Posted by David A. Lehrer
This Monday the Pew Research Center released one of its well-researched studies that has a serious message for those willing to listen. Unfortunately, in terms of news coverage, releasing a study the day before a presidential election guarantees that few folks will take note of the findings. They bear repeating.
The title of the report virtually says it all, “Record Shares of Young Adults Have Finished Both High School and College”. The educational attainment of 25 to 29 year olds has risen to unprecedented levels in this country between 2000 and 2012. High school graduates have risen from 88% of the population in 2000 to 90% in 2012, those having had the benefit of some college education grew from 58% to 63% and those with a bachelor’s degree or more increased from 29% to 33% of the population.
Lest that not seem to be an achievement of significant proportions, a longer term perspective (40 years) might help to illuminate the scale and breadth of what has occurred.
From 1971 to 2012 high school graduates have increased from 57% to 88% of the general population, those having some college education from 22% to 57% of the population, and bachelor degree holders from 12% to 31% of the population. Those are increases of 54%, 160% and 150% respectively.
The report notes that those increases occurred while there were profound crosscurrents in the demography of this country. Working to the benefit of the positive trend was the fact that less educated cohorts have died off (tending to boost the overall attainment ratio of the rest of the population) but concurrently immigration has also impacted that ratio. In the latter decades of the twentieth century the immigrants tended to be less educated than the domestic population while in the first decade of this century they tend to be better educated; so there were complex forces at work pushing the ratios one way and the other.
Despite the vagaries of demographics and economics and cuts in budgets, the direction is unmistakable and crosses sexual, racial and ethnic lines as well. Women have gone from 14% college completion levels in 1971 (two thirds of the rate of men at the time) to 37% graduation rates, 7% higher than men. African Americans have seen their college completion rates rise from 7% in 1971 to 23% in 2012. Hispanics have risen from 5% to 15%. The Asian community has seen its students with college degrees rise from 1987 (the earliest year for the data for this group) at 44% to 60% in 2012 (outstripping whites at 40%).
It is an encouraging story across the board---everyone seems to be doing better and, given the wage premium that has increased 40% since 1983 for those with college degrees, the prospects of success for many young people are increasing dramatically.
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November 8, 2012 | 2:31 pm
Posted by David A. Lehrer
Two distinguished local journalists will be honored next Thursday, November 15th at the Riordan Central Library in Downtown.
Community Advocates (in conjunction with KNBC 4 Southern California, KCET, the Los Angeles Press Club and theLos Angeles Public Library) will honor KCET’s Val Zavala and KNBC’s Joel Grover.
Zavala is the vice president of News and Public Affairs at KCET, the nation's largest independent public television station, and anchor of KCET's nightly award-winning newsmagazine, SoCal Connected. She has been at KCET since 1987 playing a vital role in the long-running newsmagazine, Life & Times, as well as other news programs and specials. Her work has won 15 L.A. Area Emmys, eight Golden Mikes and numerous L.A. Press Club awards.
Grover has been an investigative reporter for the NBC4 Southern California News since April 2003. He is nationally known for his undercover investigations, which often expose consumer fraud and government wrongdoing. He has won numerous awards for investigative reporting, including the Peabody, the DuPont-Columbia, 20 Emmys, 6 National Edward R. Murrow Awards, two IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors) Medals, and three Society of Professional Journalists Medals.
Community Advocates will be presenting the Bill Stout Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism named in memory of the groundbreaking television journalist who graced the Los Angeles airwaves for decades. The awards will be presented by NBC4 weathercaster Fritz Coleman and Madeleine Brand of KCET. A keynote address on the importance of quality local journalism will be delivered by Judy Muller of the Annenberg School for Communication at USC and a former network correspondent.
To attend, please RSVP here or call (213) 623-6003. There is no charge to attend.
Fritz Coleman Madeleine Brand Prof. Judy Muller
November 2, 2012 | 3:31 pm
Posted by David A. Lehrer
Earlier this week I blogged about the decision of the leaders of United Teachers of Los Angeles (LA Unified’s teachers union) to torpedo the School District’s application for $40 million of federal Race to the Top funds. The funds were to be used to benefit 25,000 students in 35 low performing middle and high schools.
As I noted, the reason proffered by UTLA for not co-signing the grant proposal was that it was “budgetarily unsustainable” because the District was required to come up with $3.3 million to receive the feds $40 million; monies which LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy pledged he would raise separately from the District’s budget and which would have no negative impact on the District’s personnel budget.
The blog pointed out that the real reason for the union veto was the US Department of Education’s demand that student test scores be a “significant factor” in the evaluation of teachers in the District by 2014. That was the deal breaker for UTLA---even partial accountability for student performance is so toxic that the union was willing to be the insurmountable hurdle to the cash-strapped LAUSD receiving $40 million.
Parenthetically, there are sizable districts in which unions have agreed to the condition----Riverside, California for one.
As transparent as UTLA’s dissembling on this issue is, it simply can’t be acting on its own, it needs enablers to take such an obstinate and politically untenable position and continue to have moxie in the District. This week revealed an enabler who is so brazen in his commitment to the union’s specious arguments that it is jaw-dropping.
Board of Education member Bennett Kayser wrote a letter to Superintendent Deasy on November 1 (the tone of which was closer to what a principal might have with a fourth grader than a letter among colleagues) excoriating him for allowing the role of UTLA in negating the federal funds to become public (as if the reason for losing $40 million could be kept a secret),
I am terribly concerned about your outreach to the Los Angeles Times and the press effort underway highlighting your inability to gain United Teacher Los Angeles (UTLA) signature on the application….I specifically requested that you hold your fire with regard to public statements criticizing UTLA until after next Tuesday.
At a time when we are stressing the terrible fiscal condition of this institution and that of public education across the State of California, you choose to hammer UTLA for failing to pursue the funds tied to the grant.
I must again ask that you take note of the context in which you are speaking. [Emphasis added]
The “context” in which this controversy arose is the election next Tuesday and Proposition 30’s fate. Kayser reprimands Deasy for daring to speak the truth and allowing the public to know who vetoed $40 million for LAUSD. Kayser admonished Deasy to “hold your fire” (i.e. shut up) and not let the public know the truth until after the election on November 6th. When was he planning to let us know?
Kayser is rightfully concerned that the public may not take too kindly to the school district seemingly thumbing its nose at $40 million when considering a large, statewide bond measure. But he isn’t excoriating UTLA, his closest ally, who is the culprit and the source of the problem, but rather the victim, as embodied in the superintendent.
Kayser seems to care only about doing UTLA’s bidding---he avers that their unwillingness to sign on to the grant is due to Deasy’s “inability to gain UTLA’s signature on the application.” Unless Deasy can “channel” UTLA’s leader, it’s not clear how he could have “gained” their signature.
Kayser knows full well what the Department of Education’s demands are and that it is not within the Superintendent’s power to waive those requirements. Kayser simply can’t bring himself to acknowledge that UTLA, his patron, is the obstacle that has cost this financially desperate district $40 million.
Kayser’s coup de gras is to threaten to “reconsider my vote” and possibly vote against the grant application unless Deasy “finds common ground with our teachers.” Since today is the deadline and UTLA hasn’t agreed to the federal strictures---that threat has about as much substance as his illogical and intemperate missive.
Ironically, Board member Kayser ends his letter to Deasy by noting that he has “sworn to serve” the District---perhaps he ought to remind himself of the fact that kids are at heart of this District and the reason why it exists.