Biden Is Wrong About Student Debt Forgiveness

“Despite failing to enact blanket student loan forgiveness, Joe Biden has still managed to forgive more than $130 billion in federal student loans since taking office in 2021—and due to a series of Education Department rule changes, even more loans are set to be forgiven in the coming years.”

“Under the REPAYE plan, previously the most popular IDR plan, borrowers were required to make regular monthly payments of 10 percent of their discretionary income (calculated as earnings above 150 percent of the federal poverty rate) for 20 years in order to receive forgiveness. But in 2022, Biden announced the Education Department would replace the REPAYE plan.
In its place, the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan is a significantly more generous alternative, only requiring monthly payments of 5 percent of borrowers’ discretionary income (now calculated as earnings above 225 percent of the federal poverty rate), with forgiveness after just 10 years for balances less than $12,000. Late or incomplete payments would still count during the required repayment period, unlike under the REPAYE plan.”

“In all, the new IDR plan is estimated to cost taxpayers nearly as much as Biden’s original attempt at forgiving $475 billion over the next decade (blanket forgiveness was estimated to cost up to $519 billion). While Biden claimed that his recent forgiveness would help swaths of Americans “buy a home start a business even start a family,” it certainly isn’t typical taxpayers—the majority of whom do not have the benefits of a college degree, or the student loans to match—who will end up benefiting.”

https://reason.com/2024/03/07/biden-is-wrong-about-student-debt-forgiveness/

Why elite colleges are bringing the SAT back

“according to Opportunity Insights’ findings, it can be the case that tests reinforce inequality generally but also allow schools to identify individual kids who are academically prepared despite challenging circumstances.”

https://www.vox.com/24083809/college-university-sat-testing-requirement-ivy-league-yale

Why so many kids are still missing school

“Some of the latest absenteeism data reveals the staggering impact the pandemic has had on student attendance.
Before the pandemic, during the 2015–16 school year, an estimated 7.3 million students were deemed “chronically absent,” meaning they had missed at least three weeks of school in an academic year. (According to the US Department of Education, there were 50.33 million K-12 students that year.) After the pandemic, the number of absent students has almost doubled.

Chronic absenteeism increased in every state where data was made public, and in Washington, DC, between the last pre-pandemic school year, 2018–19, and the 2021–22 school year, according to data from Future Ed, an education think tank. Locations with the highest increases saw their rates more than double.”

“Experts point to deeper issues, some that have long troubled students and schools and others that are only now apparent in the aftermath of school shutdowns.

“When you see these high levels of chronic absence, it’s a reflection that the positive conditions of learning that are essential for motivating kids to show up to school have been eroded,” said Hedy Chang, the founder and executive director of Attendance Works, an organization that tracks attendance data and helps states address chronic absenteeism. “It’s a sign that kids aren’t feeling physically and emotionally healthy and safe. Belonging, connection, and support — in addition to the academic challenge and engagement and investments in student and adult well-being — are all so crucial to positive conditions for learning.”

Despite increased attention to the topic, chronic absenteeism is not exactly new — until recently, it was considered a “hidden educational crisis.”

“This has been an ongoing issue and it didn’t just all of a sudden appear because the pandemic arose. Folks have been trying to address this issue for years,” said Joshua Childs, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin who studies absenteeism interventions in communities and states. “It’s historically mainly impacted students from disadvantaged communities and underserved populations.”

What’s new about chronic absenteeism is that it now affects students from a variety of demographic backgrounds, from those in the suburbs and rural areas to those in cities.”

“The root causes of chronic absenteeism are vast. Poverty, illness, and a lack of child care and social services remain contributors to poor attendance, and some communities continue to struggle with transportation challenges; the pandemic has brought on a youth mental health crisis that has caused students to miss school; parents have reframed how they think about illness, ready to keep their children home at the slightest signs of sickness.”

https://www.vox.com/2024/1/9/23904542/chronic-absenteeism-school-attendance

Teacher’s Union Sues to Stop New York Congestion Pricing Plan

“Because NEPA allows third parties to sue over allegedly inadequate environmental studies, it’s become a favorite tool of environmentalists, slow growth activists, and garden variety NIMBY (not in my backyard) trying to stop or delay infrastructure projects.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/05/teachers-union-sues-to-stop-new-york-congestion-pricing-plan/

Could Elite Colleges Embrace the SAT Again?

“While many are put off by the persistent score gaps across racial and economic lines, the idea that ditching the test will help minority students or those from low-income families is short-sighted. Yes, SAT scores correlate with income and race—but so do high school GPAs and essays, the other metrics elite colleges most often rely on in the absence of test scores.
GPA is a particularly muddy metric to rely on when making admissions decisions for highly selective colleges, as rigor—and grade inflation—varies widely between high schools. Leonhardt highlighted two recent studies that show this. One found that SAT scores were much more predictive of success (such as being admitted to a top graduate school or being employed by a prestigious firm) than high school GPA. The second found that college grades were much better predicted by standardized test scores than by high school grades.”

“Ultimately, those who stand to benefit most from test-optional admissions aren’t disadvantaged students but mediocre wealthy ones. Standardized test scores, while imperfect, are the closest to an objective measure colleges have for making admissions decisions—one that isolates academic achievement from expensive extracurriculars and tutor-polished essays.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/08/could-elite-colleges-embrace-the-sat-again/

Millions of Kids Left Classrooms During the Pandemic. New Data Show 50,000 Hadn’t Returned 2 Years Later.

“According to a new analysis from the Associated Press, 50,000 children were still estimated to be “missing” from American classrooms in fall 2022—two years after the COVID-19 pandemic caused school enrollment numbers to plummet.
While the number actually indicates an improvement in school attendance—the A.P. found that an estimated 230,000 children were missing in fall 2021—it also shows that thousands of children have nonetheless experienced multiyear disruptions to their educations following COVID-era school closures.”

“According to the A.P., while exact causes are difficult to pinpoint, bureaucratic hurdles could be a major factor holding children back from returning to the classroom. Many school districts have stringent policies of unenrolling children after long absences, while others require onerous paperwork proving a child’s residency within the district or complicated medical requirements.

In Atlanta, for example, parents must provide eight separate documents to enroll their children in public schools, including a “complicated certificate evaluating a child’s dental health, vision, hearing and nutrition,” according to the A.P.

One mother of a seventh-grader with autism told the A.P. that she tried to enroll her son in their local public school as soon as the pandemic closures ended. However, she didn’t have reliable transportation and said she couldn’t find a nearby appointment to get him the required immunizations, causing her son to miss five months of school.

“He wasn’t in school, and no one cared,” she told the A.P.”

https://reason.com/2023/12/19/millions-of-kids-left-classrooms-during-the-pandemic-new-data-show-50000-hadnt-returned-2-years-later/