New Policy for Transgender Admissions at Mills College

Transgender students that identify as female will now be considered for enrollment at Mills College, an all-female school in Oakland. Mills is the only single-sex college in the country to have a published policy for transgender applicants. We'll discuss the details of the new policy, and whether it would affect the core identity of the school as a women's college, especially in light of strong campus opposition to going co-ed in the past.

New President of CSU Fresno Shaped by Deep Central Valley Roots

The Central Valley isn't known for high college graduation rates. Many of its young people come from farmworker families where college has never really been an option. The new president of California State University, Fresno aims to change that. Joseph Castro grew up in the Central Valley. He's worked at several UC schools around the state, and now he's back -- and keen to expand opportunities for local kids to succeed.

PBS NewsHour

Help us ‘Rethink College’ in 3 Twitter chats

From freshmen leaving home for the first time to seniors anticipating their next steps after graduation to part-time students and those pursuing degrees online — students around the country are preparing for the fall semester. Many will have more than midterms to worry about as they face rising tuition, student debt and an uncertain job market. In an effort to address these issues, educators, administrators and policy makers are all “Rethinking College.” In a week-long series, PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan reports on various innovations and initiatives aimed at making college more accessible and affordable.

Watch this coverage as it airs on the program all next week, watch it in advance online, or watch the complete series as a mini-documentary, available through the PBS apps in Apple TV, Roku and Xbox. Visit our website for additional features and reporting on higher education, appearing throughout the week. @NewsHour will also be hosting a series of three Twitter chats — Tuesday, August 26th -Wednesday, August 28th. Join us, along with an assortment of experts, to discuss several issues currently being debated both in and outside of the education system. All chats will take place from 1-2 p.m. EDT. Please chime in using the hashtag #NewsHourChats.

The High Cost of Education – Tuesday

On Tuesday, August 26th, we will look at the high cost of higher education, and whether or not it is practical to pursue a degree in the current economic climate. Beth Akers (@BethAkersEd) and Matthew Chingos (@chingos) from the Brookings Institution (@BrookingsEd) will discuss their research on the true impact of student loan debt. Jon Marcus of the Hechinger Report (@hechingerreport) and the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (@CAELnews) will discuss how apprenticeships and technical training could be integrated into the current system to provide a practical alternative.

What Makes a Degree Valuable? – Wednesday

On Wednesday, August 27th, we will explore what makes a college degree “valuable.” Should students pursue degrees in business, math and science, the most likely fields to yield a job offer immediately after graduation? Is there value in a liberal arts degree, if it teaches a student to become a lifelong learner? Temple University economics professor Douglas Webber (@TU_Economics) will discuss his recent paper, in which he simulated earnings trajectories for individuals with different college majors. Chief Data Strategist for U.S. News Education, Bob Morse (@Bob_Morse), will discuss U.S. News’ methodology and criteria in deciding their annual college rankings. Jon Marcus (@hechingerreport) will also share his insights.

Should Colleges be Run Like Businesses? – Thursday

On Thursday, August 28th we ask whether colleges should be run more like businesses. Is it beneficial to have a CEO with managerial and administrative background, rather than a dean who rose up through the ranks of academia? Would students gain if they were thought of as “customers”? What are the potential drawbacks? Jon Marcus (@hechingerreport) recently wrote an article on Rio Salado Community College in Arizona, which has become increasingly entrepreneurial in response to funding pressures. He will join the conversation, along with Rio Salado’s vice president of academic affairs, Dr. Jennifer McGrath (@RioSaladoOnline). David Attis (@TheAdvisoryBd), the senior director of academic research with the Education Advisory Board — a company that provides research and consulting to higher education institutions — will weigh in as well.

The post Help us ‘Rethink College’ in 3 Twitter chats appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Turning parents into teachers to fight the ‘summer slide’ in reading


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JUDY WOODRUFF: As the new school year approaches, teachers have come to expect that many of their students will have forgotten some of what they learned earlier. It’s called summer learning loss, and some teachers believe it’s inevitable. Are they right?

Special correspondent for education John Merrow of Learning Matters reports.

SARAH PISANO, Springboard Teacher: Everyone, turn to page three, please.

JOHN MERROW: The traditional educator’s remedy for summer learning loss is more of the same, more hours and more days of classes and, of course, summer school.

SARAH PISANO: Now we’re on page four.

JOHN MERROW: But suppose there is another solution.

SARAH PISANO: Good morning, Springboard families. Please sign in.

JOHN MERROW: What if schools enlisted family members as partners to help teach the children? That’s what’s happening here at Russell Byers Charter School in Philadelphia. For five weeks this summer, Sarah Pisano helps 6- and 7-year-olds get better at reading.

SARAH PISANO: We are going to talk about our new reading tip, which is making predictions.

JOHN MERROW: While also teaching their parents or other family members ways they could help.

SARAH PISANO: We are coaches. OK? I’m a coach when they’re here and you’re their coach when you’re at home.

The parents come in on Wednesday mornings. And whatever skills we have been working on in class, I get to not only share that with the parents, but then have them practice it with the child.

Just to look at this one for an example.

JOHN MERROW: Pisano passes along techniques parents can use to get their kids interested in books.

SARAH PISANO: If we were looking at the picture, I would ask them first, what do you see?

The overlying arch of all of the workshops is asking effective questions while you’re reading with your child.

JOHN MERROW: Taking what she calls picture walks is one technique. Before reading, look at the pictures and talk about them.

SARAH PISANO: Hey, let’s look at this traffic light. Which one of those colors do we see on there?


JOHN MERROW: She also teaches parents techniques for sounding out words.

SARAH PISANO: Can you practice the word sofa for me? Ready and go.




JOHN MERROW: Amani Addison’s father, Christopher, joined her every Wednesday for the one-hour parent workshop.

What did they say, they’re going to make you teachers?

CHRISTOPHER ADDISON: Well, it was like a partnership. I guess it was a learning process for me and my daughter.

ALEJANDRO GAC-ARTIGAS, Springboard Collaborative: The love a parent has for their child is the single greatest and most underutilized natural resource in education.

JOHN MERROW: Alejandro Gac-Artigas is the Founder of Springboard Collaborative, the nonprofit organization that manages this summer reading program. Springboard serves kindergarten through third graders in low-income communities. This summer, it operated in 17 schools in Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey.

The program was inspired by Gac-Artigas’ discovery in October 2009, just two months into his teaching career, that his first graders had lost ground over the summer.

ALEJANDRO GAC-ARTIGAS: I had assumed, as a first grade teacher without a scrap of confidence, that I was somehow un-teaching and damaging these children.

So, and I go to other teachers and I ask, what is going on? Why are they further behind? And everybody told me in this really matter-of-fact way, that’s just the summer slide. They spoke about it as if it were inevitable, that growing up poor, for every two steps forward you take during the year, you are going to take one step back.

JOHN MERROW: But Gac-Artigas, a 21-year-old rookie unschooled in the conventional wisdom about summer slide, didn’t buy it.

ALEJANDRO GAC-ARTIGAS: And, ultimately, I began to realize that summer learning loss is a symptom of an even deeper problem, which is that low-income parents have been left out of the process of educating their kids. We approached their families as liabilities, rather than as assets.

JOHN MERROW: Determined to test his belief that parents and teachers should be partners, Gac-Artigas quit teaching and raised enough money for a pilot program in 2012. The results were promising and Springboard was launched.

ALEJANDRO GAC-ARTIGAS: We had 94 percent of parents attend every single weekly workshop, learn how to teach their kids to read at home. Kids ended up not only avoiding the three-month regression, but making 2.8 months of reading progress during the summer.

JOHN MERROW: According to Gac-Artigas, the second year produced equally positive results.

ALEJANDRO GAC-ARTIGAS: By tracking our kids over the course of a full calendar year, we have more than doubled their annual reading progress.

JOHN MERROW: Springboard Collaborative just finished its third summer. The schools select the students and assign teachers from their own staff to teach the classes. Springboard trains the teachers and manages the program, charging fees of up to $550 a student.

Making parents and teachers partners, giving parents reading strategies they can use at home, this may be unconventional, but according to these families, it works.

Do you find you actually use these strategies at home?


SOUTEAR POY: Yes, we do always.

JOHN MERROW: You both said, yes, yes.

GREGORY HILL: Yes, we do.

SOUTEAR POY: Yes. Yes, we do.

GREGORY HILL: Because — it helps because we try to use our old strategies that we had. They’re like, dad, we don’t do that no more.

DAWN ROBINSON: Look at the picture. Look at the picture if you don’t know it. Look.

CHILD: Clouds?


I have never been in a partnership like this before. It’s given me a lot to take back and teach my other grandchildren.

JOHN MERROW: It’s also helped Amani Addison. After her second year with Springboard, she has become a much better reader.

SARAH PISANO: She was struggling a lot with letter sounds. And what I noticed the most about her was, it was really hindering her confidence. She came back this year, and it is a different kid. The confidence she has is unbelievable.

JOHN MERROW: In addition to reading together, the program encourages parents to let the kids see them reading on their own.

CHRISTOPHER ADDISON: Right now, I’m reading a book about Obama. I haven’t read in a long time, so it was kind of actually fun for me to pick up a book and start reading, too.

SARAH PISANO: This is something fun that we have been doing in class.

JOHN MERROW: Gac-Artigas hopes to expand Springboard beyond the current number of schools and even offer it as a year-round program, but he face as tough challenges.

If I’m a school principal watching the program, maybe I say, hey, you know, I could do most of this stuff. I don’t have to bother with Springboard. Would that be OK with you?

ALEJANDRO GAC-ARTIGAS: It would be fine with me. I want our national conversation around education to include families. Whether or not that includes Springboard is secondary. I want it to include families.

The reality, though, is that we have been able to amass kind of institutional knowledge about how to do this effectively in a way that most principals don’t want to worry about it at the end of a long school year.

JOHN MERROW: Nevertheless, Russell Byers’ new principle says the school may be better served by dropping Springboard. She told the NewsHour the school may run its own program next year to reach more students and cover more subjects, not just reading.

The post Turning parents into teachers to fight the ‘summer slide’ in reading appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Explore the future of higher education with Hari Sreenivasan

PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan traveled the country this year to explore the state of higher education. He will share five of stories he found as part of a week-long look at how America is rethinking the college experience. The series comes at a time when many believe higher education is at a crossroads.

rethinkingcollegeDuring the week of Aug. 25, PBS NewsHour will explore that crossroads with Sreenivasan’s broadcast stories as well as online articles and Twitter chats. In the past year, educators, policy makers and the Obama administration have begun a lively conversation about the effectiveness of the nation’s higher education system. Looking at national statistics, it’s easy to see why. Only 53 percent of college students in America go on to graduate, and 35 million have some credit, but no degree.

At the same time, economists estimate that two-thirds of all jobs in five years will require some kind of post-secondary degree. Tuition at public institutions has skyrocketed, doubling in some states, as legislatures slash funds to deal with a sagging economy. Student debt now tops $1 trillion. The average debt owed by student borrowers is $26,000. Behind home mortgages, student loans are the second largest source of personal debt, more than credit cards and auto loans.

The massive financial burden and changing job market have raised questions about the value of a degree and spawned innovative new programs.

But it’s not all bad news. Our broadcast reports will feature some of the cutting-edge innovations on campus, including performance-based funding, challenges to the age-old credit hour system, online learning and proposals to ease student debt.

Online, we examine the increasing cost of a college education, pressures to improve graduation rates and the changing demographics of college students.

To see all of the on work on the changes and challenges in higher education, visit our Rethinking College page.

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.

The post Explore the future of higher education with Hari Sreenivasan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Colleges emphasize student ‘stickiness’ to boost graduations