Iowa colleges focus on retraining, retention

Retraining adults for high-demand jobs and improving graduation rates are the priorities for Iowa community colleges. Half of enrollees earn a credential or transfer in three years. That’s better than most states, but Iowans think theycan do better.

States to watch in 2013

The education minded should keep an eye on Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa in 2013, advises Dropout Nation. And from last year’s states to watch list, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and Michigan will continue to be interesting.

On-time high school grad rate is 72%

Only 72 percent of students in the class of 2011 earned a diploma in four years, according to the U.S. Education Department.

Iowa had the highest graduation rate at 88 percent with Wisconsin and Vermont at 87 percent and Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas at 86 percent.

The District of Columbia’s four-year graduation rate was 59 percent, the lowest in the country, notes Dropout Nation. Only 60 percent of black, Latino, and Native American students graduated on time. In Nevada, the black on-time graduation rate was 43 percent, the worst in the nation. Montana and Texas are “the only states in which four out of every five black freshmen in their respective Classes of 20111 graduated on time.” Minnesota had the largest racial achievement gap with a 49 percent on-time graduation rate for blacks and 84 percent of whites

Nationwide, 79 percent of Asian-American students and 76 percent of non-Hispanic whites finished high school in four years.

If a student needs five years to earn a high school diploma — and really earns it — that’s OK by me. I worry that “portfolio review” and “credit recovery” scams will pump up graduation rates.

Talking ’bout education — or not

ED in ’08, which tried to get presidential candidates to discuss education issues was a “successful failure,” argues Alexander Russo. (Most people consider it a plain old failure.) Advocates learned what works — and doesn’t work — in the political arena, Russo writes.

I don’t think K-12 education will be a key issue in this campaign. Obama is focusing on subsidized college loans to appeal to middle-class voters. Romney’s going to focus on jobs, jobs, jobs.

Obama’s willingness to fund vouchers in Washington, D.C. — a deal has been struck with the Republicans — is interesting. Urban blacks, who are less enthusiastic about Obama this time around, support school choice.

The Education Department denied Iowa’s request for a No Child Left Behind waiver because the state hasn’t approved a statewide system for evaluating teachers.  Iowa is a battleground state. That’s politically gutsy, writes Mike Petrilli. Or foolish.

‘Tiger’ kids in community college

Chinese “tiger mothers,” who demand excellence from their children, are superior to Western moms, claims Amy Chua, a Yale law professor with two high-performing daughters.  More tiger children end up at community colleges than the Ivy League, writes a Pasadena Community College professor. And these kids are depressed by their failure to meet their parents’ unreasonable expectations. Some are suicidal.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  Laid-off workers in Iowa are turning to community colleges for retraining, but wait lists are long for programs in health care, welding and other high-demand fields.

Iowa rejects independent charter schools

Iowa’s charter schools are run by school districts. It turns out they’re not very innovative,  reports the Des Moines Register. In essence, the state collected federal charter funding for a handful of magnet schools with no autonomy or ability to challenge the status quo.

Iowa schools, once rated the best in the nation, are slipping in national rankings.

In North Carolina, a top-scoring charter school that uses Direct Instruction wonders why the state seems uninterested in learning about their methods.

(Founder Baker) Mitchell said he feels the state is not really looking at the good things his school is doing, and he doesn’t know whether regular public schools are learning anything from the charter school.

Indeed, the state doesn’t keep track of innovations at charter schools and how they influence the public school system, said Jean Kruft , a consultant with the N.C. Office of Charter Schools.

Illinois will double the number of charter schools, including charters for five schools specializing in drop-outs.

Update: Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, spoke at the House Education and Labor Committee hearing on charter schools, reports Edspresso:

“I’m from the state of Ohio, so I think I look at things a little differently because most of our charter schools are not public charter schools. So, you may hear me coming from a very different vantage point.”

Of course, charters are public schools by definition. Fudge’s flub wasn’t the only one at the charter hearings.