GI Bill Funds Wasted on Substandard Colleges, Investigation Finds

In 2008, Congress passed a new GI Bill that, for the first time since World War II, promised to pay the full cost of a college education for veterans. But a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting finds that more than $600 million of that money has been spent on California schools that have graduation rates so low, or loan-default rates so high, that they don't meet state standards for aid. The report contends that the GI Bill is pouring money into for-profit colleges that often leave veterans with worthless degrees and few job prospects.

Summer School for Teens With Ambition, and Ability to Pay

If you're a teenager with your eye on attending a good college, summer school is a serious business. For high-achieving students, it's a way to stack a high school transcript to shine above the rest. But at some districts, students are having to foot a steep bill themselves.

PBS NewsHour

Both sides take Louisiana’s Common Core political fight to court


Dueling lawsuits in Louisiana amplify the on-going debate over the Common Core.

Louisiana courts could decide whether the state’s schools use the Common Core standards to guide teaching in their classrooms.

Last month Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order withdrawing the state from an agreement to use standardized tests based on the Common Core, a set of guidelines for teaching math and English at each grade level.

Along with that order, Jindal said state legislators and education leaders should develop a unique set of standards for Louisiana’s schools.

Members of the state’s board of education and schools superintendent have pushed back, saying they plan to stick with the standards, which were developed in 2009 and adopted in Louisiana — along with 44 other states and Washington D.C. — the following year. The governor’s order can make the state find a new test provider, but Jindal cannot single-handedly end the use of the Common Core.

On Monday, 17 state legislators who oppose the standards filed a lawsuit in the Louisiana 19th Judicial District Court, saying that 2010 adoption was invalid, according to Education Week. Those filing the lawsuit led a failed legislative effort to repeal the standards this past spring. If they had succeeded, they would have joined the Oklahoma and South Carolina legislatures in dropping the standards. Missouri and North Carolina have passed laws that require a review and possible revision of the standards.

On Tuesday, supporters of the Common Core, including parents, teachers and a charter school group, filed their own lawsuit in the same court. They claimed Jindal has overstepped his constitutional powers and his actions “have sown chaos in the education system of this state,” according to The suit’s aim is to reinstate Louisiana’s contract for Common Core-aligned tests.

Students go back to school on Aug. 11 across Louisiana. A spokesman for the state’s department of education told the NewsHour their teachers will follows the Common Core standards, but no one knows what year-end tests they’ll be preparing for.

The NewsHour went to Louisiana in June to cover the growing battle over the Common Core. We learned about parents who pulled their kids out of school in objection to the standards and others who believe that the standards are prepping their children for college.

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.

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In Houston, traditional public school shares ideas and a roof with charter schools


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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now a U.S. education story with a twist.

Relations between charter schools and traditional public schools have often been hostile, and that’s become a more intense problem in recent years. About 4 percent of U.S. students attend about 5,000 charter schools.

Special correspondent for education John Merrow reports on one school district that is swimming against that tide.

PROTESTERS: I say charters, you say work. Charters!


PROTESTER: Charters!


PROTESTER: Charters!


PROTESTER: Charters!



JOHN MERROW: It would be difficult to overstate the battle royal going on between traditional public schools and charter schools.

PROTESTERS: Save our schools!  Save our schools!

JOHN MERROW: Charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run, were conceived of as testing grounds for traditional schools.

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER, R, Tenn.: To me, charter schools are schools that free teachers to do what teachers know best to do.

JOHN MERROW: Charter schools are free to hire uncertified teachers, set their own pay scales, and fire teachers they feel aren’t measuring up. From the beginning, many in education saw charter schools as a threat, robbing traditional schools of students and scarce education dollars.

DIANE RAVITCH, Education Historian and Blogger: We have seen constant promotion of charter, charter, charter. And what’s happening is that, in many cities today, we are on the verge of losing public education altogether.

JOHN MERROW: Charter school supporters promised academic success, but the results have been mixed. Take math, for example. According to a 2013 study, 29 percent of charters do better than traditional schools, 31 percent do worse, and 40 percent score about the same.

Some operators have used their charter schools as a license to steal. Today, the chasm between charter and traditional schools is greater than ever.

But here in Houston, Texas, in the Spring Branch School District, something astounding, even revolutionary, is taking place.

DUNCAN KLUSSMANN, Superintendent, Spring Branch Texas Schools: I don’t see charters as a threat to traditional schools. I see charter schools, particularly high-performing charter schools, as kind of incubators of innovation.

JOHN MERROW: Rather than go to battle, superintendent Duncan Klussmann stuck his neck out and invited two successful charter school networks into two of his schools, both of them facing declining enrollment.

The charter students are selected by a lottery. Eric Schmidt is the principal of KIPP Courage, one of 141 KIPP charter schools nationwide.

ERIC SCHMIDT, Principal, KIPP Courage: We have got 200 students in fifth and sixth grade right now. We will grow out to have 400 students in five through eight. And like all of our schools, we do our work in underserved communities where a majority of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

JOHN MERROW: Two years ago, KIPP Courage began sharing space with Landrum Middle School, a traditional public school.

PATRICIA THOMAS, Principal, Landrum Middle School: Good morning.

JOHN MERROW: Patricia Thomas is principal of Landrum Middle School.

PATRICIA THOMAS: Our school is a grade six through eight campus. We have about 750 students.

JOHN MERROW: How did Thomas feel about having a newcomer, a competitor, setting up shop in her building?

PATRICIA THOMAS: A little bit leery of the program and what was going to go on. Didn’t really know what the program was about, how it was going to work as a partnership.

JOHN MERROW: Knowing that bringing in charter schools would be controversial, Klussmann did his best to reassure teachers.

DUNCAN KLUSSMANN: When I met with the faculties early on, I guaranteed them that no one in Spring Branch would lose their job over this partnership.

JOHN MERROW: The president of the local union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, objected.

CRAIG ADAMS, President, Spring Branch American Federation of Teachers: Why is it, with the amount of leadership that we have and the amount of innovation that we have within the district, did we call in an outside source?

JOHN MERROW: But teacher unions in Texas have limited power, and so Klussmann’s experiment continued.

At Landrum, the union of charter and traditional means that KIPP math teacher Ryan Hambley has access to classroom technology he wouldn’t have at KIPP.

RYAN HAMBLEY, Teacher, KIPP Courage: because we’re at Landrum, we get provided for iPads. We get provided for netbooks and beautiful technology such as Promethean boards and pens.

JOHN MERROW: KIPP and Landrum hire their own teachers for core courses like math and reading. It’s here in the elective courses, band orchestra, choir, art, theater, and phys-ed, that the charter and traditional schools come together. On its own, KIPP could not afford to offer so many choices.

RYAN HAMBLEY: We are an envy of the town among the KIPP world because we offer so many electives.

JOHN MERROW: KIPP gets the additional courses and Landrum gets to send its teachers to KIPP’s training program.

ERIC SCHMIDT: All of the elective teachers came and participated in our summer professional development that we had at KIPP. And then we also opened it up to other teachers in Landrum, core-content teachers. And there was a team that came and said, we want to specifically learn about the character strengths.

JOHN MERROW: Building character is uppermost in KIPP’s list of educational goals.

ERIC SCHMIDT: KIPP is defined by the fact that we’re 51 percent character, 49 percent academics.

JOHN MERROW: KIPP’s impact on Landrum seems far greater than the reverse.

PATRICIA THOMAS: Spring Branch had a program called development assets, you know, character education. And so we kind of morphed ours to be more aligned with KIPP.

JOHN MERROW: In the cafeteria, the Landrum and KIPP students may choose to eat separately, but they all spend the first few moments quietly reading or doing homework.

PATRICIA THOMAS: This was a KIPP practice where they sit down first before the mass runs into the lunchroom and goes to the line.

JOHN MERROW: Two years into the partnership, Landrum and KIPP are still working out the kinks. One problem, finding time when KIPP teachers, who have a longer school day, can work together with Landrum teachers.

ERIC SCHMIDT: We’re working on aligning our schedules for our seventh grade team of teachers next year. So, we will be adding seventh grade and have that for the first time. And so allowing teachers to have similar off time during the day, so that math teachers can get together and collaborate on ideas.

JOHN MERROW: Teacher turnover is also a problem. YES Prep, the second charter school Klussmann invited in, replaced five of its eight teachers after the first year. Two were promoted. Three left, according to YES Prep’s principal, because it wasn’t the right fit.

So how is the two-year old partnership working out? The leaders seem pleased.

PATRICIA THOMAS: I like to bounce ideas off of Eric, him being the young guy, me being the old girl. You know, he might have a different idea and vice versa.


JOHN MERROW: Teachers are also generally happy with this new arrangement, according to a survey. Academically, however, the results are mixed. Reading and math scores at Landrum are flat. Those at Northbrook have improved slightly. At both schools, the charter students are generally outperforming the traditional students.

And that actually benefits the traditional schools, because Klussmann combines the test scores when he reports them to the state.

DUNCAN KLUSSMANN: When we report scores from the campuses we report, the school overall, for accountability reasons, all the scores are Landrum Middle School, Northbrook Middle School, Spring Branch ISD scores. They just may be in a KIPP or YES-taught class.

JOHN MERROW: Could partnerships like this one in Spring Branch catch on?  Perhaps. So far, 19 school districts, including Milwaukee, Tulsa, and Denver, have come to take a look.

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U.S. families with children experiencing more poverty, job insecurity

An annual report on child well-being shows 23 percent of American children were living at or below the federal poverty
         line in 2012, up from 19 percent in 2005. Photo by Seattle Municipal Archives

An annual report on child well-being shows 23 percent of American children were living at or below the federal poverty line in 2012, up from 19 percent in 2005. Photo by Seattle Municipal Archives

More children in the United States were living in financially strapped households in 2012 than in 2005 before the economic downturn, according to an annual report on child well-being from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The report shows 23 percent of American children were living at or below the federal poverty line in 2012, up from 19 percent in 2005. Thirty-one percent of children had parents without secure employment, compared to 27 percent four years earlier. The portion of children whose families paid more than 30 percent of their pre-tax incomes toward housing ticked up too, from 37 in 2005 to 38 percent in 2012.

Meanwhile, the report’s authors lauded gains in educational and health measures for the country’s children during the same seven year period.

Mothers gave birth to fewer low-birth weight babies and more children were covered by health insurance. More 3- and 4-year-olds were enrolled in preschool, 46 percent compared to 44 percent in 2005. A third of fourth graders were proficient in reading and the same percentage of eighth graders was proficient in math. While those numbers may not seem high, they’re up from 30 and 28 percent in 2005, respectively.

Even in Massachusetts — rated as the best state for overall child well-being — poverty rates and lack of secure employment rose in households with children. In fact, rates of childhood poverty declined only in Alaska, South Dakota, West Virginia and Washington, DC, while parent job insecurity increased in all states but Vermont, North Dakota and Washington, DC.

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Expansion of My Brother’s Keeper initiative aims to end ‘schoolhouse to jailhouse pipeline’


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GWEN IFILL: Next: a major expansion of a national program aimed at improving the lives of disadvantaged young men, known as My Brother’s Keeper.

Greater access to early education, reducing school suspensions, and recruiting mentors, 25,000 of them, around the country, those steps are part of the expansion of the president’s effort to improve life chances for young men of color, often more likely to be expelled from school than to succeed.

Sixty of the country’s largest public school systems, who educate nearly three million boys of color, joined the effort today, as well as mayors, corporations like AT&T, nonprofits like the Emerson Collective, and the national Basketball Association.

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul:

CHRIS PAUL, Point Guard, Los Angeles Clippers: With the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, this is our opportunity to stand together as athletes, as parents, as mentors, and as leaders in our communities to show our young men and boys of color with our action that we are behind them and that their success matters.

GWEN IFILL: No federal money is involved in the expanded multiyear effort, but the companies and foundations have pledged an additional $100 million to the effort. That follows $200 million pledged when the program was announced last winter.

Two participants in the expanded initiative join us now. John Deasy is the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, which enrolls nearly 650,000 students at over 900 schools. And David Williams is the CEO of Deloitte Financial Advisory Services. He’s working closely on the private sector portion of the plan.

Thank you, gentlemen, for joining me. I’m glad you’re both in town for this.
Let’s just talk about the graduation rates piece of this. How would a program like this improve graduation rates, which I know is a big concern of yours?

JOHN DEASY, Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District: Absolutely.

Youth can’t graduate if they don’t stay in school. And the focus we put on suspension, where the district is sending students out of school, was a huge part of this. When our administration began four years ago, we realized that there was an enormous disproportionality in terms of the students who were being suspended, meaning mostly black young men, Latino young men.

And so we began to look at policies and the work of the district, and took our suspension rate, nearly 49,000 incidents of suspension, to below 9,000 incidents of suspension. And we ended using willful defiance as a reason for which you could suspend a child.

GWEN IFILL: Now, you’re talking about something you have already done. So, what difference does it make really if the administration, if the White House is doing something like this?

JOHN DEASY: So we begin thinking through this as quite an amazing example of collective action.

So, more than 60 superintendents from across the country signed pledges and we delivered to the president today that we would all begin to do this and more, access to early education, mentor in our districts, health, physical health in terms of clinics. And the power of that across the system and across the country I think is what made today so special.

GWEN IFILL: David Williams, what is the corporate piece of this, and why sometimes the government and the private sector don’t necessarily see the same goals?

DAVID WILLIAMS, Deloitte: We absolutely see the same goals in this case, Gwen.

It’s about productivity. It’s about the ability to use all of the resources, the human capital resources that are available to us. And this group of people are extremely important to us. Young men of color are an important part of what we need to do going forward in order to make the U.S. work force more productive.

GWEN IFILL: So, you’re saying you’re trying to build on the supply, because it would help serve your demand.


And also these are communities that we live in and that work in. And so there is a philanthropic part of this for us as well. It’s a citizenship portion of it for us as well.

GWEN IFILL: John Deasy, I heard you give a speech about educational apartheid. How would this close the gap that you see that exists in our public schools now?

JOHN DEASY: In a number of ways. And was a very powerful day when you take a look at what some of the students have and what some students do not have.

One of the things we did as we have been building up to this is instituted a student-weighted funding formula. Schools and communities who historically have had the least amount of investment now in Los Angeles get the most amount of investment, so that schools and communities where students have struggled, historically struggled, for resources, are the places that, with our funding formula, the ones who are getting the most resources, as we begin to build back.

And the second thing has been to invest in their families. At least one of our unions, SEIU, the majority of those workers, more than 30,000, are parents. And we just signed our contract which brings the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and it’s the highest in the country in doing this, so that we’re trying to deal with the growth and support of homes, schools so that — and these are resources that we have — it’s just how we’re distributing them.

GWEN IFILL: David Williams, what’s the convening council? That sounds like one of those bureaucratic terms someone comes up with in which you guys maybe meet twice a year, and talk and then go your separate ways. How is this different?

DAVID WILLIAMS: Well, if that’s what happened, that’s a real problem for us.

What we really want to do with a convening council is to being to spread the message, to take the message into the community, into the places where these young men live and hopefully where they work, in order to drive the messages that the president talked about today into those communities, because that’s where the services that are going to impact their lives are going to be performed.

GWEN IFILL: Now, you must be familiar, both of you, with the fact that since this was announced in February, one of the big conversations has been, why only boys? Why not girls? What is special or specially disadvantaged about young men?

DAVID WILLIAMS: Well, there’s two things.

First, this is an intractable problem for young men of color. And it hits that demographic much more significantly than it does most others. That’s the first point. But the second point is, lots of things that we’re trying to get done with the initiative in cities around the country are things that are going to benefit young women and other people besides young men of color.

So a rising tide floats all boats. And we’re trying to do as much as we can for everybody, but we’re recognizing that this demographic, young men and boys of color, is unique.


JOHN DEASY: And the most stunning disproportionality in schools occurs when we take a look at achievement and attendance and discipline with young men of color very early on.

Special education identification rates — I mean, one of the powers of this is, we just need to start talking the truth about these issues and doing something about that, from who’s being identified in special education, who is being suspended, who is not getting into AP courses.

And in all those cases, the greatest disproportionality is young men of color.

GWEN IFILL: In the Los Angeles school system, there has been a lot of discussion lately about teachers kind of resisting some of the changes you would like to implement, which involve changing tenure rules. Is this something that could get in the way of what it is you hope to accomplish, that dispute?

JOHN DEASY: No, I don’t think so at all.

Actually, the teachers in L.A. are amazing individuals. The tenure rule issue came from a judge’s decision around students getting access to the best teachers and are there laws that are preventing that from happening. He ruled that there were. And that’s now taking his legal approach.

But, by and large, our teachers work in very impacted situations and are getting amazing results. This focus on this actually thinks honors the work that they’re doing.

GWEN IFILL: There are some who argue $300 million is still in the end a drop in the bucket.

But the bigger question and threat might be that, after this president, who has taken this personally, leaves, it leaves. What’s to stop that from happening?

DAVID WILLIAMS: This certainly can’t be a shiny thing, something that we admire for the time that President Obama is in office and then we let die.

And there are lots of things in place designed to drive it forward. And that’s one of the reasons that the convening council is in place, to make this lasting. And it has got to be a generational thing in order to make it have any impact at all?

GWEN IFILL: How? How? How?

DAVID WILLIAMS: Very simply, we’re trying to make sure that the programs that we put in place structurally have their own life, have their own momentum.

So we’re doing it in places, place-based, so that, in fact, they’re not governmental programs, but they’re programs that take place in the communities where these kids live, hopefully where they work, and ultimately drive some continuation, some lasting impact.

JOHN DEASY: The moral obligation to end a schoolhouse-to-jailhouse pipeline goes way beyond the presidential initiative. That’s why this is embedded in our communities.

GWEN IFILL: John Deasy of the Los Angeles Unified Schools, David Williams of Deloitte, thank you both so much.

JOHN DEASY: Thank you, Gwen.


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