Every week, The Next America produces a collection of education articles that catch our eye. These date from Dec. 2-9.
The Obama Administration’s Recruitment Wish List. The White House wants participants in a higher-education summit to commit to a concrete step that would help more low-income students graduate. The administration’s suggestions for institutions include setting specific targets for low-income enrollment, partnering with local school districts and community colleges, and making remediation more relevant. The event, originally scheduled for Wednesday, will likely be held in January as the president and first lady will attend Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in South Africa. Chronicle of Higher Education
Schools Step Away From Harsh Discipline Policies. Large urban districts are rethinking zero-tolerance policies, which are linked to arrest records, low academic achievement, and high dropout rates that particularly affect minority students. Districts like Broward County, Fla., are keeping students who commit minor, nonviolent offenses in school and offering them counseling rather than calling the police. New York Times
Takeaways from PISA. The most recent data from the Programme for International Student Assessment, a test taken by 15-year-olds around the world, show that U.S. students are pretty much in the middle of the pack when it comes to math, reading, and science test scores. Interestingly, socioeconomic differences have a bigger influence on test scores here than in other countries, and fewer low-income students outperform expectations. The Atlantic
How Much Student Debt Is Normal? Student debt can range from less than $5,000 per year to almost $50,000 per borrower, according to a report from the Institute for College Access and Success. In 2011-12, 71 percent of those seeking a bachelor’s degree had student debt, compared with 68 percent of students four years earlier. New York Times
The Amazing Shrinking Lunch Hour. At many public schools today, students get just 15 minutes or less to sit down and eat lunch. Federally subsidized school meals are often the only thing standing between low-income children and hunger, and federal standards try to ensure that students get nutritious meals. But what’s the point of providing healthy fare if students don’t have time to eat it? NPR
First-Generation Students Least Sure of Their Majors. First-generation college students who select a major when they take the ACT are less sure of their choices than their peers with better-educated parents. Thirty percent of boys whose parents earned a graduate degree or higher were sure of their future majors, compared with 45 percent of boys whose parents had never gone to college. Overall, only 36 percent of test-takers in the class of 2013 selected a planned major that’s a good fit for their interests. ACT
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"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.