Read more…
Is it possible to create a new type of public university, where professors and administrators make clear promises to their students and deliver an exceptional education at a reasonable cost?
It’s not only possible, it’s a reality at the University of Minnesota–Rochester, where Chancellor Stephen Lehmkuhle has shown that a results-oriented approach to education can help graduates lead more meaningful and productive lives at a fraction of the cost of a traditional university.
Another extraordinarily successful results-oriented model is the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, a school that since its founding in 2002 has become one of the best undergraduate engineering schools in America. Read more…
Reporter: Lilly Rockwell, The News Service of Florida
Brogan met with Scott earlier this year to discuss the controversial changes to higher education, which were first championed by Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry. The idea is to treat universities and colleges more like private businesses, with more scrutiny over professor and university performance.
“We had a great conversation,” Brogan said in an interview with the News Service of Florida. “He’d be the first to tell you he’s not wed to the Texas plan. What he is wed to is the notion that we need to look at those and other possibilities that might create a better system of higher education in the state of Florida.” Read more…
AUSTIN – The University of Texas System Board of Regents unanimously approved an action plan recommended by UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., that will take productivity and excellence initiatives to a higher level across the 15 campuses and System Administration.
Chancellor Cigarroa presented a “Framework for Advancing Excellence throughout The University of Texas System” at the May Board of Regents’ meeting. The action plan translates the framework into nine focus areas and will assure the effective implementation and comprehensive measurement of the initiatives and related metrics.
“I firmly believe the framework action plan presented by Chancellor Cigarroa aligns the efforts of the institutions, System Administration and the Board of Regents and charts a clear path toward providing UT institutions the most cost-efficient means for producing graduates, while at the same time, increasing the quality of education for our students across the UT System,” Regents’ Chairman Gene Powell said. Read more…
Written By Curt Olson
Curt W. Olson
The debate that raged over the cost, productivity, and efficiency of higher education in Texas calmed swiftly Thursday with the announcement of a higher education excellence and reform agenda branded the “Texas Plan.”
And yes, some even see it as a model for higher education systems across the nation to emulate.
Dr. John Mendelsohn, now past president of the UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, called it “a blueprint for the nation, not just Texas, after hearing the presentation from UT System Chancellor Dr. Francisco Cigarroa.
The Task Force on Blended and Online Learning proposed a $50 million investment for the Institute for Transformational Learning, which would utilize technology for more strategic instruction. It was embraced in Cigarroa’s Framework for Excellence Action Plan.
This was part of more than $240 million in expenses regents approved Thursdsay directed to implement the plan.
Cigarroa’s plan generated unanimous support from all sides of the debate over the future over higher education that has raged for six months — sometimes quite fiercely.
More than one regent described the situation as stressful at times.
“Texas finds itself at the epicenter of the national debate on the future of higher education,” Cigarroa said. “I also firmly believe no university system is better poised than the University of Texas System to lead the debate and offer solutions to benefit our students, faculty and staff.” Read more…
By Melissa Ludwig
The University of Texas Board of Regents on Thursday approved an action plan to raise quality and productivity at its 15 institutions in an era of declining revenues, fortifying the effort with $243 million in strategic investments.
The plan pleased higher education boosters and critics alike, including Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative Austin think tank that’s served as a brain trust for those seeking radical changes in Texas higher education.
“The plan unveiled today reflects important steps toward both increasing productivity and improving academic quality in The University of Texas System, and I applaud Chancellor Cigarroa and everyone involved for their hard work in this effort,” Perry said in a statement. Read more…
Responding to calls for reform in higher education, the chancellor of the University of Texas today unveiled a plan that takes a good first step at improving affordability and transparency. Of course, more is needed to make sure taxpayers, parents and students get the maximum return on their college dollar.
Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, MD, presented a plan to the UT Board of Regents that recognizes the need for improved efficiency in higher education.
For example, Dr. Cigarroa’s proposal would expand online classroom opportunities, driving down costs. The UT Regents unanimously adopted the plan, that includes the creation of new transparency measures.
Regent Brenda Pejovich said the plan is “a significant first step in what will be a lengthy but
Some outside groups have spent the summer opposing reforms, and even appropriate regent oversight — such as the mis-named “Coalition for Excellence,” organized by Kenneth Jastrow, former CEO of Temple-Inland and currently being sued for his role in the failure of Guaranty Bank. It was a bank failure that cost the taxpayers “more than a billion dollars.” (That bank failure was called “one of the largest bank failures of the recent financial crisis.”) Read more…
“This plan is a promising first step towards improving the quality, affordability and accessibility of higher education in Texas. Enacting reform is never easy, and we applaud Governor Perry, the regents and chancellor for recognizing the looming crisis facing higher education, and for asking the tough questions that have resulted in this set of proposals. Their leadership has brought needed focus on the growing challenges faced by taxpayers, students and parents.” Read more…
Written by: William Lutz
This morning at the University of Texas System Board of Regents meeting Chancellor Cigarroa unveiled an “action plan” that puts concrete steps toward implementing the Framework for Advancing Excellence, which he delivered to the Board in May. Below is the Coalition’s statement regarding that plan. Following his remarks Coalition operating committee member, Melinda Hill Perrin, addressed the Board of Regents. Her remarks are also attached.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 25, 2011
AUSTIN—The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education released the following statement upon the unveiling of University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa’s plan for implementing the ‘Framework for Advancing Excellence.’ The plan, presented at the UT System Board of Regents meeting, is designed to bring increased accountability and transparency to the System’s universities and health institutions:
“Chancellor Cigarroa has outlined a thoughtful and comprehensive plan of action that continues UT’s legacy of excellence and culture of continual innovation. It also provides an exemplary blueprint for the future of higher education in Texas. This plan, developed in close collaboration with the System institution presidents and the Board, provides a roadmap for meeting the challenges for the future of higher education in Texas. Chancellor Cigarroa’s plan is in direct contrast to the simplistic, ill-conceived, and untested so-called ‘solutions’ being promoted by outside interest groups. The Chancellor’s thoughtful action plan was collaboratively developed, is evidence-based and consistent with forward-thinking educational policy. It will enhance existing quality, productivity, efficiency, and excellence throughout the UT System.
“This is not a prescriptive, top-down plan with a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The Chancellor’s plan takes into account the unique characteristics of each of UT’s component institutions, allowing them the flexibility, innovation and creativity to develop a roadmap that will put them among the best in their national peer institutions.
“It is now incumbent upon Chairman Powell and the UT Board of Regents to empower the System’s leaders, like Chancellor Cigarroa and President Powers, with the freedom and authority to implement this plan to attain timely realization of its goals. The Board, led by Chairman Powell, has voted to support both Chancellor Cigarroa’s ‘Framework for Advancing Excellence’ and the subsequent action plan; it is now time to encourage the Chancellor and the System’s presidents to successfully implement the plan, which will continue to improve and enhance the UT System.” Read more…
Written By JOEL KLEIN
Like so many debates in America today, the fight over public education is as polarized as it is consequential. There appears to be a general sense of agreement that the results we are getting are woefully inadequate, especially given the demands that a high-tech, global economy will place on our future work force. Nevertheless, there’s a sharp disagreement over exactly what to do.
Spending more money is of course a perennial demand. Since 1970 America has more than doubled the real dollars spent on K-12 education. We have increased the number of teachers by more than a third, created legions of nonteaching staff, and raised salaries and benefits across the board. Yet fewer than 40% of the students who graduate from high school are ready for college. At the same time, students in other countries are moving ahead of us, scoring higher—often much higher—on international tests of reading, math and science skills.
The debate over education broadly divides into two groups. On one side are what might be called “traditionalists,” consisting largely of unions purporting to represent the interests of teachers. The members of this group argue that poverty is the great impediment to educational success and that we must lift people out of poverty if we are really to better educate our kids—and in the meantime we can’t expect schools to perform miracles. The traditionalists propose that we pay teachers more, hire more of them and spend more dollars on public education overall.
On the other side are what might be called “reformers” (some traditionalists refer to them as “deformers”). This group is made up largely of policy analysts skeptical of the status quo and young idealists, many of whom came to education through Teach for America, the nonprofit program that places talented college graduates in high-poverty, urban schools.
The reformers acknowledge that poverty is an impediment to educational success but argue that teaching itself can still have a big effect. They point to specific classroom achievements, as well as to various studies, to show that different schools and different teachers get very different results with essentially the same kids. Read more…
Written by Linda Darling-Hammond and C. M. Rubin
Change is painful. Change takes time. Change is trial and error, but isn’t Change ultimately brought about by leadership which has the ability to rally all the policy makers around the all important higher purpose – that of educational excellence?
Yes we can close the achievement gap. Yes we can improve our teachers. Yes we can improve our overall education system. Difficult as these changes are to face now, what is the alternative in five years time for our students and our nation if we don’t?
Linda is Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University. She is a former president of the American Educational Research Association and member of the National Academy of Education. In 2006, Darling-Hammond was named one of the nation’s ten most influential people affecting educational policy over the last decade. In 2008-09, she headed President Barack Obama’s education policy transition team. President Obama owns a copy of her best-selling book, The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine our Future.
What is the impact of poverty on educational quality?
Poverty influences outcomes around the globe, but the effects of socioeconomic status on students’ achievement are larger in the US than in most other countries. Students in more affluent communities do very well. For example, on PISA, US students in schools serving fewer than 10% of kids in poverty rank above all other countries in the world in reading. Meanwhile , students in schools with high poverty rank near the bottom. One of the unspoken issues in the United States is that we have more and more kids living in poverty (1 in 4 overall – far more than any other industrialized country), and more and more schools catering to children in concentrated poverty (ratio of over 50% of children). Those are schools that also often get fewer resources from the state. Because of the recession, our tattered safety net, our not paying attention to the issues of growing poverty, the share of high poverty schools is increasing. In high-achieving countries, there are virtually no schools where more than 10% of the children live in poverty because in general, childhood poverty rates are much lower.
What does that mean in terms of changes we need to make?
I would argue that we have to think about changes in two ways. The last time we made major headway on these issues was in the 1960’s and 70’s when we had the war on poverty and we brought poverty, unemployment and segregation rates down. The achievement gap (between rich and poor) closed by more than three quarters in a very short period of time (15 years between the early 1970s and the mid-1980s). There were investments in urban schools, in teachers, in teacher training, in teacher distribution that made a huge difference. Had we continued with those policies, we would have had no racial achievement gap by the year 2000. In the 1980’s, we ended all those programs and never really regrouped.
We have to address the problems now from both sides. On one hand, poverty and segregation are getting worse, and policymakers do not want to talk about it. On the other hand, we also have to address the issue of what we do to improve schools. A recent analysis of the achievement gap shows about a third of the achievement gap between affluent and poor students in 9th grade is present at kindergarten. That’s because kids are growing up in very different kinds of communities with different learning opportunities within the family and within the community. We’ve seen huge reductions in the achievement gap where communities have put high quality pre-schools in place. New Jersey is an example. The other two-thirds of the achievement gap is due to summer learning loss. Wealthy students continue to increase their learning during the summer, while low-income students lose ground. We have to improve education from September to June, but we also have to put in place summer learning opportunities.
Then inside of school we have to equalize access to high quality teachers, and we have to improve the training of our teachers, which other countries have done. We have to get a curriculum that is focused on high order thinking and performance skills instead of bubbling in on multiple choice tests. Our kids are definitely disadvantaged because they are never asked on our tests to do the kinds of things that PISA asks them to do and other countries teach them to do: more focus on skills of research and analysis, requiring writing, thinking and expressing your ideas.
Is there a fast track to fix this?
Many of the countries that were low achieving and are now high achieving made huge gains in a decade. We could make strong gains quickly if we could get focused. A couple of things need to happen. We need to end the practice of allowing people to teach without training. There are states like Connecticut and North Carolina which put in place reforms in the 1990s where they raised salaries for teachers, raised standards for teachers for entry, preparation, and licensing, put in place induction programs to measure good teaching with strong performance assessments as well as support. In a few years they went from teacher shortages to surpluses, improved the quality of the teaching force, and raised student achievement. One of the problems we have in the United States however is that we tend to focus, make progress, and then backslide. We’re good innovators in terms of starting successful projects and programs in schools, but without the emphasis that is needed to maintain the system.
Is there a disconnect between education systems and the real world, i.e. the kind of education systems kids need to excel in the 21st century? Read more…
An interesting article with an interesting approach. This got us thinking and it may you as well.
It was the end of term at Kirkkojarvi Comprehensive School in Espoo, a sprawling suburb west of Helsinki, when Kari Louhivuori, a veteran teacher and the school’s principal, decided to try something extreme—by Finnish standards. One of his sixth-grade students, a Kosovo-Albanian boy, had drifted far off the learning grid, resisting his teacher’s best efforts. The school’s team of special educators—including a social worker, a nurse and a psychologist—convinced Louhivuori that laziness was not to blame. So he decided to hold the boy back a year, a measure so rare in Finland it’s practically obsolete.
Finland has vastly improved in reading, math and science literacy over the past decade in large part because its teachers are trusted to do whatever it takes to turn young lives around. This 13-year-old, Besart Kabashi, received something akin to royal tutoring.
“I took Besart on that year as my private student,” Louhivuori told me in his office, which boasted a Beatles “Yellow Submarine” poster on the wall and an electric guitar in the closet. When Besart was not studying science, geography and math, he was parked next to Louhivuori’s desk at the front of his class of 9- and 10-year- olds, cracking open books from a tall stack, slowly reading one, then another, then devouring them by the dozens. By the end of the year, the son of Kosovo war refugees had conquered his adopted country’s vowel-rich language and arrived at the realization that he could, in fact, learn.
Years later, a 20-year-old Besart showed up at Kirkkojarvi’s Christmas party with a bottle of Cognac and a big grin. “You helped me,” he told his former teacher. Besart had opened his own car repair firm and a cleaning company. “No big fuss,” Louhivuori told me. “This is what we do every day, prepare kids for life.”
This tale of a single rescued child hints at some of the reasons for the tiny Nordic nation’s staggering record of education success, a phenomenon that has inspired, baffled and even irked many of America’s parents and educators. Finnish schooling became an unlikely hot topic after the 2010 documentary film Waiting for “Superman” contrasted it with America’s troubled public schools.
“Whatever it takes” is an attitude that drives not just Kirkkojarvi’s 30 teachers, but most of Finland’s 62,000 educators in 3,500 schools from Lapland to Turku—professionals selected from the top 10 percent of the nation’s graduates to earn a required master’s degree in education. Many schools are small enough so that teachers know every student. If one method fails, teachers consult with colleagues to try something else. They seem to relish the challenges. Nearly 30 percent of Finland’s children receive some kind of special help during their first nine years of school. The school where Louhivuori teaches served 240 first through ninth graders last year; and in contrast with Finland’s reputation for ethnic homogeneity, more than half of its 150 elementary-level students are immigrants—from Somalia, Iraq, Russia, Bangladesh, Estonia and Ethiopia, among other nations. “Children from wealthy families with lots of education can be taught by stupid teachers,” Louhivuori said, smiling. “We try to catch the weak students. It’s deep in our thinking.”
The transformation of the Finns’ education system began some 40 years ago as the key propellent of the country’s economic recovery plan. Educators had little idea it was so successful until 2000, when the first results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test given to 15-year-olds in more than 40 global venues, revealed Finnish youth to be the best young readers in the world. Three years later, they led in math. By 2006, Finland was first out of 57 countries (and a few cities) in science. In the 2009 PISA scores released last year, the nation came in second in science, third in reading and sixth in math among nearly half a million students worldwide. “I’m still surprised,” said Arjariita Heikkinen, principal of a Helsinki comprehensive school. “I didn’t realize we were that good.”
In the United States, which has muddled along in the middle for the past decade, government officials have attempted to introduce marketplace competition into public schools. In recent years, a group of Wall Street financiers and philanthropists such as Bill Gates have put money behind private-sector ideas, such as vouchers, data-driven curriculum and charter schools, which have doubled in number in the past decade. President Obama, too, has apparently bet on competition. His Race to the Top initiative invites states to compete for federal dollars using tests and other methods to measure teachers, a philosophy that would not fly in Finland. “I think, in fact, teachers would tear off their shirts,” said Timo Heikkinen, a Helsinki principal with 24 years of teaching experience. “If you only measure the statistics, you miss the human aspect.”
There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland, apart from one exam at the end of students’ senior year in high school. There are no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions. Finland’s schools are publicly funded. The people in the government agencies running them, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians. Every school has the same national goals and draws from the same pool of university-trained educators. The result is that a Finnish child has a good shot at getting the same quality education no matter whether he or she lives in a rural village or a university town. The differences between weakest and strongest students are the smallest in the world, according to the most recent survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “Equality is the most important word in Finnish education. All political parties on the right and left agree on this,” said Olli Luukkainen, president of Finland’s powerful teachers union.
Ninety-three percent of Finns graduate from academic or vocational high schools, 17.5 percentage points higher than the United States, and 66 percent go on to higher education, the highest rate in the European Union. Yet Finland spends about 30 percent less per student than the United States. Read more…
By Janet Lorin
Founded by Harvard and 11 other universities in 1900 to create a standardized test to admit students based on merit rather than family connections, the College Board by 1999 was facing cash-flow problems.
Caperton turned the nonprofit company into a thriving business, more than doubling revenue to $660 million by boosting fees, expanding the Advanced Placement program and the sale of names of teenage test-takers to colleges. A former West Virginia governor, he persuaded 11 states to cover fees for a preliminary SAT in the 10th grade.
Now, Caperton is planning to retire amid concern that the College Board’s improved revenue has come at the expense of students and their families, who pay hundreds of dollars in fees even before they apply to college, parents, admissions officials and high school counselors said.
“The College Board is more interested in marketing and selling things than it is in its primary responsibility, promoting equity and educational opportunity,” said Ted O’Neill, who stepped down as admissions dean of the University of Chicago in 2009 and served on several College Board committees.
The revenue growth is a reflection of serving more students and providing more services, Caperton, 71, said in an interview at the College Board’s New York headquarters.
“The College Board’s commitment to education was the impetus for every initiative we have undertaken during the past decade,” Caperton said in a follow-up e-mail. Read more…
By Deborah Simmons The Washington Times
“Sanctuary City” referendum anyone?
On Monday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Anacostia High School, and later this week the new H.D. Woodson High will be celebrated.
But will students at those two overwhelmingly black schools actually earn an education that leads to jobs, the military or higher education, or will illegal immigrants bump them to the back of government-subsidized bread lines? It’s possible.
At every turn, Mayor Vincent C. Gray points out that youths and young adults are ill-prepared for self-sufficiency, putting the District at a crossroads.
The unemployment rate is near 10 percent.
More than 4,000 people, a record number, turned out for a D.C.-residents-only job fair last week.
The mayor and representatives of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. shared a microphone Wednesday to announce a public-private partnership that would pay employers to hire and train about 2,000 D.C. residents.
Pass any construction site inside city limits — whether it’s for a single-family home, public-works project or commercial building — and you are likely to see and hear men at work for whom English is not their native language.
Not all such workers can be dubbed illegal, of course. But who really knows? The federal government doesn’t because our porous borders are marked with welcome mats, and neither end of Pennsylvania Avenue wants to tackle illegal immigration.
Despite the avalanche of bad news for President Barack Obama, he remains the most likely winner of the 2012 elections.
That’s the conclusion I reached after watching the top Republican presidential hopefuls in recent weeks, as they started in earnest the race for their party’s nomination. They have taken such a hard line on issues that are dear to Latinos, that I don’t see how any of them can win the 40 percent of the Hispanic vote that pollsters say Republicans will need to win the White House.
The last Republican president, George W. Bush, got 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, and the Latino vote has only become more important since. Former Republican candidate Sen. John McCain — who ran as a moderate on immigration — lost the 2008 campaign in part because he got only 31 percent of the Hispanic vote, pollsters say.
So the question today is, how will any of the current Republican hopefuls win a sizable part of the Hispanic vote, when they are embracing a much harder line on Hispanic issues than McCain did in 2008?
At the Republican debate Thursday in Iowa, none of the participating hopefuls supported a comprehensive immigration reform policy — as McCain did four years ago — that would both secure the border and allow an earned path to legalization for millions of undocumented immigrants who are willing to, among other things, pay fines and learn English.
Their common stand seemed to be: “Let’s first seal the border” and crack down on “illegals.” Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who did not participate in the debate but announced his candidacy two days later, toes the same enforcement-first line.
As they try to woo conservative Republicans who tend to be the largest voting blocs in the primaries, they are likely to escalate their rhetoric. To Hispanics, they look like a group bent on the massive deportation of the estimated 11 million undocumented residents in the country, even bright students brought here as babies by their parents.
Republican pollsters note that according to their surveys, Hispanic voters place the economy, education and health ahead of immigration on their list of priorities. Read more…
The Students Speak, a decentralized student-formed group, gives a voice to students who protest against the budget cuts affecting their education, said Mexican-American studies senior Bernardino Lucian Villaseñor.
“We’ve been against all budget cuts on campus because we don’t have to take this,” Villaseñor said. “The Legislature has continued to reduce our funding, and students are the ones who have to pay the costs with higher tuition.” Read more…
Last week, Texas partnered with the Western Governors University in the creation of WGU Texas, an accredited, online university offering degrees in more than 50 areas of study, many of them vital to meeting the demands of the growing jobs market here in the Lone Star State.
We all know attaining a college degree is among the most effective ways to improve anyone’s quality of life, and ensuring a steady stream of college graduates ready to take on the high-tech jobs of the future is imperative to our mission of keeping Texas on top of the nation in job creation.
Innovative ways to effectively and affordably educate Texans, like WGU Texas, are going to be essential parts of improving access to higher education, but it’s far from the only approach we’ve taken.
In 2000, Texas was falling behind the 10 most populous states in the proportion of students enrolling in college. Acting on recommendations of a commission I formed as lieutenant governor, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) adopted a strategic plan for higher education, Closing the Gaps by 2015, challenging our higher education institutions to increase enrollment by 500,000 in 15 years.
Closing the Gaps has been a success for students and their families, taxpayers and policy-makers alike. So successful, in fact, that in 2005 we moved the goalposts back further, increasing the target number to 630,000 by 2015. With enrollment up by almost 486,000 in 2010, our institutions are well on their way to meeting this revised goal. Read more…