CCs get less money, more students

Community colleges are “a gateway for millions of Americans to good jobs and a better life,” said President Obama in the fall. But the gateway is narrowing.  Thirty-one states will cut community college funding this year, despite rising enrollments.

Students know there are jobs in health care, but can’t get into classes they need. At College of Southern Nevada, more than 2,450 students applied for a key biology class that has space for 950 students. In Colorado, community college students may wait more than three years to get into a nursing program.

It’s all on Community College Spotlight.

New Haven promises college aid

New Haven’s public school students will get free college tuition at any public college or university in Connecticut, if they maintain a 3.0 grade point average and 90 percent attendance. Graduates will get $2,500 a year to attend an in-state private college. Students will have to maintain a 2.5 grade point average in college to continue receiving the money.

Yale University is providing most of the $4.5 million a year needed to fund the New Haven Promise. It’s open to city students who’ve attended public school — district-run or charter — since ninth grade or earlier.

Only 200 of the 1,000 graduates last year would have qualified, city officials said. About 83 percent of New Haven graduates go on to college, but more than 70 percent dropout after two years.

(Mayor John) DeStefano said the program was intended to curb a citywide high school dropout rate of 38 percent and cultivate a college-going culture, as well as to provide an economic incentive for families to move to New Haven. Students will qualify for the financial aid on a sliding scale, with those who started in city schools at kindergarten receiving the most, 100 percent of their tuition. Students who arrived in the ninth grade will receive 65 percent.

In Syracuse, New York, enrollment in city schools has grown since 2008, when Syracuse University and the Say Yes to Education foundation began offering free college tuition to public high school students. However, the graduation rate hasn’t improved.

George A. Weiss, a Wall Street financier who founded Say Yes to Education in 1987, said the foundation had paid college tuition for more than 350 students in predominantly poor schools in Hartford; Philadelphia; Cambridge, Mass.; and Harlem in New York City. He said academic enrichment programs, counseling and other services had supplemented the tuition assistance.

“You can’t just give them an offer of money,” Mr. Weiss said. “They still have their day-to-day issues, and you have to help them.”

All college scholarship programs have learned this lesson:  Disadvantaged students need mentors, tutors and counselors to get them on the college track and keep them on track. A scholarship offer isn’t enough.

I also predict students with only 90 percent attendance aren’t going to need more than one semester of college tuition.

Update:  Why isn’t Yale offering scholarships to Yale? Chad Aldeman wants to know.

An exercise in hypothetical reasoning.

Arthur M. Hauptman, educational policy consultant, gives us this bold 1560-word essay that suggests that public universities facing budget woes should consider expansion:

The recent protests in California and elsewhere reinforce how politically difficult it is to cap enrollments and raise tuition when dealing with cutbacks in state funding for higher education.

The intensity of the protests in California also raises questions about why officials there did not make the less difficult decision of maintaining or increasing enrollments without raising tuition fees, or raising them modestly. This is a strategy that more public and institutional officials across the country and around the world should consider as they deal with continuing shortfalls in public funding for higher education.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t give us the most important part of his “theory” until near the end:
[I]f current tuition fee levels are greater than the marginal costs associated with enrolling more students, such as hiring more faculty or leasing additional space, this strategy makes a great deal of economic sense.
To the word “if” I would add the qualifier, “only”.  The second commenter at the article itself, I think, explains why this is probably solely an exercise in hypothetical reasoning.


Be the 'best' in Michigan for $25,000

Nine Michigan school districts paid $25,000 to get on a “best schools’ list created by a public relations firm. From AnnArbor.com:

The banner ad across the Lincoln school district’s website proudly proclaims it has been recognized as one of the best school districts in Michigan.

The criteria for Lincoln and eight other districts being selected?

A $25,000 check.

That’s the only criteria.

The firm features the nine districts on a web site and bought airtime on a Detroit-area television station to broadcast a show featuring the districts.

Each new student brings $7,300 in funding, so district officials say the cost probably was covered by increased enrollment.

Update: A Florida school district is spending $350,000 in federal stimulus funds to buy iPods for parents of disabled students who fill out an online survey that takes about 10 minutes. “The (Polk County) district wants to know how well it’s connecting with the parents and how to get parents involved in their children’s education,” reports Bay News 9.

Detroit to close 29 schools in the fall

In Detroit, 29 public schools are slated to close in the fall; 900 teachers and 33 principals will be dismissed. Robert Bobb, the emergency financial manager for the district, has created a “master plan” for improving the schools.

How did he decide which schools to close? According to the Washington Post, “… Bobb and his staff looked at the age and condition of the buildings, as well as how many students attend them. Academic performance also was taken into account.”

So farewell to Elmdale Elementary, which is underenrolled but meeting performance standards. In the meantime, millions of dollars are going to the new Cass Technical High School, “considered a model for 21st-century urban high schools.”

Bobb’s master plan “calls for improving technology and updating classrooms. Curriculum also is being reviewed to make sure students are getting what they need in reading, writing, math, science and other programs, Bobb said.”

Why not do this for Elmdale? And why does curriculum seem like an afterthought, an “also” that comes after spiffy equipment?