Over the last decade, women have made great strides in state leadership positions — and in particular, positions of power related to education policy. Currently, women lead nine states as governor and hold 15 lieutenant governorships and 66 other statewide elected positions. In the 2018 election cycle, more than 2,000 women were elected to state legislatures across the country, and Nevada became the first to have women hold the majority of seats in the state legislature. Beyond elections, women also were appointed to top state education positions on boards of education, in higher education offices and as chief state school officers.
Montana State University Billings and School District 2 announced a program in which high school seniors can begin college coursework for an education degree, putting them on track to graduate in three years from MSUB. SD2 superintendent Greg Upham says the program will increase access to college-level coursework for students and build tighter ties with MSUB. The university officially announced the “1+3 program” Thursday. Upham and MSUB Chancellor Dan Edelman have visited with high schoolers in recent days promoting the program.
Millions of high school graduates across the country began college last fall. Since nearly three-quarters of CPS graduates now enroll in a two- or four-year college, it’s likely that you know a few of them. It’s also likely that many won’t finish college. Nationally, roughly 4 in 10 students who started college in the fall of 2012 had not earned a degree six years later, and white and Asian students continue to complete college at higher rates than black and Latino students. Locally, CPS students are graduating from college at slightly lower rates. The University of Chicago Consortium on School Research estimates that roughly half of CPS graduates who go off to college will not graduate from a four-year college within six years. The bachelor’s degree attainment rates for black and Latino young men in CPS are significantly lower.
Half of the state’s manufacturing workers are retiring in the next 10 or so years. The Illinois Manufacturer Associations says that’s going to leave a glaring need for production workers and engineers. Manufacturing has long been a key cog in Rockford’s economic engine. And its leaders know they have to invest in it if they want the area to flourish in the future. A few years ago Rena Cotsones helped jumpstart the Northern Illinois University engineering program at Rock Valley College in Rockford. She’s the associate vice president for outreach, engagement and regional development at NIU. The idea was if they could cut down the barrier of having to drive to their main DeKalb campus, they could make engineering more accessible to Rockford students, she said.
Seventeen percent of postsecondary students surveyed by The Hope Center in 2018 say they experienced homelessness at some point that year; and more than half report feeling insecure about their housing situation in general, including the ability to pay rent or utilities. The Hope Center also found that students that were formerly identified as homeless youth or foster youth during their K-12 education were also at a higher risk of experiencing homelessness during their postsecondary education.
The College of Education is expanding the capacity of its doctoral programs in special education to help address a nationwide shortage of researchers and faculty members in the field. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs recently awarded funding under several different grants that will enable the special education department to train an additional 24 doctoral students over the next five years. Currently, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign typically awards four or five doctoral degrees in special education annually. Recruiting is underway for candidates to fill the programs, with students beginning their studies at the U of I this fall.
Public universities in Illinois began making their case Wednesday for state funding increases larger than those that Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker proposed in his budget address February 19. Pritzker proposed an average 5 percent increase for state university operating budgets, or about $55.6 million, contingent upon voters in November approving a constitutional amendment to allow a graduated income tax structure. But three higher education institutions–Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University and the University of Illinois System–each tried to make its case for even bigger increases before a Senate budget committee.
California college students would receive significantly more state aid to pay for non-tuition expenses like housing, books and food under proposed sweeping changes to the state’s financial aid system. Community college students stand to benefit the most from the changes outlined in the proposal presented at a hearing in Sacramento on Thursday by the California Student Aid Commission. More than 300,000 additional community college students would become eligible for Cal Grants, state monetary awards that students don’t have to pay back, to cover non-tuition costs. The maximum grants available would more than triple from $1,672 to $6,000. Under the proposal, students who attend University of California or California State University would be excluded from receiving the additional state financial aid, although those students would continue to be eligible to receive Cal Grants to cover tuition and fees.
The coronavirus has colleges and universities swinging into action to move courses online. In the coming weeks, we’ll find out just how prepared (or not) academe is to do this on a large scale. Those of us in online teaching and educational technology have moved quickly to help, too, and it’s astonishing how many helpful resources have already been pulled together. Even just a few weeks into the crisis, and really only a few days since class cancellations started to become a reality, there are top-quality guides free for the taking, created by people who really know their stuff.
With more than 5,700 confirmed cases of the disease brought on by the new coronavirus across the U.S. as of publication, COVID-19 has forced higher education institutions to swiftly move to alternative teaching methods and adopt new technologies to support distance learning—like video conferencing software, online assessment tools and other e-learning resources, in an effort to keep student and faculty safe and healthy. And as members of the education community come together to tackle this large-scale transition, education technology companies have also stepped up to help teachers facilitate online learning for home-bound students, offering services and resources to schools affected by the health crisis for free.
As the coronavirus pandemic grinds a growing number of industries to a halt, colleges nationwide are moving classes online and limiting in-person services to help stem the outbreak. Yet community colleges, which receive less government funding per student than public four-year universities, have had fewer resources to prepare for the outbreak. Given that their students also are more likely to be low-income and have children than those attending bachelor’s institutions, two-year schools are tasked with addressing the virus on several fronts.
A new study shows cause for optimism about college completion trends, though racial gaps persist. According to a report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, completion rates rose in 43 states. The study analyzed state-level data from the last five cohort years in 45 states, echoing national trends from a report in December. The executive director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, Dr. Doug Shapiro, said two major factors account for the rise: students are getting younger and enrollment is growing leaner.
Workforce development, career and technical education, and college affordability are among governors’ top higher education policy concerns this year, according to an analysis of their state of state addresses. The issues are perennial priorities, noted the Education Commission of the States, which has tracked these speeches for 15 years. Newer concerns include expanding dual-enrollment, which allow high school students to take college courses. The need to improve college access has taken on new urgency as governors seek to prepare their states’ workforce for jobs in the growing knowledge economy, the report notes.