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Fairfield University Is Worst in Nation for Pell, Teacher Shortages, Charities to Support

Fairfield University Is Worst in Nation for Pell Enrollment

Over the weekend, The New York Times covered a troubling finding about Fairfield University. James Murphy—senior policy analyst for our affiliate, Education Reform Now—annually generates a ranking of US colleges, based on the enrollment of students eligible for Pell grants, federal grants to those from the lowest income families in the country. When used as a proxy for socioeconomic status, Pell-eligibility allows James and his team to measure the accessibility of higher education. This year, they found that Fairfield topped the list of "worst colleges" by this metric. In 2016, 13.1% of freshman at Fairfield were Pell-eligible, but that figure was down to 7.5% by 2020. It's a drop of 44% over four years, something that James told the New York Times comes down to the choices being made at the school. “Fairfield University in Connecticut is a Jesuit institution whose mission statement includes fostering ‘ethical and religious values and a sense of social responsibility,’” reads an ironic caption in the article. Worth a look.

Teacher Shortages Dominate Headlines

Teacher shortages once again dominated the education headlines this week. The New Haven Independent has a story about New Haven Public Schools recommending that families at a magnet school transfer their 7th and 8th grade students to another school in the district with more educators on staff. According to the Journal Inquirer, New Haven is actually short about 100 classroom teachers, and Hartford is down about 200. The result of high turnover is circular, the article says: when teachers leave, the workload for those who remain grows, making the job tougher.

Incidentally, over the summer, we did look at teacher retention data from the Connecticut Teachers' Retirement Board, in order to identify the extent of the state's staffing crisis. We analyzed longitudinal retention rates in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, and Waterbury, which already appear to be improving after pandemic dips in 2021. A story ripe for deeper analysis, there's obviously more to it than meets the eye.

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving...

As we embark upon this season of gratitude, we are thinking of the students and families who are attempting to engage in pandemic recovery, while still facing food scarcity, housing insecurity, and issues of mental health. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are several charities that we think are doing great work to help. Give if you are able!

Happy Thanksgiving, from the CT Team!


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