Thursday, July 14, 2016

Hillary’s $1.1 trillion-dollar tuition plan to be more Bernie than Bernie

Hillary Clinton lost the youth vote to Bernie Sanders, now to compensate, she’s trying to be him to get it back. Clinton has agreed to meet Sanders halfway on education policy in an attempt to convince America’s college age youth that she is their advocate.

The only problem is that her plan turns out to be just another ineffective and costly political tool — by promising to pay for almost everybody’s college tuition. A plan that could cost more than $1 trillion every decade once fully implemented.

Clinton’s newly unveiled plan states that “by 2021, families with income up to $125,000 will pay no tuition at in-state four-year public colleges and universities — covering more than 80 percent of all families. And from the start of the plan, every student from a family making $85,000 a year or less will be able to go to an in-state four-year public college or university without paying tuition. Students at community college will also pay no tuition.”

The plan also includes restoring year-round Pell Grant funding and promises and immediate executive action to offer a three-month moratorium on student’s loan payments to give students an opportunity to receive additional options.

With no specifics Clinton writes that this will be “fully paid for by limiting certain tax expenditures for high-income taxpayers.”

In 2015, the average yearly tuition price was $6,371 and the year’s public university enrollment was reported as 13,353,000 students, according to data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics. This data provides a clear picture of tuition and enrollment trends, and allows us to determine how much Clinton’s plan will cost today and in the future.

Clinton’s plan aims to include 80 percent of all public university students, meaning that in 2015 for the 10,682,400 students affected the plan would cost $68 billion at present costs if implemented fully right away. And that’s just for starters.

Tuition has an average annual growth rate of 6.61 percent, and Clinton provides no plan for lowering the actual cost of tuition. Similarly, public university enrollment has grown over time as well, with an average annual growth rate of 1.34 percent.

By 2025 Clintons plan will be fully implemented, if tuition continues growing like clockwork at 6.61 percent a year it will have reached an annual average of $12,304 and enrollment is projected by the Department of Education to be about 15,255,000 students. In order to pay for the education of this class it will costs over $150 billion that year alone.

If the plan went into effect today rather than her 2021 rollout date, given these assumptions, Clinton’s plan will easily add up to $1.1 trillion over 10 years.

No wonder Clinton has neglected to discuss the cost. It would show how her plan to win over the Bernie-loving millennials is nothing but outrageously expensive and inefficient.

Sanders plan was projected to cost $70 billion a year with a third of the costs being burdened to states to pay, Clinton instead chose to place nearly the same costs on the high income tax payers who are also paying for their children’s education.

However, the cost of Clinton’s plan may not stop there.

In order to find the full cost for the Clinton plan, we must acknowledge two key limitations.

First, the Clinton plan is only assisting students in paying for public universities which is why we are using enrollment statistics for public universities. However, these enrollment numbers do not account for the inevitable effect of students who might have otherwise attended private schools, but that now have a greater incentive to attend public universities. Meaning enrollment numbers, and thus costs, could be higher. Second, with an influx of students entering the public university system, schools will have to accommodate to the need for larger classrooms, more buildings, more staff, and other expenses, driving tuition costs even higher. The cost of these consequences to the Clinton plan are hard to quantify may nonetheless be detrimental.

But even assuming public university tuition cost and enrollment follow their average growth trends over the next 10 years, the plan will still cost more than trillion dollars its first ten years.

This is not a plan to improve higher education and it does not aim to mitigate costs into the future. It is a blanket promise that Clinton is attempting in a desperate bid to gain the trust of millennials and appeal to the Sanders fans who have vowed to never vote for her. Clinton’s college plan is not an altruistic attempt to provide higher education, but a $1.1 trillion cynical, political ploy.


Is Hillary Clinton’s tuition plan doable?

The view from Boston:

Massachusetts education leaders strongly praised Hillary Clinton’s new plan to make college more affordable, but questioned how the state, which faces perennial budget deficits, would afford the costly program.

Clinton’s plan, widely seen as an attempt to appeal to Bernie Sanders’ young supporters, would eliminate tuition at in-state public colleges and universities for families that earn up to $125,000 a year. The policy would cover more than 80 percent of families, according to the Clinton campaign.

Tuition aid, estimated to cost the federal government $350 billion over 10 years, would be given to states that provide some matching funds and take steps to cut costs and boost graduation rates at public colleges and universities.

“Obviously, I support the thrust of it,” said Martin T. Meehan, the president of the University of Massachusetts. “If the federal government is willing to make a commitment to help offset the costs for students, I think that’s a good thing.”

States, including Massachusetts, have been providing fewer resources for scholarships and student aid in recent years, Meehan said.

“This would help reverse that trend,” said Meehan, a former Democratic US representative. “The key is whether or not the states will step up” and provide the matching funds needed to unlock the federal support.

By proposing the benefit last week, Clinton was moving closer to Sanders’ pledge to provide free college tuition for all, which helped him galvanize massive support from young voters during his hard-fought campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

After praising Clinton’s plan, Sanders is expected to formally endorse Clinton at an event in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

Under Clinton’s plan, families would still have to pay an unspecified “affordable and realistic contribution” and students would be expected to contribute their earnings from 10 hours of work per week.

Clinton would also restore year-round Pell Grant funding, in an effort to help low-income students afford summer classes. And she would grant a one-time three-month moratorium on federal student loan payments, to give students breathing room to refinance and consolidate debt.

Clinton’s campaign said the program would be paid for by limiting certain tax breaks for high-income taxpayers. It did not respond to several requests for additional details.

Chris Gabrieli, chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, said he liked that the plan provides more federal aid while also pushing public colleges and universities to lower the cost of a degree.

“Like all grand bargains, it puts some money on the table and it uses it to induce states and universities to face the fact that we have to bring costs down and quality up,” said Gabrieli, a Democrat who was appointed to the board by Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican.

Clinton’s promise to deliver additional federal aid could also encourage Massachusetts lawmakers to restore state higher education funding that was slashed during the 2008 recession, Gabrieli said.

‘I think this is a really great step toward completely free and universal public higher education . . . [but] there’s a huge concern for me about whether or not there’s funding available and a priority to make this happen.’

Natalie Higgins, Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts executive director, on Hillary Clinton’s proposal

Asked to comment on Clinton’s plan, a Baker spokeswoman responded with a written statement that pointed out that the governor released his own college affordability initiative in April. That plan provides 10 percent rebates on tuition and fees to certain qualifying students.

Budget watchers pointed out that Clinton’s request for additional education spending would face a tough road in a Republican-controlled Congress and on Beacon Hill, where Baker and the Democratic House speaker, Robert A. DeLeo, have vowed not to raise taxes.

Massachusetts, despite an improving economy, has also faced annual deficits driven in part by rising health care costs. Last month, officials warned that the state may be facing a nearly $1 billion shortfall in the current budget year, due to less-than-expected revenue collections.

“I’m not sure that this state is in a position to take on more of the costs of education through subsidies, or grants, or however the program is designed,” said Eileen McAnneny, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-backed budget watchdog group. “It’s possible, but it’s speculative at this point.”

Noah Berger, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a left-leaning research group, agreed that requiring states to provide matching funds could be a challenge, depending on how the program is structured.

But he said there is “a very strong case” that when states help students graduate from college debt-free, both students and the economy benefit.

Advocates agreed, saying the plan would ease a crushing financial burden on young people, even if it does not go as far as Sanders’ promise to eliminate tuition for all, regardless of income.

“I think this is a really great step toward completely free and universal public higher education,” said Natalie Higgins, executive director of the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts, a nonprofit advocacy group. “We know it’s going to come in pieces. This isn’t the end.”

But she added, “There’s a huge concern for me about whether or not there’s funding available and a priority to make this happen.”

The funding crunch, she said, is one reason her group supports a proposal, backed by unions and liberal groups, to impose an additional tax on those who earn more than $1 million dollars in a single year.

Because the change would require an amendment to the state constitution, that plan faces a series of legal and political hurdles before it could appear before voters on the ballot in 2018.


Administration Defends UN-Funded, Anti-Israel Textbooks for Palestinians

U.S. taxpayers provide nearly $400 million a year to a United Nations program that critics say sends anti-Semitic, anti-Israel textbooks to schools for Palestinian refugees.

An elementary school textbook calls the 1948 establishment of Israel a “disaster,” and a high school text tells of the “End of Days” when “Muslims fight the Jews,” among other examples in a report from the Center for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel research institute based in Jerusalem.

“The incitement that we see in these textbooks is shocking,” @RepDLamborn says.

The agency—the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA—has come under scrutiny for years for supplying Palestinian schools with textbooks containing violent, anti-Israel references.

The Obama administration, however, defends the textbook program. A State Department spokesman told The Daily Signal that the books are part of “an education that instills respect for and appreciation of universal human rights and dignity of all persons.”

The program serves nearly 500,000 students in about 700 schools in the Palestinian territories, using the Palestinian Authority’s curriculum, according to the State Department.

The watchdog group UN Watch released a report last year accusing some of the Gaza-based U.N. agency’s employees of making anti-Semitic comments and celebrating violence on Facebook, providing 10 specific examples.

A U.N. deputy spokesman, Farhan Haq, said in October: “These postings have been removed and the staff have been subject to both remedial and disciplinary action, including suspension and loss of pay.” He did not provide precise numbers. 

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on the Middle East, last fall sponsored legislation—the UNRWA Anti-Incitement and Anti-Terrorism Act—demanding that the U.N. agency provide greater accountability or face defunding from the United States.

“After investigating allegations first brought to light by UN Watch, the U.N. recently announced that several [of the agency’s] employees had been suspended for posting inciting social media posts,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a formal statement. She added:

The U.S. can’t continue to send $400 million to UNRWA while ignoring the systemic and endemic anti-Israel, anti-Semitic bias and the blatant incitement to violence we see from its employees. [Its] employees and facilities are consistently tied to foreign terrorist organizations and a full accounting of the agency’s affiliations should be required before another dime is spent on this divisive organization.

President Barack Obama’s administration contends that because of U.S. and U.N. pressure, fewer violent references appear in the textbooks, but admits more progress is needed.

Some in Congress say the textbooks continue to promote violence. A leading senator asked for an investigation by the Government Accountability Office, the internal government watchdog that evaluates how tax dollars are spent.

The United States is the largest donor to the U.N. program, contributing $390 million in 2015, down slightly from the previous year. GAO reports in 2003 and 2009 asserted “weaknesses” in the program, but said it complied with State Department guidelines.

The agency made $1.1 billion in expenditures in 2013; the European Union, Britain, Sweden, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, and Japan also make significant contributions.

The GAO probe comes at the request of Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism.

“This is a matter with which I am deeply concerned and I have asked GAO to investigate,” Risch told The Daily Signal in a written statement. “I anticipate that the investigation will take some time, however, so I will reserve my comments until after I receive and am able to assess GAO’s findings on the matter.”

GAO spokesman Chuck Young told The Daily Signal in an email that he didn’t know the timeline for completing the review of the Palestinian textbooks.  

‘Political Agenda’

The ultimate goal is to withhold funding from the U.N. agency until it requires significant changes to the textbooks, said Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo.

“The incitement that we see in these textbooks is shocking. It’s an outrage and it shows that UNRWA has drifted a long way from its mandate of being a human rights aid organization,” Lamborn told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “They now have a political agenda. That’s not serving the cause of peace. In fact, it’s prolonging the conflict and violence.”

The State Department has advocated that the U.N. agency teach Palestinian students about tolerance and human rights, a spokesman said.

“We have long supported UNRWA for its critical and life-saving humanitarian work in places like Syria and Gaza,” State Department spokesman Julia Mason told The Daily Signal in an email, adding of the agency:

UNRWA also plays an important role as a stabilizing force and counterweight to extremism in the region. … We are committed to ensuring that Palestinian refugee students receive an education that instills respect for and appreciation of universal human rights and dignity of all persons.

The U.N. program’s official mandate is to “provide relief, human development, and protection services to Palestine refugees and persons displaced by the 1967 hostilities [the Arab-Israeli War, also known as the Six-Day War] in its fields of operation: Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.”

The agency has 30,000 employees, mostly Palestinian refugees and some international staff, with headquarters in both Gaza and Amman, and five field offices in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and the West Bank.

The U.N. agency “is more a part of the problem than the solution,” said Jim Phillips, senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at The Heritage Foundation. He said the program has “promoted victimhood” among Palestinians for generations.

In 2015, the program established dedicated units responsible for reviewing and improving the textbooks.

‘Close Examination’

Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said of the textbooks in an email to The Daily Signal:

These have been subjected to close examination, including in studies commissioned by the U.S. Department of State, and found to be largely free of incitement. Moreover, UNRWA has in place a system of checks and balances to ensure that no incitement is taught in our classrooms. UNRWA has also put in place a systemwide Human Rights, Conflict Resolution, and Tolerance Education system in all 700 schools we administer, which integrates the concepts of human rights, tolerance, and nonviolent conflict resolution into the curriculum.

The U.N. agency has come under scrutiny on other fronts as caches of weapons, such as rockets, were found stored in its schools and medical clinics over the past several years.

Gunness, the agency’s spokesman, made a speech at Interpal, a British-based charity that has been known to fund the terrorist group, Hamas, The Washington Free Beacon reported in October.

Since the 1967 war, Israel—which defeated the forces of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria—has expanded to the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. Hostilities have continued in the region, including terrorist attacks by Palestinians.

In May, the Intermountain Christian News Service published a White House response to a question from correspondent Anthony Harper about the Palestinian textbooks.

In its statement to Harper, the White House said:

"While there is still work to be done, the Palestinian government has made significant progress in reducing inflammatory rhetoric and revising official textbooks. Over the past few years, the PA [Palestinian Authority] has helped improve the Palestinian curriculum, including textbooks that discuss human rights and the Holocaust, which has contributed to a better education for young Palestinians. The Palestinian curriculum is transparent, and all textbooks are available for review in Arabic on the website of the official Palestinian Curriculum Development Center. The government of Israel even approves of and utilizes the Palestinian texts for schools in East Jerusalem"

A senior administration official confirmed this statement, but had nothing to add when reached by The Daily Signal.


Hive of innovation found at Australian and NZ universities

A world-first study on innovation in Higher Education by the Australian Innovation Research Centre (AIRC) at University of Tasmania and the LH Martin Institute at University of Melbourne, has shown that Australian and New Zealand universities are prolific innovators.

The report, based on a comprehensive survey investigating the managerial and administrative functions of 39 Australian and six New Zealand universities has found that the majority of universities have implemented significant innovative measures in the last two years.

These include implementing faster processes for service and providing better support for students and teaching and learning activities.

Professor Leo Goedegebuure of the LH Martin Institute, co-author of the report, said that the high innovation rate is very similar to the results of other surveys of public sector organisations in Europe and Australia.

“Universities give a great deal of importance to improving the student experience, which is the largest reason given for innovating and trying new approaches.”

Professor Anthony Arundel of the AIRC, the other co-author, explained that the type of innovation also depends on the function.

“For inward facing functions like human resources and financial services, the biggest drive for innovation is the need to do more with the same amount of resources.

“While for outward facing functions like marketing and communication, the biggest motivation is to improve the student experience and their university’s brand or reputation”.

The report also found that innovation depends on the organisation’s culture. The research identified a link between senior executive support for a positive innovation culture and the percentage of staff involved in innovation.

According to Professor Goedegebuure, the research paints a different picture to what is typically thought of about the sector.

“The report shows that universities are very serious about process and product innovation, and that a lot of effort is being placed on doing the right things with the public resources they receive.”

“It also shows our universities adopting state-of-the-art methods, being open and collaborative, which in turn suggests that we have the capability to play a key role in a new, knowledge-based economy”.

Press release

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