Throughout the protracted struggle to raise the federal debt ceiling, education advocates focused their efforts on preventing federal cuts to education. While that attention was not misplaced, the precarious condition of most state finances means policymakers at all levels of government are making hard choices about which programs to cut, which to protect, and how best to share the responsibility for getting their finances in order. If programs designed to close the educational achievement gap are to be spared, equity advocates will need to work together to make their voices heard.
A new report, “The College Payoff,” soundly trounces the notion that a college degree doesn’t matter. Released by Anthony Carnevale, Ph.D., of the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, the report clearly links the level of educational attainment with higher income potential. In fact, the average holder of a bachelor’s degree earns about $1 million more in a lifetime than does someone with only a high school diploma.
With school already starting in some districts, and no reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act in sight, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced on Monday that the Education Department will grant states waivers from some provisions of current ESEA law.
Though long overdue, ESEA reauthorization remains the strongest option for changing the law. The waiver strategy can be a next-best choice — provided that it supports attempts by reform-minded states to adopt new, higher standards and more rigorous assessments; set aggressive but achievable goals for raising achievement and closing gaps; and turn around their lowest performing schools. It must not let states off the hook for closing achievement gaps and improving education for all students.
Education reform advocates looking for an inspiring summer/fall read should pick up a copy of Diploma Matters: A Field Guide for College and Career Readiness. In the new book, author Linda Murray, Ph.D., shows how educational leaders from the district level on down can create schools that prepare all students for college and career. Murray is superintendent-in-residence at The Education Trust–West.
On Aug. 2, 2011, the debt-ceiling negotiations impasse ended with President Obama signing into law the Budget Control Act of 2011. The law authorizes three incremental increases to our nation’s debt ceiling through 2012, in exchange for reducing the nation’s deficit by $2.5 trillion over 10 years. While the measure addressed a shortfall in the Pell Grant program, Pell and other education programs will likely still face cuts.
Even as the national discourse largely centered on the country’s debt woes in recent weeks, the drumbeat for immigration reform continued to pulse. Last month, California became the latest of 11 states that have enacted their own version of the federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, more commonly known as the DREAM Act.
One of the jobs of parenting is to ensure that children learn the importance of practice. That is, practicing the basic skills necessary to master subjects like arithmetic and reading, and also practicing habits like persistence and punctuality. Writing about this reminds me of a retired elementary school teacher I know named María, who worked for 30 years in a rural elementary school where more than 80 percent of the children came from households below the poverty level.
Many observers bemoan the state of American education, especially its disservice to low-income students and students of color, but few do anything about it. Jeff Howard, the founder and president of The Efficacy Institute, is an exception. Howard will offer the keynote address at one of the plenary sessions during The Education Trust’s 2011 National Conference, set for Nov. 3-5 in Arlington, Va.