College tuition is skyrocketing, forcing far too many students to take on frightening debt loads. To make matters worse, our financial-aid system is burdensome and difficult to navigate for those who rely on it most. It doesn’t have to be this way. “Doing Away With Debt: Using Existing Resources to Ensure College Affordability for Low and Middle-Income Families,” a new Education Trust report, calls for a shared responsibility among the federal government, state governments, institutions of higher education, and students themselves to help low-income and working-class students complete college with no loans and middle-income students do the same with no-interest loans and affordable, income-based repayments.
Click here for a recording of our April 2 webinar to learn more about this proposal. See the related PowerPoint presentation attached below.
The schools profiled in Getting It Done have taught us that strong school leaders play a significant role in helping close gaps and drive achievement for students who’ve historically been left behind. Research suggests the success of principals who lead high-performing, high-poverty schools is owed, in part, to their ability to attract and retain strong teachers, and to their focus on helping teachers at all levels of effectiveness improve their instruction. Despite this evidence, a recent report by the George W. Bush Institute finds most states aren’t using data or their authority to help improve the quality of principals in our schools.
In his upcoming State of the Union address, President Obama must tell America what he plans to do to make educational equity a higher national priority. He can start by explaining what his administration plans to do about the skyrocketing costs of college. Tuition and fees have risen 538 percent since the early ’80s, more than three times the median family income, which means higher education is quickly becoming out of reach for many low-income and working class families. No hard-working student of modest means should be shut out of college because of costs, nor should they have to saddle themselves with crippling debt just to go to college. Add your voice to the I AM NOT A LOAN campaign today, and tell the president to make college affordability and ending the student-debt crisis a priority.
In the past week, a bipartisan group of eight Senators and President Obama each released a separate plan for comprehensive immigration reform. The two plans are very similar, and each includes provisions that would provide DREAMers a pathway to citizenship.
New research by the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University shows a link between suspensions in Florida and students’ failure to complete high school and enroll in college. The study finds more than a quarter of Florida’s high school students are suspended during their freshman year, with rates substantially higher for black and low-income students. But the authors of “Sent Home and Put Off-Track” stress that reducing the number of suspensions, without broadly considering other efforts to re-engage students in school, is only part of the solution to getting more high school students on the path to graduation and college.
In response to last month’s tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn., President Obama called for congressional and executive action to reduce gun violence across the country. In mid-January, he released “Now Is the Time,” a gun safety plan that, among other measures, provides funding to increase school safety, to support the development of school emergency plans, and to encourage the improvement of school climates.
Recently, the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center and Education Week released Quality Counts 2013, an annual look at state policies and indicators related to student success. Released in conjunction with the Civil Rights Project’s conference on disparities in school discipline, this year’s Quality Counts report contains a special focus on school safety, climate, and discipline. The results suggest that teachers, especially in high-poverty schools, are struggling with issues of climate and safety. When it comes to these issues, school leaders have a crucial role to play in creating a positive school environment and in supporting teachers.
The success of any school starts and ends with strong leadership. From managing the building to teaching teachers to improving student achievement, the level of leadership provided by the principal defines a school’s learning environment. Our new, four-part webinar series, made possible through the generous support of The Wallace Foundation, will explore the paramount role quality principal leadership plays in driving school improvement.
Congress rang in the new year by passing a bill establishing new tax rates for the wealthiest Americans and preserving current rates, deductions, and credits for most working families. President Obama signed the bill into law on Jan. 2, but the deal only postpones sequestration for two months, a deadline by which lawmakers must make major decisions on spending cuts and entitlement reform. The deal did nothing to take drastic cuts in education — or other critical services for low-income families and those of moderate means — off the table. Nor did it do anything to raise the debt ceiling.
As 2012 and the 112th Congress drew to a close, we thought it appropriate to reflect on the education related work Congress, the White House, and the Department of Education undertook during the last two years.