The Department of Education released its annual performance scores Thursday. With a C state average, the letter grades provide a snapshot of how individual schools and districts performed over the past year. The Advocate’s Will Sentell reports that despite some gains, struggling students still aren’t meeting academic goals.
“Improved ratings in our schools are a result of improved learning outcomes for students, using nationally recognized measures of success,” State Superintendent of Education, John White said in a prepared statement. “At the same time, the ratings do not yet recognize progress being made with students who are starting at a lower level,” White said. “They also do not yet provide students, parents and educators a full picture of what it takes to be fully prepared for college or for a job.” Even in A-rated schools just 56 percent of struggling students met goals for academic growth, according to state figures.
Find your local school and its performance grade here.
UNO, Northwestern State fill TOPS gap
Most Louisiana students who receive TOPS scholarships face a 58 percent reduction in their awards in the spring semester, which translates to unexpected tuition bills of $1,000 – $3,500. But The University of New Orleans and Northwestern State University will cover the gap for their students. Nola.com/The Times-Picayune’s Julia O’Donoghue has the story:
“I’m proud. It was strategic. It would be very troubling to leave a large number of students with this bill,” (UNO President John) Nicklow said in an interview. Northwestern State University in north Louisiana has also announced its will absorb the cost of its TOPS students’ tuition bills this spring. But other schools, including LSU, can’t afford to do the same. In an interview Monday, LSU President King Alexander said his school would not be able to cover tuition for that university’s TOPS students. That would cost the school around $27 million, according to LSU officials. “That would be a good chunk of our state budget,” Alexander said. “We only get $120 million from the state to run the university.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards has said there will be no further cuts to the program as plans are made to deal with the 2016 fiscal year shortfall. He reiterates his commitment to Louisiana families seeking higher education opportunities in a report from The Advocate’s Rebekah Allen.
“Louisiana’s budget problems are having a real impact on students and their families. The upcoming regular session in 2017 will give us another opportunity to stabilize Louisiana’s budget and invest in our children’s futures, and I’m asking the Legislature to work with me, so that Louisiana’s students are not left to shoulder the burden of our state’s financial problems,” he said.
With ACA repeal, uninsured rate would skyrocket
President Obama vetoed a health reform repeal bill earlier this year that may serve as the blueprint for congressional efforts during the upcoming Trump administration. The bill would have doubled the ranks of the uninsured by 2018 and create a volatile market for those still covered. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Edwin Park details the bill’s provisions and impact if revived in 2017.
The bill left in place health reform’s market reforms, including those that bar insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions or charging them higher premiums in the individual market. But without the individual mandate and the subsidies to make coverage more affordable, healthier people would likely drop or otherwise go without coverage. Losing most of the healthy people from the risk pool would substantially push up individual market premiums for everyone else, by making those still enrolled sicker and costlier to cover, on average. Higher premiums, in turn, would push even more healthy people out of the pool over time, driving up premiums still further.
State, local policy trends
Infrastructure, minimum wage, affordable housing- these are just a few of the issues U.S. voters weighed in on last week. The Brookings Institutions’ Nathan Arnosti and Amy Liu provide a useful round-up.
Voters have consistently demonstrated their interest in raising taxes or expanding borrowing authority in order to invest in infrastructure, and this year was no exception. Over $200 billion in public transit investments were on the ballot. Among them was a $120 billion rail and bus expansion plan in Los Angeles, a $54 billion plan to extend light rail, bus rapid transit, and other capital projects in Greater Seattle, and a $2.5 billion proposal to increase rail capacity and reliability in Atlanta. All three of these measures, and dozens of other smaller ones, were approved.
The dignity of work
Workers put in more hours for less pay and fewer benefits than in past decades. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio writes in The New York Times about the values of modern blue collar workers.
American workers understood then and understand now that you build a society and an economy from the middle class out. Trickle-down economics was discredited decades ago. Workers paid good wages are also good consumers, which means companies can sell more of their products. Executives have always been paid well, but nothing close to the 300 to 1 pay ratio separating chief executives from workers today. Most Americans have always wanted to believe that their children’s lives will be better than their own. Ohio workers know they toil harder and are paid less than their parents, and have less power to control the hours they work and their share of the wealth they create for their employer.
Number of the Day
74 billion – Dollar amount of annual manufacturing output created by undocumented immigrants in the U.S. (Source: National Bureau of Economic Research via The Washington Post)