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Cornell Professor Explores Education, Politics and Inequality

TCF fellow and Cornell professor of politics Suzanne Mettler recently presented her research findings on the effects of higher education at a University of Massachusetts lecture series titled, "Perspectives on Inequality." Mettler shares that she discovered the high drop out rate of college students is due to the inability to pay tuition and falling grades as a result of working long hours at a job instead of studying.

“The big problem with policy maintenance is partisan politicization,” she said. This leads to stalemates around higher education policy, Mettler said. When politicians do reach across the aisle and work together in higher education policy, they are often responding to the needs of large interests like corporations, not the American people, she said.

“Today, we’re spending more than ever, but we’re not spending it in ways that mitigate inequality,” she said.

Read the review of Mettler's talk.

Tags: policy makers, income inequality, higher education, graduation rates

Value Subtracted

March 25, 2015 BY: Greg Anrig TOPICS: Education, A Smarter Charter

How much weight should standardized testing carry when it comes to measuring student and teacher performance? New York Governor Andrew Cuomo advocates for a link between teacher evaluation and standardized testing results, however TCF senior fellow Greg Anrig says this is unhealthy.

Skeptics who assume teachers’ unions are inherently inflexible argue that they will never be willing to accept such ongoing scrutiny of their work. But the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Teachers Union Reform Network all support efforts to create evaluation and training systems analogous to medical residency programs, with ongoing mentoring and teamwork.

Read Anrig's take on standardized testing featured in Slate.

Tags: teacher evaluation, student success, standardized testing, public school, common core

The End of College?

Kevin Carey's new book The End of College takes a close look at America's flawed higher education business model. In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Carey cites the ideas of TCF senior fellow Richard Kahlenberg, a vocal advocate against university policies that often benefit America's wealthier students.

As Rick Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation likes to note, the American Revolution "was fought in large measure to rid ourselves of aristocracy and inherited privilege." Yet those ideas and systems continue to corrupt college admissions over two centuries later.

Check out the rest of the interview at Inside Higher Ed.

Tags: wealthy, richard kahlenberg, higher education, college admissions

Legacy Status Tips Admission Scales

Many top universities admit a sizeable percentage of their student body on the basis of those students receiving "legacy preference." TCF fellow Richard Kahlenberg, a longtime critic of the practice, commented on legacy admissions, pointing out its flaws and the fundamental unfairness of the system.

In an op-ed in The New York Times in May 2013 titled “Affirmative Action for the Rich,” Kahlenberg voiced his opposition to the policy, decrying it as inherently “un-American” and particularly privileging affluent families.

“In other walks of life, we would consider it absurd to add points to a candidate’s application based on lineage, and legacies in higher education may soon come to an end as well,” Kahlenberg wrote in the op-ed.

Read more on what Kahlenberg had to say about the practice that he's called "affirmative action for the rich" in The Hoya.

Tags: richard kahlenberg, legacy admissions, college students, affirmative action for the rich, affirmative action, admissions

Two Authors, Two Views on Future of Charter Schools

Charter school concept founder, Albert Shanker, would be ashamed of the state of the charter school system today. TCF senior fellow Rick Kahlenberg says that in many ways, the charter school idea has been flipped on its head.

Teacher turnover rates, teacher voice, collective bargaining and teacher recruitment in charter schools are important issues, he said.

Kahlenberg noted challenges charter schools face in recruiting effective teachers, referencing a study last year that found that high-performing charters tend to be in cities where they can attract bright and talented people.

Read the full blog post.

Tags: teacher voice, student integration, classroom innovation, charter schools

Fewer College Grads? Blame Politicians, Professor Says

TCF fellow and Cornell professor Suzanne Mettler spoke with Don Marsh of St. Louis Public Radio on the rates at which young adults are finishing their degrees and how those rates have changed over the past few decades. She says that "political squabbling" is to blame for impeding progress that Congress could have made in terms of student loan policy and improving access overall to higher education.

More students than ever go to college, but it’s only those who come from the top quarter of the income spectrum who are very likely to finish their degree within six years — by age 24,” she said. “For people in the bottom 75 percent, the results are very poor and they’ve hardly increased since the 1970s.

Listen to Mettler's discussion and read the rest of the commentary here.

Tags: student loans, student debt, college tuition, college graduation




Most K-12 education reforms are about trying to make "separate but equal" schools for rich and poor work well. The results of these efforts have been discouraging. The Century Foundation looks at ways to integrate public schools by economic status through public school choice. At the higher education level, we examine ways to open the doors of selective and non-selective institutions to students of modest means.

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