Families, Not Just Students, Feel The Weight Of The Student Loan Crisis

For many college students settling into their dorms this month, the path to campus — and paying for college — started long ago. And it likely involved their families.

The pressure to send kids to college, coupled with the realities of tuition, has fundamentally changed the experience of being middle class in America, says Caitlin Zaloom, an anthropologist and associate professor at New York University. It’s changed the way that middle class parents raise their children, she adds, and shaped family dynamics along the way.

Zaloom interviewed dozens of families taking out student loans for her new book, Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost. She defines those families as middle class because they make too much to qualify for federal aid — but too little to pay the full cost of a degree at most colleges. For many, the burden of student debt raises big questions about what a degree is for.

Full story at NPR

Secretary DeVos Announces School Safety Grant Opportunities

WASHINGTON — In support of the recommendations from the Federal Commission on School Safety’s (FCSS) final report, the U.S. Department of Education announced today it is now accepting applications for three fiscal year 2019 grant competitions that support locally tailored approaches to school safety.

PROJECT PREVENT GRANT PROGRAM

This program helps Local Education Agencies (LEAs) enhance their ability to identify, assess and serve students exposed to pervasive violence. Funds from this $10 million grant competition can be used to provide mental health services for trauma or anxiety; support conflict resolution programs; and implement other school—based violence prevention strategies. The deadline to apply is July 15, 2019.

SCHOOL CLIMATE TRANSFORMATION GRANT PROGRAM

This $40 million grant competition provides funds to LEAs to develop, enhance, or expand systems of support for schools implementing strategies to improve learning conditions and promote positive school culture for all students. The deadline to apply is July 22, 2019.

Full story at ed.gov

California Teachers Pay For Their Own Substitutes During Extended Sick Leave

A 40-year-old California law requiring public school teachers on extended sick leave to pay for their own substitute teachers is under scrutiny by some state lawmakers after NPR member station KQED reported on the practice.

KQED found that a San Francisco Unified elementary school teacher had to pay the cost of her own substitute — amounting to nearly half of her paycheck — while she underwent extended cancer treatment. Since the story published, more public school teachers have reached out to describe similar hardships.

Unlike many other employees, public school teachers in California don’t pay into the state disability insurance program and can’t draw benefits from it. Under the California Education Code, teachers get 10 sick days a year, after which they receive 100 days of extended sick leave. It’s during this latter period that the cost of a substitute teacher is deducted from their salary.

Full story at NPR

Gates Foundation Asks: Is College Worth It?

THE BILL AND MELINDA Gates Foundation, the philanthropic and sometimes controversial group whose funding has influenced major education policy decisions in the U.S., is launching a new higher education initiative to answer the question, “Is college worth it?”

“More than at any other time I can remember, students and families across America are asking themselves, is college worth it,'” Sue Desmond-Hellmann, president of the Gates Foundation, said. “As the cost of a credential rises and student debt goes to record levels, people are actually asking a question I never thought I’d hear, ‘Is going to college a reliable path to economic opportunity?’ This question of value needs to be addressed, and we feel that it needs to be addressed urgently.”

To that end, the foundation has convened a 30-person commission to evaluate the returns of education after high school, especially for low-income students and students of color.

Full story at US News

 

‘Do They Kick Out Pregnant People?’ Navigating College With Kids

When Akiya Parks first got to campus at the University of Florida, everything was new and exciting. Her mom and brother had driven her to campus and moved her into the dorms, she’d agreed to try a long-distance relationship with her high school boyfriend, she was ready to start a new chapter in Gainesville.

This was a dream come true: No one in Parks’ family had ever gone to college before, and her good grades, volunteer work and commitment to her community had earned her a full-ride scholarship — nearly everything was paid for. She got a new laptop, she bonded with her roommate and she crafted her schedule.

But a few weeks into classes, she started feeling sick. At first, she thought college food just wasn’t sitting well, but it wasn’t the food.

Full story at npr.org

Girls Best Boys on National Test of Technology and Engineering Skills

EIGHTH-GRADE GIRLS continue to outperform boys on a national test of technology and engineering skills, despite reporting they take fewer classes related to those skills.

Girls scored five points higher than boys on the Technology and Engineering Literacy Assessment, which was given to 15,400 eighth graders from about 600 public and private schools across the country in 2018. Girls also bested boys in nearly all content areas.

“Girls continue to perform better than boys,” Peggy Carr, the associate commissioner of the assessments division at the National Center for Education Statistics, said. “They did that again – improved more than boys and also still outscored boys in this assessment. It’s a really strong finding here.”

Full story at US News

Federal Data Show Decreasing Rates of Bullying and Violence in Schools

BULLYING, VIOLENCE, crime and drug use in schools continue to decrease, as they have for much of the last two decades, despite public perception that schools have become less safe over the past 20 years.

New federal data published Wednesday by the Departments of Education and Justice show that 20% of students ages 12 to 18 reported being bullied at school during the 2016-17 school year, the lowest since the federal government began collecting the information in 2005. The percentage of public schools that reported that student bullying occurred at least once a week also decreased, from 29% in the 1999-2000 school year to 12% in the 2015-16 school year.

Moreover, the percentage of students in grades nine through 12 who reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months decreased from 9% in the 2000-01 school year to 6% in 2016-17 school year.

Full story at US News

Secretary DeVos Issues Statement on Higher Education Act Reform Principles Introduced During National Council for the American Worker Meeting

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement on the Administration’s Higher Education Act reform principles released during today’s meeting of the National Council for the American Worker:

“To meet the needs of our nation’s students and our growing economy, we must rethink higher education. Right now, there are 7.3 million unfilled jobs in the United States, yet too many Americans remain out of the workforce because they lack the skills necessary to seize these opportunities. We must do better for our students and workers. There should be multiple educational pathways to a successful career, and the federal government shouldn’t pick winners and losers amongst them. At the same time, higher education should be more affordable, nimble and relevant. Institutions of higher education need to be freed-up to implement new ideas that could fill the many gaps between education and the economy. The Department of Education is currently leading that effort through ambitious negotiated rule making which seeks to break down the barriers to innovation in higher education and encourage new approaches and new partnerships.

Full story at ed.gov

White Privilege and the College Admissions Scandal

“WHAT WE DO IS WE HELP the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school.”

William Rick Singer, a Newport Beach, California-based college admissions expert, wasted no time cutting to the chase in a conversation with a parent, which the FBI recorded last June.

“They want guarantees, they want this thing done. They don’t want to be messing around with this thing. And so they want in at certain schools. So I did 761 what I would call, ‘side doors.'”

He elaborated: “There is a front door which means you get in on your own. The back door is through institutional advancement, which is ten times as much money. And I’ve created this side door in.”

Full story at US News

Teachers Union Launches National Education-Funding Campaign

THE AMERICAN FEDERATION of Teachers, the 1.7 million-member teachers union, announced a major education initiative Monday aimed at pressing lawmakers in state capitals and Congress to increase funding for public schools and universities.

The move, which includes a six-figure advertising campaign, further catapults to the national stage the educator unrest that’s unfurled across the country as teachers take to the picket lines to protest underfunded school systems, low pay, overcrowded classes and lack of resources for special education and support staff, including nurses, librarians and school counselors.

“You’ve seen a growing frustration of parents and students and educators sweeping the nation,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said Monday. “While those have been very inspiring sparks, we are having funding fights in virtually every state capital and in Washington, D.C. And the root cause of every single one of those teacher walkouts that have been roiling the country is the lack of appropriate investments.”

Full story at US News