Your EWA Newsletter for Wednesday, August 19, 2009
On the Blackboard
Check out EWA’s website for new audio conferences on stimulus spending for K-12 school districts and higher education planned for September.You can also view audio conferences already recorded here.
Post Your Release Today!
Also you can now post your press release or read about organizations' events or major reports on EWA’s website. The cost is $50 to post items. Just go to our home page and visit the press release center to get your message out today!
EWA and the National Panel on Latino Children and Schooling, based at Berkeley’s Institute of Human Development, are partnering for the New Journalism on Latino Children project to offer a fresh perspective on reporting and research on Latino families and schools. EWA has a special section on our website for you to read two new reports on Latino students and academics.
Don’t Take This Resource for Granted
Applications for Funds May Contain Hidden, Valuable Truths
By Linda Perlstein, EWA public editor
The School District of Palm Beach County is so proud of its 5th consecutive “A” rating from the state of Florida that it’s advertised on district letterhead. Yet on a recent application for $120 million in Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation money, the school system gave itself a far more critical report card. Read the rest of Linda's column here.
Reports: School Shopping, Freshmen Enrollment and High School Retention Rates
Back to School
Just as students are heading back to school, retailers hope parents will open their wallets and spend big on back to school shopping. The National Retail Federation conducted a survey finding families are still anxious about the economy and are expected to spend less for K-12 students. The average family is expected to spend $548.72 on back-to-school shopping this year, a decrease from last year. College-bound students are expected to spend a little more this season, with the average family shelling out $618.12 for items. That’s a three percent increase over last year’s average of $599.38. You can read the rest of the report here.
High School Grad Rates
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute's newest report analyzes long-standing policies and controversies over how to measure high school graduation rates. The report says improving measurements, learning more about why students drop out and who is more likely to drop out is key.
A survey of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities finds that undergraduate enrollment for its member institutions will increase by an average of 0.2 percent from last fall. Despite the current economic slump, 57 percent of higher ed institutions reported an increase or no change in paid deposits for fall enrollment. To read more results from NAICU’s survey go here.
Debt Load for College Graduates
The College Board has released a policy brief examining the decisions of students when it comes to taking out college loans. "How Much Are College Students Borrowing" finds that while student debt overall has increased over the past five years, that debt levels rose more rapidly for students attending for-profit institutions and students earning a two-year degree or certificate. Skidmore College professor Sandy Baum is one of the co-authors of the report and has presented on student aid topics at EWA’s annual meetings in Chicago and Washington, D.C.
The Dark Side of SAT Optional
The movement of some elite higher ed institutions to not require students to submit their SAT scores has drawn praise from critics who believed the test does not accurately reflect student potential. Many supporters had hoped that dropping the SAT requirement would mean more students especially low-income students -- could enroll in selective institutions. But EWA member and Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews raises another reason for colleges opting out: rankings. The annual U.S. News and World Report guide (see more below) is released soon. Mathews finds that some colleges admitted to submitting misleading averages because the averages did not include scores from students who opted out.
The Rankings Are Coming!
As college administrators welcome a new class on campus, U.S. News and World Report continues its widely-debated tradition of ranking elite institutions. Every August for the past 26 years, the magazine has released its "America’s Best College Guide," featuring college acceptance and graduation rates, economic and ethnic diversity, faculty research, etc. Despite criticism that the rankings create an “arms race” in admissions, the 2010 rankings will go live on the magazine’s website Thursday, August 20.
Forbes.com got a jumpstart on U.S. News by releasing its own list of best colleges. You can see it here Payscale.com's "2009 College Salary Report" rates colleges on the salaries their graduates receive when they enter the workforce.
PreK in the Spotlight
A report released by PreK Now finds that less than 30 percent of the country’s three and four year olds are served in publicly funded early education programs. Pre K Now examines some of the collaborations between school and community based providers and other organizations. The report analyzes the basis/challenges for partnerships. Pre K Now also gives recommendations to policymakers on how to help states. To read more go http://preknow.org/documents/pkn_collaboration_rept_final.pdf
EWA News and Notes
EWA member and Boston Globe higher ed reporter Tracy Jan found herself reporting on one of this summer’s most talked-about stories: the arrest of Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Jan shares her experience with the Poynter Institute’s Diversity at Work blog. You can read her story here.
Other resources and reports
If you missed it, higher ed reporters should take a listen to a webinar with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan describing President Obama’s plans for colleges. The session was sponsored by the American Council on Education and the National Association of College and University Officers.
The National Center for Education Statistics report released
"Students Who Study Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in Postsecondary Education"
The Center on Reinventing Public Education released
"The Tradeoff Between Teacher Wages and Layoffs to Meet Budget Cuts"
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Watch released "Impaired Education" http://www.aclu.org/intlhumanrights/childrensrights/40676prs20090810.html
Tough Market for J-School Grads
Journalism graduates entered one of the grimmest markets in three decades. The University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications released a job and salary study of new graduates that finds that only 6 in 10 of j-school graduates found full time employment. Those finding jobs were more likely to report they were not doing what they wanted. Public relations graduates had an easier time with nearly three-quarters finding full-time employment after graduation. You can read the study here.
The Seattle Times Turns a Profit
With all the doom and gloom reported over the last few years over the decline of newspaper circulation the news that the Seattle Times has earned a profit provides cautious optimism to an ailing industry. The Seattle Times became the city’s only major newspaper when the Seattle Post Intelligencer folded in March. The Times' daily circulation rose 30 percent to 260,000 subscribers, thanks in part to picking up Post Intelligencer readers.
Don’t miss this Sunday New York Times Magazine piece “What’s a Big City Without a Newspaper?” chronicling the tribulations of two-newspaper town, Philadelphia.
Also, check out this piece “Journalism Isn't Dead, It's Being Reborn,” written by Tim Gleason, dean of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. And Time is making a case for why magazines aren’t dead , at least not yet.
Upcoming Events and Jobs
The Commission to Build a Healthier America and member Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, will present findings from the report exploring the linkage between a good education and health. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation commissioned the report and hosts the panel discussion 11:15a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wed., Sept. 9 at the Elliott School at George Washington University (1957 E St N.W., D.C.). Russlyn Ali, assistant secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, is a featured panelist. The event is invitation-only and you must RSVP no later than Sept. 3 to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Patti Simon at 202-994-4125.
Education Sector and Washington Monthly Magazine are collaborating on a conference on “A New Era in Higher Education Reform” Thursday, Sept. 10 starting at 9 a.m. at George Washington University. Go here to register.
The American Federation of Teachers is seeking an assistant director to work an 18-month assignment in the public affairs department. If interested apply here.
The Mullen Public Relations Agency is seeking an accomplished PR professional with a minimum of five years of public or corporate public relation experience to join its account services team in higher education. If interested, send your resume and three press release writing samples to email@example.com. http://www.mullenpr.com/
From the Beat
Many Dallas-Fort Worth graduates struggle in college
Holly K. Hacker
The Dallas Morning News
They passed their TAKS exit exams and collected their high school diplomas yet a troubling number of Texas students struggle their first year in college. At some North Texas high schools, half or more of graduates who go to college earn less than a C average their first year, based on a Dallas Morning News analysis of state data.
Can a PTA Bake Sale Save a Teacher's Job?
How many bake sales does it take to save a teacher's job? For decades, public-school parents have organized such fundraising events to cover the costs of field trips, sports equipment and other frills that enrich their children's education. Yet now, as recession clouds hang ever lower and state budgets tighten, schools and districts are increasingly asking adults to help pay for essentials. Parents are under pressure to bring in big bucks for supplies, technology and even, in some cases, staff salaries. That's a lot of sugar cookies.
Pilot pre-K aims for equal early education
Jennifer D. Jordan
The Providence Journal
Nationally, Rhode Island trails most states in early childhood initiatives. It is one of only 12 states that does not offer a public pre-kindergarten program to 4-year-olds. Instead, parents must pay for private preschool, offered in family daycare settings, child-care centers or nursery schools. It’s a costly proposition made even more difficult after lawmakers cut child-care subsidies to many working families in 2008.
Schools step up technology curriculum
Denise Smith Amos
The Cincinnati Enquirer
At Goshen Local schools in Cincinnati, Ohio, students this fall will use iPod Touch devices to access the Internet. They'll set up Wiki Web pages, much like Wikipedia, to share class projects and research. They'll learn from interactive white boards instead of chalk boards.
What if teachers ran Minnesota's schools?
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis is pursuing an education strategy this summer that is a first for Minnesota: It is asking teachers if they want to run a school. Under a new state law, teachers can spearhead the creation of charter-like schools, but under the school district's umbrella. Already being tried in several other states, it's an idea that grew out of the frustration that many schools serving poor students are struggling academically.
Higher Ed Groups in Survival Mode
Stephanie Lee and Ben Eisen
Inside Higher Education
Colleges around the country are laying off employees, freezing or cutting back travel and otherwise reining in their budgets in response to the down economy. And those cutbacks are having a direct and adverse effect on the many national associations that represent the institutions and their employees.
Please send your best stories and member news to Mesha Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dale Mezzacappa, president, Public School Notebook; Tanya Schevitz, vp/actives, free lance reporter; Marie Groark, vp/associates, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Stephanie Banchero, secretary, Chicago Tribune; Richard Whitmire, immediate past president, freelancer; Kathryn Baron, freelance radio reporter; John Merrow, Learning Matters, Inc.; Linda Lenz, Catalyst; Rodney Ferguson, Lipman Hearne, Inc.; Cornelia Grumman, First Five Years Fund; Elizabeth Green, Gotham Schools.org; Scott Elliott, Dayton (Ohio) Daily News; Kent Fischer, GMMB.