- Created on 17 January 2013
Black Leaders on Education: How the NAACP's President Proposes Closing the Racial Gap in Education.
(Special to The Root) -- Continuing their historical practice of working together to address issues of concern to the African-American community, the NAACP, National Urban League, United Negro College Fund and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund are working cooperatively to improve educational opportunities for all students. This week we will run op-eds by the leaders of each organization that address a crucial aspect of what it will take to prepare our young people to succeed in life. First up: The president of the NAACP addresses early-childhood education.
This month we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which set our nation on the path to the end of slavery.
Upon receiving their freedom, our ancestors' first priority was to get an education for themselves and their children. In Georgia it was illegal for slaves to read, yet schools for slaves and freedmen had been operating in secret for years. When teachers publicly opened their classroom doors in 1865, they were met with an overflow of students. With scarce federal support but a true understanding of the value of education, they built dozens of schools using their own resources and their bare hands.
My grandmother is 96. Her grandfather was a slave until the end of the Civil War. She was educated in a one-room schoolhouse in Virginia that he helped build, and at a college he helped found.
In 2013, the Year of the Black Student, our desire for generational progress is as urgent as ever. As parents, we still demand that our children have better opportunities than we did. And we are still willing to sacrifice to make that a reality.
Yet our children are growing up in states that spend more and more on prisons and less and less on public higher education. They grow up in a nation that leads the world in incarceration but can no longer claim to lead it in job creation.
If we are going to deliver on our ambitions, we must do what our ancestors did: build a better America for our children with our own hands. We will need two things: a collective plan of action and an individual commitment to do whatever we must to ensure that our children get what they need to succeed.
- Created on 16 January 2013
Annual spending on sports by public universities in six big-time conferences like the SEC and Big 12 has passed $100,000 per athlete — about six to 12 times the amount those universities are spending per student on academics, according to a study released Wednesday to greet college presidents arriving at the NCAA's annual meeting in Texas.
The study finds the largest gap by far in the Southeastern Conference, which combines relatively low academic spending and explosive coaching salaries. Median athletic spending there totaled nearly $164,000 per athlete in 2010. That is more than 12 times the $13,390 that SEC schools spent per student for academic expenses, including instructional costs and student services.
The schools of the Pac-10 (now the Pac 12), Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten and Big East also averaged six-figure spending per student athlete in 2010, the study finds. Across Division I, athletic spending —though still smaller in absolute terms — rose twice as fast as academic spending between 2005 and 2010. During that period, the schools competing in the top-level Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the NCAA upped their athletic expenditures on average $6,200 per athlete each year, according to data compiled by the Delta Cost Project at American Institutes for Research as part of an ongoing project with the pro-reform Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.
The report does not provide information about ratios at individual institutions.
Overall, FBS schools spent on average $92,000 per athlete in 2010, or just under seven times what they were spending per student on academics at a time of falling state funding for higher education in much of the country, and tuition increases widely outpacing inflation. The report did find, however, the growth rate seemed to be slowing.
The figures likely won't shock college presidents arriving in Grapevine, Texas, for the NCAA convention, but they will highlight their rising concern over out-of-control spending on intercollegiate athletics that threatens to sink budgets and compromise their academic missions. Some want the NCAA to do more to address the issue even if it can't legally limit salaries.
"How many sport video analysts do you really need?" said John Dunn, president of Western Michigan University, who gave a talk Tuesday at a preliminary portion of the meeting on rising inequality in college athletics. "How many assistants for a coach — not assistant coaches, (but) assistant office personnel, to keep his life straight?"
"While the NCAA wants to avoid being overly intrusive, they have never had a problem saying there should be x number of coaches and x number of scholarships awarded," he said. "Why not also govern how many ancillary personnel you can have?"
NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said in a brief emailed statement that colleges make their own spending decisions and "are reluctant to cede authority over their budgets to the NCAA." SEC spokesman Craig Pinkerton said he would have to refer questions to Commissioner Mike Slive, who wasn't available for comment.
The conceit of the study — comparing per capita spending on athletes versus academic spending — carries some caveats. Universities already "spend" widely varying amounts on different types of students; those in majors requiring special equipment, or offering small classes, already benefit from more spending, as might those signing up for extra-curriculars or special tutoring. Knight Commission Executive Director Amy Perko said her group realizes at many institutions athletic spending per athlete will inevitably be higher than academic spending per student.
Also, "academic spending" can be a confusing category, though the study uses federal data universities must report under a precise methodology. While it includes athletic scholarships as athletic spending, for example, institutional financial aid available to other students doesn't count as "academic spending."
Still, the size of the ratios — and the fact that six conferences have broken six figures, up from four a year before — are eye-catching data points showing the extent to which Division I college athletics programs have come to inhabit separate financial universes from the academic institutions whose names they share.
Perko said it's the growing subsidies most universities kick in to cover athletic department budgets that are especially alarming. The Knight Commission has been pushing for the NCAA to incentivize institutions to stay within certain ratios of athletic-to-academic spending, to no avail. The BCS, which is organizing the new college football playoff system separately from the NCAA, has committed to tying 10 percent of the lucrative payout from the new BCS playoff system to academic benchmarks, Perko said, but she wants more done.
While new TV deals will produce more revenue, they will also likely exacerbate inequality. If adopted, recent proposals to pay athletes a stipend would also fuel spending by athletic departments, as could the increased travel required by recent conference re-alignments.
Many big spenders like the SEC schools also have the most revenue to cover those costs. A few dozen or so actually turn a profit on their athletic departments, and on average the top half of FBS programs get by on a modest university subsidy, averaging between $3 million and $6 million. But schools in the bottom half of FBS rely on much bigger subsidies from the academic side to fund athletics. That money often comes from student fees paid by non-athletes. At those schools, the subsidies now total $11 million to $14 million annually, the study found.
"The data that really jumps are out are the serious financial divides among the 300-plus Division I schools with regard to where their money comes from," Perko said. "Those differences are really causing the Division I model to really rip apart at the seams."
But even at big-name schools, financial pressures are mounting. The University of Maryland recently bolted the ACC for the Big Ten in hopes the Big Ten could help it staunch multi-million dollar annual losses in its athletic program. The University of Tennessee's athletic department recently discontinued an annual $6 million contribution the athletic department had been sending back to the university — even as it hired a new football coach, Butch Jones, at more than $3 million annually.
Dunn says what's most alarming is the gap within conferences, not between them. Western Michigan competes in the Mid-American Conference, where he said spending ranges from about $19 million to $28 million, keeping the conference competitive (WMU has to subsidize about half its athletic budget). But in conferences like the Big 12, the gap between relatively low spenders like Iowa State and Kansas State, and mammoth programs like Texas and Oklahoma, is now around $80 million. Such gaps create big incentives to cut corners.
"It's a great deal of pressure, because people want to win," he said.
The new study does not include data on private institutions, though there are only a handful in the top FBS conferences. The SEC, for instance, has just one private university: Vanderbilt.
A big driver in athletic spending has been the growth in coaching salaries and the size of athletic department staff, with compensation accounting for about one-third of athletics expenditures across the FBS. Nowhere is that on more vivid display than the SEC, which has produced the last seven BCS national football champions.
Nick Saban, whose Alabama team has won three of the last four national championships, earned $5.32 million in 2012, but every conference football coach now earns at least $2 million. Already this off-season, four losing conference programs — Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn and Arkansas — have hired new coaches at annual salaries of between $2.2 million and $3.2 million. The University of Mississippi's Hugh Freeze, the conference's lowest-paid coach, got a $500,000 raise to $2 million, a 10 percent raise for his assistants, and a $12.5 million upgrade to practice facilities.
According to the College Board, the average financial aid package at Mississippi meets just 77 percent of student need, and just 57 percent at Alabama.
- Created on 14 January 2013
(CNNMoney) -- Since the recession, health care has been the single biggest sector for job growth, but that doesn't mean it's easy to get hired.
Registered nurses fresh out of school are coming across thousands of job postings with an impossible requirement: "no new grads."
It's a problem well documented by the nursing industry. About 43% of newly licensed RNs still do not have jobs within 18 months after graduation, according to a survey conducted by the American Society of Registered Nurses.
"The process has become more and more discouraging, especially since hospitals want RNs with experience, yet nobody is willing to give us this experience," said Ronak Soliemannjad, 26, who has been searching for a nursing job since she graduated in June.
New grads have taken to posting their frustrations on allnurses.com, a social network for nurses.
"It is a tough market for a new grad RN. A 'year experience required' or 'not considering new grads at this time' is pretty much the norm," wrote one.
"It's like new grads have a disease or something," said another.
How can this be, at a time when health care jobs are booming and a supposed shortage of RNs sent many career seekers running to nursing school?
The recession is to blame, says Peter Buerhaus, a registered nurse and economist who teaches at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. In a paper he co-authored in the New England Journal of Medicine last year, he shows an interesting phenomenon happens in the demographics of the nursing workforce when the economy is weak.
About 90% of nurses are women, 60% are married, and roughly a quarter are over 50 years old. It's typical for many nurses to take time off to raise children in their 30s, and given the long days spent working on their feet, many often retire in their late 50s.
Prior to the recession, about 73,000 nurses left the profession each year due to childbearing, retirement, burning out or death.
But when the recession hit, spouses lost jobs, 401(k)s lost money, and facing financial uncertainty, fewer nurses chose to leave work, Buerhaus said.
"Many of those nurses are still in the workforce, and they're not leaving because we don't see a convincing jobs recovery yet," Buerhaus said. "They're clogging the market and making it harder for these new RNs to get a job."
At the same time, enrollment in nursing colleges has exploded in recent years. In the 2010-2011 school year, 169,000 people were enrolled in entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs. That's more than double the 78,000 students from a decade earlier, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
There just aren't enough jobs to go around for all these new grads.
Annah Karam heads recruiting for six hospitals in the Daughters of Charity Health System in Los Angeles. Each hospital has a program in place aimed at hiring at least 10 new grads a year, but the competition is fierce. Karam often receives more than 1,000 applications for each post. For other positions, the hospitals prefer experienced nurses.
"We're new grad friendly but with the challenges we face in the hospital world, we often need seasoned nurses," Karam said. "We hire thousands of nurses across the whole system, yet a very small percentage are new grads."
Eventually, nursing grads should have great job prospects.
Demand for health care services is expected to climb as more baby boomers retire and health care reform makes medical care accessible to more people. As older nurses start retiring, economists predict a massive nursing shortage will reemerge in the United States.
"We've been really worried about the future workforce because we've got almost 900,000 nurses over the age of 50 who will probably retire this decade, and we'll have to replace them," Buerhaus said.
But for recent grads like Soliemannjad, that's not particularly encouraging.
"It just seems that when the experts talk about the economy getting better, they're not talking about it improving in two or three months. They're talking about years," she said. "You have new grads with student loans to pay off. We simply can't not work for another year and half."
- Created on 15 January 2013
(CNNMoney) -- The middle class may have been spared the worst of the tax increases, but they may not be so lucky in the coming entitlement reform battle over deficit reduction.
Entitlements -- including Social Security, Medicare and safety net programs such as Medicaid and food stamps -- don't just benefit the poor and unemployed. More than 90% of the benefits go toward working families, the disabled and the elderly. And more than half of all entitlement spending helps middle class Americans.
In 2010, those age 65 and older collected 53% of the dollars, while the non-elderly disabled received 20%, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning group. And folks in working families collected 18%.
As for income levels, those in the middle -- earning between $30,000 and $120,000 -- received 58% of all entitlement dollars in 2010.
One reason so many middle income Americans are using the safety net is the recession. Workers nearing retirement age have found themselves without work in recent years and were forced to go on Social Security and Medicare earlier than planned.
In 2007, the middle class received 52% of entitlement benefits, but three years later, that figure rose by 6 percentage points, largely because more older workers were flooding into Social Security and Medicare after losing their jobs.
The share of middle-income American households receiving Social Security benefits jumped to 69%, up from 63%. Likewise, the share of Medicare recipients in that group rose to 64%, up from 58%.
"These are programs that are of great concern to the middle class and greatly affect their well being," said Arloc Sherman, senior researcher at the center. "Social Security has the large effect of keeping people in the middle class."
Another reason why Social Security skews toward middle-income folks is in part because it is a progressive program, so higher income workers receive proportionately less of their incomes in benefits.
Disability benefits, meanwhile, have become increasingly popular as the nation ages and the economic downturn makes it harder for the disabled to find jobs. Those with health issues who would prefer to keep working, are forced to go on disability instead. Applications for the Social Security disability program reached an historic high in the wake of the Great Recession, exceeding 2.9 million in 2010, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Once people start receiving benefits, few leave the program. The average monthly benefit was $1,068 in 2010.
Working families are the main recipients of the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit, which are designed to encourage employment. About half of food stamp and Medicaid spending also go to individuals in working families, Sherman said. And unemployment benefits are counted as going to working families if the spouse continued to hold down a job or if the recipient worked at least 1,000 hours in the year.
On the other side of the political aisle, the worry is not who is getting the benefits but how many people. The Heritage Foundation just released a study showing that 70 million people are in at least one of 47 government programs.
"Our concern is that entitlements and safety net programs have been growing so rapidly over time, regardless of the economy," said William Beach, who just stepped down as Heritage's director of the Center for Data Analysis. "The numbers are becoming unsustainable or already are."
The largest of the programs, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, are not financially viable over the long run so they need to be addressed to ensure they survive.
"The programs need to be reformed so they'll be there in 10 years," he said.
- Created on 11 January 2013
(AP) — President Barack Obama is putting a symbolic twist on a time-honored tradition, taking the oath of office for his second term with his hand placed not on a single Bible but on two — one owned by Martin Luther King Jr. and one by Abraham Lincoln.
The inclusion of King's Bible is particularly significant since the inauguration comes on Jan. 21, the federal holiday in honor of the civil rights leader, who delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech 50 years ago at the Lincoln Memorial. Obama will be facing the memorial as he takes the oath. King's Bible, which his children say he used early in his career as a preacher, has never been part of a presidential inauguration.
The selection of the pair of Bibles announced Thursday is richly symbolic of the struggle for equality in America, beginning with Lincoln's emancipation of slaves 150 years ago this month, through King's leadership of the civil rights movement, and ultimately to Obama becoming the nation's first black president.
Inaugural planners say Obama plans to place his left hand on the stacked Bibles held by first lady Michelle Obama as he raises his right hand to repeat the oath administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. It hasn't been determined which will be on top, with Obama's hand actually resting on it, but King's is larger, so it may need to be on the bottom.
Obama used the Lincoln Bible while taking the oath four years ago — the first time it had been used since the 16th president's inauguration in 1861. Obama's inaugural committee says that the president plans to use the first lady's family's Bible for a private swearing-in at the White House on Sunday, Jan. 20. Public presidential inaugurations traditionally aren't held on Sundays, even though the Constitution states that a president's new term begins automatically at noon on the 20th.
King's children describe their father's King James version as his "traveling Bible" that he took as part of a collection of books he carried with him while constantly on the road and used for inspiration and preparing sermons and speeches. His daughter Bernice King says her father marked the pages with several dates from May 1954, the same month he delivered his first sermon at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.
"We know our father would be deeply moved to see President Obama take the oath of office using his Bible," King's children said in a statement provided by the inaugural committee. "His traveling Bible inspired him as he fought for freedom, justice and equality, and we hope it can be a source of strength for the president as he begins his second term."
Obama also plans to honor King throughout his inaugural weekend, beginning by asking Americans to volunteer in their communities on Saturday, Jan. 19, to honor the civil right leader's legacy of service. The King family plans to participate. Inaugural planners also say there will be a float honoring King in the parade to the White House after the swearing-in ceremony.
Though there is no constitutional requirement for the use of a Bible while taking the oath, George Washington began the tradition with a Bible hastily grabbed from St. John's Masonic Lodge No. 1 for his swearing-in on April 30, 1789, in New York. Since then, presidents have typically chosen Bibles with historical or personal significance, many using family heirlooms. Obama is not the first president to select two Bibles — Harry Truman did so in 1949, Dwight Eisenhower in 1953 and Richard Nixon in 1969.
Some presidents kiss the book after completing the oath. Sometimes the Bible is open to meaningful passages, such as President George W. Bush's choice of Isaiah 40:31 — "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
The Lincoln Bible is part of the Library of Congress collections. The Supreme Court clerk bought the Bible, bound in burgundy velvet with a gold-washed white metal rim and heavily gilded edges, especially for Lincoln's swearing-in.
The first lady's Robinson family Bible was a gift from her late father, Fraser Robinson III, to his mother, LaVaughn Delores Robinson, on Mother's Day 1958. The first lady's grandmother was the first black female manager of a Moody Bible Institute's bookstore, and her son's present was her favorite, inaugural planners say.
They also say Vice President Joe Biden will use a Bible with a Celtic cross on the cover that has been in his family for 120 years. Biden has used the Bible every time he's been sworn into federal office, back to his entry in the Senate 40 years ago.