Saturday, November 25, 2017


The past month has seen some really interesting writing about education. Here is a sampling of articles from November.

Higher Education

There have been several articles this month about colleges and universities in general that have been interesting.

In "The Myth of American Universities as Inequality Fighters"a research-based article from The Atlantic, Derek Thompson  argues that the top universities in the country are basically just helping students from wealthy families stay wealthy. He cites research from respected economists Raj Chetty, John Friedmann, Emmanuel Saez, Nicholas Turner, and Danny Yagan. It's an interesting read.

From the author: "Poor students who graduate from Ivy League universities (and their equivalents like Stanford, Duke, and MIT) have a much better shot at entering the top 1 percent than low-income graduates of other colleges. But these hyper-selective schools are also hyper-elite. A child from the richest 1 percent of families is 77 times more likely to attend an Ivy (or an equally selective college) than a child from a family in the poorest quintile."

Echoing the tone of the Atlantic article is Benjamin Wermund in Politico. His article, In Trump Country, a University Confronts its Skeptics, is written about the University of Michigan, its credo of providing "an uncommon education for the common man", and the reality that 10% of the population the University serves comes from the top 1% of wage earners, while only 16% comes from the bottom 60%.

Wermund writes, “It’s ingrained at an early age — ‘You’re not going to go there,’” explained Benjamin Edmondson, the superintendent of one school district in nearby Ypsilanti, Michigan, where almost every student is poor enough to qualify for a subsidized lunch. “Why? It’s expensive. Why? It’s not attainable.”

On a brighter note, John Gramlich writes in the Pew Research Center blog that the Hispanic Dropout Rate Hits New Low, College Enrollment Reaches New High. Using data from the Census Bureau, the author notes that, even as the Hispanic K-12 population has grown, the dropout rates has plummeted from 34% to just 10%. 

Gramlich writes, "As the Hispanic dropout rate has declined, the share of Hispanic high school graduates who enroll in college has risen. In 2016, 47% of Hispanic high school graduates ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in college, up from 32% in 1999."

K-12 Enrollment

In a September, 2016 post, we wrote about declining kindergarten enrollment around the state of Idaho, and the portent for future statewide k-12 enrollment. Sure enough, Idaho Education News reporter Clark Corbin wrote in an early November article, "Student Enrollment Levels Off for First Time in Years", that enrollment in Idaho's public schools increased by only 459 in 2018-19, after increases of 4300 and 3300 the two previous years. We'll do some analysis of the data in a future post.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

ESSA is the successor to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Race to the Top (RTTP), the accountability plans required of states for receipt of federal dollars for programs such as Title I. Frederick Hess and Brendan Bell of the American Enterprise Institute are frequent commentators on education reform from the conservative side. In "Frivolous Ambition", published in U.S. News and World Report, they argue that the new act has caused states to set absurd goals for academic progress.

"...the state's (New Jersey's) new plan requires steady gains between now and 2030 that are about 500 percent a year larger than those under its previous accountability system."


"... Kansas' reading scores would have to increase more than 16 times faster than they did during the No Child Left Behind era, and math scores would have to increase, well, infinitely faster."

Here are the academic goals from Idaho's plan:

The goals for Students with Disabilities and English Language Proficiency (Limited English students) are, at best, very ambitious!

Refugee Destinations

Jynnah Radford of the Pew Research Center posted this interesting timeline of refugee resettlement patterns by state since 2002. The article title is "How U.S. refugee resettlement in each state has shifted since 2002". Here are Idaho's top resettlement country patterns since then:

2002 - Bosnia/Herzegovina (141)
2003 - Afghanistan (79)
2004 - Somalia (137)
2005 - Russia (362)
2006 - Russia (306)
2007 - Burundi (194)
2008 - Burma (264)
2009 - Bhutan (312)
2010 - Bhutan (335)
2011 - Burma (227)
2012 - Burma (189)
2013 - Burma (203)
2014 - Iraq - (292)
2015 - Democratic Republic of Congo (258)
2016 - Democratic Republic of Congo (528)
2017 - Democratic Republic of Congo (299)