The president of Portland State University, Wim Wiewel, met last week with 10 prospective students in Hyderabad, India. But what started as a get-acquainted visit quickly turned into more of a counseling session, as the students expressed fears about coming to the United States this fall.
One student, who is Muslim, said his father was worried that America had an anti-Muslim attitude, Mr. Wiewel recounted. “Several others said they were concerned about the ‘Trump effect,’” he said in an email.
“I’d say the rhetoric and actual executive orders are definitely having a chilling effect,” Mr. Wiewel wrote, referring to the Trump administration’s travel ban.
Like many universities across the country, the Oregon university is getting fewer international applications.
Today the NYTimes editors took Kansas Governor Sam Brown to task for his wrongheaded approach to taxation in his State as he is reportedly set to leave his state in the lurch as he leaves for a rumored Ambassadorship to Rome. The editors offered a description of the tax scheme and its impact:
Mr. Brownback, a Republican first elected on the Tea Party crest of 2010, used his office as a laboratory for conservative budget experimentation. His insistence that tax cuts create, not diminish, revenues has left the state facing a ballooning deficit plus a ruling by the state Supreme Court that Kansas schoolchildren have been unconstitutionally shortchanged in state aid for years, with the poorest minority children most deprived.
The court ruled this month that they would shut the state’s schools if funding wasn’t made equitable by June 30. It found reading test scores of nearly half of African-American students and more than one-third of Hispanic students were deficient under aid formulas favoring more affluent school districts.
Brownback’s solution to this deficit is not a tax increase to improve the funding deficiency cited by the court. His solution is to offer the students “choice”, a solution the NYTimes editors derided:
Mr. Brownback played no small role in the long-running school crisis by leading the Republican Legislature to limit school aid after enacting the largest tax cuts in state history, for upper-bracket business owners. Characteristically, the governor’s reaction to the court mandate was to further undermine schools by suggesting parents “be given the opportunity and resources to set their child up for success through other educational choices.”
But wait! Isn’t this the same editorial board that champions Eva Moskovitz’ Success Academy because ti gives parents “the opportunity… to set their child up for success through other educational choices”? Isn’t this the same editorial board that views charter schools as the best means to improve the failing schools in New York City?
My question to the NYTimes editors is this: Can’t you see that the underlying motive of the pro-charter school movement and Sam Brownback are identical? They BOTH want to diminish funding for schools while deregulating their operations so that privatizing profiteers can take them over. Maybe the results of Governor Brownback’s failed policies linking tax cuts to deregulated charters will help them connect the dots going forward.
Several media outlets, including The Hill, announced yesterday that President Trump issued a letter that rolled back Obama-era guidance that forbade student loan debt collectors from charging high fees to defaulted borrowers. This rollback was based on a technical argument that “…the initial guidance handed down by the Obama administration in 2015 should have been subjected to public comment before it was issued.” 7,000,000 people with loans through the Federal Family Education Loan Program that are held by guaranty agencies are affected by this decision. The last sentence of the article is chilling:
The amount owed in student loan debt has surpassed that of credit card debt — about $1.2 trillion.
So it is now conceivable that 7,000,000 voters are subject to fees that are as much as 16 percent of the loan’s principal and accrued interest should they fall behind in their loan payments for any reason. This means that when these borrowers are forced to choose between paying off credit cards or paying off student loans they might opt to defer the credit cards… or might skip a meal every day or so… or let their electricity be turned off. One thing is certain, they will be less able to buy goods and services, which will put a drag on the economy. And another certainty is that fewer students will plunge into debt making it increasingly difficult for our workforce to improve its skills.
And where are the voices of protest from the Department of Education? From the GOP? Or, for that matter, from the Democratic Party?
One hopes the Trump administration might seek public comment on this change… but it is unlikely to do so for they know that many of those who would protest it would be wearing those bright red hats that say “Make America Great Again”.
Calling a For Profit Cyber School Receiving Public Money a “Public School” is Misleading and Disingenuous
On Thursday afternoon, Common Dreams posted education reporter Jeff Bryant’s latest Education Opportunity Network article, “What Betsy DeVos Means When She Says “Public Schools” on their website today… and it is an understatement to say her definition of “public schools” is misleading. As Mr. Bryant notes, there is an effort underway across the country to rebrand “…for-profit virtual charters and private school recipients of taxpayer-backed vouchers as public schools.” Such re-branding is misleading and disingenuous. These schools play by different rules. They are deregulated, not subject to the same accountability standards as public schools, and not governed by publicly elected officials. They are no more a public institution than a bouncer at a bar or a security guard at a department store are “policemen.” While the bouncer and security guard perform some of the same functions as a police officer, they have far less training, a far narrower scope of responsibility, and are not answerable to the public. If police departments heard that bouncers and security guards were “re-branded” as public policeman they’d be annoyed. Yet people seem to think public school teachers should be unperturbed when for profit institutions or virtual instruction enterprises are called “public schools.”
But, as Mr. Bryant notes, the public is generally unaware of the differences between charter schools and bona fide public schools, and this lack of understanding has created an opening for opportunistic charter profiteers:
These important differences between charter schools and traditional public schools are not generally understood or appreciated by even the most knowledgeable people, which is why charter advocates put so much energy and resources in marketing their operations as “public” schools.
Jeff Bryant concludes his article with this:
School choice proponents like DeVos often argue that all that matters is whether students who attend charters, online schools, and private academies do well on standardized tests and that parents are generally satisfied with these choices.
But this argument ignores the tax-paying public that deserves to know whether those outcomes are being achieved without wasting our public dollars, which more often than not, they probably are.
If a school is governed by a board elected by the voters, adheres to regulations developed by a state agency in accordance with laws passed by elected officials, and is held to standards set by elected officials or their appointees, it is a “public” school. Anything else is anti-democratic and private and should not receive any public funds from taxpayers.
Steven Saul’s NYTimes article today describes a phenomenon being called “The Trump Effect”:
Nearly 40 percent of colleges are reporting overall declines in applications from international students, according to a survey of 250 college and universities, released this week by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. The biggest decline is in applications from the Middle East.
The article cites the financial impact this decline in foreign students could have on schools, especially on graduate programs where foreign students bring in $32,000,000,000 to the economy. Mr. Saul offers some data on graduate school enrollments:
Slumping graduate school applications can now be seen at universities ranging from giant Big Ten public universities like Ohio State and Indiana University to regional programs such as Portland State, with just over 27,000 students, including more than 1,900 international students.
At Indiana University, international applications for undergraduate programs increased 6 percent, but graduate applications for some programs are posting big drops, said David Zaret, vice president for international affairs.
Mr. Zaret said international applications to the masters program in business were down 20 percent, and down 30 percent in both the master of law program and at the School of Informatics and Computing. The university will not have problems filling the programs, but the drop might affect the overall quality of the applicant pool, he said.
Mr. Saul’s article included several quotes from graduate school officials who attributed the declines to other factors that “the Trump effect” and also cited grad school deans who were concerned that the “yield” of incoming foreign students might be lower than usual because many students who were accepted before the President issued his Executive Order on immigration might re-think attending college or grad school in the US.
Far worse than the loss of revenue is the loss of our country’s reputation one that welcomes individuals of all races and colors. As the college official above indicates, universities are unlikely to have problems filling their programs, but they might have a lower quality of applicants as a result. And as the quality of their applicant pool diminishes, so, too, does the quality of our work force in the long run. And so, too, does the quality of life. As President Trump would say: “Sad”….