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ACLU: California Schools are Failing English Language Learners

As many as 20,000 public school students in California aren't getting the services they need to learn English, according to an ACLU lawsuit set for a hearing next month. The suit alleges that students in 251 districts received no language services at all, despite state and local funding for such programs. The suit also claims that the state failed to investigate or fix the problem.

New Legislation Aims to Address Campus Sexual Assaults

A bipartisan group of senators has introduced legislation to address sexual assaults on college campuses. It's one of three pieces of proposed legislation on the same subject. California Senator Barbara Boxer and San Mateo Congresswoman Jackie Speier both introduced new legislation.

PBS NewsHour

Senators propose improvements to how colleges handle sexual assault

Three Occidental Rapes Lead To Book Report And Brief Suspension

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GWEN IFILL: Now to a serious problem increasingly plaguing the nation’s college campuses: the crime of sexual assault.

The White House says one in five female students has been affected, and now a bipartisan group of senators is calling for universities to act.

WOMAN: It is time to protect those who were wronged. The time is now.

GWEN IFILL: Anna wasn’t yet ready to reveal her last name today, but she was prepared to tell her story of surviving sexual assault.

WOMAN: What happened to me and to too many other women and men is wrong. It shouldn’t matter what you drink or what you wear. That doesn’t help — that doesn’t give anyone the right to sexually assault you.

GWEN IFILL: The Hobart and William Smith student joined other sexual assault survivors and a bipartisan collection of eight U.S. senators in supporting a proposal to improve the way colleges deal with crime on campus.

Annie Clark spoke on behalf of an advocacy group called End Rape on Campus.

ANNIE CLARK, End Rape on Campus: The institutional betrayal that these students face is sometimes worse than the assault itself. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, when I reported that I was sexually assaulted, someone told me that rape was like a football game, and that I should look back on that game to figure out what I would do differently in that situation.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, D-N.Y.: Our students deserve better than this.

GWEN IFILL: New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand said the numbers show women in college are more likely to be victims of sexual assault than women who are not.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: With this bill, we are flipping the incentives. Currently, accurate reporting makes a school an outlier, because no school wants to be alone in admitting such a serious problem. With this bill, underreporting will have stiff fines and real teeth.

GWEN IFILL: Florida Republican Marco Rubio noted that some campus investigations have favored student athletes.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-Fla.: I do think it does a tremendous job of advancing the cause forward by creating a uniform system where every single victim in every single instance is treated the same, where there is no special preference because someone can dunk a basketball or throw a ball 80 yards down the field.

GWEN IFILL: Gillibrand and co-sponsor Claire McCaskill said they hope to get the bill passed this year.

Joining me now are two of the sponsors of this new legislation, Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, and Senator Kelly Ayotte, a Republican from New Hampshire.

Thank you both for joining us.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE, R-N.H.: Thank you.

GWEN IFILL: One of the most interesting numbers which came out of the White House report and then again today was that one of five women in college campuses are subject to sexual assault or victims of sexual assault. How pervasive is that? And what do — does you legislation propose that colleges do about that?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, D-Mo.: Well, what we’re trying to do is make very clear that there has to be a system and process in place that will allow confidential space for victims to come forward and make sure these investigations are done in a competent way.

Frankly, the more startling statistic is that 40 percent of the college campuses in the country have not investigated a single case of sexual assault in five years. And we know that this is a silent epidemic on our college campuses.

So we have got a lot of work to do. This bill covers a lot of ground, and it’s a great bipartisan effort.

GWEN IFILL: Senator Ayotte, how do you define sexual assault in these cases? There are some people who would say that lots of things happen on college campuses involving people of opposite sexes or of same sex, and it’s not necessarily assault.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: Well, Gwen, the bottom line is, is that every allegation of sexual assault needs to be fully investigated.

And that’s what we’re trying to ensure here, because there has been great inconsistency. On some campuses, these allegations are not being investigated, as Senator McCaskill mentioned. It’s being investigated inconsistently.

We also found that, in some instances, athletic departments were investigating them, which is totally inappropriate. There needs to be the best practices, full investigation. And obviously victims need to be supported, which is not happening.

And our young people in this country deserve to be able to have a safe environment on campus. And both of us are former prosecutors. We understand that victims are not going to come forward if they feel like their allegations aren’t investigated, they aren’t being taken seriously and that they won’t receive the support that they deserve.

GWEN IFILL: Senator McCaskill, are colleges ignoring this problem or have they been covering it up?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL: I think a little of both.

I think it’s better to hope it’s not really happening. And what this bill is going to do is force them to be more transparent, to do climate surveys, so that we have an apples-to-apples comparison on all these campuses. How do kids feel on these campuses? Are they safe? Are there — is there a lot of this going on that is not reported?

And, ultimately, building bridges between campuses and law enforcement, so that when a victim is confident and can come forward, we get a good prosecution out of it, because very few people rape someone once. These are repeat offenders, even on these college campuses.

GWEN IFILL: Senator Ayotte, some educators have said that you’re pointing the finger in wrong direction. They’re having a hard enough time educating without also having to be the cops on their campuses. What do you say to them?

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: We’re saying to them, first of all, we want to work with the higher education institutions so that they can have best practices in place on their campuses.

And we actually don’t want them to feel like they have to be the law enforcement. That’s the point of this bill, is to ensure that there is an understanding between each college and their local law enforcement agencies, so that they know that the law enforcement investigate these crimes, but the institution has a responsibility to have a safe climate on campus, for victims, when they come forward, to know that they will be supported by the institution.

We have in this bill that victims will have a confidential adviser to help them through this process. So this is part of the responsibility of these institutions, to ensure that it’s safe on campus for the young people who attend these colleges and are looking for a better life and more opportunity.

GWEN IFILL: Senator McCaskill, there are a lot of women who never get to college. What of them? This seems to be taking special attention — paying special attention to women who have a lot of advantages already. What about women who don’t?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL: Well, believe it or not, Gwen, the statistics show that incident of rape is actually higher among this population than the non-college population.

So, this is — this is about the requirements of a safe campus and about the conduct of students on campus. But, obviously, both Kelly and I have worked for a lot of our lives in this area of sexual assault. And we have been very active in the Violence Against Women Act and other pieces of legislation that provide support and counseling and those same services that we were talking about on college campuses to every woman who finds herself in one of these situations.

GWEN IFILL: Senator Ayotte, what difference will assessing penalties for noncompliance make in making these colleges and universities pay better attention to this problem?

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: Well, the difference I think it will make is that colleges receive a substantial amount of federal support in many ways. And this will just ensure more accountability that there is the uniformity on campus as to how these cases are being handled, that they’re reaching out to their student bodies to better educate them on how to support victims of sexual assault and also prevention efforts.

So, really, I think that’s the accountability, the teeth in this. And, as you know, our higher ed institutions receive federal dollars already under the Clery Act in Title IX. This is just putting more teeth into efforts that are already in place to ensure that institutions will — we can work with institutions for them to do the right thing and to have the right and safe climate on campus.

GWEN IFILL: Senator McCaskill, do you run the risk of shifting responsibility here from campus law enforcement — actually from local law enforcement to campus police, who may not be as skilled or prepared to deal with this?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL: No. In fact, we’re hoping for the opposite.

In fact, what we’re hoping is that, with this confidential adviser, where a victim can go and get good information and the right kind of forensic interview, then she will have the confidence and the right information that will allow her to go to law enforcement and have law enforcement do what they should be doing, and that is investigating this crime.

But, in that regard, we have got to make everyone is trained. We have to make sure that not just law enforcement is trained on these crimes, but campus law enforcement is trained, and the people who are adjudicating these administrative procedures where a student could be punished by suspension or expulsion from the school, that they understand this crime.

And, right now, it is a hodgepodge of misfits that are trying to do this. As Kelly mentioned, we even have athletic departments doing it for their athletes, which is a terrible conflict of interests. I mean, it’s hard enough for a victim to come forward when she senses there might be a level playing field. They will never come forward if they sense an unlevel playing field.

GWEN IFILL: OK. Well, we have had the fortune this week of talking about bipartisanship involving Veterans Affairs agreements and sentencing reform.

And now we’re talking to two of you from opposite sides of the aisle. So, I want to find out what you think about the possibility that you will actually be able to get this passed this year.

Senator Ayotte, you first.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: I think that you saw a great group of bipartisan work today, four of us on both sides of the aisle.

I have worked with Claire on other issues. And I really think you’re going to find a lot of bipartisan support for this legislation because every state in this nation has a college or a higher ed institution. And we want to ensure — I know that all my colleagues do — that those campuses are safe for our young men and young women to go to.

GWEN IFILL: Senator McCaskill?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL: If we can’t set aside partisan politics for this issue, then we are really without hope.

I really do think that we have a whole lot of people on both sides of the aisle that want us to get this right, that want to make it simpler for universities, but also more supportive of victims. And I’m very optimistic that we will get this done.

GWEN IFILL: Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, thank you both very much.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: Thank you, Gwen.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL: Thank you.

The post Senators propose improvements to how colleges handle sexual assault appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

New report shows nearly $2 billion in GI Bill funds go to for-profit colleges

Senator Tom Harkin_Official Portrait

Veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan are enrolling at for-profit colleges and some of those companies operating on campus “appear to be taking advantage of a loophole.” That loophole lets the companies count GI Bill benefits as non-federal (non-taxpayer) money, according to a report released earlier today from Senator Tom Harkin, chairmen of the Senate Health, Education and Labor Pensions (HELP) Committee.

The report shows for-profit college companies received $1.7 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits during the 2012-2013 school year. That’s nearly a quarter of the benefits paid under the program the companies are pocketing. While overall enrollment in these institutions fell between 2009 and 2013, the report indicates the enrollment of veterans has “dramatically increased,” allowing those companies to cash in on the loophole Harkin identifies.

Also according to the report, “veterans are unusually attractive students for for-profit colleges [because] those eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits offer [them] a guaranteed stream of federal revenue.” Additionally, unlike students with federal student loans, veterans attending are not at risk of default because the U.S. government foots the bill.

Furthermore, while the Higher Education Act requires that at least ten percent of the revenue comes “from sources other than federal financial aid funds,” the Post-9/11 GI Bill does not count as federal financial aid under Title IV.

In the 2008-2009 academic school year, the report notes “as many as 60 percent of the total number of students who enrolled in some of the companies receiving the largest amounts of GI Bill benefits left school within a year of enrollment,” without a degree or a diploma. This means taxpayers are paying twice as much for veterans to go to these institutions than public schools, for an education they never complete.

One of the schools which has received the most Post-9/11 GI Benefits, Corinthian Colleges Inc., is planning to sell or close its 100 campuses over the next six months. Corinthian reached a deal with the Department of Education in June following accusations employees changed grades, falsified attendance and job placement reports and inappropriately marketed its programs.

Seven other for-profit college companies are facing similar investigations by states attorneys general or federal agencies for “deceptive and misleading recruiting,” according to the report.

According to this Center for Investigative Reporting/PBS NewsHour collaborative report, University of Phoenix Vice President, Garland Williams said veterans choose those schools because of the programs they offer.

“We have over a hundred programs that we offer… and those programs lead to careers that they want to aspire to,” said Williams.

This story and PBS NewsHour education coverage is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The post New report shows nearly $2 billion in GI Bill funds go to for-profit colleges appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Can after-school programs help shrink the ‘opportunity gap’ for low-income students?

school2

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Most students in the U.S. spend far less time in school than their counterparts in other industrialized countries, and it’s been that way for a long time.

But now, as academic expectations are rising, one idea for improving student achievement that is gaining more attention is extending the school day.

John Tulenko of Learning Matters Television has our report.

JOHN TULENKO: When the school day ends at Middle School 223 in the Bronx, New York, the fun begins. Each day from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., the school offers all six graders a healthy dose of extracurriculars. There’s African drumming, Latin dance, chess, technology, and more.

PUJA RAO, Executive Director, Arete Education Inc.: I think every student should have the opportunity to have all these experiences available to them.

JOHN TULENKO: Puja Rao is the executive director Arete, a nonprofit that runs the extended day program in Middle School 223, where the majority of students qualify as low-income.

She used to teach math here, but says she recognized the need for a program like this long before that.

PUJA RAO: I came from a low-income family. And it was very much so, if my school wasn’t offering it, I wasn’t getting it. So I wanted to be able to give my students the experiences that I wish I could have had.

JOHN TULENKO: The after-school program isn’t just fun and games. About half the students are also getting personalized help in reading and math.

PUJA RAO: Different kids get what they need for their needs. So, if a kid is struggling and needs more help in math, they can go to math buddies and get that one-on-one help.

JOHN TULENKO: But it’s the fun stuff that get the kids’ attention.

Principal Ramon Gonzalez:

You have been doing this intensive model with sixth grade for a year. What’s been the effect?

RAMON GONZALEZ, Principal, M.S. 223: Kids want to be here. Kids are willing to stay here until 5:00 every day, when they can hang out in the street if they want. They are choosing to stay here. I think it’s because we have these different choices that they can make. And they feel like they’re getting smarter.

JOHN TULENKO: Interest in a longer school day is growing. About 1,000 schools across the country share $1 billion in federal funds earmarked for extended day programs. This program costs about $2,000 per child per year, about half of which comes from private donations.

In the year that it’s been running, principal Gonzalez says school attendance has increased. Proponents cite a long list of other benefits. Kids are safe, they exercise, they’re fit, they’re learning valuable social and emotional lessons, and they like it.

LUCY N. FRIEDMAN, President, The After-School Corporation: After school, you walk into a classroom and the kids are excited about what they’re doing, and it’s 4:00 on a Friday and they’re all raising their hands, that, to me, is success.

JOHN TULENKO: Lucy Friedman is president of the After-School Corporation, which provides financial support and guidance to schools that ant to start extended day programs, including Middle School 223. The students her students serve, Friedman argues, face more than an achievement gap.

Lucy, you have written about something you call the opportunity gap. What are you talking about?

LUCY N. FRIEDMAN: By sixth grade, disadvantaged kids have had 6,000 less hours of learning, learning, you know, what happens in preschool, but also what happens when your families take you to the beach or the zoo, summer camps, after-school programs.

And so, really, that’s what we want to do is open kids’ eyes, expose them to new kinds of activities and to new parts of themselves.

JOHN TULENKO: But at many public schools, closing the opportunity gap is a new mission. For more than a decade, schools have been cramming on academics in an effort to raise scores, especially in low-income schools.

RAMON GONZALEZ: I think what we have seen in our poorest neighborhood, that’s what it has become. It’s become test prep academies and we have taken out the arts and we have taken out the sports, with the idea that, if we just focus on academics, somehow, miraculously, these kids will be at the same level in three years.

And what we found is, that has worked for some kids, but for the majority of kids, it has not worked. The gap still remains.

JOHN TULENKO: But even here, extracurricular activities can feel like an afterthought.

What do they get in the way of art, music, dance, drama during the regular school day?

ALISSA ROGANOVIC, Math Teacher, M.S. 223: There isn’t much.

JOHN TULENKO: Many of Alissa Roganovic’s students find it hard not to drift off in a schedule dominated by academics.

ALISSA ROGANOVIC: They have 40 periods a week of instruction. Five of them are lunch. And then you take eight for math, 10 for ELA, five for science, five for social studies, five for technology, and you’re left with — and you’re left with two periods for gym. Unfortunately, a lot of that has to do with the tests that we’re required to prepare the students for.

JOHN TULENKO: Even with the focus on academics, math and reading scores here, while slightly better than in most New York City schools, are low; 75 percent of the students at Middle School 223 scored below proficient. That’s where the after-school tutoring comes in.

WOMAN: So now what is the formula?

JOHN TULENKO: Are they getting better at math?

ALISSA ROGANOVIC: They are. They’re getting better because their attitude is changing, because they’re getting some of the questions answered that are — in a class of 30 or when they’re at home they aren’t necessarily getting answered.

JOHN TULENKO: Although quality varies, research shows most after-school programs have a positive effect on student performance. But is waiting until the end of the day to catch kids up and give them fun activities they look forward to overlooking the real problem?

We asked Lucy Friedman of the After-School Corporation.

I would like to play around and give you an analogy, if I may.

LUCY N. FRIEDMAN: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

LUCY N. FRIEDMAN: OK.

JOHN TULENKO: Imagine schools as restaurants, there to serve nutrition food. The way we do it now, only about half of the kids get a nutritious meal. You all come in at the end of the day and you provide that nutrition, which is important. But someone could argue that you really ought to be more focused on the menu during the regular school day.

LUCY N. FRIEDMAN: Why aren’t we?  Because — because we think this is a way. I mean, partly, it’s who we are, right?  We — I mean, there are a lot of people who are putting a lot of effort into the front end.

RAMON GONZALEZ: I think with the ingredients we have, we are working on serving the best meal. We are reaching that point. But the reality is that, even as we’re crafting this menu of these great things, it’s still not enough, because our kids have not eaten for years. And so we’re trying to make up some of those nutrients, using your analogy, that they have lost along the way.

JOHN TULENKO: With the focus on tests, it’s unlikely the menu for the regular school day will change, but the dessert will get richer. New York State recently handed over $7.6 million to create more after-school programs like the one at Middle School 223. That’s on top of $145 million already pledged by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The post Can after-school programs help shrink the ‘opportunity gap’ for low-income students? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Those with ‘some college, no degree’ could hold key to U.S. education goals

By 2020, President Barack Obama wants the United States to regain its position as the country with the most educated residents. But in the last 20 years, nearly one in every 10 Americans started a college career that they never finished.

They may help account for the gap between the U.S. and the most educated members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 2011, 43.1 percent of U.S. residents ages 25 to 64 had completed a degree beyond a high school diploma, while 63.8 percent of Koreans had a post-secondary degree.

But a report from the National Student Clearinghouse released Tuesday argues they can also be an important source of students for colleges and universities trying to close that gap.

The report identified 31 million who have taken college classes, but haven’t completed a degree. Nearly four million of those former students already have two or more years’ worth of credits and could be just a few courses away from an associate’s degree or other credential.

The report (which was funded by a grant from the Lumina Foundation, an organization that also supports the NewsHour) counted students who enrolled in college courses in the last 20 years, which means many of those 31 million people are unlikely to give college another try.

“In some fields (e.g., nursing) ‘old’ means more than two years. So if one is talking about bringing back students who have been out of school for 20 years, lots of luck,” Cliff Adelman of the Institute for Higher Education Policy told the Chronicle of Higher Education.

By 2020, analysts expect about 65 percent of available jobs in the U.S. to require some education beyond high school. That’s one reason those with some credit, but no degree can’t be overlooked, Dr. Joni Finney, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, said in a statement released with Tuesday’s report.

“Ensuring that students who begin college complete their certificate and degree coursework must be a national priority,” she said. “A focus on creating viable educational pathways for these students is imperative if individual states and the nation are to realize higher levels of educational attainment.”

PBS NewsHour coverage of higher education is supported by the Lumina Foundation and American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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