By the time the police arrived with the pepper spray, sending throngs of college students choking to the ground, it was clear that Santa Monica College’s plan to raise tuition had gone badly awry. Days earlier, the trustees of the 31,000-student community college had announced a novel strategy for dealing with the state of California’s latest round of punishing budget cuts. It would open up new sections of perpetually over-subscribed courses like English and Math—but only to students willing to pay four times the standard price.
Last month, I toured Washington D.C.’s Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Center, one of 1,600 low-income preschool providers funded by the federal Head Start program. At lunchtime, well-behaved four- and five-year-olds dutifully served each other apples, cucumbers, and noodle soup. Elsewhere, a more mischievous group rolled on the floor while a teacher patiently tried to read aloud. Everything I saw suggested happy students, clean classrooms, and engaged teachers. Indeed, Mazique has become something of a poster child for Head Start.
The Higher Education Monopoly is Crumbling As We Speak
March 13, 2012
In the last years of the nineteenth century, Charles Dow created an index of 12 leading industrial companies. Almost none of them exist today. While General Electric remains an industrial giant, the U.S. Leather Company, American Cotton Oil, and others have long since disappeared into bankruptcy or consolidation. Today, the Dow Jones includes giant corporations that hadn’t even been created when Ronald Reagan first sat in the Oval Office.
The False Promise of the New York City Teacher Evaluations
March 06, 2012
[Guest post by Simon van Zuylen-Wood] On February 16th, New York state officials agreed on a new teacher evaluation system that will use student standardized test scores to help determine teacher tenure and dismissals. The previous model, in which 97 percent of New York City teachers were deemed “satisfactory,” was based solely on classroom observations. While the deal signals an important compromise between Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has pushed for more teacher accountability, and the state teachers union, the real news came a week later.
Santorum and the Idiocy of Home Schooling
March 03, 2012
No sooner had Mitt Romney triumphed in the Michigan primary than Rick Santorum edged into his victory by succeeding in winning an equal number of delegates. Romney polled 3 percent higher than Santorum in the popular vote. But that meant nothing in the arcana of counting at the polls that will be translated into 15 delegates each at the Tampa convention in August.
Santorum: Who Needs Public Education?
February 20, 2012
At a weekend appearance in Ohio, Rick Santorum said this about public education, according to the New York Times: [T]he idea that the federal government should be running schools, frankly much less that the state government should be running schools [italics mine], is anachronistic. It goes back to the time of industrialization of America when people came off the farms where they did home-school or have the little neighborhood school, and into these big factories, so we built equal factories called public schools.
How U.S. News Rankings Are Corrupting Higher Education
February 01, 2012
Earlier this week, officials at Claremont McKenna College admitted that a senior administrator had, since 2005, been reporting inflated SAT scores to publications like U.S. News & World Report in order to boost the school’s ranking. That admission has brought new scrutiny to college rankings, which many say are too influential. Do colleges and universities have any good reason to care what U.S. News thinks? Research suggests that whatever flaws the rankings may have, schools would be foolish to ignore them.
Obama vs. Colleges: It’s About Time!
January 28, 2012
On Tuesday night this past week, alarm bells suddenly began ringing at 1 Dupont Circle, the Washington, DC headquarters of the powerful higher education lobby. The trigger was the surprise ultimatum that President Obama leveled in his State of the Union address. “We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition,” he said. “We’ll run out of money.” States needed to stop slashing college budgets, he noted, but colleges also had work to do.
How Hard Will Education Cuts Hit Texas?
December 22, 2011
Texas, like many states, is facing difficult budget cuts—but even in this cash-strapped environment, the Lone Star State stands out. As NPR reports today, “School funding in Texas is in turmoil.” The state has cut $4.3 billion from education over the last school year, leading to over 12,000 layoffs and sharp reductions in everything from school security to special education. Can Texas stomach these cuts? Data from the National Education Association illustrates a few of the reasons why Texas will be particularly hard-hit by education cuts.
When Barack Obama ran for president, he claimed that improving early childhood education would be a hallmark of his education reform agenda. Unfortunately, his policies in office have not lived up to that promise.