Biden’s Higher Ed Team Takes Shape

The Biden administration on Wednesday announced a slew of appointments to the Education Department, including well-known higher ed advocates, people who have worked on behalf of student loan borrowers, and several former aides to progressive Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Among those named was Michelle Asha Cooper, a longtime advocate for education equity. She was formally appointed as deputy assistant secretary for postsecondary education, and will serve as acting assistant secretary, as reported by Inside Higher Ed.

New Variant Meets Its First University

University of Michigan students are now under a stay-at-home order from the college administration after a recommendation from its county health department due to a cluster of cases of one of the new COVID-19 variants, called B.1.1.7. The new variant, first observed in Britain, has now been reported in 32 states and 467 people. Experts have suggested that B.1.1.7 transmits more efficiently and rapidly than previously observed types of the novel coronavirus. British experts have also suggested that the variant may be more deadly. As of Jan. 27, 14 people at Michigan have been infected with the B.1.1.7 variant.

How to Best Assess Your E-Learning Programs

Assessment is a key to success in many walks of life, and in higher education, it is a must because the risks and rewards are so high when dealing with the lives of students. In recent years, online education has undergone significant scrutiny. While it no doubt has become a mainstay in higher education, the effectiveness of such programs is still sometimes debatable. The impact of COVID-19, however, has clearly demonstrated that online programs must be top quality to keep students enrolled and learning. And to achieve that goal, the assessment of such programs must also be of good quality.

Jill Biden Pushes Free Access to Community College, Training

Jill Biden is pushing free access to community college and training programs, saying the schools will be an important part of Biden administration efforts to rebuild the economy. A longtime community college professor and advocate, the first lady said people struggling to get by during the coronavirus-induced economic slump need access to these schools. “We have to get this done. And we have to do it now. That’s why we’re going to make sure that everyone has access to free community college and training programs,” Jill Biden said in taped remarks broadcast during a virtual legislative summit hosted by the Association of Community College Trustees and the American Association of Community Colleges.

Rural Higher Education: Realities & Opportunities

In fall 2020, MDRC partnered with Rural Matters and Ascendium Education Group to produce a four-part podcast series called “Rural Higher Education: Challenges & Opportunities.” The series gathered experts from across the country to examine the realities of rural life and to address the educational challenges facing rural communities, such as low college enrollment rates, inadequate access to broadband internet, and lack of funding for rural education. This report summarizes the podcast series and focuses on four main issues: How are rural colleges adapting to the coronavirus pandemic? How are states approaching public-private partnerships to improve educational outcomes? What is the impact of racial diversity in rural America? How are communities and colleges pursuing economic development and preparing students for jobs in the modern economy?

NIU College of Education Offers Incentives to Students with CCPE in Education

Northern Illinois University’s College of Education and Education Systems Center at NIU are proud to announce new incentives for Illinois students graduating with the College and Career Pathway Endorsement (CCPE) in Education. Starting immediately, admitted students with the endorsement are automatically advanced as finalists to receive select scholarships and to participate in the college’s innovative Educate and Engage program.

$600 Billion Lost

In the decade following the Great Recession, students across the U.S. lost nearly $600 billion from the states’ disinvestment in their public schools. Data from 2008-2018 show that, if states had simply maintained their fiscal effort in PK-12 education at pre-Recession levels, public schools would have had over half a trillion dollars more in state and local revenue to provide teachers, support staff and other resources essential for student achievement. Further, that lost revenue could have significantly improved opportunity and outcomes for students, especially in the nation’s poorest districts. The states dramatically reduced their investment in public education in response to the 2007 Great Recession. Yet as economies rebounded, states failed to restore those investments. As the analysis shows, while states’ economic activity — measured as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) — recovered, state and local revenues for public schools lagged far behind in many states.