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Viewpoint: A case for pre-K education

The Reading Eagle – Dr. Solomon Lausch

“Throughout all of the current political debate, one theme has been constant, conservative or liberal: the decline of the American middle class. In 2013, for the first time, 51 percent of public school students fell below the federal government’s low income standard for free or subsidized school lunches. That standard is 300 percent of the defined federal poverty level…Why all this focus on 3- and 4-year-olds? The answer is that these are the years in which a child’s brain is rapidly developing and equally, when the child is acquiring the social skills, self control, and persistence which matter for success in life.”(more)

The Skills Schools Aren’t Teaching But Must

The Huffington Post – Michael R. Bloomberg & Jamie Dimon

“The U.S. presidential campaign has focused a great deal on the need to expand economic opportunity, but candidates in both parties have not said enough about how they would achieve it. While helping more students go to college has been a topic of discussion and is a vitally important goal, what about those who do not go — or who drop out of high school? They are largely being ignored…Long-term, broad-based economic growth depends on a strong and expanding middle class that is open to all Americans, not just college graduates. That is only possible if we reinvent vocational programs so that they are aligned with macroeconomic trends, growing local industries and jobs that offer opportunities for advancement.”(more)

Americans Are Spending at Least $1.5 Billion in College Remediation Courses, and the Middle Class Pays the Most

Education Post – Staff Writer

“More than half a million college freshmen—approximately one in four students who enter college the fall after high school graduation—had to enroll in remedial coursework during their first year of college, costing their families nearly $1.5 billion annually. Forty-five percent of those students came from middle and upper income families, according to Out of Pocket: The High Cost of Inadequate High Schools and High School Student Achievement on College Affordability, a new research report from Education Reform Now and Education Post…Peter Cunningham, executive director of Education Post, which commissioned the study, said, “High schools are not rigorous enough. Higher standards have raised the bar but we need to hold schools accountable for meeting those standards.””(more)

Middle-class minorities are most at risk of falling behind on student loans, report says

The Washington Post – Danielle Douglas-Gabriel

“Middle-class African Americans and Hispanics are disproportionately falling behind on student loan payments, signaling that higher education is failing to ward off financial instability for minorities, according to newly released data. Researchers at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth analyzed delinquency rates, average loan balances and median income at a Zip-code level and found higher numbers of past-due student loans in predominantly African American and Hispanic communities…“These data tell us that debt-financed higher education is not the solution to racial inequality, since it doesn’t overcome longstanding economic disparities. It may even be contributing to the problem,” said Marshall Steinbaum, a research economist…”(more)

American Technical Training Fund: Creating a Strong Training Pipeline to Middle Class Jobs

Ed.gov – Johan Uvin

“…the President’s FY 2016 budget request includes a proposal to create a new $200 million American Technical Training Fund that would expand innovative, high-quality technical training programs that are aligned with the workforce needs of employers in high-demand industries. This new fund would enable the creation of 100 technical training centers across the country, modeled on the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT), which have achieved impressive program completion and job placement rates with many non-traditional postsecondary students. The President’s proposal comes at a time when earning a college certificate or degree has never been more important. In fact, some level of postsecondary education or training has become a prerequisite for joining the middle class. Labor market projections show this trend is only going to increase.”(more)

After Heavy Criticism, Obama Drops Changes to 529 Plans

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“After harsh criticism, President Obama has decided to reverse course on a proposal that would have cut the tax benefits of a popular college savings account. White House officials said the criticism had reached a point that it became too much of a distraction, and the only thing they could do was to withdraw the proposal, which would have ended the ability of families to take money out of their college savings accounts, referred to as 529 plans, tax free. The proposal had suggested that the plans were being used by the wealthy more than anyone else, and the suggestion of eliminating the tax break would in fact make more money available to middle class citizens…However, this theory turned out to be untrue. The accounts are in fact used, and relied on, by around 12 million families across the country. In addition, an increasing number of people who earn less than six figures are opening accounts.”(more)