Education Trust News

Science NOT Optional

Republican Flexibility Bill Robs Students

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline has introduced his third in a series of five bills intended as part of the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) reauthorization package. The latest bill opens the door to raids on resources intended for — and desperately needed by — some of our nation’s most vulnerable students.

If enacted, The State and Local Funding Flexibility Act could undermine the efforts of educators to boost the achievement of fragile students. It also would upend the traditional and critical role the federal government plays of providing extra funds to support the education of low-income students, English-language learners, migrants, and neglected children.

Walking the Walk on Student Retention

Colleges and universities that are serious about student retention know it isn’t enough to proclaim a commitment to it and then appoint someone to collect and analyze data.  Generating meaningful and sustainable retention results also requires committing the financial and personnel resources necessary to address the problems that the data identify.

A new report from the College Board characterizes the retention efforts of most higher education institutions as "modest" at best. 

Superintendent Fights Cheating in Baltimore

When faced with evidence that cheating took place at two of his district’s schools on last year’s standardized tests, Andrés Alonso, chief executive officer of Baltimore City Public Schools, placed responsibility where it belongs — on the adults.

STEM Inequities Persist in High School, New Tool Illuminates Trouble Spots

New data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ High School Longitudinal Study paint an alarming picture of opportunity squandered by our nation’s high schools. The NCES data show that 18 percent of all ninth-graders reported taking no science courses in 2009. 

The numbers are even worse for low-income students and students of color: 25 percent of African-American, 22 percent of Latino, and 27 percent of low socio-economic status students took no science their freshman year. In math, the numbers are equally disturbing, with almost 1 in 5 low-SES ninth-graders taking no math at all.

A new tool from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights illuminates key information about course taking in high school, and can help advance efforts to get students the rigorous math and science courses they so desperately need. 

Cuts to Summer Pell Hurt, but More Cuts Would Kill

As policymakers in Washington wrangle over ways to cut the national deficit, students around the country are holding their breath. They’re hoping Congress won’t balance the budget in ways that upend their college plans. For the nearly 10 million Pell Grant recipients like Karima Williams, cuts to that program would be a fatal blow to their plans to graduate next spring. 

Pell Cuts Could Worsen Workforce Woes

A new study from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, “The Undereducated American,” shows how the shortage of college-educated young people could devastate our economy over the next 15 years.  Report authors Anthony P. Carnevale and Stephen J. Rose argue that our nation’s workforce will become less competitive and that the income-inequality gap will widen, unless we can increase the number of Americans who have completed education beyond high school. 

Yet, in a twist of irony, GOP leaders in Congress seem poised to slash the Pell Grant program, one of our nation’s best hopes for growing a college-educated workforce. Pell works to prepare Americans for current and future jobs, and to boost the economy.  It gives working-class students a foot in the door of postsecondary education that can help them earn their way into the middle class.

Pell Not to Blame for Tuition Hikes

Pell Grants, which for more than 30 years have opened college doors to millions of students as they’ve worked their way into the middle class, are on the chopping block. 

To justify the unjustifiable, GOP leaders are blaming this vital financial-aid program for soaring college tuition. These are trumped-up charges, to say the least. Rep. Paul Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee, claims the draconian cuts he’s urged — which would slash Pell’s maximum award from $5,550 to about $3,040 — would slow rising tuition costs. Yet the evidence he cites for this myth has been consistently refuted by experts.

Here’s the truth about Pell: Even after recent increases, Pell Grants cover only about one-third of the average cost of attending a public four-year college. In the 1980s, Pell covered more than half the cost. Since then, rather than driving college costs upwards, Pell Grants haven’t even kept pace with the bank-breaking growth in college costs. 

Many Undergraduates Juggle Jobs with Studies

The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) recently published a new profile of the American college student. The profile makes clear that many students are working while in school. The CLASP profile shows 45 percent of undergraduates are employed part time. Among young community college students, 63 percent said they would not be able to attend college, if they did not work.

America’s future prosperity depends mightily on our ability to produce more college graduates who are prepared to compete in the global economy.  To achieve that goal, the CLASP profile suggests we’ll need strong financial-aid programs like the Pell Grants to supplement the earnings of these students so that they can meet the skyrocketing cost of college.