8/27/2013 – Back To School Policy Disconnect

THIS WEEK: Back To School … Education Pays Off Big … Brave School Bookkeeper … Student Debt Harms For Life … Will Rating Colleges Help


Back To School Season Reveals Education Policy Disconnect

By Jeff Bryant

“The annual ritual of Back to School Season … revealed two starkly different narratives about the present state and future of the nation’s schools. One story is a continuation of promises coming from prominent individuals claiming to know what will fix the nation’s schools and make them more ‘accountable,’ while the other is a much more troubling tale about schools that is plainly visible to most Americans – except those at the top. So much evidence – from both anecdotal reporting and objective data – revealed this vast disconnect.”
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Back To School, But Without Books And Basics In Mississippi

The Hechinger Report

“With school underway throughout the state, superintendents … have few options for meeting their districts’ many needs, from classroom supplies to coaches. Since 1997, Mississippi has only fully funded its school system three times, shortchanging schools by an estimated $1 billion … Teachers throughout the state are asking for paper, pencils and rulers, posting more than 180 grant proposals outlining their many needs on the Donors Choose site … Cash-strapped districts are cutting back on essential positions and purchases to make ends meet … In the 2010-11 school year, Mississippi spent an average of $8,572 per student, an amount lower than all but five states, and a 2.4% drop from the previous year. By 2015, per pupil spending could drop to about $5,000.”
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Report: Long-Term Education Investments Lead To Higher Wages

The Washington Post

“Legislators looking for the best returns on budget investments should focus their efforts on education spending, which in turn leads to higher productivity and higher wages … In the 22 states where less than 30% of the workforce has a bachelor’s degree, the median wage stands at around $15 an hour. In the three states where more than 40% of the workforce has a college degree, the median wages are higher than $19 an hour.”
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The Story Bigots Hate: Antoinette Tuff’s Courage


Joan Walsh writes, “Antoinette Tuff … is, of course, the bookkeeper at Ronald McNair Discovery Learning Center in Decatur, Ga., whose work talking shooter Michael Brandon Hill into surrendering to police Tuesday was captured live on a stunning 911 tape that’s gone viral. The fascination at the heart of Tuff’s tale, the reason it’s riveting, is the way she used compassion and empathy to disarm a mentally ill man intent on killing … In this story, the only thing that stopped a bad guy with a gun was a good woman with a heart … There won’t be an Antoinette Tuff to save us from every school shooting … But Tuff gave a clinic in empathy, and the way that trying to connect with the pain of another person, even someone scary and dangerous, can save lives.”
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Student Loan Debt Is Undermining Our Future

North Carolina Justice Center

“A new research report on America’s still-growing student loan debt found that its financial effects can last a lifetime … An education debt of $53,000 will lead to a $208,000 lifetime loss of wealth … Lost lifetime wealth, according to the report, will reduce two-thirds of retirement savings by $134,000 with the remaining third being lost from lower accumulations in home equity … ‘Student debt’s financial impact won’t just be felt by the nearly 39 million Americans who currently have student loans,’ states the report, ‘the drag of student loans on indebted households’ purchasing power and ability to save will slow an already-sluggish growth for the entire U.S. economy.'”
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Mr. President: Don’t Cave To The Higher-Education Lobby

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Sara Goldrick-Rab writes, “Over all, I’m a fan of President Obama’s proposal to rate colleges and link the results to financial aid … The devil, as always, is in the details. I’m very, very wary of poorly designed accountability metrics. In elementary and secondary education, these have been a disaster … Higher-education accountability should be aimed at decision makers (administrators and states); and measures like how many students complete programs and degrees should be directed at all institutions receiving Title IV via their students … If expensive schools are so ‘worthwhile,’ then they should be able to admit the kinds of students that public universities admit, rather than creaming off the top. If their expenses are so merited, we should see bigger gains at private elites than we do at less-expensive institutions, not just higher graduation rates … Mr. President: Take on the hard work of getting American higher education focused on the needs of students rather than the needs of institutions.”
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