Monday, May 21, 2012

A better future for graduates

By Congressman Paul Ryan (R)

The Class of 2012 will proudly walk the stage this weekend. I remember talking with some of these young people when they started college in September 2008, in the midst of a financial crisis. A common refrain I heard during those dark times was, "Thank goodness I'm not graduating this year."

Four years later, many of those same students are graduating into a stagnant economy that is still not creating enough opportunities for them and still threatening to leave much of their remarkable potential untapped. Worse, after years of startling increases in college tuition, they are graduating with unprecedented personal debt burdens. And to top it off, decades of bad policies supported by both political parties have racked up dan gerous levels of national debt, leaving the next generation with an unconscionable mess to clean up.

The good news is this: It's not too late to get America back on track, lift the debt, and ensure a brighter future for today's graduates. The budget passed by the House of Representatives in March offers a sensible path forward to expand opportunity for all by advancing real reforms and principled policy solutions.

First, the House-passed budget offers young Americans a plan to boost the economy and provide them with opportunities to succeed. Over half of recent college graduates are either jobless or underemployed. That's unacceptable. We need to foster sustained job creation with reforms that avert higher taxes and remove the shadow of debt that is hanging over would-be employers.

One step we should immediately take is to make the U.S. tax code fair, simple and competitive. Right now, the code fails on all three counts. High tax rates put us at a disadvantage against other nations, businesses with the best lobbyists triumph over those with the best ideas, and economic growth suffers. We can level the playing field and create jobs by lowering tax rates and closing tax loopholes.

Second, the House-passed budget takes steps to tackle tuition inflation. In the last four years, college tuition has risen by nearly 17 percent, or an average of $1,200 per student. The goal of federal financial aid is to make college more affordable, but there is growing evidence that wholesale increases in aid have had the opposite effect. Instead of helping more students achieve their dreams, these increases are simply being absorbed by (and potentially enabling) large tuition increases.

Consequently, student loan debt is on pace to eclipse $1 trillion. This unprecedented level of borrowing, which has surpassed the national level of credit-card debt, is causing young people to graduate with mortgage-sized debt payments, a debilitating hurdle to clear as they seek to start a family, a career, or a business.

The House-passed budget addresses this problem by limiting the growth of open-ended financial-aid subsidies. Instead, we focus aid on low-income students who need help most. Furthermore, we propose to remove regulatory barriers that restrict competition, flexibility and innovation in higher education.

By contrast, the president's approach has proven woefully short-sighted. Instead of addressing the structural causes of tuition inflation, his policies have simply chased ever-higher college costs with ever-higher subsidies, encouraging students to go deeper into personal debt while adding billions more to the national debt. That's an unsustainable plan, for our country and for our students.

We need a fiscal and higher-education strategy that spurs economic growth, tackles tuition inflation, and gets spending and debt under control. The House-passed budget accomplishes all three.

To give America's young people a brighter future, let's advance economic reforms so college students are graduating into a revitalized economy. Let's address the root causes of tuition inflation by promoting innovation and competition, and by refocusing aid so it's no longer just chasing higher costs.

Finally, let's tackle our national debt so we can keep the fundamental American promise: leaving the next generation with a stronger nation than the one our parents left us.


Private school graduate says  academic dominance of private schools is damaging social mobility in Britain

He's quite right but the challenge is to raise the dismal standards of most government schools.  And to do that the dominant Leftist ideas of how to educate would have to be abandoned.  The private schools do so much better because of the more traditional style of education that they provide

The sheer gulf in standards between state and independent schools is holding back social mobility and damaging the economy, according to the Deputy Prime Minister.

He said children educated in the private sector were three times more likely to achieve at least two As and B at A-level – the entry requirement for many top research universities – than pupils in state schools.

The gap in results between different school types is wider in Britain than almost any other developed country, it was revealed.

The comments were made as he prepared to launch a new drive designed to boost standards among poor children.

On Tuesday, the Government will unveil a list of “social mobility indicators” designed to track the progress of deprived pupils – guiding future policy decisions on education, health and employment.

Speaking ahead of the announcement, Mr Clegg, who attended fee-paying Westminster School in central London, said education was “critical to our hopes of a fairer society”.

But he added: “Right now there is a great rift in our education system between our best schools, most of which are private, and the schools ordinary families rely on.  “That is corrosive for our society and damaging to our economy.

“I don’t for a moment denigrate the decision of any parent to do their best for their child, and to choose the best school for them. Indeed, that aspiration on behalf of children is one of the most precious ingredients of parenthood.  “But we do need to ensure that our school system as a whole promotes fairness and mobility.”

The comments come just weeks after Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said levels of social stratification in British schools were “morally indefensible”.

He said public schools were already significantly over-represented in politics, the judiciary, banking and FTSE 100 boardrooms.

But Mr Gove insisted there was also evidence of the creeping influence of independent education on industries dominated by young adults in their late teens and 20s, including acting, sport, comedy and music.

Some seven per cent of state school students achieved AAB at A-level in 2011, compared with 23.1 per cent among pupils from the independent sector, figures show.

International research reveals that the gap in attainment between teenagers from state and private schools is now the fourth biggest in the world.

In a speech to the Sutton Trust charity on Tuesday, Mr Clegg will outline plans for a new set of indicators to measure the impact of Government policies designed to improve social mobility. This includes assessing the number of poor children who go on to gain good A-levels.

It comes on top of the introduction of the “pupil premium” – a cash bonus for schools teaching poor children. This year, head teachers received £488 for each child eligible for free school meals, rising to £600 in 2012/13.


Canada: Quebec passes law to restrict protests, ban masks

Authorities in Canada’s Quebec province passed emergency measures Friday to curb protest rights in a bid to restore order after months of sometimes violent student demonstrations over tuition hikes.

The francophone province’s assembly passed a law after a marathon two-day session requiring groups of more than 10 people to inform police in advance when they plan to hold a demonstration, and provide the location, time and duration of the event.

On its heels, the city of Montreal also passed a bylaw prohibiting wearing masks after several cloaked protesters smashed storefronts and clashed with police during demonstrations continuing into a 14th week amid a deadlock in negotiations.

Fines for breaches of the two laws range from $500 to $250,000. An exception to the no-mask rule, however, is allowed for the Halloween holiday.

Students, unions and the opposition party criticized the government over the emergency law, with one former premier calling it “barbaric.”

Louis Masson, president of the Quebec Bar Association representing 24,000 lawyers, said it goes too far by restricting fundamental “freedoms of expression… to a point that begs the question, who would now dare protest.”

Before the emergency law was unveiled, a majority of Quebecers had backed the government on the need for a hike in school fees of more than $1,700 to help reduce a budget deficit.

But many also said Quebec Premier Jean Charest had mismanaged the crisis, according to polls.

The student demonstrations culminated Monday with the resignation of Quebec’s education minister and rising political star, Line Beauchamp, following a standoff when 165,000 students rejected a tentative deal last week to stretch tuition hike over seven years instead of five.

“When laws are unjust, sometimes you have to disregard them, and we’re seriously thinking about this now,” student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said about the emergency measure.


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