Sunday, September 05, 2010

TN: Lottery scholarship program prepares for cuts

The bad news is, Tennessee's lottery scholarship program is losing tens of millions of dollars a year. The good news is, at least it's not losing hundreds of millions of dollars, as originally feared.

Even so, the state is preparing for painful cutbacks in the popular merit-based college scholarship program, which offsets the cost of tuition at Tennessee colleges and universities for an estimated 100,000 students a year.

Tennessee college tuition goes up every year, and the prospect of losing any part of the lottery scholarship alarms parents such as Kim Lewis, a Nashville mother of three whose 15-year-old twins are rapidly approaching college age.

"The HOPE scholarship is the only thing that keeps us from tearing our hair out," joked Lewis, who doesn't even like to think about what happens when her 12-year-old also enters college and she and her husband will be putting three kids through school at once.

"Tell them not to touch the HOPE," she said, passing her marching orders along to the legislature. "Tell them to cut something else, but families really rely on that tuition money being there."

The cost of the lottery scholarship programs has tripled since it launched in 2004 as a pilot program only for college freshmen and sophomores. The program expenditures reached almost $302 million this year and could jump by $8 million next year.

For Belmont junior Nick Kirk, the HOPE scholarship has meant the difference between living on campus and commuting an hour each way from his home in Fairview. HOPE scholarships cover about 62 percent of tuition for students at public universities and about 20 percent of the tuition at the average private college in Tennessee. For Kirk, the scholarship offsets the steep cost of room, board and college fees.

"It was definitely worth the hard work in high school to earn the HOPE scholarship," said Kirk, a biology major with a dual minor in chemistry and music. "You don't realize how expensive things are going to be. The HOPE is definitely a good thing."


"Diversity" takes a hit in NC

And the Left is squealing

AdvancED, a national and international education accreditation organization, plans to send a team to Wake County this fall to review planned changes to the public school system's student assignment policy.

The group sent a letter to Wake County Public School System Interim Superintendent Donna Hargens on July 28 outlining concerns and questions raised in a complaint filed in March.

School system spokesman Michael Evans said the original complaint was filed by Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP.

Barber has been the leader of a vocal opposition to the school board's decision earlier this year to do away with a policy that assigns students to schools based on socio-economics.

He and others fear that ending the longstanding policy in favor for one that places students in schools closer to their homes will lead to re-segregation, high teacher turnover and poor students receiving a lower quality of education than their economically advantaged counterparts.

Five of the school board's nine members disagree and believe the move will help improve test scores and give parents more chances to be involved in their students' education.

In other words, since we can't stop you from undoing all the crap we did over the years, then we are going to try and bully you into stepping back.

Look, we the people have spoken and we want real solutions not more spreading of the disease. We wanted and voted in a school board that will do just that. The new head of the board stated that they will continue to proceed on the new policy regardless of the ongoing disruptions and protests.


British children let down by failing schools, says CBI

Thousands of teenagers are still being “let down” by failing schools despite record investment in education under Labour, according to business leaders. In a damning final judgment on the previous government’s education record, employers said a 120 per cent rise in the amount of money spent on schools had “not delivered the returns” needed to drive the British economy.

The Confederation of British Industry warned that serious concerns still surrounded school leavers’ lack of literacy and numeracy skills combined with the relatively low number of teenagers studying vital science and maths subjects to a high standard.

Too many teenagers also entered the workplace lacking basic employability skills, such as the ability to analyse evidence, communicate with colleagues and solve problems, it claimed.

The conclusions were made in a report published to coincide with the start of the first full school year under the new Conservative-led Government.

The CBI, which represents some 240,000 British businesses, praised the Coalition’s reforms, including the expansion of independent academies, but insisted “much more” was needed to improve the education system.

It called for ministers to allow profit-making companies to take over the running of the worst schools to turnaround chronic under-performance.

New rules should also be introduced to teach a broad set of employability skills as well as encouraging the best students to take separate GCSEs in biology, chemistry and physics, it said.

Susan Anderson, CBI director of public services and education, said progress had been made over the last 13 years but “significant challenges remain”. “Too many school leavers leave education without the skills, knowledge and attitude to work [that] employers are looking for,” she said. “And too many of these young people are being let down by persistent underperformance of the education system through attending failing or coasting schools. “The link between a disadvantaged background and poor educational achievement remains too clear.”

The report said Government spending on education had more than doubled to £60 billion a year between 1996 and 2008, delivering better GCSE results and a drop in the number of schools placed in special measures by Ofsted.

This summer, almost a quarter of GCSE entries were graded an A in the 22nd straight year-on-year rise, while A-level results also soared to a record high. But the CBI said that looking “past the headline GCSE and A-level results” revealed a “more complex and concerning picture of the UK’s education system”. It said half of all 16-year-olds failed to gain at least five good GCSEs, including English and maths, last year.

Almost 250 secondary schools failed to hit the basic GCSE targets designed to ensure 30 per cent of pupils gain five A* to C grades in 2009, it said, and the UK has the third highest number of 16- to 24-year-olds not in education, employment or training in the developed world.

The CBI also said that many children lacked skills such as self-management, customer awareness, problem solving and basic communication, suggesting that schools prioritised the regurgitation of “facts” over the application of knowledge. "The decade of spending on education has not delivered the returns expected or needed,” said the study. “Neither has it delivered significant change in the systems and structures which might drive future improvement."


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