Gov. Rick Perry has appointed John B. Walker of Houston to the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents for a term to expire Jan. 31, Read More
This afternoon at the newly cleared, heavily patrolled, and sparkling (Christmas lights!) Zuccotti Park, a group of activists dressed in caps and gowns made from garbage bags and draped with paper chains announced the official launch of the Occupy Student Debt Campaign.
Led by NYU professor Andrew Ross, the group is trying to get student loan borrowers to sign a pledge of “debt refusal.” Once they reach one million signatures, everyone stops paying back their loans. The idea is not to pump up the profits of student loan servicers and big banks by creating a new group of defaulters, but to call attention to the spiraling cost of higher education, the mounting pile of student loans ($958 billion as of this writing), and the Dickensian situation many borrowers find themselves in as a result of the lack of basic consumer protections like bankruptcy on student loans, especially private student loans.
“I strongly believe my entire life–and I’m 50 now–was ruined by student loan debt,” said Johanna Clearfield, an organizer of the campaign. Her $20,000 loan is over $50,000 after default. Read More
Student loan debt is spiraling out of control, and the trend can’t go on forever. Could skilled trades like electrical work and plumbing be part of the answer? They face a shortage of qualified workers, and these fields pay wages that compare favorably to those earned by college grads.
No one disputes that college and graduate-school costs have skyrocketed. In recent decades, college tuition has increased at more than four times the rate of inflation, outpacing even medical–care costs and amounting to a 439 percent increase between 1982 and 2007. As Forbes recently noted, just a decade ago a year of college cost 18 percent of a typical family’s annual income—now it has hit 25 percent and prices are continuing to rise. At public four-year schools, for instance, total costs rose 6 percent in 2011, to $17,131—far outstripping inflation.
The causes are debated. Some blame palatial facilities and reduced teaching loads for professors, while one recent study fingered bloat in the ranks of administrators.
As tuition has risen, students and their families have made up the difference by borrowing. The New York Times ran a sad story about a woman who had amassed nearly $100,000 in student loan debt pursuing a degree in women’s and religious studies at New York University, only to find herself virtually unemployable upon graduation. Even students who major in programs shown to increase earnings, like engineering, face limits to how much debt they can sanely amass. With costs approaching $60,000 a year for many private schools, and out-of-state costs at many state schools exceeding $40,000 (and often closing in on $30,000 for in-state students), some people are graduating with debts of $100,000 or more. That’s dangerous.
The rule of thumb is that college-debt payments should account for less than 8 percent of gross income. Otherwise, watch out—and remember that loan payments are usually not dischargeable in bankruptcy. The loans can follow you for decades. Read More
By Emmeline Zhao
Amid efforts in education reform, students across the country still face large disparities in educational resources and opportunities, according to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Education.
Key findings from the 2009-2010 Civil Rights Data Collection reveal that of the 7,000 sampled school districts, 3,000 do not offer algebra II classes to high school students, and more than 7,300 high schools serving 2 million students do not offer calculus courses. Overall, girls are underrepresented in physics and boys are underrepresented in algebra II.
“These data show that far too many students are still not getting access to the kinds of classes, resources and opportunities they need to be successful,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement Thursday.
Just 2 percent of students with disabilities are enrolled in at least one Advanced Placement course. Students with limited English proficiency comprise 6 percent of high school students across the country, but also comprise 15 percent of the population that have taken algebra by the time they graduate from high school. Read More
America’s education-reform movement – - the most significant social movement of our time — is just completing another productive school year, with hundreds of districts beefing up accountability and standards.
Amid grim news about budget cuts, the year brought new awareness that relying on seniority alone in determining teacher layoffs is mindless. It’s like saying that if the Chicago Bulls wanted to cut costs, they should start by releasing Derrick Rose, the NBA’s MVP, because he has only been in the league for three years.
Unfortunately, the forces of the status quo are still working overtime. Obstructionists with a talent for caricature are determined to discredit important progress under way in some of the poorest school districts in the country.
The leader of this rear-guard action is Diane Ravitch, a professor at New York University who was an assistant secretary of education in the administration of George H.W. Bush. She’s the education world’s very own Whittaker Chambers, the famous communist turned strident anti-communist of the 1940s. Ravitch moved the other way, from right to left, where she now uses phony empiricism to rationalize almost every tired argument offered by teachers unions. Read More