Starbucks recently announced that it will make it possible for thousands of its part- and full-time U.S. employees to complete a college degree online at Arizona State University. Starbucks says that this is a unique collaboration that allows employees to finish their bachelor’s degrees with full tuition reimbursement. ASU has a successful online education program.
While student borrowing for college has expanded to record levels and 12 percent of student loans are delinquent, enrollment in U.S. public and private universities declined in 2012. The number of full-time students stood at 11.5 million last year, a 0.7 percent decline from 2011. Meanwhile, state and federal governments have been reducing funding to public universities. Schools themselves have increased their borrowing for capital improvements to compete for the best students. There are rough seas ahead for education; lower the sail and batten the hatches.
Spending for public education in New York is the highest in the nation, at $20,645 per student every year. But recent reductions in state aid and a cap on the amount that a community may increase its property taxes is putting the brakes on school budgets. At the same time, increases in employee pension and health care costs are requiring a greater share of school revenue. Now school superintendents are faced with letting employees go and increasing class sizes. The fiscal vise is causing districts to do more with less.
Online higher education 2.0 has arrived. It is open source, open enrollment and often provided by non-profit colleges. It has the potential to greatly expand access to higher education and to rapidly improve the knowledge base of global citizens. It is the antithesis of high-priced, online for-profit schools like University of Phoenix.
Chicago public school teachers went on strike after attempts to reach an agreement with public school negotiators failed on Sunday. There are many issues at stake for Chicago, but the struggle is basically about job security and control of hiring decisions by school principals. As school reform is being further implemented in Chicago, teachers are bearing the brunt of tightening fiscal priorities. Reuters reports:
A special commission of the Australian government has been hard at work for the last two years examining how to improve the nation’s education system. Their baseline findings say that Australian academic performance had declined, and that more resources are needed. Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on the findings of the Gonski Commission (named after its chairman businessman David Gonski):
Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist, is once again banging the drum for federal aid for state and local governments. In theory, the federal government has the capacity to prop up states and municipalities by providing stimulus dollars to keep economic activity from stalling. However, this would require Congress to raise the debt limit and the Treasury to borrow from bond markets to get the money. Krugman contends that this would cost little and that the Obama administration is postponing the recovery by not fighting for more money from Congress:
The research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released an interesting paper this week entitled “How Colleges and Universities Can Help Their Local Economies” (the video above is a good summary). The work centers on two ideas: 1) graduates can join the region’s educated workforce and contribute to economic growth; and 2) “human capital” is expanded when institutions team up with local business, or attract new businesses, to commercialize technology developed at the school.
Conventional wisdom says that to boost economic growth, the nation needs more workers who are highly educated. A 2011 study from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce stated:
State and local employees have not been as hard hit as the general economy. At 19 million strong, this workforce comprises about 14.6 percent of total U.S. non-farm employment. It looks as if education workers are particularly being shielded from job cuts.