July 07, 2014

9:57 PM | In the Race to Improve New Orleans Schools, Let's Not Forget One Special Group
New Orleans’ renaissance won’t be determined by how many “smart” people emigrate into the city. Her resurgence will be determined by how smartly the space includes all its residents’ gifts. For five weeks in the summer, Carlos, my 18 year-old son, who has special needs, contributes to New Orleans’ recovery by building bat boxes - assembled homes for the oft-misunderstood flying mammals. “We typically think of bats as pests,” said Meaghan […]
8:12 PM | In Mississippi, Food Gap Widens During Summer
Each summer, millions of Mississippi’s children rely on the federal Summer Food Service Program to provide up to two nutritious meals a day. It’s a small solution to a larger problem in Mississippi, where many of the most rural parts of the state lack access to healthy foods. Jackie Mader reports on the challenges and efforts to provide food to the state’s most vulnerable children. The town of Rolling Fork is nestled off Highway 61, 11 miles east of the Mississippi River. […]

July 03, 2014

9:21 PM | Education Reform: You Can Fix the Sanctions but the Problem Is Still There
Beginning in 2010, the Obama administration offered states waivers from the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind Act, under which all students in America were supposed to be proficient in reading and math by this year, and if they weren’t, school would have to institute “corrective action” and restructuring plans. States weren’t on target to meet these requirements, of course, and the Obama waivers would allow states and districts to avoid NCLB sanctions, if they […]
4:24 PM | What Are the Most Expensive Colleges in America? Depends on How you Ask the Question
The U.S. Department of Education has just released its new college affordability numbers, designed to help families and students choose colleges. This also allows observers to look up fun things like the list of the country's expensive collages. So what are the costly ones? Well it's sort of complicated. In part this is because colleges can hide their true costs through financial aid polices. Colleges might officially charge a high price, but financial aid really means only fairly rich […]
1:55 PM | In New Orleans, a Case Study in How School, Health Care Decentralization Affect Neediest Children
NEW ORLEANS —One New Orleans 15-year-old with explosive disorder felt abandoned after the only therapist she trusted left town. A 14-year-old diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, who became suicidal and threatened others, had to travel 300 miles to get admitted to a hospital. A 6-year-old with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder was told he couldn’t come back to his public school until his mother found mental health care services for him. In recent years, New […]

July 02, 2014

10:44 PM | Maybe Bill Gates Can't Ever Fix Education
Bill Gates has given some $28 billion, though the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to help fix the world's problems. He's tackled global poverty, agricultural development, disaster relief, and combatting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, with notable success. But there have also been some big failures. One of the biggest problems, he said, has been trying to fix American education. Maybe it's time to consider why that's so difficult for him. According to an Associated Press piece […]
6:46 PM | Focusing on Latino Parents' Strengths
One of the biggest challenges for writing about traditionally underserved demographics in American education is to remember to take an assets-based approach. It can be easy to focus on what students from these backgrounds lack, rather than what they bring to the table. This is a common problem for education policy discussions orbiting Latino students. There’s no question that these students frequently face serious challenges: over one-third of Latinos are enrolled at high-poverty schools. […]
3:02 PM | Colleges Keep Increasing Discounts to Keep Students Coming
Colleges and universities continue to give record-high discounts on tuition, which is good news for students, but bad news for the institutions, a new report shows. The so-called discount rate—the amount of revenue that goes back out the door in the form of financial aid to fill seats—was projected to have grown to more than 46 percent at colleges and universities this past academic year, according to the report, from the National Association of College and University Business […]

July 01, 2014

4:35 PM | Where are Most of California's Tenured Teachers?
A California judge recently ruled that teacher tenure and other job protections violate a student’s right to education and, as such, are unconstitutional. The case, Vergara v. California, prompted speculation about what it would mean for other states where similar lawsuits might be filed. But what does the ruling - if it survives appeals - mean for California? The impact may be greater on some areas of the state than others. The map below shows the percentage of teachers with tenure by […]
2:26 PM | Higher Ed Data Plan Would Supersize Burden
Last week, both the House and Senate key education committees took a step forward on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the House with a white paper outlining principles for reform and the Senate with a draft comprehensive bill. Despite both the Republicans’ and Democrats’ rhetoric calling for increased transparency, neither bill makes the one small change–repealing the ban on a federal student unit record data system– that could make a big difference in […]

June 30, 2014

5:19 PM | What Makes for Happier Teachers, According to International Survey
Teachers who say they get included in school decision-making and collaborate often with other teachers are more likely to say that teaching is a valued profession in their society.  In turn, these same teachers report higher levels of job satisfaction and confidence in their ability to teach and to motivate students, according to a 2013 survey of  middle-school teachers in 34 countries and regions around the world conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and […]

June 29, 2014

4:37 PM | Gauging Public Support for Education Spending
I attended First Focus’ annual Children’s Budget Summit this week to hear about the latest federal budget trendlines affecting programs that serve children. The accompanying report is full of interesting information on the United States’ budget priorities. Across all programs, inflation-adjusted federal spending on children declined by 13.6 percent from 2010 to 2014. Education is down 15.1 percent, and early childhood spending 6.2 percent over the same time period. These are […]

June 27, 2014

6:27 PM | How Fixing Corporate Welfare Might Kill Many For-Profit Schools
Corinthian Colleges, one of the largest for-profit education companies in the United States (it has some 72,000 students), is in trouble. That's because the corporation makes its money though what is basically welfare. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times: Santa Ana-based Corinthian has been investigated by the U.S. Department of Education, state attorneys general and other federal regulators for years. The company is accused of falsifying job placement rates and misleading […]
2:27 PM | Report: Federal Special Ed Dollars Not Always Fairly Distributed
This week, the U.S. Department of Education announced a new framework to hold states accountable for the IDEA dollars they spend. But my new report, released today, asks a different question: How well is the IDEA funding formula even distributing that money to states and districts? The federal government’s second-largest PreK-12 program spends $11.5 billion a year on special education grants to states — and those dollars aren’t always being distributed all that wisely, we […]

June 26, 2014

8:31 PM | Common Core: The Tetherball of Gubernatorial Politics
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal wants to make the state the fourth, including Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina, to turn back Common Core implementation. Jindal adopted Common Core state standards, which put him in line with other presidential hopefuls like Jeb Bush, four years earlier. Since Common Core has become the litmus test for conservatism, Jindal’s retreat apparently increases his presidential profile. What about the test for children? Click to read more columns. Common Core […]
7:00 PM | California's State Colleges Aren't Even Affordable for Middle Class Families Anymore
California’s new financial aid policy will now, for the first time, offer scholarships to middle class students. Under previous policy, scholarships were available only to the state’s low-income students. The children of the state’s lawyers or dentists had to pay the full price. Perhaps the fact the state schools now have to offer financial aid to middle income people should strike us as cause for concern. Under the new policy, according to a piece in the Los Angeles […]
2:55 PM | Congress Gears Up to Reauthorize the Higher Education Act
Senate Democrats and House Republicans announced plans this week for legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, which expired at the end of 2013. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, announced the forthcoming release of a comprehensive reauthorization bill, the first such legislation drafted since the Higher Education Opportunity Act was signed into law in 2008, while House Education and the Workforce committee chair […]

June 25, 2014

9:37 PM | New Program Steers Bright Poor Kids to Top Universities and Colleges
In spite of being among the top students in his school, Joseph Nelzy was quick to give up on being admitted to one of the nation’s best colleges after he got a rejection letter from Brandeis University. “I had no hope after that,”Nelzy, 18, said in the college advising office at Abraham Lincoln High School, a huge Depression-era building in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach section, more than half of whose students live at or below the poverty line. But as Nelzy brooded over the […]
4:00 PM | The Starbucks Bait and Switch
Readers have no doubt heard a great deal about the Starbucks Free College Plan at this point. If you’re bored with it, go ahead and stop reading. I totally understand. But there’s one element of this deal that’s still worth mentioning: the plan is less generous than what Starbucks used to provide to its employees. I rather like Starbucks. One of my guilty pleasures as a city-dwelling adult is that store. There are worse things to spend money, on but it’s something I […]
Editor's Pick
2:59 PM | Policy Groups Urge Using Tax Credits to Improve College Performance
WASHINGTON, DC - Skeptical that Congress will end tuition tax credits they say disproportionately benefit higher- rather than lower-income students, advocates for reform want the tax breaks to at least be used to encourage colleges to raise their graduation rates and reduce borrowing. Among their other proposals, a consortium of groups pushing for changes in the federal financial-aid system said eligibility for the tax credits should be based, in part, on which college or university a student […]
11:35 AM | Three varieties of process tracing? It’s four
People familiar with the development of qualitative methods know that process tracing has developed rapidly over the last years. As the discussion about a method becomes broader and deeper, it becomes more important to systematize and sort the field in … Continue reading →

June 24, 2014

9:53 PM | Exploring Trends in Pell Grant Receipt and Expenditures
The U.S. Department of Education released its annual report on the federal Pell Grant program this week, which is a treasure trove of information about the program’s finances and who is receiving grants. The most recent report includes data from the 2012-13 academic year, and I summarize the data and trends over the last two decades in this post. Pell Grant expenditures decreased from $33.6 billion in 2011-12 to $32.1 billion in 2012-13, following another $2.1 billion decline in the […]
2:01 PM | Food, energy and water: the politics of the nexus | Jeremy Allouche
Debates about the food-energy-water nexus need to recognise that global priorities may not reflect local concerns, and resource allocations are always politicalIt is hard to disagree when the international business community, through the World Economic Forum, argues that there are important linkages between water, food, energy and climate change. Or when the German government argues that policy makers need to pay more careful consideration to the trade-offs between these different resources. As […]
1:26 PM | White House Summit on Working Families
My wife gets called “Supermom” relatively frequently. It actually bothers her. “I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do!” she says. But it’s increasingly difficult for working parents in the United States to do all the things they’re “supposed to do.” Last week, the President’s Council of Economic Advisors released a report on the state of working families today in the United States. They found that “nearly half of parents […]
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