White House Makes College For Low-Income Students A Priority

Claudio Sanchez, NPR, January 2014

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama met today with over 140 college presidents at the White House. Also present at the event, were dozens of organizations committed to raising the number of low-income students who attend college. No more than half of low-income high school graduates apply to college, so the President has asked the first lady to spearhead a national effort to encourage colleges — the more selective ones, in particular — to admit and graduate more students who are poor.

Progress in the War on Poverty

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, January 2014

America’s war on poverty turned 50 years old this week, and plenty of people have concluded that, as President Reagan put it: “We fought a war on poverty, and poverty won.” Yet a careful look at the evidence suggests that such a view is flat wrong. In fact, the first lesson of the war on poverty is that we can make progress against poverty, but that it’s an uphill slog.

How to Help College Students Graduate

David Kirp, New York Times, January 2014

American students are enrolling in college in record numbers, but they’re also dropping out in droves. Barely half of those who start four-year colleges, and only a third of community college students, graduate. That’s one of the worst records among developed nations, and it’s a substantial drain on the economy. The American Institutes for Research estimates the cost of those dropouts, measured in lost earnings and taxes, at $4.5 billion. Incalculable are the lost opportunities for social mobility and the stillborn professional careers. There’s a remedy at hand, though, and it’s pretty straightforward. Nationwide, universities need to give undergraduates the care and attention akin to what’s lavished on students at elite institutions.

Is There a Glass Ceiling for California's Latino Students?

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, The California Report, January 2014

For more than a decade, California educators have been trying to close the achievement gap between Latinos and their white and Asian classmates. Latinos do worse on standardized tests and are less likely to go to college. But new statistics show the gap isn't just a product of poor neighborhoods and low-performing schools. It's also found in public schools with the best reputations.

Does the U.S. Need Another War on Poverty?

Room for Debate Home, New York Times, January 2014

In his State of the Union address on Jan. 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced his “war on poverty,” when the national poverty rate was 19 percent. His project created Medicare, Medicaid, a permanent food stamp program, Head Start, Volunteers in Service to America and the Job Corps.

The Common Core Is Tough on Kids Who Are Still Learning English

Pat Wingert, The Atlantic, January 2014

Remarkable things are happening at Laurel Street Elementary School in Los Angeles. Ninety percent of its 580 students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. More than 60 percent of its students are classified as English learners. And yet the school has established a stellar record of success. Despite years of state funding cuts and classes that average 30 or more kids apiece, an amazing 83 percent of Laurel Street’s students scored at proficient or higher on a recent state language-arts exam, and 91 percent scored that high on the math test.

It isn't a sin to be rich: The wealthy, though, should focus more on job creation and philanthropy

Richard Riordan and Eli Broad, Los Angeles Times, December 2013

If you listen to most of the discussions of income inequality, it certainly seems like affluence itself is a crime. We hear increasing calls for higher taxes on the wealthy and other policies designed to redistribute income. President Obama summed up that position when he said, "Our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it." The assumption behind these proposals is that a minority of Americans has become rich by making a majority of our people poorer. In other words, it is seen as cause and effect. That's simply not the case.

A Cockeyed Optimist: Angus Deaton's 'Great Escape'

David Leonhardt, New York Times, December 2013

In his new Book “Great Escape,” Angus Deaton (Professor of economics at Princeton) does not stint on describing the world’s problems, be they income inequality in rich countries, health problems in China and the United States or H.I.V. in Africa. Large sections of the book revolve around such troubles and potential solutions. Yet Deaton’s central message is deeply positive, almost gloriously so. By the most meaningful measures — how long we live, how healthy and happy we are, how much we know — life has never been better. Just as important, it is continuing to improve.

Decade-Long Study Of Big City Schools Finds Better Math, Reading

Claudio Sanchez, All Things Considered, December 2013

Ten years after education researchers began focusing on big city school systems and monitoring their math and reading scores, there's good news to report. Today, fourth and eighth graders in many of the nation's largest cities have made impressive gains. Surprisingly, school systems with large numbers of low income children have exceeded the national average in both subjects.

Invisible Child

Andrea Elliott, New York Times, December 2013

Cities across the nation have become flash points of polarization, as one population has bounced back from the recession while another continues to struggle. One in five American children is now living in poverty, giving the United States the highest child poverty rate of any developed nation except for Romania. This bodes poorly for the future, as decades of research have shown the staggering societal costs of children in poverty.

Blacks have lowest college graduation rate in state

Nanette Asimov, SF Gate, December 2013

Black Californians have the lowest rate of college graduation among all ethnic groups and are less educated than their parents, according to a new study by a group calling on state lawmakers to get serious about helping African Americans.

School counselors increasingly are missing link in getting kids to college

Timothy Pratt, Hechinger Report, December 2013

A single public school counselor in the United States has a caseload of 471 students, on average, according to the American School Counselor Association, or ASCA. In high schools, where counselors are often the primary source of information about college — especially as increasing numbers of students become the first in their families to consider it — each one is responsible for an average of 239 students, the ASCA says. In California, the ratio is an even more unwieldy 1-to-500.

The college-for-all model isn't working

Tamar Jacoby, LA Times, December 2013

Vocational education fell from favor decades ago because it was seen as an inferior track for less able students, and there's no question that, for many Americans, college is a ticket to the middle class. But there's also mounting evidence that the college-for-all model isn't working. Nearly half of those who start a four-year degree don't finish on time; more than two-thirds of those who start community college fail to get a two-year degree on schedule. Even students who graduate emerge saddled with debt and often without the skills they need to make a decent living. After years of disfavor, vocational education is being transformed for young people seeking jobs that require more than high school but less than college.

Explaining the Economic Gaps in College Enrollments

Quick Takes, Inside Higher Education, December 2013

At least a quarter of the gap in college participation rates between lower and middle class students and upper class students in Australia, Britain and the United States cannot be explained by academic achievement.

Closing a Fear Gap So Children Can Achieve

Michael Brick, New York Times, December 2013

At a time when Latinos have surpassed whites to account for a majority of public school students in Texas, some schools are taking an unusually direct approach to one of the most deeply entrenched challenges in education: the achievement gap in test scores and low graduation rates that are plaguing schools disproportionately populated by the children of immigrants.