In this year’s State of the Union Address President Obama announced an initiative to provide two years of free community college. States would be required to opt into the proposed program and commit 25 percent of the necessary funding. Schools receiving the dollars would be required to adopt evidence-based reforms to improve student outcomes as well as create programs that provide occupational training or fulfill transfer requirements to 4-year schools. In return the federal government would pick up the remaining 75 percent of funding for tuition and fees. The program is estimated to cost the federal government $60 billion ($20 billion for states) over 10 years.
The House-Senate conference committee to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is set to meet in September. The last time there was a House-Senate ESEA conference committee was 14 years ago during consideration of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
U.S. taxpayers spend at least 5.4 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) funding elementary and secondary education, and the current Federal practice for funding schools is based almost exclusively on attendance. This funding method is a fundamentally flawed model that misaligns incentives, rewards sub-par performance, and diminishes the imperative for significant and sustained educational outcomes. School funding, as Michigan Governor Rick Snyder wrote in 2011, “should be based upon academic growth and not just whether a student enrolls and sits at a desk.”
Under proposed changes currently being circulated by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Wheeler the E-rate program is set to expand nearly 123 percent from 2008 levels. The program, which provides funds to schools and libraries for telecommunications services, has been the target of reform for years due to its onerous requirements. Instead of streamlining the process and ensuring that the neediest schools receive assistance, the new plan merely expands the program without the overdue reforms.
The Common Core is a state-led effort for voluntary adoption of minimum standards of achievement in math and English language literacy.
The U.S. House of Representatives is set to consider the first of several pieces of legislation adopting a piecemeal approach to reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.
Today the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee holds a hearing on "Verification of Income and Insurance Information Under the Affordable Care Act.” Hidden below the deceptively dull title is a serious issue: how does the federal government ensure that taxpayer dollars go to the correct insurance subsidy recipients, and in the right amounts?
Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced Senate Bill 2292, the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. It permits individuals with existing student loans — either federal or private — to refinance those loans using the federal direct loan program. In general, this would be a reduction in the interest rates on those loans. What’s wrong with that?
The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program is reporting that the finally tally for the budget cost of the bailout of General Motors comes to $11.2 billion. A Treasury spokesman is reported as saying “The goal of Treasury’s investment in GM was never to make a profit, but to help save the American auto industry, and by any measure that effort was successful.”
The American Action Forum hosted a Google Hangout on the policy implications of AAF's recently released national survey on higher education. The conversation focused on different higher education policy topics including: tuition costs, the role of the Federal government, college debt, alternative college programs, and a proposed government ratings program.
Neil Irwin had a (typical) smart and thought provoking piece in yesterday’s New York Times. In it he argues that "The economy has gotten boring, and that’s fantastic news — even if it would be even better news if that underlying growth path were a bit stronger.” I certainly agree that the economy is boring. And I would put considerably more emphasis on growth than “a bit stronger.”
Yesterday Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced that Washington State would lose its waiver from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) standards, the result of the the fact that Washington did not tie teacher evaluations to improvements in student performance. Recently the Washington state legislature failed to pass legislation that would have imposed such a standard.