Category Archives: Education

California Grad Employee Contract Shows Reform Works

Source: Katy Fox-Hodess, Labor Notes, June 24, 2014

This week 13,000 teaching assistants, readers, and tutors at the University of California ratified a new four-year contract.

We made big gains on both bread-and-butter and social justice issues, with a 17 percent wage increase over four years, new language on class size, longer paid parental leaves, a larger child care subsidy with expanded coverage, a new committee to equalize opportunities for undocumented students, and a mandate to create lactation stations and all-gender bathrooms. (See box.)

It’s a good moment to look back on how we got here. This is the first contract since our reform caucus, Academic Workers for a Democratic Union, took the helm of our union, UAW Local 2865, in the spring of 2011….

Student Loan Debt in Bankruptcy: An Empirical Assessment

Source: Daniel A. Austin, Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 188-2014, May 27, 2014

From the abstract:
Education loan debt in the U.S. recently reached $1.2 trillion. Thirty-nine million Americans — nearly 20% of U.S. households — owe student loans, and student loans are by far the fastest growing component of non-housing consumer debt. For example, in fourth quarter 2013, U.S. households incurred $82 billion in debt (exclusive of housing debt), a 3.3% increase from the previous quarter. Of this amount, $53 billion (65%) was student loan debt. In contrast, auto loans and credit card debt accounted for only $29 billion.

Student loan debt is also a rapidly increasing element in consumer bankruptcy. This study examines the growth of student loan debt in consumer bankruptcy cases filed each year from 2005 to 2013. In this study I obtain data from 500 randomly-selected cases per year to calculate values such as annual percentage of filers with student loan debt, average annual amount of student loan debt, and student loan debt as a percentage of debtor income and percentage of total unsecured debt. Among the findings of this study, the percentage of debtors with student loan debt increased from 15.7% in 2005 to 22.3% in 2013, while the average student loan debt load for such debtors more than doubled from $15,350 to $32,096 during the same period. As these and other numbers reported in this study show, student loan debt is a rapidly increasing component of consumer bankruptcy.

Library Workers: Facts & Figures

Source: Department for Professional Employees – AFL-CIO, Fact Sheet, 2014

Libraries and library staff provide essential services for schools, universities, and communities. Americans use libraries for free, reliable, and organized access to books, the Internet, and other sources of information and entertainment; assistance finding work; research and reference assistance; and programs for children, immigrants, and other groups with specific needs, just to name a few.

This fact sheet explores: library staff in the workforce, diversity within the professions, educational attainment of library workers, the role of women in the professions, issues of pay and pay equity, and the union difference for library staff.

Young Adults, Student Debt and Economic Well-Being

Source: Richard Fry, Pew Research Center, May 14, 2014

From the summary:
Student debt burdens are weighing on the economic fortunes of younger Americans, as households headed by young adults owing student debt lag far behind their peers in terms of wealth accumulation, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. About four-in-ten U.S. households (37%) headed by an adult younger than 40 currently have some student debt—the highest share on record, with the median outstanding student debt load standing at about $13,ooo.

An analysis of the most recent Survey of Consumer Finances finds that households headed by a young, college-educated adult without any student debt obligations have about seven times the typical net worth ($64,700) of households headed by a young, college-educated adult with student debt ($8,700). And the wealth gap is also large for households headed by young adults without a bachelor’s degree: Those with no student debt have accumulated roughly nine times as much wealth as debtor households ($10,900 vs. $1,200). This is true despite the fact that debtors and non-debtors have nearly identical household incomes in each group.

While these stark differences in wealth accumulation are accounted for in part by outstanding student debt, that’s only part of the story. Since the typical young student debtor household has about $13,000 in outstanding student loan obligations and the overall wealth gap is much larger, clearly other factors are also at work. Specifically, student debtor households are accumulating less wealth, in part, because they tend to owe relatively large amounts of other debt as well, from car loans to credit card debt. Among the young and college educated, the typical total indebtedness (including mortgage debt, vehicle debt and credit cards, as well as student debt) of student debtor households ($137,010) is almost twice the overall debt load of similar households with no student debt ($73,250). Among less-educated households, the total debt load of student debtors ($28,300) is more than ten times that of similar households not owing student debt ($2,500)….

The Condition of Education 2014

Source: Grace Kena, Susan Aud, Frank Johnson, Xiaolei Wang, Jijun Zhang, Amy Rathbun, Sidney Flicker-Wilkinson, Paul Kristapovich, Liz Notter, Virginia Rosario, National Center for Education Statistics, NCES 2014083, May 2014

The Condition of Education 2014 summarizes important developments and trends in education using the latest available data. The report presents 42 indicators on the status and condition of education. The indicators represent a consensus of professional judgment on the most significant national measures of the condition and progress of education for which accurate data are available. These indicators focus on population characteristics, participation in education, elementary and secondary education, and postsecondary education.

This year’s Condition shows that about 90 percent of young adults ages 25 to 29 had a high school diploma or its equivalent in 2013, and that 34 percent had a bachelor’s or higher degree. As in previous years, in 2012, median earnings were higher for those with higher levels of education—for example, 25- to 34-year-olds with a bachelor’s degree earned more than twice as much as high school dropouts. Also, the unemployment rate was lower for bachelor’s degree holders in this age range than for their peers with lower levels of education…..
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The Declining Fortunes of the Young since 2000

Source: Paul Beaudry, David A. Green, and Benjamin M. Sand, American Economic Review, Vol. 104 No. 5, May 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We document that successive cohorts of college and post-college degree graduates experienced an increase in the probability of obtaining cognitive jobs both at the start of their careers and with time in the labor market in the 1990s. However, this pattern reversed for cohorts entering after 2000; profiles of the proportion of a cohort in cognitive occupations since school completion fall and become flatter with successive cohorts. Since cohort-wage profiles display a similar pattern, these findings appear to fit with a strong increase in demand for cognitive tasks in the 1990s followed by a decline in the 2000s.

Pay for Play

Source: Elaine McArdle, Harvard Law Bulletin, May 15, 2014

Suddenly, the N.C.A.A. is forced to play defense in more than one court.

What do you call it when an organization makes more than a billion dollars in a single month using unpaid labor? Some call it exploitation; others, opportunity—but most of the nation calls it March Madness….But now a series of major legal efforts—including a number of lawsuits and an effort to unionize college players—may forever change the face of college sports. ….The week that March Madness began this year, high-profile sports attorney Jeffrey Kessler filed a federal lawsuit against the N.C.A.A. and the five largest college conferences on behalf of a group of college football and basketball players, claiming that capping their compensation at the value of a scholarship violates antitrust laws. In essence, the suit seeks to allow student-athletes to be paid. Another suit had been filed just a few weeks earlier by a former college football player, seeking full compensation for the cost of attending college, since athletic scholarships don’t cover all expenses….Then, in late March, in a seismic decision, a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled that football players at Northwestern University are employees with the right to unionize….Unlike professional football and basketball players, college players receive no compensation, medical care or pension if they are injured. Getting hurt can mean getting tossed. …

The Effect of Child Health Insurance Access on Schooling: Evidence from Public Insurance Expansions

Source: Sarah Cohodes, Samuel A. Kleiner, Michael Lovenheim, Dan Grossman, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. w20178, May 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Public health insurance programs comprise a large share of federal and state government expenditure, and these programs are due to be expanded as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Despite a large literature on the effects of these programs on health care utilization and health outcomes, little prior work has examined the long-term effects of these programs and resultant health improvements on important outcomes, such as educational attainment. We contribute to filling this gap in the literature by examining the effects of the public insurance expansions among children in the 1980s and 1990s on their future educational attainment. Our findings indicate that expanding health insurance coverage for low-income children has large effects on high school completion, college attendance and college completion. These estimates are robust to only using federal Medicaid expansions, and they are mostly due to expansions that occur when the children are older (i.e., not newborns). We present suggestive evidence that better health is one of the mechanisms driving our results by showing that Medicaid eligibility when young translated into better teen health. Overall, our results indicate that the long-run benefits of public health insurance are substantial.

Borrowing for College: A Comparison of Long‐Term Debt Financing between Public and Private, Nonprofit Institutions of Higher Education

Source: Dwight V. Denison, Jacob Fowles, Michael Moody, Public Budgeting & Finance, Vol. 34, Issue 2, Summer 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Institutions of higher education provide an excellent opportunity to compare long‐term debt financing in the nonprofit and public sectors. The proposed models explain the long‐term debt per student at public and private‐nonprofit research universities. Student enrollment, enrollment growth, total assets, and revenue variables as a group all influence debt levels. The strongest predictors of debt balances are the fixed characteristics of the universities themselves. Empirical evidence from the university sector also suggests the absence of a powerful arbitrage incentive to issue debt.