Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Another report raps Louisiana for higher education cuts; LSU President criticizes nursing home amendment; Medicaid expansion is working; African-American students suspended at higher rates than their peers

Another report raps Louisiana for higher education cuts
Louisiana is one of six states that cut total spending on higher education by more than 20 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to a new report by the Center for American Progress. Some of those cuts have been made up by steep tuition hikes, a trade-off that hurts the most for low- and moderate-income students.

The increased reliance on tuition as a share of revenue means low- and middle- income Americans pay more for their education at public colleges. Nationally across institutions, net price—the price students and families pay after grants and scholarships—has steadily increased with increases in tuition. Since the recession and state funding cuts to higher education, low- and middle-income families have paid the price for the decline in investment.

While increased federal investments in programs such as Pell grants have helped, CAP proposes a federal-state Public College Quality Compact that would use federal resources as leverage to encourage states to invest more of their own dollars in higher education.

This new fund will spur states and institutions to more effectively meet the needs of low- and middle-income students. The program would require states to match the federal grants.


LSU President criticizes nursing home amendment
As head of Louisiana’s flagship public university, F. King Alexander is not allowed to take a position on constitutional amendments. But as The Advocate reports, Alexander is concerned that the amendments could leave higher education open to more devastating budget cuts:

“With any new dedications and propositions, you pretty much tie up the budget,” he said during a recent LSU Board of Supervisors meeting. Currently, only about 40 percent of the state’s budget is unrestricted, and that’s where most of the state’s funding for higher education comes from, he said. The more money that is set aside for other areas, the more vulnerable colleges and universities are left, he said.

Alexander joins a large group opposed to Amendments 1 and 2, which includes theArc of Greater New Orleans (which is concerned that too few dollars will be left for community services that support seniors and other vulnerable populations), Northshore Families Helping Families (which is concerned that the amendments will negatively impact over 13,000 people with developmental disabilities in Louisiana on a waiting list for home- and community-based waiver services), AARP Louisiana and every major newspaper in the state.

The latest media outlet to look at the amendments is WWNO, which ran a report that quoted LBP Director Jan Moller.


Medicaid expansion is working
The 28 states (including the District of Columbia) that have or will expand Medicaid will experience slower cost increases than those that have declined health care for hundreds of thousands of residents. New data from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that the states expanding Medicaid expect their costs to grow by 4.4 percent this year, compared to 6.8 percent among non-expansion states. Additionally, a CBPP blog of the Kaiser report notes that “state Medicaid spending growth will actually slow in expansion states this year, down from 6.6 percent last year. Meanwhile, non-expansion states expect a modest uptick in state spending growth from last year.

Expansion states are reducing uninsured rates among non-elderly adults faster than non-expansion states. The Urban Institute reports that uninsured rates have dropped by 36 percent in expansion states, versus 9 percent in non-expansion states.

You can click here to read where the Affordable Care Act is hitting the mark, and where it is falling short.


African-American students suspended at higher rates than their peers
Students with out-of-school suspensions face substantial barriers to earning their high school diploma, which significantly lowers their earnings over time. A new study by the National Women’s Law Center finds that African-American girls are most likely to be suspended from school, despite the fact that black students do not misbehave any more than their peers. According to the study, 12 percent of black female students nationwide received out-of-school suspensions during the 2011-12 school year, six times the rate of white girls and more than any other group of girls and several groups of boys. Additionally, 19 percent of disabled black girls received out-of-school suspensions, compared to just 6 percent of white girls with disabilities. The Atlantic notes that the high suspension rate for black girls is tied more to stereotypes than student behavior:

“Traditional” middle-class notions of femininity, which value passivity in girls, can clash with stereotypical images of African-American females as loud, assertive, and provocative, and generate differing punishments for similar conduct, the authors note. Subjective offenses like “disobedience” or “disruptive behavior” may signify little more than a student’s failure to conform to dominant gender norms or fit a teacher’s view of what constitutes appropriate “feminine” behavior.


Number of the Day
28 percent
— Drop in Louisiana’s direct spending on higher education from 2008 to 2012. (Source: Center for American Progress)