Thursday, September 08, 2016

America’s Costly College Bureaucracy Bubble

Are American universities approaching “Peak Administrative Bloat”? Some might think so. Consider the following job titles and salary estimates: “Principal Assistant Chancellor of the Office of Strategic Dining Technology, $180,317”; “Associate Executive for the Task Force on Donor Climate, $368,186”; “Assistant Provost for Athletic Maintenance to the Subcommittee for Neighborhood Outreach, $415,314.”

Fortunately, those are just make-believe cases taken from the University Title Generator, but you get the point. The joke sounds plausible because it reflects the perception of an underlying reality: administrative bureaucracies and salaries have grown significantly, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Vicki E. Alger, author of Failure: The Federal Misedukation of America’s Children.

Administrative bloat is one reason that college tuitions have climbed. Research costs are another—and reducing them would ease the student-debt burden. “Shrinking the ranks of nonteaching research faculty and putting professors back to work teaching would help undergraduates access the courses they need while saving them $2,000 to $3,000,” Alger writes.

With current student debt levels so high—$20,000 for about one-half of students completing an undergraduate degree, according to Alger—sensible cost cutting should be a priority for education policymakers. Many state policymakers agree, but that doesn’t always translate into lower tuition and fees. In Oklahoma, for example, state university regents claim to have saved more than $300,000 over the past five years. The darker truth, however, is that students, parents, and taxpayers are still victimized by higher university costs—and by policymakers’ refusal to implement serious reforms.


LA School Offers 'Restorative Interventions,' 'Healing Circles'

School punishment is out, and "restorative interventions" are in, according to a blog on the U.S. Education Department website.

The author, a "school culture specialist," discusses the effort to make the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy in Los Angeles "serve our community in a socially just way."

The school, which has a high percentage of disadvantaged students, uses state funding to hire full-time mental health practitioners and to train teachers and administrators "on trauma-sensitive instruction."

When students misbehave, "we begin a restorative justice process by understanding what happened, who was affected, and how we might resolve the situation in a non-punitive manner," the author writes.

"We confer with those involved individually before the larger community of students, families, and school staff are convened in a 'healing circle'. The healing circle provides the group a space to share how they were affected and to collectively decide how to respond to the incident. Healing and justice emerge from this community – fully supported and facilitated by our staff."

The "restorative justice" approach is credited with reducing the school's student suspension rate from 5.3 percent in 2012 to 1.4 percent in 2016.

The school also conducts home visits and teaches ethnic studies "to both affirm our relationships with students and to assist them in navigating life circumstances," the author writes.


Australia: Teachers are still whining about Federal grants to private schools

This has been going on since the days of Bob Menzies! Over 50 years ago

For many decades the Federal Government has been the primary government funder of non-government schools in Australia, while states and territories fund 85 per cent of government schools.

This is a long established fact and for the Australian Education Union to express surprise or alarm at this ongoing trend is disingenuous at best.

The AEU claims “new analysis showing [the Turnbull Government] funding plan would see 62 per cent of extra funding go to private schools”. This so-called new analysis is based on assumptions from negotiations that have not even commenced yet and a funding plan that will finalised by early next year.

Official government analysis of the current Gonski agreement – which is exactly as agreed by the previous Labor Government – from 2014 to 2017 showed the Commonwealth Government had committed 63 per cent of its funds to the non-government sector over the ‘Gonski’ years – more than that predicted in today’s report.

Politically motivated reports, like the AEU’s contribution today, provide nothing more than a distraction from the real conversation that we need to be having about how record Federal Government funding for schools is spent to ensure we are investing in evidence-based reforms that drive improved outcomes for Australian students.

The most recent NAPLAN results showed literacy and numeracy results had plateaued since 2013 while over the same period there had been a 23.7 per cent funding increase for students in both the non-government and government sectors, but even those facts haven’t changed some people’s misguided focus.

Labor and the AEU ought to stop being just one trick ponies claiming more funding fixes every problem in education.

The Turnbull Government has committed to working with states and territories and the non-government sector to establish a new funding deal post-2017 that is tied to evidence-based initiatives and will see funding distribution informed by need.

The Turnbull Government is determined to develop a new, simpler distribution model to replace the 27 different funding models that we inherited under Labor's so-called national approach, in which special deals distort real need.

Turnbull Government school funding will grow from already-record levels but will be tied to a range of evidence-based initiatives to support students by focusing on outcomes in literacy, numeracy and STEM subjects, helping lift teaching quality and better preparing our children for life after school.

Our new model will ensure funding is distributed according to need. Total school funding across Australia will grow from $16 billion in 2016 to $20.1 billion in 2020 and we will be working to ensure that funding is increased each year so that schools currently delivering valuable programs can continue to do so.

Federal Government press release

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