Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

As Legislature gets ready to convene, education leaders offer their wish list. (Yes, money is on it.)

Whenever the General Assembly makes decisions affecting schools, educators complain their views are overlooked.

So, I asked education leaders to tell me what the Legislature should tackle in 2013 and what it should avoid:

Herb Garrett, Georgia School Superintendents Association:

The issue that I wish our returning lawmakers would address is the continued underfunding of our state’s public schools. As you know, we are now about to enter our 12th consecutive year of the infamous “austerity cuts,” and there doesn’t seem to be any relief in sight. While five other states are mulling the idea of actually adding days to their students’ school years, two-thirds of our school systems are unable to offer even the 180-day school year that used to be considered normal. At some point, we simply must ask if we are doing the right thing by our children.

During this continuing saga, there will be much conversation this session about changes to our “flexibility and accountability” …

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Should colleges charge future engineers less than future poets?

With Georgia’s tendency of late to look south to Florida for education ideas, we may see some discussion this year in the Legislature on the Sunshine State’s latest brainchild: Incentivize students to become engineers, scientists, health care specialists and technology experts by discounting tuition in those areas of study. Dissuade students from becoming anthropologists, poets and theater majors by charging full tuition for those degrees.

“Do you want to use your tax dollars to educate more people who can’t get jobs in anthropology? I don’t,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott in a speech last year.

I once was part of an interesting discussion with Emory President James Wagner — he was meeting with the AJC editorial board — on whether tuition should be calibrated so that an education major, for instance, pays less than an engineering major, whose education costs colleges more to provide. The issue came up during a broader discussion about rising college costs and …

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Can we personalize education and persuade students that it’s on them to learn?

The release earlier this week of international benchmark testing scores produced came the usual laments about where the United States stacked up.

As always, Asian countries took the crowns in math and science performance. Among the 60 countries that participated in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, the United States ranked 11th in fourth-grade math, 9th in eighth-grade math, 7th in fourth-grade science and 10th in eighth-grade science. (In the original TIMSS from 1995, U.S. eighth-graders ranked 23rd in math among 41 nations.)

But, while America’s standings aren’t bottom-of-the-barrel, the scores trouble forecasters who believe that the economic future belongs to countries that excel in science, technology, engineering and math.

American students still lack the math mastery of other nations. For example, 7 percent of U.S. eighth graders scored at the advanced level in math, compared with 48 percent in Singapore and 47 percent in South Korea.

So, …

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A Georgia Tech degree ranks in top 20 nationally for lifetime return on investment rate

If you want the most bang for your college buck, go to Georgia Tech. (AJC File)

If you want the most bang for your college buck, go to Georgia Tech. (AJC File)

In doing some research this week, I came across Payscale.com’s annual ranking of what a college costs and the return on that cost as reflected in lifetime earnings.

The rankings came out earlier this year, but I thought they were worth sharing.  The ranking goes all the way from 1 to 1,248 — and a Georgia school landed the last spot.

But let’s start with the happier news first: The biggest payback in Georgia comes from a Georgia Tech undergrad degree, which has a better return on lifetime investment rate than degrees from Brown, Yale, Amherst, Georgetown, UVA, Vanderbilt, Williams or Emory. (Lifetime was defined as a career span of 30 years.)

Georgia Tech ranks 17th on the national list for return on investment rate among  in-state students. (The return is slightly less for out-of-state students who pay higher tuition. Even for those students, Tech is the gift that keeps on giving, ranking …

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US DOE: Lowest performing schools are improving

From US DOE on its School Improvement Grants:

The U.S. Department of Education today released an early snapshot of student performance data at schools that have received federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) program funds, a key component of the Department’s blueprint for helping states and districts turn around the nation’s lowest-performing schools.

Under the Obama Administration, the SIG program has invested up to $2 million per school at more than 1300 of the country’s lowest-performing schools. The data released today provides the first overview of performance for the first cohort of schools after one year of implementing SIG. The data begins in the 2009-2010 school year and ends in the 2010-2011 school year, the first year schools received SIG funds.

In three main areas, these early findings show positive momentum and progress in many SIG schools;

•Schools receiving SIG grants are improving. The first year of data show that two thirds of schools showed gains …

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UGA and Tech presidents: The fiscal cliff looms

Michael F. Adams is president of the University of Georgia. G.P. “Bud” Peterson is president of the Georgia Institute of Technology. With their football teams about to face off next week, the presidents co-authored a guest column on the fiscal cliff and its impact on higher education.

By Michael F. Adams and G.P. “Bud” Peterson

It’s no secret that our universities have a century-old rivalry in sports, but what isn’t as well known is that Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia are partners, collaborating in areas ranging from energy and health research, to teacher education, to strengthening local economies around the state.

Together, our two public research universities provide educational opportunities for 56,000 students and conduct $900 million in research each year, spanning everything from national defense to cancer treatments to Internet security. This research is not only critical to preparing students for good jobs and careers, it is essential if Georgia …

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DeKalb school chief releases audit to the public. Read it and let’s discuss

UPDATED Wednesday morning: As promised, Dr. Atkinson has posted the audit. Go here to read it.

UPDATE at 3:30: I just spoke to DeKalb Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson who says she plans to release the forensic audit on the district website within the next 24 hours or sooner. She explained that the audit is only a draft and subject to change. She said she is overriding the attorney’s view that the document is privileged in its draft form since it already has been leaked to the media.

Atkinson said her goal was never to keep the audit from the public.  She is sending the draft audit to board members now and then will post. She wants parents to understand that this is only a draft from the auditors and changes may be made.

Parents in DeKalb County Schools are among the most dissatisfied in metro Atlanta, in large part because of a string of ineffective leaders, one of whom ended up in indicted.

New school chief Cheryl Atkinson arrived a year ago and cast herself as a change …

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Final stretch: Is charter school amendment about “money versus public schools” or “giving every child an option”?

As election day looms, the AJC examines the emotions and money around the charter school amendment in a Sunday piece. The amendment remains an explosive issue with great interest from both inside and outside the state.

Pro-amendment groups, including national school-choice advocates and for-profit charter school operators, have raised more than $2 million; amendment opponents have collected $123,243, mostly from public school officials, according to an analysis of campaign-finance records by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Please read the entire piece before commenting.

The AJC editorial page came out today in opposition to Amendment One, saying it would be a waste of taxpayer funds to create a new bureaucracy to do what the state board of education can already do. The AJC joined GOP State School Superintendent John Barge in contending that the creation of another layer of state government is wrong when Georgia has slashed billions from school funding over the last few …

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Graduating to a pay gap: Female college grads still earn less than male counterparts

Women face an earning gap once they graduate college, according to a new study. (AJC/file photo)

Women face an earning gap once they graduate college, according to a new study. (AJC/file photo)

The American Association of University Women released a report last week on lingering gender inequities in salary.

According to “Graduating to a Pay Gap,” women one year out of college who were working full time earned, on average, just 82 percent of what their male peers earned.

“After we control for hours, occupation, college major, and other factors associated with pay, the pay gap shrinks but does not disappear. About one-third of the gap cannot be explained by any of the factors commonly understood to affect earnings, indicating that other factors that are more difficult to identify — and likely more difficult to measure—contribute to the pay gap,” the report states.

The report acknowledges the role of college major in determining income. Men are over represented in the higher-paying fields of engineering and computer science, while women continue to dominate in the …

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Student success, Georgia economy threatened by state’s declining support

Taifa S. Butler is the deputy director of Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, which will release a survey today of Georgia’s 180 school districts on the impact of state funding cuts.

The 150 districts that responded too the survey educate more than 92 percent of the students in public schools. The survey found that the state’s lack of support for education diminishes learning opportunities for students by forcing school districts to shorten the school year, increase class size, reduce the number of teachers and cut teacher pay.

By Taifa S. Butler

Georgia’s future depends on its ability to attract employers, create jobs, and grow the economy, and a key ingredient to this is a highly skilled and educated workforce. Yet over the past decade, state investment in public education has declined significantly, undermining our ability to create and nurture the next generation of workers.

State leaders set ambitious goals to improve the quality of the workforce and made …

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