The amount of student debt has exploded during the last few years. The percentage of 25-year-olds carrying student loans rose from 25 percent in 2003 to 43 percent in 2012, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Of those with debt, the average balance rose from $10,649 to $20,326, a 91 percent jump. Overall, there’s nearly $1 trillion of student loans outstanding, more than any other type of debt except mortgages. High student-debt loads wouldn’t be a problem if grads were getting good jobs and earning decent money. Problem is, they’re not. A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute documented many of the trends young workers have been reporting anecdotally for several years. Recent grads face much higher unemployment and underemployment rates than the workforce as a whole. Good jobs, such as those that offer healthcare benefits, are increasingly hard to find. And it’s much worse for young workers who only have a high school education. Getting a slow start on a career can have long-lasting effects.
The U.S. spends embarrassingly little on early childhood education.
George H. Smith discusses how the educational system of Sparta influenced later advocates of state education.
In the last three years, schools have cut 278,000 jobs, with over 40 percent of the job cuts occurring in the last year. These job losses are one consequence of large declines in state funding for K-12 education. As we reported yesterday, elementary and high schools are receiving less state funding than last year in at least 37 states, after adjusting for inflation. In at least 30 states, school funding now stands below 2008 levels — often far below. In the long term, these cuts will reduce student achievement and the economy’s potential. (via Off the Charts Blog)
For the high school class of 2011, SAT reading scores hit a 39-year low and math scores also suffered. College Board officials said that the across-the-board drop was related to the fact that more students of different abilities or degrees of prep participated. But some critics remain skeptical:
Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the group Fair Test, a longtime critic of the SAT, found unpersuasive the College Board’s explanation that the declines were due largely to a broadening test pool. In 2003, he said, the number of SAT takers expanded by a greater percentage than last year, but scores that year rose six points on math and reading.
“Yes, changing test-taker demographics matter,” he said. “No, they don’t explain an 18-point drop [in combined scores] over five years.”
An excerpt from Emily Hanford’s essay:
Mazur decided to spend a big chunk of class time reviewing a fundamental concept. Half his students had gotten a question about this concept wrong on a recent test. So Mazur gave what he thought was a thorough and thoughtful explanation of the concept. He went slowly, putting all kinds of helpful diagrams up on the board.
“I thought I’d nailed it,” he says. “I thought it was the best explanation one could possibly give of this question.”
Mazur triumphantly turned around. “Any questions?” he asked. The students just stared at him.
“Nobody raised their hand and said, well but what if this and what if that, simply because they were so confused they couldn’t,” he says. “I didn’t know what to do. But I knew one thing. I knew that 50 percent of the students had given the right answer.”
That’s the irony of becoming an expert in your field, Mazur says. “It becomes not easier to teach, it becomes harder to teach because you’re unaware of the conceptual difficulties of a beginning learner.”
The latest in the gender pay gap in the US: “Women have to have a PhD to make as much as a man with a BA.” The recent report from Georgetown called “The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings” presents findings that
- Women earn less at all degree levels. Compared to men, women who work full-time, year-round jobs earn roughly 25% less at equivalent levels of educational attainment. If we were to calculate in women who had to leave work to raise children or as the result of a disability into this comparison, the difference is even larger. By that expanded definition, women without high school degrees earn a ridiculous 90% less than their male counterparts. Those with BAs earn about 45% less.
- Let me just repeat that women have to get a PhD to earn the same as a man with a BA.
- Persons of color earn less at all degree levels. In fact, African Americans and Latinos who hold Masters degrees still earn less than Caucasians with BAs.
- Going to college makes a huge difference in income. On average, BAs make 84% more that those with just high school diplomas over their lifetime. There is even a stark difference among levels of educational attainment within the same occupation.
- No matter what post-secondary education you receive, you’re at a sizeable lifetime financial advantage.
On today’s Fresh Air, the debate over school reform and what strategies really work.
Guests: Diane Ravitch, former Assistant Secretary of Education. She had been an advocate of school vouchers, charter schools, testing and No Child Left Behind… and after seeing some of the results… changed her mind.
Also…we talk to education consultant and policy analyst Andrew Rotherham. He supports redesigning American public education with the help of charter schools, public sector choice, and accountability.