Tag Archives: education

California crunch

It shouldn’t be news to anyone that California is in a major crunch these days, and not the granola kind. The budget crisis has gotten so bad that in Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has threatened to shut down the entire city government for two days a week to save money.

KPCC’s Air Talk had the mayor on to address threats facing the city’s Department of Water and Power from ratings agencies, and options to keep the city afloat beyond a partial shut down.

Villaraigosa told KPCC’s David Lazarus:

It’s not something that I want to do. But it’s something we need to look at and discuss. … Clearly we don’t’ have a lot of options where we know that we don’t have the cash to pay employees. We are liable to them when we ask them to work, knowing we don’t thave the cash to pay them.

In the comments section of the KPCC page, concerned LA residents left pressing questions about other budget issues hitting City Hall, like early retirement payments for city employees and furloughs for municipal departments outside of the general budget.

LA school budgets are also being cut. That’s drawing some Hollywood names to make the issue a hit online, like in this Funny or Die video with Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green, who visited Wonderland Avenue Elementary School in LA to get their point across about overcrowding and budget cuts:

It’s not just LA that’s affected. Earlier this month, protests against budget cuts for schools were held in northern California. Youth Radio reporters caught up with protesters in Berkeley.

Waving signs that read “No Cuts” and “Defend Public Education,” the crowd of around 150 people included elementary school student Eliza Fosket Hyde, 7, who made a homemade sign “We want money for pableck shools.”

Day of action for education

Students and education advocates in California took to the streets today to protest budget cuts to public school programs. Youth Radio’s correspondents were following the story and collecting perspectives.

Asked what she thinks California will look like in ten years given what’s happening in public education today, 21-one-year-old Taylor Kohles said, “We need to change our priorities and fully fund education. If that doesn’t happen, it will create an education gap.”

Twenty-year-old UC Berkeley student Eddie Rivero said he has friends who will have to drop out of school because they’re undocumented immigrants who can’t get financial aid and are paying part of their tuition with scholarships. He said they won’t be able to cover costs as tuition rises.

For more on the protests, check out Youth Radio’s Twitter list of Day of Action participants.

Tough times for Latino teens

It’s been a hard year for many, but several stories this week highlight just how tough for some teenagers – in particular the children of Latino immigrants to the U.S.

Teens are facing a high unemployment rate, and overall are working hard to cut back, particularly at this spendy time of year, as the New York Times reported over the weekend.

But some teens can’t work, even when there are jobs available. A new documentary profiled on NPR’s All Things Considered today focuses on an 18-year-old jazz saxophonist who immigrated to Indiana from Mexico with his family as a child.

The 18-year-old is a completely American kid who has little memory of Mexico. His spoken Spanish is poor; his written Spanish is worse. But without documents, Sam is unable to legally work, to drive, to get financial aid or even to attend some U.S. colleges.

In Texas, the Indiana teenager’s dilemma is even more common, as the state has one of the largest Latino populations in the country. Public Media Texas reported recently on on a new study from the Pew Hispanic Center on what Latino coming of age means in America. NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff interviewed the study’s lead:

The Dallas Federal Reserve’s blog also reported on the Pew study and tried to uncover the reasons for the pay gap among Latinos in Texas, including among Latino teens.

Education deficits are clearly a key reason Texas’ Latinos haven’t narrowed the wage gap with non-Hispanic whites. Even so, it’s puzzling why native-born Latinos have a much lower average educational attainment in Texas than in other states.

National research on Latino educational outcomes offers a few clues about what may be inhibiting education. Most important, schooling may be interrupted by the need to work or take care of family responsibilities. Latinos tend to have higher poverty rates, lower incomes and larger families than non-Hispanic whites.

Tackling tuition

Here in California, education has been making headlines this week, as the University of California board of regents voted to increase tuition more than 30%. And California is hardly alone. Across the country, education is being affected by the recession.

In New Hampshire, some students are facing a subprime loan crisis much like the housing one – except this time it’s loans to help cover rising tuition costs of higher education.

“In many cases private student loans come with variable interest rates that can top twenty percent. In addition, a number of recent graduates contend that the education they paid for included sub-par labs, mediocre instructors, and fell short of the quality education that was advertised.”

NewsHour’s Paul Solman reported that a new bill making its way through the Senate would move the student loan industry under the Department of Education, reducing the subprime risk.

In Michigan, among the areas hardest hit by recession, some recent graduates are staying true to their state.

“Anna Barson graduated from The University in Michigan and immediately moved to Washington D.C, and then New York. She’s discovered there’s a lot of grassroots activism in Detroit she wants to be a part of.
“I do feel some connection, and if I am serious about wanting to do social justice work, Detroit– I mean, it is in my home state, and I think it would be hypocritical of me to completely ignore that,” said Barson.”

Propublica reported on how the US Department of Education is dividing up stimulus funds to schools – and it’s turning into a competitive race to get any of that funding.

“Using an elaborate scoring system just announced, the program will benefit only those states that have already taken steps to shake up their school systems, the [Wall Street] Journal reports. “This is going to be highly competitive, and there are going to be a lot more losers than winners,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporter Neil King Jr. Preliminary plans for the program provoked an outpouring of criticism, The New York Times reports, but the final rules have added flexibility. Some potentially volatile aspects remain – like President Barack Obama’s emphasis on charter schools – but the new rules invite states to describe “innovative public schools other than charter schools.”

There is some good news for veterans looking to go back to school, however. As Emilie Ritter reported for Montana Public Radio back in August, a new GI bill is sending those who’ve served back to college — for free.

School's in

Credit: Flickr/James Sarmiento

Credit: Flickr/James Sarmiento

It’s Labor Day weekend, and Tuesday students all over the country will be heading back to school – some to the neighborhood elementary school, others to colleges far away, but a larger number than usual are starting classes at community colleges. Why the uptick?

The struggling economy has boosted community college enrollment all over the country, and in this week’s station roundup, we take a look at places where this trend is apparent.

WOSU in Columbus, Ohio first reported on this trend back in Februrary , citing both the less expensive tuition and older students who are returning to study after being laid off from their jobs as reasons enrollments have increased.

“DeVry University has grown steadily nationwide says Galen Graham, President of the Columbus Campus. In Ohio enrollment in online classes has grown by 30 percent in the past year, a change that he says could be attributed to higher gas prices and the slowing economy. Students are also staying enrolled longer.”

Salt Lake City NPR station KPCW recently found a 33% rise in community college enrollment in their area, and that the local colleges are having trouble staffing up.

“She says the college is trying to keep up with the influx of students by hiring new faculty and opening more courses. But she adds that prospective students should know their choices could be limited if they don’t act soon.”

A school counselor in California relayed her concerns about growing enrollment to Marketplace’s Tamara Keith in July:

“You know there’s nothing I hate worse than knowing there are students who have personal and family responsibilities that depend on them getting the training they need to get a job, and they come to our institutions and they can’t find the courses they need.”

At the heart of community college growth is the overwhelming expense of a four-year college education. NPR’s Tell Me More analyzed whether the pricetag reflects the benefits of education in trying economic times.

What kinds of educational choices have you had to make for yourself or your family due to the economy? Share your story here.