Texas technical colleges, which specialize in job training, will be funded based on graduates’ earnings rather than enrollment, starting Sept. 1. The “value-added accountability funding formula” analyzes the difference between graduates’ income five years after graduating and the minimum wage.
Texans who earn a technical certificate or associate degree often earn more than four-year graduates in their first year in the workforce, concludes a new study. Some workers with certificates in health-care fields start at more than $70,000 – $30,000 more than the median for graduates with bachelor’s degrees.
When police patrol school campuses, misbehavior is criminalized,reports the New York Times. Students who might have been sent to the principal’s office for “scuffles, truancy and cursing at teachers” end up in court.
Since the early 1990s, thousands of districts, often with federal subsidies, have paid local police agencies to provide armed “school resource officers” for high schools, middle schools and sometimes even elementary schools. Hundreds of additional districts, including those in Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, have created police forces of their own, employing thousands of sworn officers.
. . . “There is no evidence that placing officers in the schools improves safety,” said Denise C. Gottfredson, a criminologist at the University of Maryland who is an expert in school violence. “And it increases the number of minor behavior problems that are referred to the police, pushing kids into the criminal system.”
In Texas, school-based police officers write more than 100,000 misdemeanor tickets each year, said Deborah Fowler, the deputy director of Texas Appleseed, a legal advocacy center in Austin. Students face fines, community service and, in some cases, a criminal record. Her group and the NAACP have filed a federal civil rights complaint charging one Texas district issues four times more citations to blacks than whites.
In the wake of Newtown, many districts are hiring police officers to guard schools. But once they’re on campus, cops usually end up enforcing discipline.
We are criminalizing our children for nonviolent offenses,” Wallace B. Jefferson, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, said in a speech to the Legislature in March.
Texas leads the nation in test-based accountability for public schools, but now legislators may ease rigorous graduation requirements, reports the New York Times. Currently, high school students must take four years of English, math, social studies and science, unless their parents sign an opt-out form, and pass 15 end-of-course exams. A bill that’s already passed the Texas House would let students earn a diploma by passing five exams and taking only three years of math and science.
Not all students want to pursue a bachelor’s degree, argue the bill’s proponents.
Representative Jimmie Don Aycock, the Republican from Killeen who sponsored the House bill (which passed 147 to 2), said the revised curriculum would give students more options, including community colleges or technical schools. “I don’t want them to have to choose up or choose down,” Mr. Aycock said, “but choose what’s right for them.”
Critics say low-income and minority students will be tracked into lower-level classes.
“What we all know is when you leave it up to kids and schools, the poor kids and kids of color will be disproportionately not in the curriculum that could make the most difference for them,” said Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, a nonprofit group that advocates for racial minorities and low-income children.
Texas’ graduation requirements are the toughest in the nation, especially when it comes to exit exams. Since the requirements went into effect in 2007, the graduation rate has risen from 63 percent to 72 percent. More low-income students are taking at least one Advanced Placement exam.
Lowering expectations means a “return to mediocrity” in Texas, argues Checker Finn on Education Gadfly.
The bill establishes a “foundation diploma” with 13 required courses and cuts exit exams in “almost all the tougher courses,” Finn writes. Standards will vary widely: Without state end-of-course exams, schools and districts will be apt to “put rigorous-sounding labels on easy courses.”
. . . since district superintendents will be tempted to offer only the courses that the state mandates, lots of young Texans—most of them likely poor or minority—will be left with no access to classes that would do the most to propel them to success in higher education and beyond.
Texans are debating whether every high school student needs to pass “advanced algebra” to earn a diploma, Finn writes.
. . . the nationwide “college for everybody” push has gone too far, particularly if what’s meant is a classic four-year liberal-arts degree. But in today’s economy, even young people headed for industry need plenty of serious math. It’s irresponsible not to give all of them such career options—and irresponsible also to suppose that sixteen-year-olds are in the best position to make lifetime decisions that they may later regret.
I understand the risks of letting students choose an easier path to a diploma. But I think many students need a choice between real college prep (you’ll have a good shot at earning a bachelor’s degree) and real career prep (you’ll have a good shot at earning a vocational certificate or associate degree).
President Obama’s pledged “to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America” in the State of the Union speech. His “early learning” plan doesn’t do that, which is a good thing. Obama is focusing on disadvantaged children who may not be learning enough at home to be ready for school.
In short, universal pre-k isn’t universal, writes Garance Franke-Ruta in The Atlantic. Sharing costs with the states, the president would try to improve preschool quality and expand access for four-year-olds from families at or below 200 percent of the poverty line. (That tops out at $46,100 for a family of four.) He’d also expand Early Head Start for low-income children from birth through age 3.
Forty-two percent of four-year-olds are enrolled in taxpayer-funded, center-based preschool.
Obama also proposes expanding home visits to high-risk families — young, single mothers — by nurses and social workers. Visits by public health nurses appear to lower the risk of child abuse and neglect — and increase the use of birth control.
Early education helps disadvantaged children — for awhile, writes Emily Richmond, noting the president’s call for states to add full-day kindergarten. She researched that issue in 2007.
The greatest benefits to full-day kindergarten seemed to be for minority children and those growing up in poverty, who were more likely to otherwise arrive unprepared for first grade. But the gains trickled off unless those full-day kindergarten students continued to receive the tailored instructional programs and services they needed as they advanced into the higher grades.
Here’s how I summed the data at the time: “Full-day kindergarten may be a springboard to academic success, but it’s apparently of little use if students are diving into an empty pool.”
Except for a few boutique programs, preschool gains don’t last. By third grade, Head Start graduates do no better in school or in social and emotional skills than similar kids who weren’t in the program, according to a federal study that was not released for four years.
Brookings’ Russ Whitehurst asks if we can be “hard-headed” about funding preschool.
Head Start spends about twice as much per child per year as states ($8K per child per year for Head Start vs. $4K for state pre-K). And Head Start includes many program components that are advocated by early childhood experts such as health, nutrition, and parental involvement that are much less prevalent in state pre-K. If a year of Head Start does not improve achievement in elementary school, should we assume that a year of state pre-K does?
Universal pre-k in Georgia produced very slight gains (for the neediest children) at high cost, Whitehurst writes. A Texas pre-k program produced slightly better gains for low-income children.
Twenty years after the first charter school opened, there are 6,00 public charters educating more than 2.3 million students this year, reports the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Charters now comprise more than five percent of public schools in the country.
California added 81 schools this year, Florida added 67 and Texas added 41.
Since 2007-08, the public charter sector has added 1,700 schools – almost a 50 percent increase – and is serving an additional one million students – an increase of 80 percent.
Following Texas and Florida, California could be the next state to try to develop a $10,000 bachelor’s degree. A bill in the state legislature would tell high schools, community colleges and California State University campuses to collaborate on low-cost degrees in science, math and engineering fields.
Community college enrollment fell by 2 percent in Texas — and much more in areas with “brown jobs” in natural gas and oil, such as the Eagle Ford Shale region.
“It’s hard to keep a student in school to get their associate’s when they can go make $65,000 a year as a truck driver,” said Dominic Chavez, spokesman for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Texas’s pre-kindergarten program for disadvantaged students raises math and reading scores through third grade and reduces the likelihood students will repeat a grade or need special education services, according to a CALDER Working Paper. The study followed children from 1990 to 2002.
Instead of universal pre-K, Texas targets limited resources at high-need children, notes Education Gadfly. The Pre-K Early Start program cost less than half the cost of Head Start, which produces gains that begin to fade after first grade. What is the PKES program doing differently? “In Texas, even pre-K has standards and curriculum—and they’re aligned with those of the K–12 system,” writes Gadfly.