This weekly segment by Democrats for Education Reform CT looks at the top education stories Democrats are watching, providing bite-sized analysis and links to recent articles. On the roster this week: more data on CT’s steep higher education costs; school districts considering regionalization; disappointment on national assessment results; and ongoing ed mentions on the presidential trail.
Persistent Headlines on CT Higher Ed Costs
On the tails of our statewide report finding high costs and low rates of completion in many of Connecticut's 4-year programs, a study by the Institute for College Access and Success is making headlines for its finding that Connecticut’s 2018 graduates had the highest average student debt in the nation. Lawmakers are listening and beginning to call for a change. Recently, a Harvard Business Review article identified some key pain points in higher education that are worth disrupting. (As for Connecticut-based solutions, stay tuned for more in the coming weeks.)
Regionalization Remaining Relevant
In case you missed it, right before Thanksgiving, consultants for the towns of Ansonia and Derby released findings that restructuring and consolidating their two school districts could save the communities $10 million. In contrast, they found a $62 million price tag associated with maintaining the status quo. Earlier this year, legislators and Governor Lamont weighed some policy ideas regarding district regionalization and shared services, and we publicly endorsed the concept. It’s fitting to begin closing out 2019 by looking back at Amy's testimony on the 3 proposed regionalization bills that the legislature considered at the start of the year; and in line with our values as an organization, positions were presented through the lens of equity.
Disappointing Assessment Outcomes
Yesterday, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results were released. Given every three years, the PISA is the only international test of educational progress, facilitating comparisons of academic preparedness among countries. Although American students scored below the middle of the pack in math, they scored slightly above peer nations in reading—performing similarly to the United Kingdom, Japan, and Australia. But the test also pointed to a widening achievement gap in reading between high and low performers, a cause for concern. These results follow the recent release of NAEP exam scores (which allow for inter-state comparisons) that indicated most American students were not reaching proficiency levels in reading.
Ongoing Education Mentions on the Presidential Trail
Also yesterday, Senator and presidential hopeful Corey Booker released a $100 billion proposal for investing in historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). His plan stands out--amidst a broad pool of peers who have also proposed investments in HBCUs--because it would earmark some of those institutional dollars for climate change research, STEM education, and infrastructural upgrades. (The New York Times)
MSNBC announced this week that it will host a forum on December 14th to unpack the education proposals of the Democratic primary candidates. (NBC News)