Category Archives: Education

Reach Higher, America: Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce

Source: National Commission on Adult Literacy, June 2008

An economy that thrives in the new global environment! A workforce educated for jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage! America flourishing as a secure democracy and world leader! Powerful demographic evidence points to a clear connection between these ideals and the need for adult education and workforce skills services in America–on a scale unprecedented in history. Following two years of study,the National Commission on Adult Literacy calls for a program on the scale of a “domestic Marshall plan” to achieve these goals.

The Commission’s report, Reach Higher, AMERICA: Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce, calls for a dramatically revamped service system with the capacity to effectively serve 20 million adults annually by the year 2020. It also calls for resetting the educational mission of this new system to demonstrated readiness for postsecondary education and job training. The report recommends specific actions to accomplish this with emphasis on groups most in need of service and on system accountability and results. State and federal government, business and labor, philanthropic groups, nonprofit organizations, and the general public all have a vital role in meeting the Commission’s vision for America’s 21st Century workforce.

NY School Spending Well Above Inflation in 2008-09

Source: Empire Center, May 01, 2008

School districts across New York State will increase their per-pupil spending next year by nearly one and a half times the current rate of inflation — despite falling real estate values and clear signs of an economic slowdown — according to an analysis issued today by the Empire Center for New York State Policy.

Understanding How Employees’ Rights to Organize Under the NLRA Have Been Limited: The Case of Brown University

Source: Ellen Dannin, American Constitution Society Issue Brief, August 20, 2008

From the abstract:
The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB’s) 2004 Brown University decision held that graduate student teaching and research assistants were not employees, and therefore, were not protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Deciding whether individuals are employees as defined by the NLRA is critical to labor law, as it determines whether individuals have a protected right to engage in freedom of association, self-organization, collective bargaining, and acts of mutual aid or protection. This article explains and critiques the Brown decision as a departure both from precedent as well as from the central purposes of the NLRA. It also examines how Brown University “foreshadowed other cases in which the Board would ignore precedent and the policies underlying the NLRA.” The piece advises readers about the importance of precision in criticizing such decisions, because “if that criticism is not targeted to the specific wrong, it can do damage.” It further cautions that, while criticizing specific failures to enforce NLRA rights is essential, it is important to not wholly abandon the NLRA as a vehicle for protecting such rights, stating “We must insist that the promise of the NLRA to actively promote freedom of association in order to create equality of bargaining power between employers and employees . . . is kept.”

Hard Times Hit Schools

Source: Michele McNeil, Education Week, August 25, 2008

These hard-to-grasp dollar amounts are forcing real cuts in K-12 education at a time when the cost of fueling buses and providing school lunches is increasing and the demands of the federal No Child Left Behind Act still loom large over states and districts.

But that may be a difficult task in the dozen states–including Alabama, Kentucky, Rhode Island, and Nevada–that have made targeted cuts to certain education programs, according to a June report by the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.

Faculty and Librarian Surveys

Source: Ithaka, 2008

Our 2006 survey of faculty members sought to determine their attitudes related to online resources, electronic archiving, teaching and learning and related subjects. This study affords the opportunity to develop trend analysis of many measurements that we collected in the 2003 and 2000 faculty surveys. As in the past, we have developed a robust set of disciplinary and other demographic analyses that have allowed us to learn more about how best to serve the needs of different types of faculty members. In 2006, for the first time, we are also able to offer extensive comparison with the attitudes and perspectives of academic librarians on the perceived roles of the library and librarian on campuses; the impact of transitioning to electronic material on library practices; the place of digital repositories in the campus information-services landscape; and the future plans of academic libraries. Librarians surveyed include both directors and collection development leaders from a wide variety of 4-year academic institutions across the United States.

We have produced an in-depth white paper which details our findings and provides analysis and recommendations based on these studies. For those who are interested in investigating this data on their own, we have deposited the raw datasets from the faculty and librarian studies with ICPSR

Many U.S. Public Schools In ‘Air Pollution Danger Zone’

Source: Pollution Online, August 19, 2008

One in three U.S. public schools are in the “air pollution danger zone,” according to new research from the University of Cincinnati (UC).

UC researchers have found that more than 30 percent of American public schools are within 400 meters, or a quarter mile, of major highways that consistently serve as main truck and traffic routes.

Research has shown that proximity to major highways–and thus environmental pollutants, such as aerosolizing diesel exhaust particles–can leave school-age children more susceptible to respiratory diseases later in life.

The National School Lunch Program Background, Trends, and Issues

Source: Katherine Ralston, Constance Newman, Annette Clauson, Joanne Guthrie, and Jean Buzby, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service Economic Research Report No. (ERR-61), July 2008

From an overview:
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is the Nation’s second largest food and nutrition assistance program. In 2006, it operated in over 101,000 public and nonprofit private schools and provided over 28 million low-cost or free lunches to children on a typical school day at a Federal cost of $8 billion for the year. This report provides background information on the NSLP, including historical trends and participant characteristics. It also addresses steps being taken to meet challenges facing administrators of the program, including tradeoffs between nutritional quality of foods served, costs, and participation, as well as between program access and program integrity.
See also:

Report Offers Guidance on Evaluating Children in Preschool Programs: Urges Caution in Implementing High-Stakes Assessments

Source: Catherine E. Snow and Susan B. Van Hemel, National Research Council/National Academies Press, 2008

From the press release:
Growing interest in publicly funded programs for young children has drawn attention to whether and how Head Start and other early childhood programs should be asked to prove their worth. Congress asked the National Research Council for guidance on how to identify important outcomes for children from birth to age 5 and how best to assess them in preschools, child care, and other early childhood programs.

The Research Council’s new report concludes that well-planned assessments can inform teaching and efforts to improve programs and can contribute to better outcomes for children, but poor assessments or misuse of the results can harm both children and programs. The report offers principles to guide the design, implementation, and use of assessments in early childhood settings.

Federal agencies, states, school systems, and other organizations that evaluate early childhood programs or the children they serve should make the purpose of any assessment explicit and public in advance, the report says. For example, a state should specify whether an assessment will be used to help teachers gauge the progress of individual children or to help public agencies decide whether to continue a program’s funding.

AASA Survey Finds Rising Fuel, Energy Costs Stressing School Budgets

Source: American Association of School Administrators, 2008

From the press release:
Rising fuel and energy costs are taking a toll on school system budgets nationwide, according to the results of a new survey released today by the American Association of School Administrators. The eight-question AASA Fuel and Energy Snapshot Survey asked school superintendents about the effect of rising fuel and energy costs on their school districts. Ninety-nine percent of respondents reported these rising costs are having an impact on their school systems. Further, they reported that conserving energy, cutting back on student field trips and consolidating bus routes are among the top steps districts are taking to minimize the impact of rising fuel and energy costs. Meanwhile, few states are stepping forward to assist school systems struggling to meet escalating these rising costs.
See also:
Survey Results
Charts and Graphs
Snapshot of Superintendents’ Responses

A Brief History of Veterans’ Education Benefits and Their Value

Source: David P. Smole and Shannon S. Loane, Congressional Research Service, RL34549, July 3, 2008

Federal educational assistance programs have been authorized for veterans of the Armed Forces since 1944. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (P.L. 78346), or the GI Bill of Rights, provided support, including education benefits, to veterans of World War II. Subsequently, other programs were implemented for similar purposes (e.g., the Korean GI Bill and the Vietnam Era GI Bill). These new programs were primarily, if not exclusively, funded by the federal government and were intended to support veterans returning from war.

This report reviews the evolution of veterans’ education benefit programs prior to the enactment of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. It also examines how changes in the estimated value of those benefits compares with changes in average college prices, and provides a discussion of the interaction between veterans’ education benefits and federal student aid benefits made available under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended.