January 14, 2015

2:05 PM | Have Legislators Thwarted Chance to Bring Funds to Cash-Strapped Mississippi Schools?
CARROLL­ COUNTY, Miss. — Students in this rural district ride to school on aging buses, then sit in 20-year-old portable classrooms or decrepit buildings reading outdated textbooks. The district of 1,009 students has only two teaching assistants to help in classrooms, and Superintendent Billy Joe Ferguson makes an annual salary of $18,000. Such details only begin to describe “the wretched conditions” that exist in Carroll County due to years of underfunding, as outlined in […]

January 13, 2015

4:48 PM | It Takes a Community: Obama's Free College Plan Will Need a Broad Coalition to Become a Reality
I’ll never forget the moments after my grandfather proudly dropped me off at Allegheny College in 1989, and I became one of the first in my family to attend college. We stood by his 1987 Honda Accord as he gave me the classic “You’re an adult in college now,” speech. After Grandpa lectured me about personal responsibility and hard work (variations of talks I heard before), he reached deep in the pockets of his blue, pinstripe slacks. That was the moment for which I was […]

January 12, 2015

7:11 PM | Reining In the Excesses of College Sports
Big Ten champion Ohio State and Pac-12 champion Oregon will meet in Arlington, Texas, tonight, in this country’s first College Football Championship game. The Buckeyes and Ducks will take the field at a time when college sports have never been a bigger business. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) football and basketball is now a $16 billion dollar industry. In recent years, we’ve witnessed a dramatic rise in college football and basketball coach compensation while […]
7:05 PM | The Push for Standards is Seeping into Arts Education
Advocates for arts education are in the midst of a counter offensive. Arguing that post-recession budget cuts and Bush-era testing policies have prompted schools to cut art (in order to spend more time prepping kids for math and reading tests), they’ve come up with an idea: convince states to adopt new art standards –à la Common Core — to get schools to focus on art again. Last year, a coalition of art groups unveiled their new National “Core Arts […]

January 09, 2015

9:00 PM | The New York Times on What's Wrong with Education
For the last decade or so policymakers have been focused, to a greater extent in some states and localities than others, on improving public elementary and secondary education performance by changing the structure of schools, and rewarding and punishing teachers based on student performance on standardized examinations. To a certain extent this has been successful. Students perform better on standardized examinations and more students are graduating from high school and starting college. But […]
12:59 PM | The internet of things is coming, but it’s not what you expect
The Consumer Electronics Show 2015 arrives at a time when global gadget sales are falling. The UK is ready to lead the way with the smart sensor tech that will take the place of smart phones and TVsHeadlines from CES 2015 this week include Samsung CEO’s promise of an Internet of Things (IoT) that powers our homes with smart thermostats and water meters. Almost a year ago David Cameron committed to turning the IoT “slogan into fact” in the UK. Last month, the UK Government […]
2:04 AM | Needing Public Support, Academics Try to Make Their Work More Clear
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts—It may not be entirely surprising, in the rarefied confines of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, to hear a member of the faculty let terms like “randomized controls” and “self efficacy” slip into a conversation. But the point of this particular conversation may be a surprise. Here in a windowless office in the basement of a red brick classroom building near Harvard Square, the faculty member, Mandy Savitz-Romer, has teamed up with a […]
1:56 AM | Thoughts on President Obama's "Free Community College" Proposal
NOTE: This may be subject to change as more details are released. Stay tuned! Two weeks in advance of the State of the Union Address, President Obama unveiled a proposal for tuition-free community college that is getting a great deal of attention. The plan, which was influenced by a “Free Two-Year College Option” paper by Sara Goldrick-Rab and Nancy Kendall, calls for the federal government to fund three-fourths of the cost of tuition and fees while states fund the remainder. The […]
1:50 AM | President Weighs in With Plan for Free Community College
President Barack Obama surprised observers by proposing making community college free, as has been done in Tennessee and is under consideration in other states. The president dropped his unexpected idea in a video recorded aboard Air Force One and released on Facebook just as officials were briefing reporters on the plan. Congressional approval is required—a tenuous prospect, despite longtime bipartisan support for higher education opportunity, in a government that is now even more […]

January 08, 2015

9:00 PM | Bill Gates: Yeah, that Education Reform Thing Didn't Really Work
Billionaire Bill Gates has been working to improve American education performance for more than a decade. He’s made a lot of changes (small schools, Common Core, teacher performance, principal quality, restructured schools) but education performance hasn’t improved much. While it’s inappropriate to expect dramatic results at this point, Gates admits that some of this has pretty much been a disaster. According to this piece by Valarie Strauss in the Washington Post: The Bill […]
3:00 PM | UVA's Sexual Assault Fix: Addressing the Wrong Problem
The University of Virginia’s rape scandal from late last year has ended in a draw. After Rolling Stone essentially retracted its story about sexual assault at the school, the truth about what happened remains unclear. That means, among other things, that the severe sanctions the school instituted against the fraternity system have to end. So fraternities are back, but now with weird rules about how they shall operate. This is probably not going to improve things much. According to an […]

January 07, 2015

5:16 AM | Bipartisan Bill for Evidence Could Improve Access to Higher Ed Data
In a rare sign of both civility and smart thinking on Capitol Hill, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced a bill before the holidays that would take first steps to make lawmakers consider policy in a way they rarely do: with evidence. Ryan’s and Murray’s Evidence-Based Policy-Making Commission Act of 2014 would establish a commission of 15 appointed members. Since you can’t have evidence-based policy without good data to back it up, the […]

January 06, 2015

8:44 PM | A New Wave of Federal Flexibility on Dual Language Learners Policy?
Note: this post uses two terms to refer to language learners: dual language learners (DLLs) and English language learners (ELLs). As part of our Dual Language Learners National Work Group, New America uses the term DLL to denote students who are learning English even as they continue to develop basic proficiency in their home language. These students are generally eight years old or younger. We generally use the term ELL to refer to older students who are learning English at school but have […]
5:16 PM | School Districts Respond to Growing Fury Over Police Shootings, Black Male Achievement Gap
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Michael Walker stood in front of the nine-member Minneapolis school board on a recent snowy night and told them change must come to this Midwestern city, a place where black students are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their white peers, and where educators are struggling to close one of the widest achievement gaps between the two in the nation. “There is a larger system working against our black males,” said Walker, a 38-year-old […]
5:11 PM | How to End the Violence in New Orleans: Some New Year's Resolutions on Jobs, Education to Keep the Murder Rate Headed South
NEW ORLEANS — You can teach in ethical decision-making in schools, but ending violent crime in the city also requires a jobs program. New Orleans can celebrate a third straight year in which she saw a decline in the number of murders (150 in 2014) — Happy New Year! But hold off on the fireworks because the city also saw a 24 percent increase in the overall number of non-fatal shootings. Politicians and the police department are certainly appreciative of statistical change. (But […]
4:01 PM | Public Comments to the Department of Education on College Ratings
It may be a new year, but the Obama Administration’s proposed Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS) is still a hot topic. Most observers in the higher education policy and research communities (myself included) were less than overwhelmed by the proposed metrics released on December 19—sixteen months after the idea of ratings was first floated. My first take on the metrics can be found here, and there are too many good pieces about the metrics to mention them all. The U.S. […]
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