Ultimate Resource Providing News, Breakthroughs And Innovations In Education
The Unclear Future For Gifted-and-Talented Education. Ultimate Resource Providing News, Breakthroughs And Innovations In Education
Controversy has ramped up around the practice of providing accelerated classes for selected students, raising questions about how programs will look in coming years.
Will gifted-and-talented school programs still exist in five years?
Controversy has ramped up around the longtime practice of providing accelerated classes for selected students. Racial-justice movements highlighted inequalities, prompting changes in districts across the nation.
Lawsuits related to these programs are pending in states including Virginia, Missouri and New York.
Critics say gifted-and-talented classes lead to racial segregation and take resources away from other students who need them. Even some proponents say changes may be needed in methods for selecting students and in the names of these programs, which many brand as elitist.
Backers argue they are a strong selling point for public education, especially to middle-class families, and play a valuable role in educating students.
Some say advances in assessing the ways that children learn, which have been helped by new technology, point toward a need for more tailored instruction, not less.
“There’s a greater and greater understanding of the individual learning needs of students, across the board,” says Scott Peters, a research scientist at the Center for School and Student Progress at Portland, Ore.-based Northwest Evaluation Association, a nonprofit that creates tests used in schools around the world.
“It’s going to be harder and harder to support these ideas of, oh, let’s just have all ninth-graders learn algebra.”
Gifted and talented programs are mostly managed locally, and their content varies widely. There is no direct federal funding for them. Most states have gifted programs, but only 15 mandate them and provide funding, according to the National Association for Gifted Children.
Most don’t provide guidance on how to identify gifted students, how they should be taught, or at what ages they should enter the programs. Students chosen as gifted may get accelerated lessons in classrooms shared with others not in the program, or in separate classes or schools.
New York City, the largest school district in the nation, is in the midst of a particularly heated debate. Mayor Eric Adams this year expanded gifted classes to every district in the city, just months after his predecessor moved to do away with them.
The plan adds 1,000 seats to gifted classes for third graders and 100 seats for kindergarten students this fall.
At the same time, Mr. Adams got rid of an admissions test that opponents of these programs had criticized as favoring white and Asian children over Black and Hispanic students. Instead, students will be referred by teachers.
Expanding rather than eliminating the programs is a way to encourage enrollment after declines during the pandemic, says New York City Chancellor David Banks. Universal screening of third-grade students for gifted eligibility will increase diversity, he adds. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Some see this model of scrapping admissions tests and offering accelerated classes in every school as one that could take root more widely across the U.S. in coming years.
Many parents want the option of gifted programs for their kids, and the classes can be important in educating talented students, says Johns Hopkins University professor Jonathan Plucker, a past president of the National Association for Gifted Children.
But, to survive, he says, the programs need an overhaul and likely a name change as well.
“I think, for some people, the term brings lots of raw feelings about elitism,” Dr. Plucker says. “Opportunities that they feel that they were unfairly denied when they were growing up.”
Critics say the programs feed racial and wealth inequalities. Students in wealthier schools were more than twice as likely to enroll in gifted education programs compared with those in high-poverty schools, according to a 2021 study published in the Journal of Advanced Academics.
A 2018 study conducted by the University of Connecticut found that students living in poverty were less likely than other children to be identified as gifted.
White students accounted for 58% of enrollment in gifted programs, although they made up 47% of enrollment in the nation’s public school system, according to nationwide data for the 2017-18 school year collected by the Department of Education.
Brooklyn school-board leader NeQuan McLean says gifted programs have caused division and segregation in his district, and should be abolished because they take resources away from needy students.
“We need to teach all students, including those students who may not be gifted in math, but may be talented in art,” says Mr. McLean, president of Community Education Council 16 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. “We have to make sure that we’re tapping into all of those things.”
How students are selected for gifted programs is an issue at the heart of the debate. New York City’s test was criticized in part because families could hire tutors to prepare. Education Department officials say the new system based on teacher recommendations will yield more diverse admissions.
Meanwhile, a National Bureau of Economic Research study of a single large district in an unnamed city published in 2015 found that testing all students for giftedness, rather than relying on teacher recommendations, resulted in a more diverse group of students qualifying.
Local conflicts over access to gifted programs have become more widespread as the nation navigates a period of social change, Dr. Plucker says. The acrimony, he says, has led many educational leaders to want to get rid of the programs altogether.
But the drawbacks of deprioritizing programs for the nation’s talented children could be huge, he says. “We need to get this right, or else we’re all going to pay for it down the line.”
De-Emphasize Grades? These Californians Deserve A “D”
The Los Angeles and San Diego school systems want teachers to stop penalizing students for bad behavior and poor work habits. That’ll just hurt the people the changes are supposed to help.
I’m a teacher with serious misgivings about the wisdom of traditional grading systems. So my heart leaped a little when I learned that Los Angeles and San Diego are moving away from them.
On closer inspection, I’m not so hopeful. While I’ve long regarded grades as having the kind of toxic impact on student learning that petrochemicals have on the environment, the path taken by California’s two largest school districts risks dumbing down education and hurting the students it seeks to help.
The changes are fine in theory. They aim to give students an opportunity to revise their work and retake tests, ideas that have merit. Moreover, they come in response to a troubling increase in the number of D’s and F’s assigned in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and school closures; the traditional grading system, reformers reasonably argued, was widening educational inequities.
However, the most worrying aspect of California’s social-justice approach to grading is the directive to teachers that they not penalize students for “behavior, work habits and missed deadlines.”
There is a long, successful history of teaching without traditional grades, especially among progressive schools. But they are predicated on teachers and schools creating a culture of high student expectations, engagement and continuous improvement, as well as curriculums that tap into student interests.
For example, students in schools affiliated with the New York State Performance Standards Consortium, a group of about 40 schools that was allowed to replace most standardized tests with projects focused on writing, problem-solving and research, learn to conduct self-evaluations and to revise their work.
Final evaluations are based on detailed standards of review, such as whether projects show “credible evidence,” “creativity” and “thorough understanding” of key concepts. The emphasis is on the process, not the grade.
This approach has proven successful with the kinds of students with social and educational disadvantages whom the California initiative is intended to help.
I teach at the City University of New York, a traditional grade-driven institution. But as a product — and admirer — of progressive education, I’ve developed an assessment system that judges students based on two key criteria: How much their work improves over the course of the semester and how well they’ve mastered class material.
In my journalism courses, this typically means the ability to produce a feature-length article of publishable quality, one that is well written and backed by abundant research, data and expert interviews.
To minimize the focus on grades, I give numerous ungraded mini assignments, including rough drafts and research tasks, and I provide detailed feedback and guidance for these and the more ambitious class projects, which are graded.
I rarely give an A on the first completed project — if students know enough to get an A on the first round, I explain, they probably don’t need to be in my class.
However, by the end of the semester, each student is positioned to receive, if not an A, then a substantially higher grade than she could have gotten at the beginning.
Most important, though, are the assignments. My greatest success in sparking students’ interest has been the immersive political-reporting class I teach every other year with my colleague, Vera Haller.
The class, which coincides with upcoming elections, focuses on a key political problem — such the Texas-Mexico border crisis — and requires our students, many of them immigrants, to conduct on-the-ground reporting with experts, including border police, who work on the issues they are studying.
Student teams are responsible for developing dossiers on subjects like the Latino vote, immigration law and border history that the class relies on to complete their final projects. They also are learning to trust our feedback as they see how they are improving.
Such lessons require more preparation by teachers than the typical journalism class, including reaching out to experts and lining up guest speakers; gathering targeted readings, podcasts and videos; and organizing a weeklong reporting trip — in 2020, to the border between El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico.
Our students produce award-winning articles and multimedia, and many go on to win coveted internships and jobs.
I would eliminate traditional grades in a heartbeat for my nonfiction writing classes, which require the acquisition of nuanced skills and knowledge that defy appraisal by a single numeric grade; think of story organization, writing style and reporting ability.
But grades serve a crucial purpose for other kinds of classes. When my daughter’s progressive school phased out final exams, she lamented that for classes like chemistry and biology, end-of-semester exams are ideal for instilling the discipline needed to assimilate the complex concepts that she would need as she progressed to medical school.
Discipline, teamwork and organization are habits of mind crucial for all students — a lesson California’s reformers should take to heart. Without them it is impossible to overcome the challenge of teaching self-motivation and thus making traditional grading irrelevant.
YouTube Is A Huge Classroom Distraction. Teachers Are Reluctant To Banish It
The pandemic made Google’s video megasite an educational mainstay, and now students are distracted, parents are angry and teachers are caught in the middle.
There’s YouTube, the lifesaver for teachers during the pandemic that continues to provide useful videos for students. Then there’s YouTube, the endless distraction that followed kids back into the classroom. Together, they’re causing tension between parents and educators over the role technology should play in school.
As schools shut down due to Covid-19, districts across the country scrambled to get laptops and tablets to students. According to survey data from the Consortium for School Network, 86% of U.S. middle schools gave every student a device.
The devices and online services made remote school possible, though many students started goofing off and watching YouTube when they were supposed to be paying attention.
Parents expected that when their kids returned to the classroom, YouTube wouldn’t be necessary anymore.
“I was a huge advocate of keeping learning going during Covid by having Chromebooks for kids. It was a Band-Aid when schools were closed,” said Karen Swindells, a mother of two in Chesterfield, Mo. “Two years later my kids are back in person 100%, so why are we still relying heavily on online resources to teach?”
Administrators say gadgets have become part of the daily curriculum for many middle- and high-school students. And YouTube is the third-most popular online resource used by teachers in U.S. K-12 schools (behind Google Drive and Google Forms), according to student data-analytics firm Schoolytics. Teachers don’t want to block it fully.
Some schools are fighting tech with tech, installing monitoring software such as LanSchool and GoGuardian so teachers can turn off YouTube when it’s not assigned. Others are restricting the YouTube channels students can watch.
(YouTube-parent Google has instructions on how school IT staff can do that). Some teachers restrict YouTube viewing to just their own computers. The solutions typically create more work for teachers.
“You could cut off YouTube, but this is the world these kids live in and they need to learn how to be good digital citizens,” said Gina McNair, an eighth-grade English teacher in rural Georgia. “When I get out pencil and paper, they’re like, ‘Oh, my God, you actually want us to write?’ ”
That isn’t to say Ms. McNair is happy about this. YouTube-watching in class has become such a problem that her district recently installed software so teachers can monitor students’ computers remotely, and close websites they don’t want them to use. “You’re torn between working with kids individually or in small groups while also keeping an eye on 20 screens,” she said.
Patrolling the class on foot isn’t a good option, she said, because kids are quick to hide their browsers when they see a teacher approaching.
Some districts haven’t yet settled on a plan for handling the YouTube conundrum. Brooke Shannon, a parent of three students in the Eanes Independent School District in Austin, Texas, has been pleading with the district to do more to restrict YouTube on school-issued iPads for nearly four years.
She said she became more concerned last fall when she began substitute teaching in the district and witnessed the issue firsthand.
“I feel YouTube has become a crutch for teachers, an easy go-to,” she said.
Kristy Sailors, chief technology officer for the Eanes school district, said teachers can block and shut down websites and apps students are using through Apple’s Classroom app.
She said a tech advisory committee made up of high-school students, K-12 teachers, administrators and parents is helping the district develop a long-range tech plan.
As part of that, she said, the committee will investigate alternatives to YouTube, such as other video-hosting services.
Lori Anderson, a middle-school science teacher near Raleigh, N.C., said YouTube can be a blessing, and short video clips bring her lectures to life.
During a recent unit on earth science, she showed the class a five-minute video about erosion. During a lesson on pollution, she played videos of ocean cleanups.
But she wishes her school had monitoring software.
“When I’m walking around looking at everyone’s screen,” she said, “I’m not helping someone else who has a question about the assignment.” She estimates that she busts six or seven kids each day for watching YouTube or playing games—a third of her class.
She and her fellow teachers agreed to reduce students’ use of computers in class, not only to curb the YouTube binge, but also to clamp down on cheating. The sixth-graders now use their Chromebooks for in-class assignments about half the time, down from full time last year. She said the goal is to use Chromebooks only 10% of the time.
“Students are complaining but they’re also getting better grades now,” she said.
A couple of weeks ago, Ms. Anderson conducted an experiment. She had one class complete an assignment on their computers and the other on paper.
All of the students who did it on paper turned in their work, but only 70% of the students who did it on the computer turned it in. The computer users, she said, were distracted by YouTube and games.
Still, she doesn’t support a ban.
“Kids have a short attention span, and sometimes we have to jump up and down and do cartwheels to get them excited and interested,” Ms. Anderson said. “Sometimes, we can find a YouTube video that can do those cartwheels for us.”
The Problem With College Is So Much Bigger Than Student Debt
Biden’s plan is a Band-Aid solution to a bigger issue: A low return on tuition for too many people. But there’s still hope for a better system.
About 10 minutes after stepping to the podium of the Roosevelt Room on Aug. 24—having already regaled reporters with stories of wearing baseball spikes to his father’s workplace in Newark, Del., and driving a “nice used car” to his high school prom—President Joe Biden got around to the topic at hand.
His administration planned to grant student loan forgiveness to more than 40 million Americans, with at least half seeing their debt wiped away.
“We’ll provide more breathing room for the middle class so they’re less burdened by student debt,” he said. “And, quite frankly, fix the system itself.” Biden turned to his secretary of education, Miguel Cardona.
“When we came in, we both acknowledged [it] was broken, in terms of … ” The president paused, considered whether to delve into the brokenness of the “system,” and thought better of it. He sighed.
The White House’s decision to cancel federal student loan debts does many things. Most obviously, it provides $10,000 in relief to all individual borrowers making $125,000 or less and as much as $20,000 for students from low-income families.
Depending on your political leaning, it will either boost Democrats’ support among young voters before the midterm elections or energize Republicans outraged at the prospect of inflationary handouts to college-going elites. (Or both.)
It’s already caused a 500% spike in traffic to the government’s federal student aid website.
What it won’t do is address the ongoing crisis of college affordability that’s left so many saddled with debts they’ll never be able to repay.
Put another way: It doesn’t fix the system. “Student loan forgiveness is a Band-Aid,” says Ryan Craig, managing director of Achieve Partners, an investment firm, and author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education.
“I recognize that if you’re bleeding, a Band-Aid is really important. But it does nothing about the underlying problem.”
It’s worth noting that the massive growth of the US’s federal student loan portfolio is at least partly a success story. In 1980 fewer than half of high school graduates enrolled in college; today roughly 70% pursue higher education of some kind, the highest level in the world.
By every statistical measure, Americans are more educated than at any other time in the country’s history. The trouble is they can’t pay for it.
In the past 30 years the average cost of tuition at public four-year colleges has more than doubled, from $4,160 to $10,740; add room and board, living expenses, books, and supplies, and the overall cost of attending tops $25,000.
Private schools charge, on average, $38,090 in tuition, compared with $19,360 in 1991, and the cost of attendance exceeds $50,000.
Meanwhile, the average balance for federal student loan borrowers has grown from $10,000 to more than $30,000 over the past three decades. So even as shellshocked students, parents, and politicians demand that colleges rein in prices, the government’s gusher of student loan money has effectively removed any incentive for them to do so.
What’s more, rather than use those resources to invest in tools to measure and improve instruction, many elite schools have poured money into hiring administrators, building amenities, and upgrading the student “experience.”
A McKinsey & Co. report found that from 2007 to 2018, outlays on student services at four-year institutions grew four times faster than spending on instruction and research.
For a fair number of students, a college degree remains a sound lifetime investment, even if it means amassing a sizable amount of debt. “The economic returns can still be quite large,” says Beth Akers, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Making College Pay.
“People with bachelor’s degrees earn an extra $1 million over their lifetime compared to those without them. If you’re spending $70,000 on tuition but seeing a 15% rate of return, I’m not going to lose sleep over it.” But, she adds, “that doesn’t always happen.”
While college graduates as a group can expect better outcomes than their peers, those gains are highly concentrated among people who come from affluent families and attend selective institutions—the ones that accept fewer than half of applicants and educate only 2% of all students.
For everyone else the benefits of college are far less clear, particularly for the one-third of undergraduates who never complete their degrees.
Craig, of Achieve Partners, estimates that 70% of students currently enrolled in a two- or four-year college can expect a “negative outcome in terms of failure to complete or graduating into underemployment.”
That’s also the cohort most likely to struggle—and invariably fail—to pay off their student loans.
What should be done? Biden’s plan will relieve millions of low- and middle-income borrowers of unpaid loans. But current and future students remain at risk of falling into the same trap.
“Until we address the affordability issue, there’s nothing that prevents us from being right back here 10 years from now,” says Kim Cook, chief executive officer of the National College Attainment Network, a nonprofit focused on expanding access to higher education.
“Wraparound” services aimed at helping poor students finish their degrees—such as the City University of New York’s ASAP program, which provides economically vulnerable students with tutoring, career counseling, and help with living expenses—would boost their earnings and, in turn, cut loan default rates.
Increasing aid to low-income students through debt-free Federal Pell Grants would help more of them stay in school and reduce the amount they have to take out in loans. (Biden wants to double the maximum award to $13,000 a year.)
“Doubling the size of the Pell Grant would go a long way,” Cook says. “It’s targeted aid that students can take directly to the institution of their choice.
It’s focused on need. The regulations are already written. It’s a tremendous investment in our students and our economy.”
Making America’s system of higher education deliver results for more students will also require a different bargain between colleges and consumers.
“The problem facing higher education,” Craig says, “is that it hasn’t changed at all in the past generation or so, except in one way—it’s gotten more expensive.”
Temple University President Jason Wingard, author of a new book, The College Devaluation Crisis, says that although colleges once reliably produced graduates who could succeed in the workplace, “for the first time, the market economy is not being satisfied by the skills and competencies that college graduates are being armed with.
And the data shows that increasing numbers of students aren’t seeing a return on their investment—not in the short term, not in the medium term. The return just isn’t there anymore.”
James Kvaal, the US Department of Education’s top official on higher education policy, says the administration is stepping up efforts to hold for-profit colleges accountable by, among other things, publishing an annual list of programs with the worst debt records. “College leaders are not going to want to see their program listed as leaving students with unaffordable debt,” he says.
“They’re not going to want to see their students coming to the department website and receiving a warning about what those outcomes look like. These are substantial steps.”
But some experts think the government needs to go further and tie all colleges’ eligibility for receiving federal student loan dollars to the career outcomes of their students—an idea long resisted by leaders of nonprofit colleges and universities, who say their value can’t be reduced to dollars and cents.
Get over it, says AEI’s Akers: “Over 90% of people who attend college say it’s to advance themselves financially. We need to regulate the system on that basis.”
That’s easier said than done. Few institutions track their alumni’s careers in a systematic way; creating a government-run system for evaluating the performance of more than 6,000 institutions of varying size, demographics, and mission would be exceedingly complex. The best hope may come from consumers themselves.
Since the start of the pandemic, overall enrollment in two- and four-year colleges has fallen more than 7%, with a growing number of students opting for cheaper, short-term, work-based apprenticeships and training programs in high-demand fields ranging from health care to cybersecurity.
And, as Bloomberg Opinion’s Matt Yglesias noted in a recent article, even among traditional students, majors such as English and anthropology have declined in popularity, with students gravitating to computer science, nursing, and other practical fields.
“I think the tide has started to turn,” says Craig. “And it will really turn as the infrastructure and seats in these alternative career pathways increase. You’ll see students vote with their feet.
And colleges will have no choice but to compete for them—by offering programs that are simply a better value proposition than four-year degree programs that cost six figures and don’t lead to any guaranteed employment outcome.”
Consider this alternative vision of US higher education: a landscape of faster, cheaper, vocational options geared toward preparing students for specific fields; apprenticeships that offer paid experience; prestigious colleges and universities focused on delivering the highest value for the money, rather than the most luxe dormitories; and government aid programs that provide the neediest students with the resources to finish their degrees without taking on unsustainable debt.
Aspirational? Certainly. But with creativity, commitment, and cooperation among policymakers, employers, and colleges themselves, the US might yet stumble its way toward fixing a broken system. The country’s future depends on it.
Schools Are Back And Confronting Severe Learning Losses
States direct billions to tutoring and other efforts to reverse pandemic declines in reading scores but have little sense of what works.
ASHLAND CITY, Tenn.—Delainey Tidwell says she loves reading. The tricky part for her is understanding the words on the page.
“I would read one sentence over and over again,” said the 9-year-old fourth-grader.
Though she returned to school in August 2020, repeated quarantines left her mostly on her own at home. Her father is a construction supervisor who has to be on site.
Her mother works from home but gets few breaks during the day. Delainey sometimes had to care for her little sister during virtual school.
Delainey’s difficulty with comprehension is also hurting her in math class, where she struggles to understand word problems, said her mother, Danyal Tidwell, who pins some blame on the pandemic.
“We want to give her every resource we can between school and home, because we want her caught up,” Mrs. Tidwell said.
For two years, schools and researchers have wrestled with pandemic-era learning setbacks resulting mostly from a lack of in-person classes. They are struggling to combat the learning loss, as well as to measure just how deep it is.
Some answers to the second question are becoming clear. National data show that children who were learning to read earlier in the pandemic have the lowest reading proficiency rates in about 20 years.
The U.S. Department of Education last Thursday released data showing that from 2020 to 2022, average reading scores for 9-year-olds slid 5 points—to 215 out of a possible 500—in the sharpest decline since 1990.
Average math scores fell 7 points to 234, the first statistically significant decline in math scores since the long-term trend assessments began in the 1970s.
Learning loss generally is worse in districts that kept classes remote longer, with the effects most pronounced in high-poverty districts, researchers say. Yet reading scores are below 2019 levels for certain grades even in some states that quickly returned to in-person instruction, such as Florida.
Among possible reasons, educators say, are that some students stayed remote after in-person classes resumed, Covid-19 outbreaks led to additional quarantining and class routines were disturbed by practices such as social distancing.
While some students have begun to make up ground, researchers say that, on average, it could take five years or more for today’s fourth-graders to read proficiently unless the pace accelerates.
By then, billions of dollars in federal pandemic-related aid for education will have run out.
These students are at a pivotal stage. Educators pay particular attention to 9-year-olds’ literacy rates because research shows that reading ability by the end of third grade can be predictive of educational success, career earnings and the risk of incarceration.
A study released in 2011 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that 16% of students who don’t read proficiently in third grade fail to graduate from high school on time, a rate four times that of proficient readers.
“If students are not reading at grade level, then what does it mean for the content they’re taking in in their other subjects? Are they not as prepared to be able to participate in their math classes and their social studies classes?” said Karyn Lewis, director of the Center for School and Student Progress at NWEA, a nonprofit research firm that has studied how long it may take for proficiency rates on its tests to rebound.
State education leaders were acutely aware of the stakes well before Thursday’s data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and are pumping billions of dollars into hoped-for solutions, from small-group tutoring to expanded summer school, and aiming to offer students more individual attention.
In some cases, the efforts coincide with incremental improvements for struggling students, but educators say they won’t know for years whether their efforts are a match for a problem this big.
“Without any prior experience as a guide, practitioners are sort of winging it—providing tutors to some students, double-dose math and summer school to others—and then just hoping that it all adds up to enough,” said Thomas Kane, an economist and professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
A concern, he said, is that districts might apply solutions and discover their inadequacy only after the federal aid is spent. The biggest pandemic relief program, the American Rescue Plan, earmarked $122 billion for K-12 public schools and required that at least 20% go toward addressing learning loss. In many districts it should be close to 100%, in Prof. Kane’s view.
State-level test results show reading scores still largely below prepandemic levels. In Indiana, the legislature last year approved a $150 million grant program for organizations, such as the United Way, that are offering in-person programs with extended learning time.
Indiana also offers families up to $1,000 to enroll in private tutoring. The program, largely bankrolled by federal aid, targets students who qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches and who were below proficiency in both English language arts and math in the third or fourth grade.
“We have to acknowledge that some of the things that we’re going to deploy in terms of initiatives are going to be very, very successful. Some might just help us stabilize.
Some might not work as they were intended,” said Indiana Education Secretary Katie Jenner. The state has begun analyzing its return on investment, but that will take time, she said.
An office that North Carolina formed last year is leading efforts to assess learning-loss initiatives. The state’s Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration has found that a summer-school program that enrolled 250,000 students in 2021 had a small but positive impact on math and reading scores.
The office is working with a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill research center to launch studies of learning-loss programs, said Michael Maher, who heads the office.
Despite the urgency to fund programs, “we still have to be mindful of how we’re going to spend this money,” Dr. Maher said.
Texas is a rare example of a state where young students’ reading scores have more than bounced back to prepandemic levels. In 2022, half of Texas third-graders met or exceeded expectations, up from 37% in 2021 and 43% in 2019, according to state data.
A key part of the learning-loss recovery effort in Texas is a measure passed by the legislature in 2021 that provides 30 hours of tutoring for students on the subject matter of each test where they failed to meet grade level.
Tennessee is among a handful of states that have taken aggressive action and managed to lift statewide results above 2021 levels, though still not back to scores before the pandemic for some subjects or grade levels.
Tennessee’s spring 2022 assessment of English language arts scores for third-graders showed 36% were proficient, which was up from 32% in 2021 but still slightly behind the 37% in 2019.
State Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn calls the 2019 baseline unacceptably low. “We grew five to seven points, depending on the grade level, this year.
That needs to happen every year for a number of years for our state to be where we know it can be,” she said. “We can’t have reading be less than a flip of a coin whether or not your child’s on grade level.”
One Tennessee effort involves instructing teachers in the science behind learning to read. More than 18,000 teachers have completed 60 hours of instruction, which includes strategies to help struggling readers.
In Nashville, fourth-grade teacher Makayla Walker is gearing up to start tutoring some of her students after school as part of Tennessee’s tutoring program, which began in the 2021-22 school year.
Over three years, the program is expected to reach 150,000 students, underwritten by $200 million in federal aid. The state is investing $170 million in that program as well as a summer learning camp initiative created in response to the pandemic.
The tutoring is high-dosage, meaning students meet two or three times a week for 30 or 45 minutes, for at least a semester. The groups are small, three students per tutor in elementary school. The program is designed for students who are approaching proficiency and need a boost.
“I think it could make a world of difference,” Ms. Walker said. “Because I am their general education teacher, I already kind of have an idea of how they need support in here. So it will really allow me to build on that.”
Last school year the Nashville district tutored 745 third-graders in literacy and more than 3,000 students overall. The district said it is working with Brown University to study the effectiveness.
Summer learning participants in 2021 showed slightly higher reading gains than students who didn’t take part, officials said.
Across Metro Nashville Public Schools, about 27% of third-graders tested proficient in English language arts on 2022 state assessments. That was a 5-point jump from 2021 and put the district near its 29% rate of 2019.
Assessment scores at Ms. Walker’s school, Charlotte Park Elementary, where many students come from low-income families, are lower than the district’s.
Of the 16 children in her classroom on a recent day, just four or five read at grade level, she said. An added challenge: For 11 of her students, many of them Hispanic, English isn’t their first language.
Even after students could return in person, many stayed remote, and others are still adjusting to being back in class, she said.
That requires “more consistent redirection or reconnection with what we’re doing, and I find that that is what’s preventing some of them from attaining the skills that are missing,” she said.
Ms. Walker, who uses a high-octane call-and-response method to engage her students, pulled three children aside on a recent day for extra reading instruction at a table in a corner of her classroom.
She had each child write the word ”tap” and sound out each letter. Then she had them add “e” to make “tape.” They repeated the exercise with “pin” and “pine.”
“The “e” is what?” she asked.
“Silent,” replied one of the students.
Ms. Walker said she has no illusions she can erase huge learning gaps in one year. “But do I think that I can help them meet personal goals for themselves based on our testing?
Yeah, I do,” she said. “I think that it takes a partnership at this age with the kids. I think that they should be held accountable for their learning.”
About 20 miles to the northwest, the Tidwells jumped at the chance for their daughter, Delainey, to work with a reading tutor this school year at East Cheatham Elementary, where many students are from poorer households.
Tutor Susan Collins greeted Delainey and two other fourth-grade girls for their first 45-minute session on a recent morning. They sat around a table in a conference room, beneath a framed print that read “be kind.”
The school district in rural Cheatham County was an early adopter of the state’s tutoring program, with math the focus last year.
Third-graders’ proficiency rate in English language arts was 40% in 2022, the highest in at least four years but still far too low, said Cathy Beck, the district’s director of schools.
Mrs. Collins, a teacher with 32 years of experience and a warm manner, taught the three girls what “plethora” means, discussed prepositional phrases and shared stories about her own love of reading.
The girls took turns relating their reading challenges. Delainey spoke of her difficulty with comprehension. Riley Brooks said she wants to read faster. Olivia Hogan said she often skips a word or sentence, adding, “I think I can get better.”
Mrs. Collins promised them they would all get better in the months to come.
“Not only are you going to learn everything there is about reading,” she said, “you’re going to learn everything I can teach you—in two days a week—about writing.”
Princeton Will Cover All College Costs For Families Making Up To $100,000
Princeton University said it will cover all expenses for most families making as much as $100,000 a year and slash costs for those that earn more.
The Ivy League school, among the world’s richest, is continuing its “national leadership in the area of financial aid as families across the income spectrum struggle with rising college costs,” the New Jersey university said Thursday in a statement.
Roughly 1,500 undergraduates, about 25% of the student body, will pay nothing for tuition, housing and food under the plan, Princeton said. Previously, families making $65,000 or less were eligible.
The costs for students whose families earn as much as $150,000 annually will be cut by almost half, and a “$3,500 student contribution typically earned through summer savings and campus work will be eliminated,” the university said.
“One of Princeton’s defining values is our commitment to ensure that talented students from all backgrounds can not only afford a Princeton education but can flourish on our campus and in the world beyond it,” President Christopher Eisgruber said in the statement.
Average tuition and fees at private universities nationwide averaged $38,185 for the 2021-22 academic year, according to an annual US News & World Report survey. The total cost to attend Princeton this year is $79,540. The school’s endowment totaled $37.7 billion at the end of June 2021.
College Dropout Turns Thiel Fellowship Into A $2 Billion Figma Fortune
* Dylan Field Started Software Startup Figma A Decade Ago
* Adobe’s $20 Billion Deal Makes Field Richest Thiel Fellow
Dylan Field dropped out of an Ivy League school in 2012 to take a grant from the billionaire Peter Thiel and start a software company called Figma. A decade later, Field’s stake in the company is now worth over $2 billion.
This week’s sale of Figma to Adobe Inc. for $20 billion makes Field, 30, by far the wealthiest person to go through the Thiel Fellowship.
The controversial program was designed by the PayPal co-founder to undermine the value of traditional education by encouraging young adults to leave college and start companies with $100,000 grants.
Field is a rare example of when a gamble like that pays off. His stake in Figma alone is worth more than $2 billion at the acquisition price, according to an analysis of PitchBook data by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Adobe is also issuing about 6 million restricted stock units to Field and his employees that will vest over four years, valued at about $1.8 billion at Adobe’s current share price, which took a hit after Bloomberg first reported on the deal Thursday.
In an interview, Field showed little interest in reflecting on his financial gains from the transaction.
“First of all, it hasn’t closed,” he said. “My focus has not been about money for a long time.”
Work on technology startups has occupied Field’s entire adult life. He interned at the news aggregation app Flipboard, said Danny Rimer, a partner at Index Ventures who was a Flipboard director and recalled a presentation Field gave to the board.
Field briefly attended Brown University before taking the Thiel Fellowship. He started on Figma, which allows customers to collaborate on software as they build it, after winning his spot in the fellowship.
“Training yourself to use Photoshop is a long, arduous process,” Field said in a 2012 Thiel Fellowship pitch for the company that would become Figma. He then outlined a vision for “simple creative tools in the browser.”
The Thiel Fellowship has plenty of detractors. Though it has a few success stories — the Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin and self-driving car entrepreneur Austin Russell even became fleeting billionaires themselves — there are others who failed to find success and struggled to get back on track.
Larry Summers, the former Treasury Secretary and Harvard University president, in 2013 called the program “the single most misdirected bit of philanthropy in this decade.”
Jimmy Koppel, a founder of developer-training firm Mirdin, was in the same Thiel Fellowship year as Field. He remembered Field’s startup being one of the most successful in fundraising during the first year, a sign he was on to something.
People who know Field often describe him with a platitude that, in this case, may actually be true: He’s nice. While in the Thiel program, Field proposed that the organizers add criteria to the final round for fellowship candidates to assess whether they were nice enough to earn a spot, Koppel said.
He recalled Field saying he’d be fine passing up the next Steve Jobs because it’s more important to have people you want to spend time with.
Ilya Vakhutinsky, who was a fellow in the same class, said he hopes Field’s kindness and positivity infect his new employer. It’s an “awesome step for Adobe, but the design community is very skeptical,” said Vakhutinsky, who runs an in-home medical care provider called Careswitch.
Field remained friends with many of the fellowship alumni. Noor Siddiqui, a founder and chief executive officer of the health startup Orchid, said Field and his wife flew to Los Angeles to support her flash mob dance wedding proposal.
“He’s a man of many talents,” Siddiqui said.
One area where he diverged from the fellowship was in crypto: He wasn’t into it at first, he has said. Field eventually came around. Last year, he sold a nonfungible token for 4,200 Ether, or $7.5 million, which at the time was a record price.
His wife, Elena Nadolinski, is a founder and CEO of a web3 startup, Iron Fish. The two have a child together.
Figma thrived during the Covid-19 pandemic. Usage jumped as people sought new ways to collaborate outside of offices. The product is used by students and professionals to build video games, maps and presentations, along with software designers at companies including Airbnb Inc. and Google.
Carmel DeAmicis joined Figma as a writer when it had less than 20 employees. She said she turned down more stable job offers because of Field’s warm energy. She remembers other startups had party-heavy cultures, but Figma’s was family-oriented.
She said Field’s mom was often there for key moments. DeAmicis left Figma last year but still attended a company happy hour Thursday night after the deal became public.
Evan Wallace, who started Figma with Field, also left the company last year. Field will continue to lead the Figma team, reporting to David Wadhwani, the president of Adobe’s digital media business. Figma will remain available as a standalone product.
“We’re confident that if you look at this in the long run, it’s going to be a big value for their shareholders and our shareholders as well,” Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said in an interview.
Figma has grown even as other tech companies shrink because, according to Field, customers understand that if they “don’t do great work with design, they know they might lose. Adobe understands deeply what can be possible in this market.”
Field wasn’t always so complimentary. Last year, when Figma seemed destined for an initial public offering, Field tweeted: “Our goal is to be Figma not Adobe.”
What changed? According to Mamoon Hamid, a partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins and a Figma board member: “The right company made an offer we couldn’t refuse.”
Merit Pay Is The Solution To Teacher Shortages
To attract better candidates, districts should give teachers what they’re worth.
With a new school year getting underway, public-school districts in the US are sounding alarms about a looming shortage of teachers. In response, some states have loosened rules to bring more workers, including those who haven’t yet earned a college degree, into the profession. These efforts are worthwhile — but they’re only addressing half the problem.
Although reports of a nationwide “exodus” of teachers are exaggerated, acute shortages have persisted for years in certain areas, especially in low-income and rural districts.
District leaders have also reported increased difficulty filling vacancies for full-time math, science and high school teachers.
For the most part, money isn’t the issue: Over the past two years, districts have tapped federal relief money to ramp up hiring of substitutes and remote-learning instructors who could step in for teachers out with Covid, but they have been slow to spend the funds. As the pandemic subsides, those resources could be used to hire teachers in high-need areas.
The big challenge is finding them. With enrollment in teacher-preparation programs in steep decline, states are boosting incentives to attract new graduates and to keep experienced teachers in the work force.
They’re also experimenting with other ways to broaden the labor pool. Pennsylvania has lifted restrictions to allow teachers licensed in other states, while Arizona permits candidates with subject-matter expertise to work without a teaching credential.
In Georgia, retired teachers can return to the classroom and keep their pension benefits. Roughly a dozen states have made it easier to get a teaching license, with both Arizona and Florida waiving long-standing requirements that teachers earn bachelor’s degrees before being hired for full-time positions; in Florida, military veterans without degrees can obtain five-year teaching certificates if they pass an exam in the subject they’re hired to teach.
Policies like these have provoked the ire of unions, which say they convey disrespect for teachers and undermine professional standards. And it’s surely fair to worry about hiring unqualified applicants.
Yet in teaching, as in other occupations, merely having a degree is no guarantee of competence — and there’s little evidence that teachers with formal education credentials produce better outcomes for students than those without them.
Rather than dwelling on degrees or other credentials, districts should try to focus more on ability — in part by revamping how teachers are evaluated and paid. Linking teachers’ compensation to their performance would help to raise academic standards, encourage new teachers to pursue professional development, and draw more skilled workers to the profession.
Districts in at least 30 states offer performance-based bonuses to teachers, which have led to average gains in student learning equal to an additional three weeks of school.
Programs that offer incentives partly based on students’ standardized test scores have also been found to improve retention rates among Black and Latino teachers and those working in low-income schools.
Despite what the unions say, competent educators should have nothing to fear from such reforms. If anything, veteran teachers stand to benefit from the focus on attracting new talent, which should push up salaries across the board.
After two years of disrupted and inadequate learning, confidence in the American public school system is near an all-time low. Expanding programs to recruit new teachers in places where they’re most needed — and paying them what they’re worth — are necessary steps toward giving all students the education they deserve.
The Value of Your Neighborhood Library
At 10:45 on a Thursday morning, I stood in a line of people that wrapped around the public library in my neighborhood. It was the fourth day that Montgomery County Public Library was tasked with handing out free Covid test kits, and we watched with anticipation as the staff wheeled out two cardboard boxes of them.
They carefully set them out on the table in front of us as some people behind me grew fidgety.
Distribution wouldn’t start until 11:00, and not a minute earlier.
Throughout the pandemic, public libraries have filled crucial gaps in providing basic needs to their communities. Many have lent out hotspots and computer equipment as residents transitioned to remote work and distance learning.
Librarians took on the role of social workers, helping gather mental health and unemployment resources for their patrons.
And as my colleague Josyana Joshua and I reported on Friday, several have also ramped up free services for aspiring business owners as the pandemic spurred an entrepreneurship boom, including among immigrants and Latinos.
Now as federal and local governments tap community institutions to distribute free testing kits and masks — and as some places bring back mask mandates — public libraries have also been thrust to the front line of the pandemic fight.
As one of the most trusted institutions — and one that for a long time has served as a sort of social safety net for the underserved — it makes sense for public libraries to play such a key role in the fight against Covid. Sources often tell me that libraries aren’t just in the business of books, but of their communities.
But that means more work for already overtaxed employees, in many places burdened by budget and staffing shortages — and sometimes, more confrontation and harassment.
In a recent viral video, an elderly librarian at the Oswego Public Library District in Montgomery, Illinois, firmly holds her ground as she repeatedly requests that the man behind the camera wear a mask, per the library’s policy.
Illinois librarian holds her ground as an antimasker films himself throwing a tantrum after being asked to wear a mask. pic.twitter.com/kyJwRjEfIi
— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) January 25, 2022
The man refuses. The incident took place just days after dozens of maskless adults and children paraded through the St. Charles Public Library, just 15 minutes away.
Often left feeling ignored by their employers, some library staff are organizing. At Baltimore County Public Library, a majority of a group of 460 library workers across the system’s 19 branches voted to join a union earlier this month.
The vote came half a year after Maryland passed legislation giving county library staff the right to collectively bargain.
At my local library, we’d been warned that the kits would run out in less than an hour. I worried that at a time when cases were surging and kits were sold out seemingly everywhere, the distribution could turn into an unintended free-for-all.
But by now the staff knew exactly how to keep any chaos at bay. One man clearly announced which direction the line would go, and as residents shared just one door to enter the building and leave, most greeted him with gratitude and, more importantly, respect.
The School Board Queen: How A Florida Mom Is Shaking Up US Education
Bridget Ziegler is a leader in the parental rights movement focused on US school board elections. The final episodes of the “Bedrock, USA” podcast examine her conservative agenda.
After all the talk of a “red wave” in 2022’s US midterm elections, the anticipated Republican sweep failed to materialize. Or did it?
At the school board level, candidates who opposed mask mandates and how gender and race are addressed in schools won about 30% of board seats, according to Ballotpedia, a nonprofit that tracks elections.
Faced with new challengers, school board incumbents lost their elections at higher rates in 2021 and 2022 than in the previous three years, Ballotpedia’s analysis shows.
Up until 2021, “people really weren’t paying a lot of attention to what was going on in these elections,” says Doug Kronaizl, a senior staff writer with Ballotpedia. “And now all of a sudden people are paying very close attention to what’s going on.”
At the forefront of this trend is Bridget Ziegler, a school board member in Sarasota, Florida, and a mother of three. She is a founding member of Moms for Liberty, the right-wing activist group, and she has the support of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis; she says she was influential in helping pass the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, and is now supporting the governor’s Stop W.O.K.E.
Act. Last year, she was put in charge of training people on how to run for school boards for the Leadership Institute, a conservative nonprofit that’s been helping politicians all over the country since the 1970s, including with big wins during the 2022 midterms.
Over three chapters, “The School Board Queen” podcast explores who Bridget Ziegler is, what she stands for, and how she plans to help reshape and influence American education. The miniseries is part of “ Bedrock, USA” — a podcast from Bloomberg CityLab and iHeart Media that examines how the far right is making inroads into local government.
The first episode looks at why Ziegler ran for school board — it was actually her husband’s idea. (Christian Ziegler is vice chair of the Florida GOP and currently running for chair.) Her goal was to help shape the schools her children would some day attend.
nce she got on the school board she encountered members she called “mean” and unprofessional. She didn’t buy into how school boards were being run — too much control was given to the superintendent, she says.
We also talk to Caroline Zucker, a school board member who worked alongside Ziegler and switched from Republican to Democrat because she “couldn’t take the shenanigans going on anymore.”
In the second episode, we journey back in time to the 1950s and 1960s and discover the origins of the conservative movement in education.
We speak to two historians, Michelle Nickerson and Natalia Mehlman Petrzela. Nickerson describes how conservative activists in the 1950s and 1960s pushed back against progressive measures for that era.
And Mehlman Petrzela discusses how sex education took center stage in the culture wars of the 1960s and 1970s. We draw a throughline from back then to today, and the big common denominator: the overreaching arm of government in children’s lives.
The last episode digs in with Ziegler about why she has been called racist and homophobic. She has criticized the Black Lives Matter movement and how it was taught in schools, and she has promoted unscientific ideas around trends in trans youth. She explains her beliefs and why she is supporting Governor DeSantis in his education agenda.
We also spend time with an eleventh grade trans teenager who talks about what it’s like to be a student in Florida after the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act was passed.
Chinese Company Now Owns Tutoring Firm Contracted By Military And Schools In U.S.
Princeton Review and Tutor.com say a Chinese private-equity firm has received regulatory approval to buy the test-prep company and online tutoring platform, more than 15 months after the acquisition closed.
Primavera Capital Group, based in Hong Kong, quietly purchased the well-known brands from Korean education company ST Unitas in January 2022, at a time of increased scrutiny of Chinese investment in the U.S.
Investments in the tech and infrastructure industries, or ones that deal with significant amounts of potentially sensitive personal data, are sometimes reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., a federal panel that scrutinizes acquisition plans by foreign investors for national security concerns.
CFIUS reviews are confidential, though companies are allowed to disclose their involvement. A spokeswoman for the Treasury Department said the committee doesn’t publicly comment on transactions that they may or may not be reviewing or have reviewed.
She said the committee “is committed to taking all necessary actions within its authority to safeguard U.S. national security.”
Tutor.com has a longstanding contract to provide its services free to active duty, reserve and other U.S. military service members, Defense Department personnel, and their dependents.
It also holds contracts with school districts including those in Los Angeles, Paterson, N.J., and Loudoun County, Va., to provide online homework help and subject-matter tutoring, and is listed as a vetted vendor by the Texas Education Agency, New Hampshire Department of Education and agencies in other states.
National security analysts and lawyers who help foreign companies navigate the regulatory process for U.S. acquisitions say Chinese companies have grown more skittish about publicizing their U.S. investments, for fear of raising suspicions about data security.
The U.S. is paying closer attention to such deals as it increasingly views China as an adversary, said Elly Rostoum, a former U.S. intelligence analyst and lecturer at Johns Hopkins University who studies the national security implications of investment by Chinese companies.
“There’s reason for that hype,” she said. “There’s reason for the U.S. to be worried about those transactions.”
The U.S. government has interpreted Chinese national security laws to mean that any organization based there, whether it is a state-owned enterprise, a startup, an investment manager or a large corporation, can be compelled to share information with Beijing if asked to do so.
Ms. Rostoum said whether or not the Chinese government has demanded such data from companies, the legislation allowing it should be enough to cause concern among American regulators.
TikTok parent ByteDance has faced significant backlash over its ties to China, with authorities saying a 2020 plan to partner with Oracle and Walmart to create a U.S.-based company didn’t protect users enough from potential interference by Beijing.
Lawmakers have expressed continued concern over user data protection and whether the Chinese government could influence what the platform shows, such as pushing content supporting a preferred political candidate.
In recent years, CFIUS has intensified its oversight of foreign companies with interests in technology, data and infrastructure. It can review mergers and acquisitions before or after they close, and can sign off on the plans or push for divestments or other mitigation measures if it identifies potential national security red flags.
Primavera has invested in companies including Alibaba, Yum China, ByteDance and the Chinese instant-formula business of Reckitt Benckiser Group.
Last year it used a blank-check company to take luxury fashion company Lanvin Group public in the U.S. Primavera also owns Spring Education, which runs hundreds of private schools under brands including Laurel Springs School, LePort Montessori and Basis Independent Schools.
Charlesbank Capital took Princeton Review private in 2012, and then in 2014 sold it to IAC/InterActive Corp., which had bought Tutor.com in 2013. In 2017, the combined test prep and tutoring company was sold to the Korean company ST Unitas.
The Korea Economic Daily reported in early January 2022 that ST Unitas wanted to unload the two brands for around $100 million, in an effort to focus on its domestic offerings. Primavera declined to comment on the deal terms.
The latest deal happened without much fanfare. There was no press release from Primavera, and neither Princeton Review nor Tutor.com are among the 54 companies featured on the private-equity firm’s list of portfolio investments.
Tutor.com sent a letter to its tutors on Jan. 13, 2022, two days after the acquisition closed, notifying them of the new ownership while assuring them that their day-to-day interactions with the company wouldn’t change.
District and state contracts show it wasn’t required to alert all of its clients, and some school administrators around the country say they only learned of the ownership change from The Wall Street Journal.
Last week, the Princeton Review and Tutor.com websites added references to their new parent company.
Primavera, Princeton Review and Tutor.com said they weren’t hiding the deal, and that soon after the acquisition closed last year they filed the requisite notifications in the federal contracting system, which is publicly accessible.
Tutor.com collects data on users and tutors, including names, home addresses, IP addresses and recordings of their sessions. National security experts say the concern isn’t what China’s government would do with that information now, but rather how that information could be collected to create files on individuals or their families down the line, or whether information could eventually be disaggregated.
“Our commitment to safeguarding student privacy endures,” Tutor.com and Princeton Review said in a statement to the Journal. They said no student or school data is shared with Primavera and the private-equity firm doesn’t have access to the company’s internal systems.
They said they can provide information to Primavera only “on an anonymized, aggregated and de-identified basis.”
Primavera told the Journal in late March that it had submitted all required filings and notifications for U.S. government approval, without detailing where it sent those notifications. As of early May, approval had been granted, the company said.
Why Schools Are Building Housing For Teachers
Kansas City schools rent homes to teachers starting at $400 a month to recruit more amid a national shortage.
Alexandria Millet found a way to sharply cut her rent this year and move closer to her job at Central High School in Kansas City, Mo.—live in a duplex built to house teachers.
A 10th-grade English and journalism instructor, Millet, 24 years old, now pays $400 a month to live with two other teachers in a home provided through a partnership between Kansas City Public Schools and Teachers Like Me, a nonprofit building housing to help recruit Black teachers.
KCPS is one of several school districts across the country—in urban and rural areas from California to West Virginia and Florida—that are trying to use affordable housing to hire and retain teachers amid a nationwide shortage of both.
The efforts join state and federal programs that have for years provided teachers grants and down payment assistance to purchase homes.
“Not having to pay high rent and having a program that supports you specifically in terms of housing” made it easier to stay in Kansas City, Millet said, as she wanted to do after working there a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer.
The low-cost housing “made it come together,” said Millet, who is from Milwaukee. She earns about $48,000 a year in a metropolitan area with a typical monthly apartment rent of $1,437 in July, according to Zillow estimates.
Teachers Like Me opened its first duplex in February and has plans to house up to 25 teachers, said Trinity Davis, the organization’s founder and a former Kansas City school administrator.
High Housing Costs Make It Harder To Recruit Teachers
The Covid-19 pandemic prompted hundreds of thousands of teachers to leave the profession, many to earn more in other fields. State and local governments boosted pay, offered bonuses and eased hiring rules as they worked to fill teaching positions.
As of July, government education payrolls still had about 136,000, or 1.7%, fewer workers than in February 2020, before the pandemic hit the U.S. economy, Labor Department figures show.
Part of the problem is teachers’ low pay compared with that of other workers with similar education levels, according to a 2022 report by the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank that advocates for lower- and middle-income workers.
Median pay for high-school teachers was $61,820 a year in 2021, according to the most recent Labor Department data, with 10% of them earning less than $46,090.
Meanwhile, housing prices have soared at double-digit rates in recent years. Shelter prices were 17.6% higher in July than in February 2020, according to the Labor Department.
High mortgage rates and a low supply of homes for sale have kept prices high, contributing to record increase in homelessness this year.
“Because there is such a profound educator shortage, districts may decide investing in educator housing is a necessary option,” said Sasha Pudelski, advocacy director for AASA, the School Superintendents Association.
Teacher housing Needs In Wyoming And Louisiana
Teton County School District in Wyoming, which includes the resort city of Jackson—one of the priciest towns in the nation—has for years provided teachers with single-family homes, including a log cabin.
The school district converted four classroom trailers into teacher housing in June and is seeking $16 million in funding to build three 24-unit apartment buildings for educators.
Jackson’s lack of affordable housing dissuades teachers from coming to the area, district superintendent Gillian Chapman said. A typical Jackson home sold for $1.3 million in July and typical rent was $5,700 a month, according to Zillow estimates.
“Our teachers never get a chance for mastery because they are so stressed out and they are constantly trying to find a place to live, and oftentimes they leave,” Chapman said. “We’re being as creative as we possibly can.”
School officials and community leaders in the St. Helena Parish northeast of Baton Rouge, La., are pursuing a plan to build single-family homes and apartments for teachers.
A housing shortage there has made it hard to recruit teachers, said Virginia Bell, vice president of the local school board and executive director of the St. Helena Economic Development Foundation, an economic-development group.
Proponents of the plan hope the new housing, along with higher teacher pay that would be funded by a proposed sales tax, will reduce turnover and attract teachers from nearby Baton Rouge and New Orleans to the majority-Black, low-income school district.
The foundation has applied for a $725,000 grant for the Louisiana Housing Corp. to build six housing units, and it is seeking additional funding to bring teacher housing to the area.
A Missouri School District Is Bringing Back Paddling To Punish Students
Parents need to opt in saying it’s OK for their children to be hit; disciplinary measure has long been opposed by medical professionals.
A school district in a small town in southwest Missouri told parents it will start swatting children with paddles, a punishment that remains legal in the state and 18 others.
The Cassville school district said students would only be spanked if parents sign a permission form saying it is OK for their children to be hit. If they change their mind, parents can write another letter opting out. Cassville is about 15 miles north of the Arkansas border and has a population of around 3,200.
Khristina Harkey, whose son is in first grade at a Cassville school, said she received notice of the new spanking policy last week when she went to drop off school supplies and received a bunch of paperwork.
One of the letters said corporal punishment will return to Cassville for the 2022-2023 school year. “I was like, ‘What the hell is corporal punishment?,’” said Ms. Harkey, 39.
She found the answer inside a school district handbook: a child would be spanked on the butt with a paddle.
Ms. Harkey said she won’t allow her son, who has autism, to be paddled.
China Outnumbers The U.S. For The First Time In This Ranking Of The World’s ‘Best’ Universities
Artificial intelligence is among the few fields that both the U.S. and China regard as a strategic national priority.
China has surpassed the U.S. on a major ranking of the world’s best universities.
Among the 2,000 schools from more than 90 countries ranked by U.S. News & World Report, 338 Chinese universities made the list, compared to 280 American universities. It’s the first time China outnumbered the U.S.
Results were reported in the media outlet’s “Best Global Universities Rankings” released Tuesday. The U.S. and China were followed by Japan (105 universities), the United Kingdom (92), and India (81).
The media outlet began its ranking in 2014 as more universities began competing for students, as well as faculty and research investments. The rankings are based on a range of parameters, including research reputation, publications, conferences and citations. Student outcomes and individual programs are not included.
Although China surpassed the U.S. by 58 spots, the majority of U.S. universities appear in the top half of the rankings, including 8 of the top 10, the report noted.
Here Is The Overall Top 10 List:
* Harvard University (U.S.)
* Massachusetts Institute of Technology (U.S.)
* Stanford University (U.S.)
* University of California–Berkeley (U.S.)
* University of Oxford (U.K.)
* University of Washington–Seattle (U.S.)
* Columbia University (U.S.)
* University of Cambridge (U.K.)
* California Institute of Technology (U.S.)
* Johns Hopkins University (U.S.)
The report added four new subjects to its 43 rankings: artificial intelligence; education and educational research; meteorology and atmospheric sciences; and water resources.
“They’re hot fields right now and there is a lot of interest at different levels,” Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News, told MarketWatch in an email.
Among the top 10 schools for A.I., five schools were from mainland China; the U.S.’s Carnegie Mellon also ranked high.
While public-health concerns and travel restrictions related to the pandemic partly led to the dramatic fall in numbers over the past two years, increasing tensions between the two countries have also pushed Chinese students to gradually look for alternatives, both in China and non-U.S. options.
International student enrollment at U.S. colleges and universities peaked in the 2015-2016 academic year and has been falling since then, the Institute of International Education said, citing visa concerns, competition from other countries with better access to work visas, and stronger social and political ties between China and other nations.
Here Are The Top 10 Universities In Asia:
* Tsinghua University (China)
* National University of Singapore (Singapore)
* Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)
* Peking University (China)
* Chinese University of Hong Kong (China)
* University of Hong Kong (China)
* King Abdulaziz University (Saudi Arabia)
* University of Tokyo (Japan)
* Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China)
* Zhejiang University (China)
Artificial intelligence is among the few fields that both the U.S. and China regard as strategic national priorities. The Biden administration signed the National AI Initiative Act of 2020 into law in 2021, aiming to advance U.S. leadership in the field.
“The world’s leading powers are racing to develop and deploy new technologies like artificial intelligence and quantum computing that could shape everything about our lives — from where we get energy NG00, 0.30%, to how we do our jobs, to how wars are fought,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said last year.
“We want America to maintain our scientific and technological edge, because it’s critical to us thriving in the 21st century economy,” Blinken said in a speech at a technology summit last year.
Among the top 10 schools for A.I., five schools were from mainland China, including Tsinghua University, which ranked No. 1. Carnegie Mellon University is the best U.S. college for A.I. research, ranking No. 12 on the list.
China also leads in other science subjects, including nanoscience, nanotechnology, polymer science, engineering and physical chemistry.
Fewer Chinese students have attended college in the U.S. since the coronavirus pandemic. From January to September 2022, 52,034 Chinese nationals received F-1 visas, down from 95,518 for the same period in 2019, according to the U.S. State Department data. The F-1 visa is used by international students to gain a degree or an academic certificate in the U.S.
The World’s Best Business Schools, Ranked
Transitional may be the best way to describe the past two-plus years for MBA students and schools running full-time professional programs.
Since 2020, with Covid-19 cases spiking around the world, business school leaders, educators, and employees have been in a state of constant adjustment: first fully remote, then partly hybrid, more variations on those approaches, then finally incorporating as much in-person instruction as possible.
Schools developed protocols and tested digital tools for remote learning, aiming to ensure seamless education at the level expected.
The goal was to find activities that might in some way cultivate a sense of belonging—to a class, a cohort, an affinity group—while still keeping one’s distance.
For many of the 117 programs in this year’s Best B-Schools list, the past few months have marked the fullest return to normalcy since the onset of the pandemic. What does a return to campus look like—and are the pandemic adjustments fully a thing of the past?
“The Covid-19 outbreak, combined with new opportunities offered by technology and different expectations from professionals, has accelerated trends that we started to apply long before the crisis,” says Jan Hohberger, associate dean of the full-time MBA program at Spain’s Esade (#10 in the European ranking).
For example, the school has since extended its online program offering, with an EMBA hybrid. And certain digital components of courses, adopted during lockdowns, remain in use. Flexibility, many schools have learned, is beneficial for everyone.
Similarly, at Howard University School of Business (#28 among US schools), Dean Anthony Wilbon notes that the most lasting change has been the ongoing use of virtual events for instructional and meeting purposes.
“During Covid we had to adapt to a virtual environment quickly, which, over time, negatively impacted the social engagement among the student body, faculty, staff, and external stakeholders,” he says.
“Post-pandemic, use of technology has continued to be an effective tool for communications, but there is a need to be more strategic in its usage.”
Greg Hanifee, associate dean of degree programs and operations at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (#4 in the US), echoes these points.
“The big opportunity we are now embracing is offering flexible programming to meet students’ needs,” he says—for example, evening and weekend programs geared toward working professionals. And students can choose between in-person and online courses as they make their selections each quarter.
“Collaboration,” “culture,” “collegiality”—the words pop up throughout the comments provided by students and alumni responding to questions in this year’s survey. It’s clear that real-life connections remain paramount.
Other constants: the high value placed on learning and the opportunity to build meaningful networks.
Not surprisingly, when it comes to jobs (and, by extension, salaries), the consulting, technology, and finance industries remain the most sought after. Even so, schools say they are noticing some shifts consistent with trends in the broader world.
There’s growing interest in ESG, related to climate tech, impact investing, and sustainability. Climate change especially, schools say, has become an area of particular focus as future business leaders will need to fully understand the phenomenon to effectively transition industries and businesses to a low- or zero-carbon future.
The University of Chicago’s Booth school tied with Harvard Business School for second place. Rankings were based on 18,504 surveys from students, alumni, and recruiters, as well as compensation and employment data from each school.
As lessons from the past two years are more fully understood and embraced, schools and students will continue to adapt as they confront new challenges. That’s not an option but an imperative, as Stanford Business Dean Jonathan Levin sees it.
“There is an urgent responsibility for business to drive innovation that addresses the world’s biggest challenges, including climate change, inequality, advancing technology, and shifts in global economic power,” he says.
“We’re focused on informing debate and thinking through our research, and educating our students to appreciate the power of markets to foster innovation, while recognizing the inherent trade-offs in business decision-making.”
Bloomberg Businessweek ranked 117 MBA programs around the world. IMD, the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland, once again was tops in Europe. Shanghai University of Finance and Economics emerged as the leader in Asia-Pacific.
And in Canada, Western University’s Ivey Business School, with several locations in Ontario, ranked #1–a repeat of its 2019-20 position (the school was not included in last year’s ranking).