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The 2017 EdNext Poll on School Reform

Education Next – Martin R. West, Michael B. Henderson, Paul E. Peterson and Samuel Barrows

“There’s no denying political climate change. The past 18 months have seen an enormous swing in the Washington power balance, a shift that has heightened the polarization that has characterized our public life for more than a decade now. How has this divisive political climate influenced public opinion on education policy and reform? And how much, if at all, has the new president swayed the public’s views? The 2017 Education Next survey, conducted in May and June of this year, offers us an opportunity to explore these questions and many more.”(more)

How Generation Z Is Shaping The Change In Education

Forbes – Sieva Kozinsky

“Generation Z has officially entered college. And just as the Millennials before them, this generation is disrupting the way learning happens in higher education. But these differences go beyond just a greater dependence on technology. Gen Z-ers tend to embrace social learning environments, where they can be hands-on and directly involved in the learning process. They expect on-demand services that are available at any time and with low barriers to access. And they tend to be more career-focused earlier on in their college careers.”(more)

College reality

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

In a few weeks tens of thousands of young Americans will leave home and begin the “college experience”. As they descend on campuses across the country, they will be greeted by impressive buildings, acclaimed alumni, elaborate social functions, and luxury hotel-like accommodations. In addition to getting used to their new “homes”, these newly minted adults will be asked to select majors that prepare them for post college employment.

Interestingly, the university structure and incentives may not always be aligned with what is best for students.

Universities are broken into departments. Each department is responsible for running a profitable business or demonstrating that there is enough demand for its offerings that it would be foolish for the university to close the department. Departments like engineering generally have large research budgets, so they are less concerned about student enrollment than departments like the humanities and social sciences that have fewer research dollars.

As might be expected, the departments with fewest research dollars generally work hardest to convince students to select majors within their purview. Until 15-20 years ago, this model worked well, because it was possible to obtain high quality employment with a wide variety of university degrees.

Technology has improved access to information so much that many jobs related to compiling, organizing, and disseminating information have already been or are being eliminated. Careers that have been hardest hit are law, social sciences, and the humanities.

Since there are fewer job opportunities for people with these degrees, many college graduates find it difficult to procure jobs that pay a premium over what was available to them before they attended college.

This shift creates a dilemma for the parents of a child who did not develop a proclivity for math in high school. Does the parent have the resources to send the child to college so he/she can graduate without debt and go on to a job that he/she most likely could have obtained without attending college? Is it better to consider a high paying trade like plumbing or electricity, rather than expending money on college? Or is it wiser to encourage the child to go to a community college and learn math, so he/she has the skills to obtain a college degree with higher earning potential?

It is a tough decision, but is something that should be discussed before a family blindly spends large sums of money on a college education that does little to improve a child’s long term earning potential.

How To Get An Affordable College Education That’s Worth It

Forbes – Larry Light

“Planning for higher education expenses looms large for those with potentially college-bound children. Ditto for college graduates and adults seeking postgraduate education and skill upgrades. A May 2017 article in Delta Sky magazine, “Higher Education in the Fast Lane,” by Leah Ingram, noted trends offering “a better education more efficiently and affordably.” Some institutions offer five-year simultaneous baccalaureate/master’s degree programs highlighting the cost efficiency of earning two degrees in compressed time frames. Some schools allow undergraduates to begin taking graduate courses at a discounted undergraduate tuition rate.”(more)

The Future Of Our Economy Rests On Innovating Our Higher Education System

Forbes – Jeb Bush and Joe Lonsdale

“Today, there are more than 5.5 million unfilled jobs in the U.S. labor market, up from 3.2 million just five years ago. It’s not due to a lack of workers aspiring for better jobs, but a lack of workers qualified for the very positions employers need filled. America is facing a skills gap that only continues to grow as innovation outpaces our education system. Entrepreneurs are using new technology to transform commerce, transportation, healthcare, energy and countless other fields. From Silicon Valley to the Heartland, innovation has made our society more prosperous and productive. It has also transformed our labor market, yielding both opportunities and challenges.”(more)

Three worrisome trends in U.S. higher education

The Washington Post – Jeffrey L. Selingo

“The thousands of college campuses that dot the American landscape have long been referred to collectively as a higher education system. It’s never been quite an apt description given the diversity of colleges we have. Increasingly the various types of institutions—from public flagships to selective liberal arts colleges—have very little, if anything, in common with each other. Much like American society is segregated by income and geography, so too is higher education.”(more)