Another Advantage for Wealthy Students

AFFLUENT STUDENTS HAVE major advantages when it comes to K-12 education: Among them, better teachers, more access to advanced courses, resources for counselors and a variety of extracurricular activities, which when combined can lead to higher high school graduation and college-going rates than their poorer peers.

Now those wealthy students can add to that list another advantage their less affluent peers don’t receive: grade inflation.

new study on grade inflation published Wednesday shows that schools attended by more affluent students saw less rigorous grading than schools attended by less affluent ones. While median grade point averages increased in both school types between 2005 and 2016, it increased more in the more affluent schools.

“In other words, it’s gotten easier to get a good grade in more affluent schools, but not in less affluent ones,” says Seth Gershensen, associate professor at American University who conducted the research and authored the report. “The GPA Gap has widened.”

Full story at US News

DeVos Loses On Student Loans; Bezos Funds Preschool

The new school year marches on, and so does our weekly roundup.

Tropical Storm Florence closes schools in the Carolinas

Rain measured in feet, not inches. Storm surges and power outages are the reality of this huge, slow-moving storm. Schools were closed Friday across coastal North Carolina and South Carolina. In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district, leaders made the controversial choice to keep nearly 150,000 students home under blue skies on Thursday to prep some schools as shelters.

DeVos loses court case on borrower forgiveness

A federal judge ruled this week that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ delay of a key Obama-era student borrower protection rule was unlawful. The judge is expected to order a remedy next week.

Full story at npr.org

If ‘Free College’ Sounds Too Good To Be True, That’s Because It Often Is

To millions of parents and students, they’re magical words: free college.

But is the idea pure fantasy?

More than a dozen states now offer grants, often called scholarships, promising to help qualifying students pay for some or all of their college education. In fact, that word, “promise,” shows up again and again in these programs’ official names: Nevada Promise, Oklahoma’s Promise, Oregon Promise, Tennessee Promise … you get the idea.

Sometimes referred to as “free college” programs, most are relatively new, sparked by the relentless rise in college costs and by a desire among state leaders to improve college access, especially for low-income students. Hundreds more free college programs have popped up at the local level, too. But a new review of 15 of these statewide programs, conducted by The Education Trust, finds that states vary wildly in how they define both “free” and “college.”

Full story at npr.org

From Poverty To Rocket Scientist To CEO, A Girl Scout’s Inspiring Story

Sylvia Acevedo grew up on a dirt road in New Mexico. Her family was poor, living “paycheck to paycheck.”

After a meningitis outbreak in her Las Cruces neighborhood nearly killed her younger sister, her mother moved the family to a different neighborhood. At her new school, young Acevedo knew no one. Until a classmate convinced her to become a Brownie Girl Scout.

And from that moment, she says, her life took on a new path.

On one camping trip, Acevedo’s troop leader saw her looking up at the stars.

“I didn’t know that there were planets,” Acevedo remembers, “I didn’t know there were constellations.” Her troop leader pointed out the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper and a few planets. Later, when the girls were earning badges, Acevedo’s leader remembered her fascination with the stars and suggested she try for her science badge.

Full story at npr.org

Teachers Are the Key to Quality Education

AS WE PAUSE THIS LABOR Day to celebrate the nation’s workers, we should also think about those whose profession helps prepare the citizens and workforce of tomorrow: early childhood teachers who work with children every day.

A child’s first five years are the most critical for neurological development, with their brains forming more than one million neural connections per second. This is the time when the foundation is built for future success – brain wiring for social, emotional, physical and cognitive development. Genetics and experiences both play a role in a child’s early development. And that is why access to early childhood education programs and to quality early educators matters so much.

Having high-quality programs hinges on having a high-quality workforce. But the field suffers from low wages, which leads to high turnover. Poor pay also leaves little incentive for early childhood teachers to return to college and earn degrees or other certifications to deepen their competencies and knowledge about how best to foster early learning. Today, the median hourly wage among those working in child care settings amounts to $10.72 per hour – about $22,000 per year. Indeed, preschool teachers earn a little more at about $13.94 per hour – about $29,000 per year. Despite the salary bump, these teachers still struggle to support their own families.

Full story at US News

Today’s College Students Aren’t Who You Think They Are

The popular culture tells us that college “kids” are recent high school graduates, living on campus, taking art history, drinking too much on weekends, and (hopefully) graduating four years later.

But these days that narrative of the residential, collegiate experience is way off, says Alexandria Walton Radford, who heads up postsecondary education research at RTI International, a think tank in North Carolina. What we see on movie screens and news sites, she says, is skewed to match the perceptions of the elite: journalists, researchers, policymakers.

Today’s college student is decidedly nontraditional — and has been for a while. “This isn’t a new phenomenon,” Radford says. “We’ve been looking at this since 1996.”

Full story at npr.org

Education Department Considers Allowing Schools to Use Federal Money to Buy Guns

THE EDUCATION Department is considering allowing states to use federal funding to buy guns for teachers, according to a report in The New York Times.

The unprecedented move would reverse a long-held stance that the federal government should not fund the purchase of weapons.

In justifying the decision, the department is citing a program in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, called Student Support and Academic Enrichment. The program does not mention the prohibition of weapons purchases, which Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would use to condone using grant money to fund gun purchases and training, according to the Times.

One of the three pillars of the program is to “improve school conditions for student learning.” People familiar with the situation told the Times that in its research the Education Department concluded that gun purchases could fall under this pillar. Currently, the guidelines for this section of the grant include encouraging schools to increase mental health counseling, reducing suspensions and establishing dropout prevention programs.

Full story at US News

NYU’s Move To Make Medical School Free For All Gets Mixed Reviews

New York University’s School of Medicine is learning that no good deed goes unpunished.

The highly ranked medical school announced with much fanfare this month that it is raising $600 million from private donors to eliminate tuition for all its students — even providing refunds to those currently enrolled. Before the announcement, annual tuition at the school was $55,018.

NYU leaders hope the move will help address the increasing problem of student debt among young doctors, which many educators argue pushes students to enter higher-paying specialties instead of primary care, and deters some from becoming doctors in the first place.

Full story at npr.org

Does ‘Redshirting’ Benefit Kids? Kindergarten Decision Looms

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Lisa Larney started researching college when her daughter was 3. She wanted to know everything she could about the long-term impacts of delaying kindergarten enrollment for her daughter, born just a week before her school district’s enrollment cutoff date.

Would she benefit from going to college a year later? What if she’s too tall for her grade? Would she perform better academically if held back?

After two years of studying her daughter’s social interactions and researching her options, Larney decided to “redshirt” her, the term used for keeping children in prekindergarten instead of enrolling them when they’re first eligible at age 5.

Full story at US News

Secretary DeVos Visits “She Can” STEM Summer Camp

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos earlier this week visited with sixth through eighth grade girls participating in the Smithsonian’s “She Can” STEM Summer Camp to highlight the exciting opportunities available in STEM fields. The camp, which was open to Washington, D.C. area girls who attend Title 1 Schools, doubled in size with support from the Department of Education. President Donald J. Trump donated his second quarter salary to the Department of Education to fund a STEM-focused camp.

At the camp, students learned about the science of flight and were exposed to a wide array of aviation-related activities and career paths. During the Secretary’s visit she worked with a group of girls to build and fly their own drones, was a passenger in an FAA-certified flight simulator and toured the Boeing Aviation Hangar.

Full story at ed.gov