Education

The Biggest Economic Issue Facing America Is Not Job Creation

Quartz: “The biggest economic issue for the future is closing the skills gap and retraining workers who have been displaced from their old jobs that have been automated. Both the US unemployment rate and the total job openings have been relatively unchanged in the past year. The unemployment rate in January was 4.8%, down only 0.1% from the same time in 2016. The total job openings were 5.5 million in Dec. 2016, up from a mere 100,000 the same time in 2015. We simply don’t have people with the right skills to fill millions of jobs, yet many of them are still underemployed or living in poverty.”

“The problem is that one in every five adults globally has no formal education, which is a total of 682 million people, and jobs that require formal education are the ones expected to grow by nearly 8% in the next seven years.”

Which States Pay Teachers the Most (and Least)?

Education Week: “Alaska and New York pay teachers nearly double the salaries of those working in Mississippi and Oklahoma, says a new study by GoBankingRates.”

“The average teacher salaries in 50 states (not including the District of Columbia) were calculated using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The authors averaged the mean salaries of elementary, middle, and high school teachers to get the average salary in each state. The calculations did not include the salaries of special education teachers.”

School Gun Violence Is Linked to Economic Insecurity

“Episodes of gun violence at America’s schools are both heartbreaking and disturbingly frequent, but the circumstances that inspire them remain elusive. A new Northwestern University study comes up with at least a partial answer,” Tom Jacobs writes for Pacific Standard.

“It finds such incidents are more common during periods of high unemployment. During an economic downturn, the assumption that a diploma leads to a good job is revealed as false (at least for the moment), leading to frustration, disillusionment, and, sometimes, violence.”

How Immigrants Have Made America a Leader in Technology Innovation

“The vital role of immigrants in American technology innovation is so well documented that it shouldn’t need repeating. But in light of last week’s executive order that blocks access to the United States by citizens of seven countries with a collective population of well over 200 million, a few reminders might be timely,” John Villasenor writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“America’s well-deserved reputation as a global leader in technology innovation is inseparable from its tradition of welcoming people from other countries. The list of American companies co-founded by immigrants includes Google, Yahoo, eBay, Qualcomm, VMware, Facebook, and many more. A 2016 study by the National Foundation for American Policy found that over half of the 87 tech start-ups valued at over $1 billion at the time of the study were co-founded by immigrants and that each of these companies had created an average of 760 jobs.”

“When children of immigrants are included, the impact on job creation and economic prosperity is even larger: A 2012 report from a group of business leaders and mayors from across the political spectrum noted that ‘more than 40 percent of America’s Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or a child of an immigrant.‘”

 

Investment in Early Childhood Programs Yields Robust Returns

UChicago News: “High-quality early childhood development programs can deliver an annual return of 13 percent per child on upfront costs through better outcomes in education, health, employment and social behavior in the decades that follow, according to a new study by Nobel-winning economist James Heckman and researchers at the University of Chicago and University of Southern California.”

“The findings, released Monday in a working paper titled ‘The Lifecycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program,‘ show how high-quality programs can reduce taxpayer costs, improve economic prospects for parents and provide enduring benefits for children well into adulthood.”

Americans Over 60 Now Have $67 Billion in Student Debt

Quartz: “It’s no secret that Americans carry an enormous amount of student debt: $1.3 trillion in total, owed by 44 million borrowers. Less well known is that many debtors aren’t borrowing for themselves, but for their children and grandchildren, and the number of Americans over 60 with student debt is soaring.”

“According to a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, borrowers over 60 have $66.7 billion in student loan debt. The number of debtors over 60 has quadrupled in a decade—to 2.8 million in 2015 from 700,000 in 2005—making them the fastest growing age segment with student debt. While some of it was borrowed for their own education, more than two-thirds of the debt is owed for children or grandchildren.”

The U.S. Government Is Collecting Student Loans It Promised to Forgive

Bloomberg: “The Obama administration has repeatedly promised that borrowers eligible to have their student loans cancelled would be reimbursed for ‘every penny.’ But for months, the Education Department has been actively working to collect on federal student debt owed by tens of thousands of former students at Corinthian Colleges Inc., which filed for bankruptcy in 2015 under a cloud of fraud investigations. It is clear that government officials, working under their own guidelines, have reason to believe at least some of these same debts should be forgiven. When companies have similarly hounded borrowers to repay debt without disclosing that borrowers do not owe it, they have been charged by federal and state regulators with violating the law.”

“The Obama administration’s moves underscore a basic fact about the officials who run the federal student loan program: Their job is to maximize collections, not assist borrowers. In fact, the same person—James W. Runcie, chief operating officer of the department’s student aid unit—directly oversees both collection and forgiveness.”

If the U.S. Won’t Pay Its Teachers, China Will

Bloomberg Tech: “Mi is 33 and founder of a startup that aims to give Chinese kids the kind of education American children receive in top U.S. schools. Called VIPKid, the company matches Chinese students aged five to 12 with predominantly North American instructors to study English, math, science and other subjects. Classes take place online, typically for two or three 25-minute sessions each week.”

“In China, there are hundreds of millions of kids whose parents are willing to pay up if they can get high-quality education. In the U.S. and Canada, teachers are often underpaid—and many have quit the profession because they couldn’t make a decent living. Growth has been explosive. The three-year-old company started this year with 200 teachers and has grown to 5,000, now working with 50,000 children. Next year, Mi anticipates she’ll expand to 25,000 teachers and 200,000 children.”

It Turns Out Spending More Probably Does Improve Education

New York Times: “For many years, research on the relationship between spending and student learning has been surprisingly inconclusive. Many other factors, including student poverty, parental education and the way schools are organized, contribute to educational results… Opponents of increased school funding have seized on that ambiguity to argue that, for schools, money doesn’t matter — and, therefore, more money isn’t needed.”

“But new, first-of-its-kind research suggests that conclusion is mistaken. Money really does matter in education, which could provide fresh momentum for more lawsuits and judgments like the Connecticut decision.”

“The study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in July, was conducted by the economists Julien Lafortune and Jesse Rothstein of the University of California at Berkeley and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach of Northwestern.”

“They found a consistent pattern: In the long run, over comparable time frames, states that send additional money to their lowest-income school districts see more academic improvement in those districts than states that don’t. The size of the effect was significant. The changes bought at least twice as much achievement per dollar as a well-known experiment that decreased class sizes in the early grades.”

How One University Used Big Data To Boost Graduation Rates

NPR: “…a happy story cited in the report comes from Georgia State University, a large public university in Atlanta with more than 24,000 undergrads. Of those students, 60 percent are nonwhite, and many are from working-class and first-generation families.”

“Working with the help of an outside consulting firm, EAB, GSU analyzed 2.5 million grades earned by students in courses over 10 years to create a list of factors that hurt chances for graduation. EAB then built an early-warning system, which GSU calls GPS, for Graduation and Progression Success. The system is updated daily and includes more than 700 red flags aimed at helping advisers keep students on track to graduation.”

“The results have been dramatic.”