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InformED Report 11/3/16

Germany proves tuition-free college is not a silver bullet for America’s education woes

Jon Marcus | Quartz | Twitter

Claudia Niessler wouldn’t have attended a university that charged tuition, though even without it, her living expenses in college require her to work as many as 20 hours a week at a supermarket.

Stefan Steinbock pipes in that having to pay tuition would discourage people with good grades but low incomes from getting university degrees. Eliminating financial stress means he can focus on his academics.

But Peter-André Alt contends that being unable to charge tuition means universities are overcrowded and thinly stretched. Meanwhile, hard-pressed taxpayers are unfairly forced to fill the void, even if they don’t go to college or have kids who do.

Niessler and Steinbock are students at Freie Universität in Berlin; Alt is the university’s president. Together, they embody the surprising ambivalence, unexpected nuances, and general pros and cons of a tuition-free university in Germany, a model proposed in the US by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

To read more visit Quartz

Clinton touts debt-free college plan. Here’s how she’d pay for it.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel | The Washington Post | Twitter

Hillary Clinton said during the debate that as president, tuition at public colleges and universities would be free for students from households earning up to $125,000, as part of a far-reaching $450 billion higher education plan.

So how would she pay for that?

Clinton’s campaign has said the candidate would reinstitute Ronald Reagan-era cuts on itemized tax deductions for high-income families. The Democratic nominee initially proposed a $350 billion plan, dubbed the New College Compact, that would provide money to states that guarantee “no-loan” tuition at four-year public universities and community colleges.

States that enroll a high number of low- and middle-income students would receive more money, as would those that work with schools to reduce living expenses. Clinton is also promising to let students and parents refinance education loans to lower their interest rates.

To read more visit The Washington Post

Welfare Funds for Students Far From Welfare

Andrew Kreighbaum | Inside Higher Ed | Twitter

With the state experiencing huge revenue shortfalls during the recession in the late 2000s,

Michigan lawmakers got creative with their budget process.

Their maneuvering led the state to direct federal welfare funds to state college tuition grants -- one of a handful of options to tackle a huge state budget shortfall. But nearly a decade later, that budget tactic has become a permanent feature of Michigan’s funding of higher education.

That means that at least a portion of federal money designated for safety net spending in the state is going to the children of middle- and upper-income families attending institutions in the state like Aquinas College, Albion College and Kalamazoo College -- an arrangement that is getting new scrutiny. According to the Michigan Department of Treasury, more than $93 million of Michigan's allocation of funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program goes to tuition grants, and more than $40 million went to private institutions in the fiscal year 2016.

Advocates for college access and private institutions that benefit from the tuition grants say what’s needed in Michigan isn’t removal of those welfare dollars but expanding support for higher education overall.

To read more visit Inside Higher Ed

In Texas, Families With Special Education Needs Feel Their Kids Are Getting Shortchanged

Bill Zeeble | KERA News | Twitter

Texas has the lowest special education enrollment numbers in the nation. Parents of some special needs students say they’ve spent years fighting with Texas schools to get services for their kids — services schools are required to provide under federal law.

Last month, the Houston Chronicle reported that for 12 years, Texas intentionally delayed or withheld special education services to save money. Federal authorities now say Texas needs to justify their policies. Some parents feel stuck in the middle.

Rosly Espinoza first suspected something was up with her middle daughter, Citlali, in pre-kindergarten. Citlali wasn’t paying attention and sometimes acted out. Through a translator, Espinoza says it got worse in first grade.

“It all started with school issues,” Espinoza says. “Lack of interest, teachers’ notes coming home with behavior notes.”

Espinoza asked school officials to evaluate her daughter, but they didn’t.  That test is required before a student gets special education services. Last year, in second grade, she says things got worse.

“She stopped paying attention in class,” Espinoza says. And she was “harassing other children. On some occasions she would scream, yell.”

To read more visit KERA News

Families in Flint say there’s a special education crisis that’s about to get worse

Bryce Covert | ThinkProgress | Twitter

Nakiya Wakes’s two children have long lived with learning challenges: her eldest daughter, 17 years old, has epilepsy, and her seven-year-old son has ADHD. But they still both loved going to school in Flint, Michigan.

That changed after their struggles became compounded, Wakes says, by the water contamination crisis that exposed all residents to lead poisoning. Wakes began noticing that her daughter was no longer able to comprehend her reading. Her son started having behavioral issues. The year before the water crisis, Wakes says he was suspended once; this last year, he was suspended over 50 times.

Wakes started contacting the school to ask for an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, for her son to document and address his needs. But she says the school fought her until the end of the year. “I felt like they were trying to deny my son his education,” she said on a call with the media.

In the meantime, he kept being suspended, and now he doesn’t want to go to school at all. “He was the type that if the bus comes and he misses it, he’s crying because he loved school,” she said. “But now my son doesn’t like school anymore.”

“I feel like everyone has let us down,” she added. “We didn’t ask to be poisoned, and these kids need their education.”

Now residents like Wakes are taking aggressive steps to ensure their children get the educational services they need in the wake of the water crisis. Flint families, along with the ACLU of Michigan and attorneys from White & Case and the Education Law Center, announced a proposed class-action lawsuit on Tuesday that alleges the state and the Flint school system were already violating the law before the crisis by having inadequate services for children with special needs — violations that are all the worse now with so many more children potentially in need.

To read more visit ThinkProgress

Education Company to Pay $4.3 Million in Settlement With New York State

Kate Taylor | The New York Times | Twitter

A for-profit network of schools and the family behind it have agreed to pay New York State more than $4.3 million in a settlement after having spent state funds, intended to pay for special education preschool, on credit card bills, maintenance of a boat and a son’s law school tuition, as well as claiming false tax deductions, the office of the state attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, said on Wednesday.

The education company, K3 Learning Inc., is owned by Michael Koffler. His sons, Daniel and Brian Koffler, are its president and its chief technology officer.

Michael Koffler also owns Sunshine Developmental School, a special education preschool program based in Queens. Federal law mandates that states provide special education preschool, and New York is one of a few states that do so by funding private contractors, many of them for-profit companies. Contractors are expected to track their expenses and submit reports to the State Education Department annually, seeking reimbursement.

The cost of providing special education preschool has ballooned in recent years, particularly in New York City, where the city administers the reimbursements. Some companies have been found to have inflated expenses or diverted state money for their private use.

To read more visit The New York Times

Google: Race, gender gaps persist in computer science education

Jessica Guynn | USA Today | Twitter

New research from Google shows that black students are less likely to have computer science classes in school and are less likely to use computers at home even though they are 1.5 times more interested in studying computer science than their white peers.

The findings are part of a report released Tuesday by Google in partnership with Gallup that puts the spotlight on the racial and gender gap in K-12 computer science education. Google says its aim with the research, which surveyed thousands of students, parents, teachers, principals and superintendents, is to increase the numbers of women, blacks and Latinos in computer science.

Computer science classes are popping up in K-12 schools around the country. The growing effort is coming from many quarters — the National Science Foundation, the College Board, Freada Kapor's SMASH Academy, Black Girls Code, Girls Who Code, Code.org and major tech companies such as Google — all searching for the best way to put computers and computer know-how in the hands of kids from all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. On Monday, a coalition of computer scientists released a framework for what K-12 students should know about computer science.

To read more visit USA Today

A Plan to Teach Every Child Computer Science

Emily Deruy | The Atlantic | Twitter

More and more jobs are requiring some knowledge about how computers work. Not just how to start one up and surf the web, but how they actually run, how—at the simplest level—a series of inputs leads to a series of particular outputs.

Yet, across the United States, few children are being taught even the basics of computer science. It’s a discipline left largely to the self-motivated YouTube watchers and the kids lucky enough to be born into tech-minded families with resources.

According to a new national survey from Google and Gallup, just more than half of seventh- through 12th-grade students attend a school that offers a dedicated computer-science class. Black students are less likely than their white peers to have access to such courses, and teachers and parents are more likely to tell boys that they would be good at computer science than they are girls. That a disproportionate number of technical workers at companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook are white and male is no surprise.

To read more visit The Atlantic

InformED Report is brought to you in cooperation with American ED TV and MindRocket Media Group

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