Dear Secretary of Education Arne Duncan:
Congratulations on your MVP award at the NBA Celebrity All-Star game: 20 points, 8 boards, 3 assists and a steal—you really filled up that stat sheet. Even the NBA guys were amazed at your ability to play at such a high level—still. Those hours on the White House court are paying off!
Like you, I spent some time playing overseas after college and have long been a consumer of basketball box scores—they tell you so much about a game. I especially like the fact that the typical box score counts assists, rebounds and steals—not just points. I have spent many hours happily devouring box scores, mostly in an effort to defend my favorite players (who were rarely the top scorers).
This blog, while inspired by Paul Tough’s recent article in the New York Times, is really in response to the growing chorus of people lamenting over so-called “undermatching” in higher education. Undermatching is the latest higher education cause du jour. It is based upon the idea that high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds are being ill-served by matriculating at less prestigious colleges and universities and therefore, should scale up and attend more celebrated ones.
By Gloria Nemerowicz, The EvoLLLution
May 22, 2014
The following interview is with Gloria Nemerowicz, president and founder of the Yes We Must Coalition, a group focused on increasing degree attainment among low-income students by promoting the work of small, not-for-profit colleges and universities. Nemerowicz recently spoke about the importance of involving small colleges in defining the metrics upon which the proposed federal ranking system would be based. In this interview, she expands on those ideas, discusses the value of outcomes-based funding and warns against adopting a system that would disincentivize working with non-traditional students.
1. What are the most significant concerns you have about the proposed federal college ratings system?
It’s still a mystery what the instrument is actually going to look like. Most significantly, everyone is worried about the harm such metrics might have if it’s not well done, especially the chilling effect it could have both on colleges and universities and on students. For colleges and universities, if there’s a way of serving fewer low-income, first generation, communities of color and generally what are called “non-traditional students” … to chill admitting folks who have some significant needs in terms of their learning, that would be unfortunate.
By Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education
April 24, 2014
For one student, the difference was a financial-aid officer who took the time to draw him out about personal problems that were derailing his studies. For another, it was a cohort of classmates who urged him on when work, college, and family pressures collided.
The strategies that their small, private colleges took to help those low-income students succeed took center stage here on Wednesday at a three-day conference highlighting a group that isn’t used to being in the spotlight.
By Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education
April 24, 2014
All of the skepticism over President Obama’s proposed college-ratings plan has made the administration more determined than ever to move ahead with it, and to get it right, a senior policy adviser told representatives of small, private colleges gathered here on Thursday.
"We’re really fired up about this proposal and excited to be able to release it in the near future," Mary Wall, a senior policy adviser for higher education at the U.S. Department of Education, told leaders of the 36 colleges that make up the Yes We Must Coalition.
By American RadioWorks @AmRadioWorks
A new majority of students going to college are low-income, Hispanic or African-American, and from the southern or western United States. They are also older than so-called traditional students. The recently-formed Yes We Must Coalition aims to shine a light on colleges that have been serving this new majority for a long time.
By Michael J. Sorrell, President, Paul Quinn College
February 18, 2014, MSI Unplugged
As the president of a Minority Serving Institution (“MSI”), I spend a lot of time trapped in conversations of the “America no longer needs your kind of colleges” nature. Additionally, it seems as if every article I read is inundating me with research findings that purport to confirm the inferiority of MSIs or studies that lament the damaging impact of gifted students attending our schools (code name: “under-matching”). At a time when higher education is searching for more ways to educate minority and under-resourced students, MSIs find themselves in the ironic position of being attacked while the methods they have successfully used to nurture and educate students for over 100 years are being copied by majority-run institutions.
By Katherine Mangan
January 17, 2014, The Chronicle of Higher Education
As guests of the White House on Thursday basked in the good will of promises to open doors and guide students to graduation, many educators who have dedicated their careers to helping low-income students succeed in college watched from the sidelines.
Most were excited that the issues they'd long grappled with were taking center stage. But some couldn't help pointing out that many ideas emerging from the White House summit—targeted scholarships, better test preparation, summer enrichment programs, fast-tracked remedial education—were old news on their campuses, which nonetheless continue to see low completion rates.
Critics contended that the meeting's guest list, which included more than 100 colleges as well as 40 nonprofit organizations, foundations, and other groups, was dominated by elite institutions.
By Ben Unglesbee
Monday, December 23, 2013, Lawence Journal-World
Against a backdrop of rocketing college costs and mounting student debt, many experts, policymakers and families are reassessing the value of a college education. But how to judge the value of higher education has never been clear.
One measure has taken a prominent, if controversial, place: the incomes of college graduates.
For decades the wide differences between college and high school graduate incomes helped justify public investment in higher education. With college costs rising and job opportunities more scarce for new grads since the recession, those numbers have come under closer scrutiny.
President Obama’s proposal of August 2013 to tie individual students’ financial aid to government ratings of the college they attend is perhaps the worst idea ever put forward for higher education by a sitting president. Two of the major proposed metrics — graduation rates and post-graduation employment and income — are inexorably bound up with the nature of the students that the colleges serve. Poverty, poor preparation, commuter and part-time attendance, and non-traditional adult age status are all highly correlated with lower completion rates.
Small colleges and universities understand both the value, and often the necessity, of collaboration in order to advance their own unique and individual institutions. Many operate with modest resources yet are expected by their constituencies to deliver the same level of quality education as any other college or university, regardless of their wealth or stature in the marketplace. Such is the nature of accreditation reviews which has a way of leveling the playing field in the academy, as we are all expected to meet the minimum requirements of the accrediting bodies that review and sanction our work.
Toppenish, WA — Heritage University has produced a series of brief instructional videos each featuring a “breakthrough strategy” to enable first-generation college student success. The videos highlight practices that can be used across a number of disciplines and are available to educators nationwide. The strategies are supported by the research literature on college-level classroom-based practices.
Understandably, colleges and universities today are seriously considering the consequences of what President Obama and his administration are proposing for significant changes to how higher education in this country functions, and measures its worth. Those of us who have made higher education our life's work know from experience that the merit of these changes will be intensely debated in our circles and perhaps some may actually come to fruition. That said, early response is suggesting many of these reforms will be difficult to actually implement.
By Kelly Field
August 22, 2013, The Chronicle of Higher Education
President Obama continues his three-campus "college cost" bus tour on Friday, promoting his plans to make college more affordable through a mix of carrots and sticks.
The heart of the proposals is a controversial plan to rate colleges based on measures of access, affordability, and student outcomes, and to allocate aid based on those ratings. Under the plan, students attending higher-rated institutions could obtain larger Pell Grants and more-affordable loans.
By Prof. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera, Ph.D., President, Keuka College
July 11, 2013
KEUKA PARK, N.Y.—While pleased that Senate bipartisan negotiators reached a tentative deal on student loan interest rates, Keuka College President Dr. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera believes there was a better deal to be struck.
By Doug Lippincott, Keuka College
June 4, 2013, Around the Tower
Keuka College has joined a national organization that advocates for needy students and their colleges.
The College recently became a member of the Yes We Must Coalition, a non-profit organization of 32 small, private, non-profit colleges and universities across the U.S. that work to help low-income, first generation, and minority students receive a higher education.
By Leslie Reed, World-Herald Staff Writer
May 28, 2013, The Omaha World Herald
College of St. Mary officials say a scorecard that the Obama administration released this year doesn't do justice to the Omaha college and its mission to serve low-income and nontraditional students.
So they've worked up their own version and hope it will be adopted across the country by other colleges that serve similar students.
By Goldie Blumenstyk
March 25, 2013, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Alarmed that the college-completion agenda and other national policy and financing debates overlook the special challenges of needy students and the institutions they attend, a coalition of colleges called Yes We Must is revving up to ensure that its concerns are not ignored.
The three-year-old Yes We Must, which has 32 members, is a coalition for private colleges no larger than 5,000 students where at least 50 percent of the undergraduates qualify for Pell Grants. Many of the current members also have small endowments and operate on tight budgets.