The report this week is an offering of brief topical or educational potpourri — hopefully poignant, perhaps provocative or at least piquing of personal interests. How’s that for alliteration!
Some colleges and universities continue to award sizeable increases (as much as 24 to 37 percent) to their presidents’ compensation (look at Bentley, Curry, Endicott, Hampshire) based on rewards for fundraising success, new research grants and boosts in rankings. Wouldn’t it be very helpful to the students (remember them?) if administrators’ performances were more valued for their ability to hold tuition down? Some of the presidents’ bonus packages would be attractive scholarship packages for kids.
Moody’s Investment Services has just released a very dark projection for small tuition-dependent colleges and universities. Parents cannot afford tuition increases and that comes at a time when Congress may be cutting student aid programs. Federal loans comprise anywhere from 23 to 40 percent of student college charges. Result? Less kids able to go to college — an education cliff? It may also see the demise of some valued private small colleges.
I hesitate to even offer this to you, but progressive and timely educational reform will not happen through negotiations with teachers’ unions; see Boston and Chicago where settlements were made to appease staff and compromise significant immediate improvements (longer school days, teacher evaluation, etc.). Principals, superintendents and curriculum teams must have the authority to “change working conditions” without it being subject to grievance. Why hire educational leaders if they aren’t allowed to lead?
Schools vs. end of life? In 2001, the commonwealth spent $8.3 billion on education and $10.8 billion on health care. Current projections are somewhere around $15.2 billion for health care and $7 billion for schools. Critical to discussions and new policy is rethinking the balance and tradeoffs between services primarily benefitting the young as education and health care that disproportionately but necessarily helps older citizens. (An added note is that young people in good health are now mandated to buy health insurance, not adjusted for age, which means of course they are subsidizing older people with greater health-care needs; this at a time when many are not earning peak salaries and are trying to pay off a college debt.) The health cost drain is frightening for its deep impact.
We don’t have an answer — only trying to point out the delicate dilemma facing our society in balancing needs. Despite lack of attention, the Congressional pork barrel is still full though.
Speaking of balance (or imbalance), take a glance at these college spending priorities. The first number is median athletic spending per athlete with the second being the academic spending per student: Southeast Conference, $156,833 vs. $13,471; Big East, $92,188 vs. $17,735; Mid-American Conference, $48,185 vs. $12,575. Enough said!
Okay, you boastful Alabama football fans, you beat us on the football field. But we Notre Dame followers still can claim top prize and first place in graduation rate for all its student athletes!
There are significant gaps very often in the graduation rates between white and black athletes depending on the priorities of the school’s programs.
For example, the range may be from Fresno State that has a 45 percent white graduation rate and 56 percent black athletic graduation rate, to Alabama that has a 90 percent white graduation rate and 68 percent black athletic graduation rate to Notre Dame that possesses a 93 percent graduation rate for white athletes and 100 percent for blacks.
A significant effort by universities in the last five years to provide an education in exchange for the dollars the students generate has resulted in real progress in those getting a diploma. Alabama, to its credit, saw the black graduation rate increase from 38 percent six years ago to the current 68 percent. But they can’t beat the Fighting Irish!
One of the answers to combating violent behavior and reducing gun deaths is accountability within our own domains, not expecting Congress to be the only source of resolution.
We applaud the Marlborough mother who last week stood steadfast explaining in an interview that, despite pleas from, arguments with and rebellion from her freshman son, forbids the purchase of those popular assassination videos.
Kudos as well to the parents who, being disturbed and offended by the loud and violent video games positioned in the hallways of a Massachusetts Turnpike rest stop, protested to the Turnpike Authority. They were within an hour of Newtown and travelling with their young children. These concerned parents reasonably and correctly argued that their children should not be subjected to such “entertainment” in a public venue.
The highway authority responded by removing the offensive machines on the pike, much to their credit.
We can each make a difference!
Devens residents do not have a permanent home school for their children. Why not make an overture to the Ayer-Shirley Regional School District to join them? What is the advantage of a year-to-year contract with Harvard which is subject to change for many reasons. It would be a natural (re)union, wouldn’t it?
“He who never made a mistake, never made a discovery.” Unknown
Tom Casey is a retired educator and educational consultant living in Lancaster with his wife, Kathy.