Federal Education Issues to Watch
For more information: AAUW Fact Sheets and Position Papers on Affirmative Action, Athletics, Education, Managed Care Reform, Reproductive Rights, and Social Security Reform.
Updated: December 4, 2013
- In the News: The Skinny on Sports Spending - New Knight Foundation database enables comparisons (at college and conference level) of sports expenditures per athlete with academic expenditures per student.
- In the News: Students Blame Colleges for Debt Woes - A national poll of four-year college students has found that they are more likely to blame colleges than other institutions for the rising levels of student debt. The poll, by the Harvard University Institute of Politics, found that 68 percent of those polled viewed student debt for young people as a major problem, while 21 percent viewed it as a minor problem.
- In the News: Study: Out-of-Pocket Costs in Most of Higher Education Rising - The average out-of-pocket net price -- a college’s sticker price minus all forms of financial aid -- increased by $800 at both private not-for-profit and public four-year universities, after adjusting for inflation. At community colleges, the same figure rose by $400.
- In the News: AAUW Blog: Student Mothers Need Child Care to Graduate - Today, more undergraduate students are enrolled in community colleges than in any other type of institution, and women especially are drawn to these schools - with their flexible schedules and affordable tuition - for higher education and workforce preparation. More than 4 million women are currently enrolled in community colleges, which can be gateways to better opportunities - but only if students parents get the resources they need.
- In the News: Shopping for a Girl? Consider Science and Engineering Toys - The American Association of University Women, for example, created a list of 16 gifts for girls of every age. The group's list includes a "future scientist" onesie, computer engineer Barbie, Wikki Stix, an alternative-energy science kit, and "The Princess Knight," a book about a princess who rescues herself (no prince required).
- In the News: Measuring the Wealth Effect in Education - While it may be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, it has long been thought easier for the rich man's son or daughter to get into Harvard. Or Oxford.
But thanks to a new study by John Jerrim at the Institute of Education at the University of London we now know how much easier. At a time when governments on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are increasingly facing questions about the widening gap between rich and poor, Dr. Jerrim studied access to high-status universities in Britain, the United States and Australia.
- In the News: 'Party School' - New book details campus and community hazards of thriving party school culture, and complacency of administrators who fail to address it.
- In the News: Report Urges Steps to Revitalize Civic Education in U.S. Schools - "Historically, public schooling in the United States took on civic education as one of its primary mandates," says the report, Youth Civic Development and Education, coauthored by Stanford Graduation School of Education Professor William Damon and other experts, including scholars from the University of Washington-Seattle and UCLA. "But in the present environment, schools do not devote sufficient time and effort to civic education; nor is this mandate high on the priority lists of influential policymakers. The civic goal of education is being left unfulfilled and even ignored by many of our schools."
- In the News: Parents group calls for Regents to state their positions - As the Legislature considers openings on the Board of Regents, a coalition of interested parties concerned about the state's public school reform agenda is calling for Regents up for re-appointment to state their opinions on the Common Core program being implemented. New York State Allies for Public Education are appealing to Regents Christine Cea, James Jackson, James Cotrell, and Wade Norwood to publicly clarify their points of view on the education reforms as potential candidates for the office consider their options.
- In the News: States Insist on Third Grade Reading Proficiency - Educators have known for decades that learning how to read by the third grade is a critical milestone for children. Students who fall too far behind by the third grade rarely catch up. One recent study found that students who don’t read well by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.
- In the News: L.A. Public Schools to Teach Queer History - The new curriculum makes Los Angeles the first US city to implement such a program.
- In the News: December 9: NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION TO RECLAIM THE PROMISE OF
- In the News: Four school adults charged including superintendent in Steubenville rape case - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announces that a grand jury has indicted Steubenville's school superintendent, an elementary school principal, a wrestling coach and a volunteer football coach on charges related to the rape of a 16-year-old girl in 2012.
- In the News: On campuses, a fossil-fuel divestment movement - A divestment movement is marching across U.S. college campuses, borrowing tactics from the 1980s anti-apartheid campaign and using them against oil, gas and coal companies to fight climate change.
- In the News: NYS Education reform backed by the wealthy - Supported with $19 million in donations from some of the nation's wealthiest philanthropists, the Regents Research Fund team makes up a little-known think tank within the education agency. It is helping drive reforms that affect the state's 3.1 million public school students and employees of almost 700 school districts. The three-year-old operation, which now comprises 27 full-time staffers and a half-time intern, is unique in public education systems nationwide.
- In the News: Tuition Revenue Down - Net revenue from tuition is no longer keeping pace with inflation at about 4 in 10 American universities. Without the money, what will be lost?
- In the News: NY only state still on board with school data - After months of debate about the risks of storing student data in the cloud, New York is pressing ahead with a plan to create a statewide database for every public school student's grades, tests scores and attendance records - a tech startup proposal that drew interest from several other states that have now reconsidered. Concerns from parents about who will have access to the information, how long it will be held and whether it will be used for marketing purposes have stalled the momentum of a startup that promised to bring efficiency and cost savings to record-keeping that is still largely handled district by district across the country.
- In the News: Texas Education Board Flags Biology Textbook Over Evolution Concerns - The Texas Board of Education on Friday delayed final approval of a widely used biology textbook because of concerns raised by one reviewer that it presents evolution as fact rather than theory. The months-long textbook review process in Texas has been controversial because a number of people selected this year to evaluate publishers' submissions do not accept evolution or climate change as scientific truth.
- In the News: High Career Turnover Rates for Women in STEM Fields: Inhospitable Environment a Factor - Fifty percent of women working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers leave their field for other occupations in the first 12 years of their career, compared to only 20 percent of professional women in non-STEM fields, according to a new study from researchers at Cornell University and the University of Texas at Austin. The study: "What's So Special about STEM? A Comparison of Women's Retention in STEM and Professional Occupations."
- In the News: Why We Need More Male Primary School Teachers - Some argue that boys have become the 'new disadvantaged' as the result of efforts to eradicate female disadvantage in a historically male biased education system. A widely accepted solution is more male teachers /role models in schools for boys.
- In the News: N.Y. school principals write letter of concern about Common Core tests - A group of eight prominent school superintendents from around New York State have drafted a letter to parents expressing their deep concerns about the validity of new Common Core-aligned standardized tests that state education officials are giving to students in grades three through eight -- and in just a few weeks more than 530 other principals and nearly 3,000 parents and teachers have signed in support.
- In the News: When Support Services Exist, Veterans Fare Well in Class, Report Says
- In the News: Texas State education board unlikely to add evolution disclaimers to science books - Coverage of evolution in new high school science books in Texas appears likely to escape the major disclaimers that social conservatives and other critics seek. So far, major publishers have resisted social conservatives’ efforts to add questions about key elements of the theory of evolution.
- In the News: Strategy for Women in STEM - Although women hold nearly half the jobs in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, they occupy less than 25 percent of those in the STEM fields. While 40 percent of male STEM graduates move on to a job in those fields, the same is true for only 26 percent of STEM degree-holding women.
- AAUW: Changing the Face of Computer Science, One Hour at a Time - In a world increasingly dependent on technology, the ability to code — that is, to write programs that make computers do things — is critical to the future of innovation and our economy. That means computer science is crucial for every student, especially girls.
- In the News: Women Gain in Some STEM Fields, but Not Computer Science - Engineering is slightly more female-heavy than it was in 1991, but not much: 15.5 percent then versus 18.4 percent in 2010, the most recent year in the report. Computer science actually is more male-dominated today than it was two decades ago: Women received 29.6 percent of computer science B.A.’s in 1991, compared with 18.2 percent in 2010.
- In the News: Educate the whole child - The latest Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation uses a new analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal study to offer three broad policy recommendations:
- support parents so they can effectively care and provide for their children;
- increase access to high-quality birth-through-age-8 programs, beginning with investments that target low-income children; and
- develop comprehensive, integrated programs and data systems to address all aspects of children's development and to support their transition to elementary school.
- In the News: Schools Still See Surges in Homeless Students - A new report finds that 40 states saw increases in the number of homeless students in the 2011-12 school year—some by 20 percent or more.
- In the News: Poverty Is America's #1 Education Problem - Teachers' unions are not the reason America's schools are in trouble.
- In the News: Sequester Woes for Research - A new survey outlines the impact automatic federal budget cuts have had on research universities, as the leaders of those institutions urge Congress to stop a second round of cuts slated for January.
- In the News: Educating the Whole Athlete - Georgetown's new athlete development and leadership program bridges sports, academics and student services for a comprehensive approach to leadership education.
- In the News: Student Debt Is Crushing the Economic Future of the Young - If the job market was not bad enough, the amount of debt that college students are accruing will hinder their overall ability to create wealth in their lifetimes, thus putting the future of the US economy at risk.
- In the News: 1 Million People Have Used Post-9/11 GI Bill - More than one million veterans, service members and their families have received tuition assistance and other benefits from the post-9/11 GI bill.
- In the News: Missing: A National Education Policy for Low-Income Families - When it comes to the transformation of public education, families and students are at the bottom of the partnership feeding chain. And our poorest families often wield the least power and have little political or social capital. Their voice is hardly ever sought after, and their children attend the lowest-performing schools. Missing in action are the well-integrated national education policies that should assure these families that they have a voice at the reform table.
- In the News: Outlook for Community Colleges - The financial outlook for community colleges is improving, but the two-year college systems in many states remain under significant stress, according to a survey being released today.
- In the News: STEM in the UK - Teaching our children to code: a quiet revolution - The next wave of the digital revolution arrives next year, with every child in the UK being taught computer programming. In just under a year, England will become the first country in the world to mandate computer programming in primary and secondary schools. Children will start learning to write code when they enter school the age of five, and will not stop until at least 16, when they finish their GCSEs.
- In the News: Facebook invests thousands to help school girls code - Facebook is investing £100,000 to help UK students code as a report shows two thirds of girls would never consider engineering careers. Fewer than one in 10 engineering professions in the UK are women and only one in seven engineering students are female, according to the report.
- National Education Groups Issue FAQs to Help School Systems and Employees Understand DOMA - “School districts are collectively the largest employers in the U.S. and they need to be aware of how this pivotal ruling changes employee benefits and benefit administration,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “This is a major breakthrough in federal employment law, and this document will help clarify the many questions school systems and employees will have as the Court’s ruling is implemented.”
- In the News: LEGO working its way into engineering programs Big-name universities such as Carnegie Mellon and Texas A&M are working LEGO into their undergraduate engineering curriculum. Students often have experience with LEGO from high school classes and so they are familiar learning tools, as well as childhood favorites.
- In the News: The robotics curriculum is on a growth trajectory - Five years ago, there were no universities offering an undergraduate major in robotics. Today, “robotics is a high-growth area,” says Mike Gennert, the director of the Robotics Engineering Program at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), a 5,700-student university in Massachusetts.
- In the News: College tuition has jumped by 500% since 1985 - The rising cost of college tuition far outpaced the growth of medical costs (286%) and overall inflation (121%) during the same span. Even if you earned your diploma in the late '90s, you still got a bargain by comparison. Tuition rates kept pace with health care costs in the early '90s, but spiked from a relatively paltry 200% of their 1985 average in the early 2000s.
- In the News: Education secretary Duncan discusses plight of rural schools - “We must first dramatically increase college enrollment and completion,” Duncan said. “Only about a third of young adults living in rural areas are enrolled in postsecondary education today. As long as adults in small towns and rural communities are the least likely people to earn a bachelor’s degree, economic development, job creation and entrepreneurial ventures will be limited."
- In the News: Study: Many Young Children Lagging in Cognitive Skills at Age 8 - Targeted early-childhood education programs and strengthened connections between early-childhood providers and schools can help address education disparities, says a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
- In the News: One Million K-12 Students Are Homeless - The Department of Education released its latest report on homeless students last month and the numbers are startling. More than 1.2 million K–12 students for the 2011-12 school year were homeless. This staggering number is considered underreported, since many kids take great measures to hide their homelessness due to embarrassment, and parents do their best to stay under the radar for fear of losing their children.
- In the News: The hottest job skill is... - The Army, NYPD and State Department can't get enough workers with this job skill. Neither can Fortune 500 companies, hospitals, local courts and schools.
What is it? Fluency in a foreign language. Translators and interpreters are expected to be one of the 15 fastest growing occupations in the nation, according to the Department of Labor.
- In the News: Affordability Comes to Fore as Congress Gears Up to Reauthorize Key Higher Education Law
- In the News: PBS Launches New Video Series to Make Math 'Cool' - PBS has launched a new "experimental web series" intended to make "make math interesting" to middle school students. The series, called PBS Math Club, features short videos designed to connect math to students' lives and interests. For instance, when discussing positive and negative integers, the all teenage girl cast uses YouTube's rating system as an example. Another video makes an analogy between adding negative numbers and the popular movies Mean Girls and Star Wars.
- In the News: A Closer Look at Why More Women Than Men Are Going to College - A new Florida study traces the growing gender gap in college enrollment to choices girls and boys make about which high school to attend. The researchers said they were unable to determine why boys and girls select into these different types of schools. But the findings have implications for policymakers in the future, particularly with the rise in same-sex school environments. The authors' previous research found that counties where a larger share of students attend private, magnet, charter, and irregular public schools have higher levels of gender-sorting across schools. This issue merits further attention, the study notes, as the National Center for Education Statistics projects enrollment for women will increase by 21 percent by 2019, but only 12 percent for men.
- In the News: After-School Program With Focus on Mentors Leads to Academic Gains - An after-school and summer program that features mentors to help disadvantaged middle-school students produced substantial and sustained academic gains for participating students in math, according to a recent study. Some gains were also seen in reading, but they did not persist over time.
- In the News: Segregation in American Schools Still Problematic, Despite Best Efforts - Any study about such a hot-button issue is subject to misinterpretation, says author Jeremy Fiel, a sociology Ph.D. candidate at UW-Madison. "My main worry is that people will interpret this study as saying that resegregation is not happening anywhere, or is not a problem, but that's not what the study shows. I find no widespread, national trend toward resegregation, at least in terms of processes that separate students, but the United States has large-scale changes in the composition of our population and we need to take them seriously to address the problems of segregation."
- AAUW supports policies which create safe learning environments. In addition to policies protecting students from teachers who have violent criminal backgrounds, we also need policies to protect students from peer-to-peer bullying and sexual harassment, as detailed in AAUW’s report Crossing the Line (2011).
- North Country Matters Video: St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES School Superintendent Tom Burns on School Mergers & Consolidation (Oct. 4, 2013)
- North Country Matters Video: St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES Assistant Superintendent Superintendent Steve Todd on School Funding Through Grants (Oct. 4, 2013)
- In the News: 7 Powerful STEM Resources For Girls
- In the News: High School Sports Participation Reaches Record High... Again - Girls' participation in high school sports also reached a new all-time high in 2012-13, with an additional 15,190 female student-athletes from the year before. A total of 3,222,723 female student-athletes participated in high school sports during the 2012-13 school year, the NFHS found.
- Just to put these numbers in perspective, the number of girls playing today is still one-half million under the number of boys who played sports in 1972, the year Title IX was signed into law! There were 3.7 million boys participating in interscholastic athletics in 1972.
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