Category Archives: Education

In at Least 22 States, Your Student Debt Could Cost You Your Job

Source: Chris Hicks, Jobs With Justice, February 9, 2015

….In at least 22 states, the government will revoke your professional license if you are unable to pay off your student loan debt. These state laws target a wide range of professions, including attorneys, physicians and therapists – even barbers make the list. But two professions show up over and over again: nurses and teachers. Both professions serve a critical role in our communities and are often wildly underpaid. Are we really in a position to be punishing the people we need the most? In Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington, nurses and health-care professionals can all be locked out from their job if they fall into default on their student loans. In Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee, laws prevent K–12 teachers from working until they begin to repay their student loans…..

Report on the University of California, Berkeley, Salary Equity Study

Source: Office of the Vice Provost for the Faculty, January 2015

This report focuses on the salaries of ladder faculty at Berkeley, with particular attention to equity by gender and ethnicity. A joint Senate-Administration steering committee has overseen both the preparation of this report and the design of the underlying study….Although the study cannot identify the causes for the salary differences it identifies, the steering committee believes that the study’s findings, together with the interpretative discussion in this report, provide a solid basis for making a number of recommendations. Some recommendations concern additional studies that the campus should conduct in the future, including annual updates of this study. Others stress the need for enhanced attention to issues of climate, work/life balance, and the fair distribution of opportunities and responsibilities. The steering committee also recommends programs of salary review and salary increases that, while open to all faculty members, would provide the campus with additional opportunities to meet its broadest equity ideals….
Follow the Money
Source: Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, February 6, 2015

Lots of colleges and universities acknowledge troublesome — if relatively small — gaps in pay among men and women professors, and among white and minority professors. But it’s a hard thing to study and address, given the many variables and competing theories involved. So a new, comprehensive study of tenure-line faculty salaries at the University of California at Berkeley — along with an administrative pledge to close revealed gaps — is getting a lot of attention…. Berkeley ran the data using two models, due to long-standing debate about which is most appropriate: one controlling for experience, field and rank, and the second controlling for just experience and field. Both models show that women earn less than their comparable colleagues who are white men, university-wide: 1.8 percent less, controlling for rank, and 4.3 percent less, not controlling for rank. There’s a smaller gap for ethnic minorities, compared to white men. For Asians, it’s about 1.8 percent in both models. For underrepresented minorities, it’s 1-1.2 percent, depending on the model. Digging deeper into the data reveals some gaps that are larger for certain groups in certain disciplines. Without any controls, the gap for women is about 15.8 percent. For Asians, it’s 10.8 percent and for underrepresented minorities, it’s 12.1 percent…..

On the Contrary – Affirmative Action

Source: New Labor Forum, Vol. 24 no. 1, January 2015

Why Labor Should Support Class-Based Affirmative Action
Richard D. Kahlenberg

In the press, debates over affirmative action in higher education pit liberals (who support taking race into account in admissions) and conservatives (who oppose it). But there is a third way on the issue—affirmative action based on class, rather than race—which is far more progressive than our current system of racial preferences. As the U.S. Supreme Court curtails the ability of universities to count skin color in admissions, the class-based approach is quickly gaining ground. This is a development that organized labor ought to cheer. ….

Race Still Matters: The Continued Need for Race-Conscious Admissions Policies
Julie J. Park

…. Some who oppose race-conscious affirmative action heartily agree that this country still suffers from the cumulative effects of discrimination and that universities benefit from diversity. In spite of this, they do not see the need for continued race-conscious policies, arguing that we can achieve racial diversity without such measures. However, we still need policies that consider race as one of many factors in the admissions process, or at minimum, the option to use them when needed. Thus, my focus in this piece is on why we specifically need the flexibility to consider race as one of numerous factors in the admissions process (alongside class and other relevant attributes) and less on the broad legal rationale for affirmative action (historic discrimination or the diversity defense). These reasons include the need to use race-conscious policies when race-neutral policies do not result in sufficient diversity, the need for diversity throughout a college campus, and the need for relative equal status among students. ….

Richard D. Kahlenberg Responds

Julie Park makes the argument that because race still matters in American society, racial preferences should continue to be employed by selective colleges and universities. Moreover, she shows particular concern about the plight of middle-class and more advantaged minority students who she worries will not benefit from class-based affirmative action. I disagree with both strands of her analysis. ….

Julie J. Park Responds

In his piece, Richard D. Kahlenberg does a masterful job of demonstrating the emotional pull behind class-based affirmative action. Why wouldn’t anyone want to give low-income and working-class kids a leg up in the admissions race? I am in complete agreement with the need for class-based preferences in admissions. Still, I maintain my original position that universities need the additional option to consider race in combination with class and numerous other factors when they consider a candidate for admissions. ….

Training the Personal and Home Care Aide Workforce – Challenges and Solutions

Source: Clare Luz, Katherine Hanson, Home Health Care Management & Practice, Published online before print January 1, 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Personal care aides (PCAs) are critical to meeting the need for low-cost, high-quality care for frail older adults at home. Developing this workforce entails not only increasing its size but also ensuring that PCAs possess the skills necessary to deliver competent, safe, and respectful care. Yet, no federal PCA competencies or training requirements exist, and state requirements vary widely. In 2010, a 77-hour PCA model training program was developed as part of a national demonstration. However, a key finding of this study was that many enrollees faced serious socio-economic challenges that prevented them from graduating. This report details findings from a survey sent to all non-completers to ascertain reasons for attrition and improve program success. It offers recommendations for future program planners.

Americans overestimate social class mobility

Source: Michael W. Kraus, Jacinth J.X. Tan, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 58, May 2015

From the abstract:
In this research we examine estimates of American social class mobility—the ability to move up or down in education and income status. Across studies, overestimates of class mobility were large and particularly likely among younger participants and those higher in subjective social class—both measured (Studies 1–3) and manipulated (Study 4). Class mobility overestimates were independent of general estimation errors (Study 3) and persisted after accounting for knowledge of class mobility assessed in terms of educational attainment and self-ratings. Experiments revealed that mobility overestimates were shaped by exposure to information about the genetic determinants of social class—a faux science article suggesting genetic constraints to economic advancement increased accuracy in class mobility estimates (Study 2)—and motivated by needs to protect the self—heightening the self-relevance of class mobility increased overestimates (Study 3). Discussion focused on both the costs and benefits of overestimates of class mobility for individuals and society.

• Americans overestimate the levels of actual class mobility in society.
• Mobility overestimates are larger for younger and higher subjective class people.
• Information and motivation contribute to mobility beliefs.

The Role and Impact of Nurses in American Elementary Schools: A Systematic Review of the Research

Source: Michelle J. Lineberry, Melinda J. Ickes, Journal of School Nursing, Vol. 31 no. 1, February 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
School nurses are tasked with the critical job of keeping students safe and well. Due to competing demands for resources in schools, the impact of school nurses must be demonstrated to secure their jobs. A systematic review of the literature from 1937 to 2013 was conducted to show the efficacy of school nursing activities in American elementary schools. While some studies of immunization compliance, attendance rates, body mass index screening, vision screening, and follow-up are promising, results are mixed and additional evidence is needed. The impact of school nurses on educational and health outcomes must continue to be evaluated and more rigorous evaluation methods should be explored. Suggestions for future research and collaborations are discussed.

The Effects of School Spending on Educational and Economic Outcomes: Evidence from School Finance Reforms

Source: C. Kirabo Jackson, Rucker Johnson, Claudia Persico, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. w20847, January 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Since Coleman (1966), many have questioned whether school spending affects student outcomes. The school finance reforms that began in the early 1970s and accelerated in the 1980s caused some of the most dramatic changes in the structure of K–12 education spending in US history. To study the effect of these school-finance-reform-induced changes in school spending on long-run adult outcomes, we link school spending and school finance reform data to detailed, nationally-representative data on children born between 1955 and 1985 and followed through 2011. We use the timing of the passage of court-mandated reforms, and their associated type of funding formula change, as an exogenous shifter of school spending and we compare the adult outcomes of cohorts that were differentially exposed to school finance reforms, depending on place and year of birth. Event-study and instrumental variable models reveal that a 10 percent increase in per-pupil spending each year for all twelve years of public school leads to 0.27 more completed years of education, 7.25 percent higher wages, and a 3.67 percentage-point reduction in the annual incidence of adult poverty; effects are much more pronounced for children from low-income families. Exogenous spending increases were associated with sizable improvements in measured school quality, including reductions in student-to-teacher ratios, increases in teacher salaries, and longer school years.

The Returns to the Federal Tax Credits for Higher Education

Source: George Bulman, Caroline M. Hoxby, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. w20833, January 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Three tax credits benefit households who pay tuition and fees for higher education. The credits have been justified as an investment: generating more educated people and thus more earnings and externalities associated with education. The credits have also been justified purely as tax cuts to benefit the middle class. In 2009, the generosity of and eligibility for the tax credits expanded enormously so that their 2011 cost was $25 billion. Using selected, de-identified data from the population of potential filers, we show how the credits are distributed across households with different incomes. We estimate the causal effects of the federal tax credits using two empirical strategies (regression kink and simulated instruments) which we show to be strong and very credibly valid for this application. The latter strategy exploits the massive expansion of the credits in 2009. We present causal estimates of the credits’ effects on postsecondary attendance, the type of college attended, the resources experienced in college, tuition paid, and financial aid received. We discuss the implications of our findings for society’s return on investment and for the tax credits’ budget neutrality over the long term (whether higher lifetime earnings generate sufficient taxes to recoup the tax expenditures). We assess several explanations why the credits appear to have negligible causal effects.

Why School Report Cards Merit a Failing Grade

Source: Kenneth R. Howe, Kevin Murray, National Education Policy Center, January 26, 2015

Sixteen states have adopted school report card accountability systems that assign A-F letter grades to schools. Other states are now engaged in deliberation about whether they, too, should adopt such systems. This brief examines A-F accountability systems with respect to three kinds of validity. First, it examines whether or not they are valid as a measure. That is, do these systems validly measure school quality? Second, it examines whether or not they are valid as a policy instrument. That is, how far do A-F accountability systems fulfill the stated aims of their proponents—empowering parents, providing “simple” and “common sense” measures of educational quality, and so on? Finally, it examines whether or not A-F systems are valid as a democratic framework. That is, how well do these systems align with the broader goals of educating students for democratic citizenship and of incorporating parents and community members in democratic deliberation about policies for their public schools? The brief concludes that A-F accountability systems are invalid along each of these lines, and provides recommendations for democratically developing and implementing criteria for school assessment.
Press Release

Starting Early, Starting Now: Investing in Teachers to Grow Child Care Quality

Source: Peggy Haack, with Erin Gernetzke and Caroline Oldershaw, Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, 2014

From the summary:
Starting Early, Starting Now: Investing in Teachers to Grow Child Care Quality explores an unresolved problem facing Wisconsin and our nation: How do we set young children on a positive life trajectory through quality early education while paying near poverty-level wages to those professionals who care for and teach them?