Tuesday, February 06, 2007

This Week's Recommended Reading #24

From Ash:

As I mentioned earlier, there's been a spate of education-related articles recently. And none particularly wowed me on its own, but collectively I think they're worth addressing.

First, while the Los Angeles Times did an article about the rise of high schools offering web-based distance learning (oddly omitting any comparison to these programs to home-schooling), the Washington Post featured a report by Education Sector on impact of longer in-school hours on children's achievement. Notably, the report finds that longer school hours seem to help ameliorate students' socio-economic factors. I also found it intriguing that longer school hours are being lauded – but not one person is commenting on the fact that some of these children are going to school for days-longer than an adult can go to work, at least without overtime, complaining about work-life balance, etc. I'm not sure what to make of that, but I do think it's something worth pondering.

Then there's the thing that's almost always on my mind anyway: school loans.

Since my own law school loan pay-off date isn't exactly around the corner (try the year 2029), The Washington Post's recent feature lost me when they featured the couple who was able to put aside $300 a month for each of their two children, after they'd already put something away for their retirement. But then they did have some grimly informative statistics that make my loans look like a joke by comparison, so at least there's that if I want to be a "half-glass-full" type.

Then the LAT did a feature on how Latinos are scrupulously avoiding school loans, to the point that it may be one reason they have such a high college drop-out rate.

But the articles that really intrigued me were the ones about the schools and communities trying to desperately to fix the problem.

AP reported that Oklahoma Wesleyan University decided to auction off a student's tuition on eBay. As of tonight, bidding is at $19,600 – that includes tuition, room and board (books aren't included). That's still about a $4,000 savings, in case you're wondering, so get your bid in now, I guess.

Indiana's Governor – complaining about a state-wide brain-drain – is proposing the state gives its native sons and daughters a $20,000 scholarship (over four years). But there's a catch: if they move out of state within three-years of graduation, they have to pay it back.

Then there's El Dorado, Arkansas, the town that really has turned into gold for its students. If you hadn't heard, for the next 20 years, a local oil company decided to pay five years in or out of state college tuition for all students who have been in area schools for four years prior to graduation. The grant's capped at the highest in-state school tuition, but there are no need or grade requirements to be eligible, and you just have to maintain a 2.0 at the destination college of your choice. I've never been to El Dorado, but I'm an honorary Arkansan (no, really), so for those of you who are now considering a move there, allow me to reassure you that Arkansas is a beautiful state, the people are nice, and the food's yummy.

Although honestly, most of these plans pale in comparison to what I read somewhere is the Australian solution. What I recall is that there, student loan repayment is tied to current income. So if you aren't making a lot, you pay less, if you make more, you pay more. It allows people to get the education they want, forgive them tough job markets, and yes, frees people up to pursue public-service positions that they otherwise couldn't afford.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the Los Angeles Times article about distance learning, I clicked on but you have to register to get the LAT.

Is distance learning similar to online classes?

8:04 AM  
Blogger Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman said...

From Ash:

Sorry you can't get to the piece. Yes, the distance learning is online. But I think how it works exactly varies by program.

8:21 AM  

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