Cardinal Dolan Lauds Trump on School Choice, etc.

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Cardinal Dolan Lauds Trump on School Choice, etc.

Cardinal Dolan Lauds Trump on School Choice

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan praised President Trump’s call in his inaugural address to Congress for “an education bill that funds school choice.” In addition, Dolan lauded Trump’s visit soon afterward with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to a Catholic school in Orlando, Florida, and expressed hope that Trump will succeed in getting Congress to approve a tuition tax credit system that replicates Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Florida’s program dates back to 2001 and now provides 98,000 students with scholarships averaging $5,500. Sixteen other states, including Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana, have similar programs. New York, Dolan’s home state, does not. While Dolan did not mention that Catholic schools have been closing across the country for lack of funding, this matter has been well documented. With more lay teachers on staff in place of nuns and priests, Catholic schools have become more expensive. And with many charter schools mandating the same formal attire and strict discipline that have distinguished Catholic schools, parents have opted for the free version. A federal tuition tax credit system stands to have a dramatic impact on the fate of Catholic schools.

New York Times Rebukes DOE Stance on For-Profit Colleges

In a scathing editorial, The New York Times criticized the new Department of Education for hiring an executive from a for-profit university as a special assistant to Secretary Betsy DeVos and for declaring “it would review and extend compliance deadlines” for the so-called “gainful employment rule” imposed by the Obama administration in 2015.  This rule stipulates that the provision of federal funds (in the form of student loans) to for-profit tertiary institutions requires that "the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate does not exceed 20 percent of his or her discretionary income ... or 8 percent of his or her total earnings." The Times opined: “The industry is trying to cast this ‘gainful employment rule’ as onerous and unnecessary. But the abuses that prompted the Obama administration to develop this rule in the first place are well documented.” The newspaper went on to cite a study of the for-profit tertiary sector recently published by the Century Foundation tracing predatory practices back to “crooked schools [that] sprang up to swindle World War II veterans out of their G.I. Bill benefits.” The new special assistant to DeVos is Robert S. Eitel, formerly a top lawyer for Bridgeport Education Inc., a company, the Times reported in a separate story, “facing multiple government investigations, including one that ended with a settlement of more than $30 million over deceptive student lending.”

Kentucky to Become the 43rd State with Charter Schools 

Kentucky became the forty-third state to ratify legislation for charter schools on March 15, reported Education Week, with the state Senate approving a charter bill largely along party lines by a vote of 23-15. The Senate vote followed House approval the previous week. Republican Governor Matt Bevin, an ardent charter advocate, was expected to sign the bill. While Kentucky has been late to make way for charter schools, the legislation passed in the House and Senate was loose: specifically, the legislation placed no limit on the number of charter schools and permitted charter operators to outsource management to for-profit firms. Seven states remain without charter legislation: Vermont, West Virginia, Alabama, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana.

Coding Academies Pursue Reporting Standards

To control quality and thwart the wave of bad publicity that decimated the for-profit tertiary sector, seventeen leading coding academies, reported The Wall Street Journal, “have formed a coalition and agreed to report results like job-placement rates for graduates so prospective students can compare schools. The metrics will be verified by an outside auditor.” Coding academies represent a new and booming sector in the for-profit education sector. Since the first opened in 2012, many more have been launched. Tuition for courses that typically run three months average $15,000. With demand for coders growing, graduates can earn more than $70,000 a year. According to the Labor Department, demand for software developers in general will grow 17 percent over the next decade, twice the rate of demand for people with other skills. While coding academies are not accredited and do not quality for federal student loans, the Department of Education, reported The Wall Street Journal in an earlier story, announced in August 2016 that it would launch a pilot program to provide loans to students attending some highly regarded coding academies, such as the Flatiron School in New York.

Charter School Growth Ebbs

Charter school growth is slowing down, reported Education Week.  The decline since 2012, when 640 new charters opened, has been steady. In 2013, 501 new charters were launched; in 2014, 404; and in 2015, 329. Citing a study by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, the newspaper noted that large charter authorizers have seen a marked drop in charter applications, from an average of 18 in the 2011-12 school year to 7 in the 2015-16 school year.  One explanation offered by Education Week for the slowdown is that national charter management organizations (CMOs) “may have reached capacity.” In addition, it should be pointed out that charter schools have run into mounting resistance, as illustrated by the NAACP’s call for a moratorium on charter school growth in October 2016 and by the decisive rejection a month later of a referendum in Massachusetts to lift the cap on charter schools, with 62 percent of voters opposing the measure and 38 percent supporting it. Yet while the number of new charter schools has ebbed, total enrollment in charter schools continues to climb, especially in such states as Minnesota, reported The Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Although enrollment in traditional district schools grew by 2 percent over the past five years, stated the newspaper, enrollment in charter schools ballooned. More specifically, there were 41,604 students in Minnesota charter schools in 2012-13 and 53,960 in 2016-17. Grade additions in existing charter schools may explain much of this growth. New charter schools would explain the remainder.



Published Thursday, Mar. 30, 2017