Enrollment Crises and Budget Crises: This Week’s Top 7 Education Stories

Someone leafs through a pile of $5 bills

Teachers being asked to foot the bill [on school supplies] isn’t a pattern that’s limited to Washington; it’s a nationwide problem, due in large part to the fact that teachers, who are evaluated on student success, can’t do their jobs without basic supplies. But it’s surprising that in a prosperous state with a booming economy—home to two of the world’s biggest corporations, Amazon and Microsoft—schools can’t seem to put the coins together to pay for pencils and paste. …

For years, the [Washington Legislature] has engaged in a slow, expensive dance over taxes, revenue, and access to basic care, neglecting its single biggest responsibility along the way: funding basic education for every kid in the state.

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How Chicago Public Schools Skirt a Legal Obligation to Certain Students

Kalyn Belsha | The Chicago Reporter

For decades, Chicago has pushed aside the educational needs of tens of thousands of mostly low-income children of color whose native language is not English. The district’s neglect sets up these children for academic failure: Chicago’s English learners perform significantly worse on math and reading tests compared to their peers in other big-city districts. Quality education is critical for these children, because nearly one in five CPS students are English learners, speaking more than 110 languages. Spanish speakers are the vast majority at 83 percent.

Lax oversight, state underfunding, and the end of a federal consent decree that in part addressed bilingual education have contributed to Chicago’s long history of violating state bilingual education law.

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Can Universities Survive This Enrollment Crisis?

Jon Marcus | The Hechinger Report

A dip in the birth rate means there are fewer 18- to 24-year olds leaving high schools, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. This has coincided with an even more precipitous decline in the number of students older than 24, who experts say have been drawn back into the workforce as the economy improves, dragging down enrollment at community colleges and private, for-profit universities that provide mid-career education.

The result is that the number of students in colleges and universities has now dropped for five straight years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse, which tracks this—and this year is the worst so far, with 81,000 fewer high-school graduates nationwide heading to places like Ohio Wesleyan, whose entering freshman class is down 9 percent from last year.

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The State Pioneering Skills-Based Evaluation

Stacy Teicher Khadaroo | The Christian Science Monitor

For more than a decade, schools in the [New Hampshire] have been transitioning to competency-based education, in which students are asked to demonstrate mastery of essential skills rather than simply spend a certain amount of time in class and get a minimum passing grade. The focus is on the kinds of skills—analysis, reflection, creativity, and strategic thinking—today’s students will need in order to thrive in an unpredictable world.

But new teaching methods require new types of testing. So the state decided to put teachers in the driver’s seat.

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Would GI Bill Changes Affect Military Recruitment?

Natalie Gross | Military Times

Changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other education benefits may have little impact on military recruitment and retention, a new study suggests.

That’s because many new recruits and service members don’t have a good grasp on how they work, according to a RAND Corporation report evaluating military education benefits.

“I think that service members have a general understanding that the military will help them pay for college,” said Jennie Wenger, a senior economist at RAND, an organization tasked with researching this topic by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. “They’re weaker on the details.”

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The Lifelong Learning of Lifelong Inmates

Clint Smith | The Atlantic

Policy circles tend to predicate the purpose of education singularly on reducing recidivism and increasing post-release employment opportunities. According to that line of logic, then, investing time and resources in individuals who will not be released is a waste. If the purpose of education for incarcerated individuals is instead understood as something that exists beyond social and vocational utility, then prisons take on new meaning. Perhaps prison educators and policymakers would more fully consider how such spaces serve as intellectual communities that restore human dignity within an institution built on the premise of taking that dignity away.

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The Paralyzing Price of Off-Campus Housing

Kaela Theut | The Michigan Daily

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median rate for rent in Ann Arbor has increased 14 percent from 2010 to 2015 and now sits at approximately $1,075 per month—despite the amount of high-density housing areas also rising by 32 percent. It is important to note this number accounts for the entire city, so it may not reflect the experiences of students living in areas such as Kerrytown or South Campus.

However, rent prices are high enough that in 2016, 599 students … listed an Ypsilanti, [Michigan] zip code as either their permanent or local address—a number troubling to urban planners.