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Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: higher education

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June 28, 2013 at 6:30 AM

U.S. Supreme Court rules on affirmative action, Washington state takes note

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling on affirmative action gave a reprieve to the use of race in higher education enrollment decisions. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the 7-1 majority, underscored the value of diversity but was clear that use of affirmative action to promote diversity and maintain a level playing field had to…

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Comments | Topics: affirmative action, colleges, higher education

June 27, 2013 at 7:44 AM

State Legislature nearing a deal, at least on education

State lawmakers are said to be in general agreement about the way forward for the state’s higher education system. When it comes to Olympia, its never real until the votes are counted but this Seattle Times story foreshadows a possible budget deal. Naturally some lawmakers are quoted as saying yes ‘there’s a deal,’ while others vehemently deny any…

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Comments | Topics: children, Education, higher education

June 24, 2013 at 8:51 AM

Teacher training programs: the good, the bad and the useless

A highly-anticipated national rating of teacher training programs has landed with a thud, as this Seattle Times editorial noted. Anytime a sacred cow is caught in the crosshairs, the debate shifts to the messenger rather than the message. That explains why the National Council on Teacher Quality is now on the defensive following its  attempt to rate higher education on how well it prepares teachers for the classroom. The goal was to help aspiring teachers and school systems figure out which universities to do business with. The institutions were evaluated on 18 standards, using a four-star rating system.

NCTQ points out that more than 20 state superintendents, 82 school superintendents and 50 education, children and business and civil rights advocacy groups across 38 states have announced their support of the review. Response from teacher training programs ranged from measured disagreement at the University of Washington, which oddly received very low marks. (I say oddly because the program is quite well regarded.) Washington State University received the state’s only three-star rating. From what I know WSU has an excellent program, but what makes it so far above the UW is worthwhile reading in the report.

So is the NCTQ report the new teacher training bible or an inaccurate punch from the accountability police? 

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Comments | Topics: children, Education, higher education

June 14, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Legislature’s budget must be good for higher education

As the state House and Senate near a budget deal (we all hope), lawmakers are reminded to make 20040912opart-fsure higher education has enough money.

This is not the year for cuts. At a minimum, the budget must include maintenance-level funding that allows our public universities and community and technical colleges to pay for current programs and obligations.

Budget proposals from the Democratic House and the Republican-led Senate Majority Coalition include maintenance-level funding. Both budgets also invest more money in the State Need Grant.

But in letters to key lawmakers this week, education leaders from both the state’s four-year and two-year systems expressed serious concerns about the budget prospects.

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Comments | Topics: 3to23, children, democrats

April 23, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Video: For WSU President Elson Floyd, higher education remains gateway

Washington State University President Elson Floyd is the fourth guest in our occasional “Education Conversations” video series. Editorial writer Lynne K. Varner asked Dr. Floyd to respond to three questions asked of every previous interviewee: What does education mean to you? What does an ideal education system look like? What’s one reform Washington needs now? Dr. Floyd talked about…

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Comments | More in Video | Topics: Education, Education Conversations, elson floyd

March 14, 2013 at 7:00 AM

A plan to eliminate college debt eyes the University of Washington’s $2 billion endowment

University of Washington Husky Union Building. Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times

University of Washington Husky Union Building.
Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times

When college loan debt in the U.S. surpassed all other commercial debt – including credit card debt – Americans fell into the sobering new normal outlined in a report by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

Currently, almost half of all college students borrow, and those who earn bachelor’s degrees leave school with an average of $26,600 in debt. Possible solutions to the crisis are found in “Doing Away With Debt: Using Existing Resources to Ensure College Affordability for Low and Middle Income Families,” a new report from the Education Trust. The report’s biggest takeaway is the need to redesign the federal financial-aid system in order to increase college completion rates, reduce student debt, and close the opportunity and degree attainment gaps.

The Washington, D.C.-based think tank also calls for a shared responsibility of college costs among the federal government, state governments, institutions of higher education, and students themselves. The goal is for low-income and working-class students to be able to afford college without loans and for middle-income students to be able to access no-interest loans and affordable, income-based repayments. Ed Trust’s president, Kati Haycock makes the case in this Huffington Post piece.

When talking about what colleges can do, Ed Trust suggests spending more of their endowment, pointing to the University of Washington’s more than $2 billion endowment of which it spends only 4% annually, according to Ed Trust. If the UW increased its endowment to 5 percent, more than $21 million would be available to help 3,445 students avoid high debt. The school is further criticized with failing to provide students with the no debt or low-debt policies offered by peer institutions, including Michigan State, UC San Diego and UC Irvine. But is that really a fair argument? 

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Comments | Topics: Education, higher education, student loan debt

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