Category Archives: Education

Food Fight: Small team of state examiners no match for schools that divert student meal funds

Source: Jim Sweeney, California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes, February 6, 2013

Squeezed by years of unrelenting budget cuts, some California school districts are illegally dipping into student meal funds, misappropriating millions of dollars intended to feed California’s poorest children.

In recent years, in cases that seldom receive any public attention, the California
Department of Education (CDE) has ordered eight districts to repay nearly $170 million to student meal programs. Perhaps more troubling, department officials candidly acknowledge they have no idea how big the problem may be and fear they may have uncovered only a hint of the ongoing abuse, an investigation by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes has found.

The uncertainty reflects a challenged oversight system designed by the federal government, but carried out by a small, overmatched team of state examiners who are mostly nutritionists and dietitians, not accountants. Nutritional standards are their top priority and the system is set up to be collaborative, with prearranged inspections of cafeterias and food service operations. Perhaps as a result, most of the recent investigations have been triggered by whistleblowers.

…Cost-saving shortcuts included serving processed rather than fresh foods, short lunch periods, rundown cafeterias and insufficient staff to properly plan and manage an optimum food service operations…

Comprehensive Survey of College and University Benefits Programs 2012

Source: College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR), 2012

From the press release:
The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) recently released the findings of its 2012 Comprehensive Survey of College and University Benefits Programs. For the 354 institutions completing this year’s survey, the median total premium costs for the three most common plan types (PPO, HMO and POS) increased 6.7% for employee-only coverage and 6.0% for employee + family coverage; comparable increases last year were 7.3% for both types of coverage. Median annual plan premiums increased to $6,396 for employee-only coverage and to $16,840 for employee + family coverage. The percentage increases in costs are less this year than in the preceding two years.

In other healthcare-related findings, the percentage of responding institutions offering healthcare benefits for same sex partners increased for the eighth straight year, rising to 57% (for opposite sex domestic partners, the percentage remained about the same at 42%); a majority of responding institutions continue to provide healthcare benefits for retirees under the age of 65 and slightly less than half do so for those 65 and over; more than 70% of responding institutions have a wellness program; consumer-driven health plans are offered by 34% of this year’s respondents (up from just 11% in 2007); and most responding institutions offer voluntary benefits that have no direct cost to the institution. Only about a third of responding institutions have developed a strategy for what their healthcare benefits should be in three years.

Some non-healthcare-related findings: almost all responding institutions provide basic life insurance, long-term disability, paid time off, tuition assistance and retirement benefits; about a quarter of responding institutions provide child daycare, but most do not subsidize the costs (even fewer provide sick-child daycare); the median number of paid holiday days each year is 12 as is the median number of sick days (only a small percentage of respondents have a formal PTO plan combining vacation/sick leave and other benefits, and the median number of vacation days varies by employee category)…
See also:
Fact Sheet
Responding Institutions – Healthcare Portion of Survey
Responding Institutions – Non-Healthcare Portion of Survey
Professionals in Higher Education Salary Survey

U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2012 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change* in Endowment Market Value from FY 2011 to FY 2012

Source: National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute, Revised February 4, 2013

Before reviewing the data on the following pages, please note:
The percentage change values listed for the participating institutions DO NOT represent the rate of return for the endowments’ investments. Rather, the percentage change in the market value of an endowment from FY 2011 to FY 2012 reflects the net impact of:
1) withdrawals to fund institutional operations and capital expenses;
2) the payment of endowment management and investment fees;
3) additions from donor gifts and other contributions; and
4) investment gains or losses.

The market values also include the estimated valuations of real estate and other “illiquid” assets, which may have large increases or decreases in value during a relatively short period of time. In addition, transfers to the endowment from other institutional budget accounts may account for the differences in growth in endowment assets.

These factors suggest that any large increases or decreases in endowments over the past year may be exaggerated. As such, large percentage changes should be interpreted very cautiously.
See also:
Public NCSE Tables

Harvard Library Workers Resist Top-Down Restructuring and Austerity

Source: James Cersonsky, Labor Notes, February 12, 2013

With an endowment of $32 billion, Harvard is the wealthiest university in the world. Upon rebounding from the recession, the university is remodeling all its dorms, expanding its online course program, and constructing a new science center. Its library workers, meanwhile, have gotten the short end of the stick.

Workers beat back threatened mass layoffs last spring, but are now enduring the consolidation of their work in a new “shared services” model that translates into bigger workloads and fragmented work relationships. Now, along with the rest of Harvard’s clerical and technical employees, library workers are mobilizing for a fair—and long-overdue—contract….

Projections of Education Statistics to 2021

Source: William J Hussar, Tabitha M. Bailey, National Center for Education Statistics, NCES 2013008, January 2013

From the abstract:
This publication provides projections for key education statistics. It includes statistics on enrollment, graduates, teachers, and expenditures in elementary and secondary schools, and enrollment and earned degrees conferred expenditures of degree-granting institutions. For the Nation, the tables, figures, and text contain data on enrollment, teachers, graduates, and expenditures for the past 14 years and projections to the year 2021. For the 50 States and the District of Columbia, the tables, figures, and text contain data on projections of public elementary and secondary enrollment and public high school graduates to the year 2021. In addition, the report includes a methodology section describing models and assumptions used to develop national and state-level projections.

A Bleak Outlook for Higher Education in the Northeast

Source: Jason E. Lane, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, Observations, February 2013

A series of recent reports suggest a bleak outlook for higher education. Moody’s had downgraded its outlook for the entire higher education sector to negative. Other recent reports show declining state appropriations, erratic returns generated by university endowments, and that the Northeast will be losing significant numbers of high school students in the coming decades.

In this new observation piece, Jason Lane, Rockefeller Institute’s director of education studies, examines the data and argues that this new environment might lead to more closures and consolidations of institutions in the Northeast if they are not prepared to adapt to this new environment.
Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates
Source: Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, Print publication number: 2A366, December 2012

Announcement: Moody’s: 2013 outlook for entire US Higher Education sector changed to negative
Source: Moody’s Investors Service, Global Credit Research, January 16, 2013

In a Volatile Economy, Colleges’ Endowment Returns Fall Flat
Source: Don Troop, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 1, 2013

Education Ranking Systems Are Based on Varying Measures of Success

Source: Laura Bornfreund, New America Foundation, Early Ed Watch blog, January 28, 2013

Three organizations recently released new education rankings of states. Education Week’s Quality Counts is a comprehensive analysis of states’ education policies and student outcomes, conducted by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center. New this year is a ranking report from StudentsFirst, under the leadership of former DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, which looks at how “reform-minded” states are, as defined by policies such as expanding the charter school sector and tying teacher and principal evaluation to student performance. The National Council on Teacher Quality’s State Teacher Policy Yearbook hones in on teacher preparation systems. An older, fourth report – the Foundation for Child Development’s Child Well-Being Index – puts all three new rankings in perspective, by taking a deep dive into a variety of factors that affect student learning, both within and outside of the classroom. …

School Enrollment and Work Status: 2011

Source: Jessica Davis, U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey Briefs, ACSBR/11-14, October 2012

This brief presents data on school enrollment and student work status for the nation based on the 2011
American Community Survey (ACS). It takes a look at the proportion of students who worked and how much they worked over the previous year. Work status questions in the ACS are asked of persons aged 16 and over, so in addition to college students, high school students are included in this analysis….

Findings include:
– In 2011, there were 11.1 million students aged 16 and over in high school and the majority of them did not work (71 percent). Another 28 percent of high school students aged 16 and over worked less than full-time, year-round, while 1 percent of them were full-time, year-round workers.
– In 2011, of the 19.7 million students aged 16 and over enrolled in undergraduate college, 72 percent worked (20 percent full-time, year-round workers and 52 percent less than that).
– In 2011, there were 4.1 million graduate students and 82 percent of them worked (Appendix Table 1-A). Almost half of graduate students were full-time, year-round workers.