September 19, 2014

7:40 PM | Harvard Business School, Heal Thyself
Recently I wrote about a study performed by Harvard Business School assessing the way American business leaders feel about inequality in America. Somewhat surprisingly, HBS alumni indicated it's a problem. As a piece at Al Jazeera put it, alumni believed that “the weaknesses in elements that drive prosperity for the average American indicate that the American economy requires a strategy in order to do its full job." But former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has an interesting […]

September 18, 2014

6:00 PM | Why Do Colleges Expect Endowment Managers to Be Wizards?
The hardest jobs at prestigious universities might not be those performed by academics or traditional administrators. The heavy lifting, the impossible job, might be that of the endowment manager, the money guy. He’s got to fix everything. According to an article in the New York Times: Miscues by university management and more tepid investment returns have pulled down Harvard’s results, culminating in the June resignation of Jane L. Mendillo, the chief executive of the Harvard […]

September 17, 2014

11:02 PM | How Vocational Education Leads to College
Often when Americans think of vocational education they tend to rather look down on it. Particularly for Americans from professional backgrounds, voc-tech signifies manual labor and the sort of classes students take when they’re not going to go to college, and when they don’t really have any options. The reality is more complicated. And a little more inspiring. It turns out students who attend vocational high schools often matriculate at 4-year colleges. According to a piece in […]
4:27 PM | Colleges Let Taxpayers Help Poor Students While They Go After Rich, Report Says
In what it calls “an elaborate shell game,” universities and colleges are shifting their financial aid from low-income students to high-income ones to bolster their prestige and raise them up the rankings, a new report says. Meanwhile, according to the report by the nonprofit, nonpartisan New America Foundation, universities are leaving their poorest families to vie for a piece of billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded Pell Grants. Because of this, the federal government continues […]

September 16, 2014

8:41 PM | Nine Years After Katrina, We're Still Asking the Wrong Questions About Education
“Is the educational system better now than it was pre-Katrina?” It’s the question I hear more than any other. But the typical responses around test score growth miss how we should measure school performance in New Orleans. It’s just over nine years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in August 2005, and we’re still asking the wrong questions. Rusted scissors, coins and other debris sit on the floor of an elementary school in the Lakeview neighborhood of […]
2:49 PM | Loan Forgiveness for Teachers: Let Us Count the Ways
Back in 2007, Congress passed a law establishing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), allowing people who work in qualifying public service jobs to receive student loan forgiveness–tax-free–after the equivalent of 10 years of payments. And with a new version of income-based repayment (IBR) implemented by the Department of Education for borrowers with loans taken out after the fall of 2007, many of those public servants are able to pay far less for those 10 years than […]
2:46 PM | Child Care Reauthorization 20 Years in the Making Underway
Political commentators may have spoken too soon about the “do-nothing Congress.” There’s been a veritable torrent of education-related legislative activity this summer, and lawmakers wrapped up that work today with an easy ‘yes’ vote in the House on the carefully negotiated Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) reauthorization bill. The Senate passed a version of CCDBG back in March, and then sent it to the House. There’s been a quiet standoff since […]

September 15, 2014

5:02 PM | Common Core Math Standards Add Up To Big Money for Education Companies
The politically controversial standards curriculum standards known as the Common Core have been in the headlines for months, in Louisiana and across the country. But for most teachers and educators the standards have been quietly transforming classroom instruction for years. And for textbook publishers and other vendors, the new standards add up to new business. Sarah Carr reports on the dizzying array of new education products that claim to be ‘Common Core aligned.’ When thousands […]
4:55 PM | What U.S. Schools Can Learn From Poland
By any measure, Poland has made remarkable education progress since the fall of the Berlin Wall. On the most recent 2012 international tests of 15-year-olds, known as PISA tests, Poland ranked 9th in reading and 14th in math among all 65 countries and sub-regions that took the test. It used to be on par with the United States, a mediocre performer. In math, for example, Poland gained 2.6 points a year between 2003 and 2012 while the rest of the world, on average, remained unchanged. And on […]
4:11 PM | Book Review: Can Pre-K Address Income Inequality?
As we at EdCentral have often written, the political buzz around pre-K is stronger now than ever. Much of this recent momentum is a result of compelling economic research suggesting that high-quality early education programs can improve children’s progress measured against a bevy of different academic and social indicators stretching to—and beyond—high school graduation. High-quality pre-K can improve these students’ adult earnings and their likelihood of […]

September 12, 2014

8:32 PM | The Nasty College Debt Disease
College debt enters late night comedy. From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: “Essentially, student debt is like HPV. If you go to college, you’re almost certainly going to get it, and if you do, it will follow you for the rest of your life.” While that’s not exactly the sort of joke you repeat to grandma, it’s a pretty good comparison. College debt is sort of like human papillomavirus. It’s not necessarily horrible, and everyone else seems to have it […]
3:55 PM | Q&A with Jon Bacal: Looking Back on a Year of Starting a School From Scratch
Venture Academy in Minneapolis went through some growing pains its first year. The 6-12 charter school, which opened in August for its second year of operation, promotes entrepreneurship through technology and student-developed projects. Students are called “trailblazers” and teachers are “learning coaches.” Students spend part of the day in small groups or on computers working on math and literacy skills. They have opportunities to work on large-scale independent […]

September 11, 2014

9:16 PM | Jennifer Lawrence and the Sins of Animal House
Remember Animal House? The insane debauchery of John Belushi and his Delta brethren? That was some crazy, hilarious, make-a-Roman-emperor-blush behavior. I love that movie. Everyone does. Except you don’t remember Animal House. Not really. No other book, film, or TV show has done more to shape American higher education. But it’s not what you think it is. The difference between the Animal House of your imagination and the actual movie is a matter of cultural influence so profound and […]
4:30 PM | Harvard Business School Does Occupy Wall Street
And this time not just, you know, by taking the good jobs on Wall Street. We’ve started to understand that inequality in America is becoming a serious problem for the economic heath of the country in general. Last month Standard & Poor’s warned that “extreme income inequality [was] a drag on long-run economic growth and the ratings organization “reduced our 10-year U.S. growth forecast to a 2.5% rate. We expected 2.8% five years ago.” According to a piece at […]

September 10, 2014

11:00 PM | The New Maryland Football Uniforms Seem to Have Been Designed by an Old Lady History Teacher
There’s a lot of really bad news coming out about football lately. We don’t really need to be reminded of that, do we? But at long last we’ve got something to restore our faith in the glory of the good old American sport. And this time it’s not just a good game or a wholesome player. According to an article in the Washington Post, the University of Maryland has introduced its new special uniform: Maryland, which… announced a 10-year partnership extension with […]
3:05 PM | Service Loan Forgiveness: Big Benefits, Bad Incentives
Many critics have sounded the alarm on expensive graduate and professional degrees that are neither necessary nor worthwhile in terms of increased salary and job placement. But consider that for many students who pursue a master’s in education, the federal government will finance the entire cost, without limit, including all living expenses during enrollment. That’s one of the findings from our new paper out today, Zero Marginal Cost: Measuring Subsidies for Graduate Education […]

September 09, 2014

3:48 PM | Rankings, Rankings, and More Rankings!
We’re finally reaching the end of the college rankings season for 2014. Money magazine started off the season with its rankings of 665 four-year colleges based on “educational quality, affordability, and alumni earnings.” (I generally like these rankings, in spite of the inherent limitations of using Rate My Professor scores and Payscale data in lieu of more complete information.) I jumped in the fray late in August with my friends at Washington Monthly for our annual college […]
3:41 PM | Americans Say They Support Federal Dollars for Pre-K
A new Gallup poll released this morning brought good news for early education advocates: Seventy percent of Americans say they support using federal dollars to increase funding to provide universal, high-quality pre-K. That’s a startling number, given the fight early education programs have seen even to maintain funding from year to year in the face of federal belt-tightening and the sequester. But the survey could offer hope to supporters of early education programs–and to […]

September 08, 2014

6:17 PM | College-Rating Proposal Shines Spotlight on Powerful Lobby
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The annual meeting of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities this year had the tone of a revival meeting. “We have been under steady, unrelenting pressure,” declared the organization’s president, David Warren, who spoke of “an overreaching executive branch” he said sought to use unreliable statistics to measure the effectiveness of higher-education institutions that are vastly different from each other. Warren was […]

September 07, 2014

2:05 PM | Increase in Student Transfers Worrying Alumni Offices
Maya Gunaseharan spent her first year in college at American University, then transferred to Cornell. And that was after 12 years at a private school in New Jersey. Now all three ask her to contribute money. “I do feel a pull, because I had a really great first year at American,” said Gunaseharan, who is 24. “But I’ve seen a very clear return as a result of my degree from Cornell. So I absolutely feel the tension about who to give to.” Universities and colleges are […]

September 05, 2014

4:32 PM | In Illinois, Preschool Access is Worst for Latinos
How to break the vicious cycle of poverty and academic failure is one of the most troublesome questions of our time, but this much we know: High-quality preschool helps children from poor families prepare for kindergarten and beyond. Yet as the child poverty rate is climbing, those are the kids least likely to attend such programs. A new report by the research and advocacy group Voices for Illinois Children provides insight into the extent of the disparities in that state, along racial and […]
4:01 PM | Jerry Brown: Fighting Back on Vergara
Back in June Rolf M. Treu of the Los Angeles Superior Court, the judge in an education lawsuit, Vergara v. California, determined that the state’s policies on teacher tenure constituted a civil rights violation against students. The legal, and factual, validity of this thinking was a little questionable. Many argued that this was really an attempt to undermine labor protections, though even many pundits sympathetic to labor rights admitted that the state’s policy of granting […]

September 04, 2014

7:30 PM | The Apprenticeship Solution
It’s long been a sort of minor worry among American policymakers that we don’t have much of an apprenticeship system in this country. Unlike in many other industrialized nations, here in the U.S. most students are tracked toward college. At least policy is designed largely to get people there. If college isn’t a possibility, students mostly flounder around toward high school graduation, and then flounder around for years thereafter until they find something that works. But […]
12:59 PM | Universities are Highly Responsive to Very Rich People
As a kind of side-note to Corey’s most recent post, most people, including, I suspect, most academics, don’t realize how important rich people are to the running of universities. Some months back, I was able to listen in on a conversation including a college president (not my own), and was startled to discover how much time the president spent managing relations with the Board of Trustees. Being a board member usually involves a two way relationship. As a trustee, you get some […]
1:46 AM | Can We Take the Fighting Out of Education Reform?
Maybe the education debate in this country has gotten too ugly. Maybe we’d all be better off if we just took a step back, remembered what’s really at stake, and tried to focus on facts and evidence, not our own ideology. That sure sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? And so one group of education reformers is going to try to make this happen. According to an article in the Washington Post: Into the fray steps Education Post, a nonprofit group that plans to launch Tuesday […]

September 03, 2014

2:09 PM | Bobby Jindal and the (Common Core) Morning After
Politicians love ideas. They can talk about them for years. Politicians are somewhat less enamored of implementing ideas, since concrete actions can have (electoral) consequences. Look no further than Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s erstwhile embrace of the Common Core State Standards. Or rather, look no further than my just-published column at Talking Points Memo for a discussion of his efforts to terminate the standards he helped bring to Louisiana: it’s particularly tough if […]

September 02, 2014

7:12 PM | My Son's First Day: 10 Things I Want My Child To Gain From Schooling
Getting a great education is not about smartness. I picked the brown, leather high tops with the fluorescent green laces. Shoes make an impression on the first day of school. My son, Robeson, picked a Cars inspired backpack and a Planes lunchbox - school shopping. The small traditions that comprise the first-day build-up almost brought me to tears (not because of the prices). Parents’ expectations of their children’s schooling surface consciously or unconsciously. It’s only […]

August 30, 2014

5:33 PM | Research on Making Policy Reforms Work for Dual Language Learners
If there’s any unifying thread in the story of the last several years of education debates, it’s that policy changes are education reform’s first, not final, steps. Given American education’s unwieldy, chaotic governing institutions, legal and regulatory changes are almost always susceptible to being watered down—or even reversed. For instance, while it seemed like a settled victory when the Common Core State Standards were adopted by 46 states, recent […]

August 29, 2014

8:01 PM | Are "Affordable Elite" Colleges Growing in Size, or Just Selectivity?
A new addition to this year’s Washington Monthly college guide is a ranking of “Affordable Elite” colleges. Given that many students and families (rightly or wrongly) focus on trying to get into the most selective colleges, we decided to create a special set of rankings covering only the 224 most highly-competitive colleges in the country (as defined by Barron’s). Colleges are assigned scores based on student loan default rates, graduation rates, graduation rate […]
8:00 PM | The Misguided #PayMyTuition Challenge
In a sort-of piggy back on the famous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge going on now, many college students are working on a challenge of their own. It’s called the #PayMyTuition challenge. According to a piece at Inside Higher Ed: Students… have taken to Twitter… [and] challenging various celebrities to help finance their higher education. There are lots of requests to the usual suspects -- President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, etc. Also there have been some notable responses. At […]
40 Results