Category Archives: Education

‘Flexibility’ Hits University of Wisconsin Custodians

Source: Jason Lee, Labor Notes, August 14, 2014

Glenn Khalar is ex-military, a vet. He’s worked at the University of Wisconsin-Superior for 16 years. He was raised in the area, and brought up his own family there. He loves Superior, and partially credits the university’s program to retrain and hire veterans for getting him his job. But despite his passion, dedication, and modest wage, his job could soon be gone. In May, the campus announced plans to cut half its graduate programs, and sent “at-risk” notices to all 26 custodians and grounds workers—meaning they could be laid off at any time, and their jobs outsourced. The bookstore was outsourced on July 1. Why? It’s the familiar refrain, budget cuts—and jobs like Khalar’s are the first ones to go. In their quest for financial stability in dire times, campus administrators seem to think eliminating his $12 an hour will make all the difference. … But what happens to custodians here isn’t isolated. It’s part of a trend to apply a market-based, private model to public higher education. And the danger is spreading south. The threatened custodians and grounds workers are members of AFSCME. They have held protests and begun an online petition against the layoffs. The AFT local representing faculty and staff is supporting them. …

School Nutrition Trends Survey 2014

Source: School Nutrition Association, August 2014

From the press release:
As students prepare to head back to school, a new survey of school meal program operators finds many are struggling with higher costs, shrinking revenue, and challenges with product availability and student acceptance under new nutrition standards for school meals. During School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) Annual National Conference in Boston last month, attended by school cafeteria professionals nationwide, SNA surveyed director-level attendees to identify school nutrition trends for the upcoming school year. The survey, which netted responses from directors in 240 districts across 46 states, identifies difficulties many school meal programs have encountered since new mandates first took effect in 2012.

Cost-Benefit Study of School Nursing Services

Source: Li Yan Wang, Mary Vernon-Smiley, Mary Ann Gapinski, Marie Desisto, Erin Maughan, Anne Sheetz, JAMA Pediatrics, Vol 168 No. 7, July 2014

From the abstract:
Importance:  In recent years, across the United States, many school districts have cut on-site delivery of health services by eliminating or reducing services provided by qualified school nurses. Providing cost-benefit information will help policy makers and decision makers better understand the value of school nursing services.

Objective:  To conduct a case study of the Massachusetts Essential School Health Services (ESHS) program to demonstrate the cost-benefit of school health services delivered by full-time registered nurses.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  Standard cost-benefit analysis methods were used to estimate the costs and benefits of the ESHS program compared with a scenario involving no school nursing service. Data from the ESHS program report and other published studies were used. A total of 477 163 students in 933 Massachusetts ESHS schools in 78 school districts received school health services during the 2009-2010 school year.

Interventions:  School health services provided by full-time registered nurses.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Costs of nurse staffing and medical supplies incurred by 78 ESHS districts during the 2009-2010 school year were measured as program costs. Program benefits were measured as savings in medical procedure costs, teachers’ productivity loss costs associated with addressing student health issues, and parents’ productivity loss costs associated with student early dismissal and medication administration. Net benefits and benefit-cost ratio were calculated. All costs and benefits were in 2009 US dollars.

Results:  During the 2009-2010 school year, at a cost of $79.0 million, the ESHS program prevented an estimated $20.0 million in medical care costs, $28.1 million in parents’ productivity loss, and $129.1 million in teachers’ productivity loss. As a result, the program generated a net benefit of $98.2 million to society. For every dollar invested in the program, society would gain $2.20. Eighty-nine percent of simulation trials resulted in a net benefit.

Conclusions and Relevance:  The results of this study demonstrated that school nursing services provided in the Massachusetts ESHS schools were a cost-beneficial investment of public money, warranting careful consideration by policy makers and decision makers when resource allocation decisions are made about school nursing positions.

Closing the Race Gap: Alleviating Young African American Unemployment Through Education

Source: Rory O’Sullivan, Konrad Mugglestone, and Tom Allison, Young Invincibles, June 2014

The Great Recession forced a generation of young adults into joblessness, and no group was hit harder than young African Americans. Meager job opportunities exacerbated economic barriers already faced by this community, including persistent racial discrimination. This report shows how higher education can reduce economic disparities by increasing African Americans’ job prospects and earning potential. …

Educational Segregation, Tea Party Organizations, and Battles over Distributive Justice

Source: Rory McVeigh, Kraig Beyerlein, Burrel Vann Jr. American Sociological Review, Vol. 79 no. 4, August 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Competing visions of who is deserving of rewards and privileges, and different understandings of the fairness of reward allocation processes, are at the heart of political conflict. Indeed, social movement scholars generally agree that a key component of most, if not all, social movements is a shared belief that existing conditions are unfair and subject to change. In this article we consider the role that residential segregation by education level plays in shaping perceptions of distributive justice and, in turn, providing a context conducive to conservative political mobilization. We apply these ideas in an analysis of Tea Party activism and show that educational segregation is a strong predictor of the number of Tea Party organizations in U.S. counties. In a complementary analysis, we find that individuals with a bachelor’s degree are more likely than people who do not have any college education to support the Tea Party; this relationship is strongest in counties with higher levels of educational segregation.

2013 State Preschool Yearbook

Source: W. Steven Barnett, Megan E. Carolan, James H. Squires, Kristy Clarke Brown, National Institute for Early Education Research, 2013

From the summary:
The 2013 State Preschool Yearbook is the newest edition of our annual report profiling state-funded prekindergarten programs in the United States. This latest Yearbook presents data on state-funded prekindergarten during the 2012-2013 school year as well as documenting a decade of progress since the first Yearbook collected data on the 2001-2002 school year. Tracking trends long term is key to understanding the progress of early childhood education across the country and improving educational opportunities for America’s children. For the first time, the Yearbook also provides narrative information on early childhood education efforts in the 10 states and the U.S. territories which do not provide state-funded pre-K.

Twenty-eight percent of America’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in a state-funded preschool program in the 2012-2013 school year, the same percentage as the year before. The actual number of children enrolled decreased, including 9,000 fewer 4-year-olds served in these programs. The findings in this Yearbook raise serious concerns on the quality and availability of pre-K education for most of American young learners.

The 2013 Yearbook is organized into three major sections. The first section offers a summary of the data and describes national trends for enrollment in, quality of, and spending on state-funded preschool. The second section presents detailed profiles outlining each state’s policies with respect to preschool access, quality standards, and resources for the 2012-2013 program year. In addition to providing basic program descriptions, these state profiles describe unique features of a state’s program and recent changes that can be expected to alter the future Yearbook information on a program. Profile pages are also included for states without state-funded programs. A description of our methodology follows the state profiles, and the last section of the report contains appendices. The appendices include tables that provide the complete 2012-2013 survey data obtained from every state, as well as Head Start, child care, U.S. Census, and special education data.
Executive Summary
Table of Contents
State Data

Affirmative Action Bans and Black Admission Outcomes: Selection-Corrected Estimates from UC Law Schools

Source: Danny Yagan, National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 20361, July 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The consequences of banning affirmative action depend on schools’ ability and willingness to avoid it. This paper uses rich application-level data to estimate the effect of the 1996 University of California affirmative action ban—the first and largest ban—on black admission advantages at UC law schools. Controlling for selective attrition from applicant pools, I find that the ban reduced the black admission rate from 61% to 31%. This implies that affirmative action ban avoidance is far from complete and suggests that affirmative action at law schools passes the constitutional test of not being easily replaced by non-racial alternatives. I further find that the affirmative action ban far from eliminated cross-sectional black admission advantages, which remained as high as 63 percentage points for applicants at the margin of being accepted or rejected. This suggests that UC schools were technologically able to sustain substantially higher black admission rates after the ban but were either unwilling or legally unable to do so.

Part of the Solution: Pre-Baccalaureate Healthcare Workers in a Time of Health System Change

Source: Martha Ross, Nicole Prchal Svajlenka and Jane R. Williams, Brookings Institution, July 2014

From the summary:
Healthcare occupations account for a large and growing share of the workforce and span the education and earnings continuum. Although many discussions of the healthcare workforce focus on doctors and other occupations requiring advanced degrees, the healthcare system would not function without pre-baccalaureate workers—those with less than a bachelor’s degree. These workers perform a variety of clinical, assistive, and administrative tasks, and like all healthcare staff, should be working at their full level of competence in order to achieve the “triple aim” of improving the experience of care, improving health outcomes, and reducing per capita costs.

While individuals with less than a bachelor’s degree work in multiple healthcare occupations, they are overwhelmingly concentrated in a subset of occupations. This report identifies the 10 largest “pre-baccalaureate” healthcare occupations, those in which substantial shares of workers—ranging from 39 percent to 94 percent—have less than a bachelor’s degree, and focuses on those workers in the 10 occupations, unless otherwise noted. Using labor market and American Community Survey data from 2000 and 2009-2011, our analysis across the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas finds that:
∙ Workers with less than a bachelor’s degree in the 10 largest pre-baccalaureate healthcare occupations total 3.8 million, accounting for nearly half (49 percent) of the total healthcare workforce in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas. …
∙ Educational attainment varies considerably among workers in pre-baccalaureate healthcare occupations, and earnings largely track education. …
∙ Pre-baccalaureate healthcare workers in the 10 largest pre-baccalaureate healthcare occupations are racially and ethnically diverse and overwhelmingly female. …
∙ The number of jobs held by pre-baccalaureate workers in the 10 largest pre-baccalaureate healthcare occupations increased at a faster rate than jobs held by similarly educated workers overall, but the largest growth was among lower-paying pre-baccalaureate healthcare occupations, and only registered nurses experienced real earnings growth between 2000 and 2009-11. …
∙ The size and nature of the pre-baccalaureate healthcare workforce varies by region, reflecting demographics and healthcare industry mix. …∙

Why Easing Education Debt Won’t Necessarily Help the Economy

Source: Beth Akers, Brookings Institution, Brown Center Chalkboard blog, July 24, 2014

Student loan debt has become the scapegoat for nearly all that ails the U.S. economy, from depressed home ownership, to lower rates of entrepreneurship, and even the sluggish recovery from the great recession. The problem with all of this blame is that the accusations are difficult to substantiate. Much of the discussion about the effects of student loan debt focuses on comparing outcomes faced by individuals with student loan debt to those of individuals without student loan debt. The differences in observed outcomes are cited as evidence of an impact of student loan debt. But, there are two reasons why this approach doesn’t tell us what we need to know about the effects of education debt.

First, the population of individuals who take on debt to pay for college is different from the population of individuals who take on little or no education debt. These differences are sometimes observable and sometimes not. This means that outcomes faced by borrowers and non-borrowers are likely to differ for reasons that are unrelated to the debt itself. In order to effectively measure the effect of debt, we would need to be able to control for all of these differences. This presents a methodological challenge because not all of the differences are observable.

Second, the population of borrowers (and non-borrowers) has been changing over time. This means that longitudinal studies comparing borrowers and non-borrowers are difficult to interpret. The changes in behavior, such as home ownership, that occur over time may be due to trends in borrowing, but could also be due to the changing characteristics of the borrowing population. …

Policies to Address Poverty in America

Source: Brookings Institution, Hamilton Project, June 19, 2014

Millions of people live in poverty in this country. They suffer not only material deprivation, but also the hardships and diminished life prospects that come with being poor. Childhood poverty often means growing up without the advantages of a stable home, high-quality schools, or consistent nutrition. Adults in poverty are often hampered by inadequate skills and education, leading to limited wages and job opportunities. And the high costs of housing, healthcare, and other necessities often mean that people must choose between basic needs, sometimes forgoing essentials like meals or medicine. In recognition of these challenges, The Hamilton Project has commissioned fourteen innovative, evidence-based antipoverty proposals. These proposals are authored by a diverse set of leading scholars, each tackling a specific aspect of the poverty crisis.
Proposals include:
Section 1. Promoting Early Childhood Development
Expanding Preschool Access for Disadvantaged Children
Elizabeth U. Cascio and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

Addressing the Parenting Divide to Promote Early Childhood Development for Disadvantaged Children
Ariel Kalil

Reducing Unintended Pregnancies for Low-Income Women

Isabel Sawhill and Joanna Venator

Section 2. Supporting Disadvantaged Youth
Designing Effective Mentoring Programs for Disadvantaged Youth
Phillip B. Levine

Expanding Summer Employment Opportunities for Low-Income Youth
Amy Ellen Schwartz and Jacob Leos-Urbel

Addressing the Academic Barriers to Higher Education

Bridget Terry Long

Section 3. Building Skills
Expanding Apprenticeship Opportunities in the United States
Robert I. Lerman

Improving Employment Outcomes for Disadvantaged Students
Harry J. Holzer

Providing Disadvantaged Workers with Skills to Succeed in the Labor Market
Sheena McConnell, Irma Perez-Johnson, and Jillian Berk

Section 4. Improving Safety Net and Work Support
Supporting Low-Income Workers through Refundable Child-Care Credits
James P. Ziliak

Building on the Success of the Earned Income Tax Credit

Hilary Hoynes

Encouraging Work Sharing to Reduce Unemployment
Katharine G. Abraham and Susan N. Houseman

Designing Thoughtful Minimum Wage Policy at the State and Local Levels
Arindrajit Dube

Smarter, Better, Faster: The Potential for Predictive Analytics and Rapid-Cycle Evaluation to Improve Program Development and Outcomes
Scott Cody and Andrew Asher