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States this year have been faced with tough budget choices, and Pennsylvania certainly did not hurry in making its decisions. At long last, however, stakeholders in early education can relax: the 2009-2010 Pennsylvania budget is in, and early ed was not a victim of this year's budget crunch.
Gov. Ed Rendell signed the budget into law last Friday, thus ending the longest budget delay in any U.S. state this year. It was passed 42-7 in the state Senate, after a 101-day stand-off in the legislature.
The $2.62 billion budget slashed $500 million from 2008-2009 state spending levels and includes a $300 million spending increase in general education funding. This boost in education funding, along with the lack of broad tax increases in the 2009-2010 budget, may prove the most popular piece of the new budget.
It's not just the ads showing a baby-boomer couple sitting in matching bathtubs on a beach at sunset where you can find performance anxiety these days. Try looking in the hardware aisle and at the gas station.
Overall, it's been a pretty good week for health reform.
We know there is a ton of work to do, both for the politics (60 votes) and the policy (we need to merge the bills correctly and not just to get the votes but to make health reform work for the people who need it -- which is all of us.)
None of the five bills passed by the House or Senate committees on their own is perfect. No final bill will be "perfect" either, of course. But we're still hoping for really really good.
When we write about how far we've come, rather than how far we need still to go, it's not an effort to minimize any of the flaws or challenges that we still need to address. Trust us, we live and breathe flaws and challenges. But we do think it's important to keep in mind that this legislation will be the single biggest advance in U.S. social policy since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. And when you think about it in those sweeping historical terms, it's pretty exciting.
Testifying yesterday at a House of Representatives hearing on alleged admissions abuses at several for-profit colleges, Harris Miller, the president of the Career College Association (CCA), said that his organization doesn't have any tolerance for "schools that violate the rules and regulations" that govern the federal student aid programs.
"Let me say up front: there is no room for cheating in the process of higher education, whether by students, teachers, administrators, other school personnel, or outside testers and evaluators," Miller (pictured on the left) stated, adding "We share the government's interest in eliminating any form of fraud and abuse associated with the Title IV [student aid] program."
These are very good sentiments. But at Higher Ed Watch, we are unaware of any role CCA, the national lobbying group for proprietary colleges, has played in ferreting out fraud and abuse among its members.
Over the last decade, some of the largest publicly-traded for-profit higher education companies have come under scrutiny from federal and state regulators and have faced numerous lawsuits by former employees, shareholders, and students over allegations that they have engaged in misleading recruiting and admissions tactics to inflate their enrollment numbers.
My colleague Anne Stuhldreher has a nice piece in the online Sacramento Bee this week, arguing that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger should follow in the footsteps of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg by adopting an updated poverty measure in his jurisdiction. Now this all seems ripe for a "Twins" joke, but I'll largely refrain.
Anne nails the case for ditching the old poverty measure: it's inflexible, doesn't represent the way people live today, takes no account of vast differences in cost-of-living by region, ignores the impact of state- and federal-efforts and leads to bad policy. I think it's best stated here:
A number-cruncher by trade, Bloomberg turned to statistics to shed light on those suffering in the economic gloom. "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it," he was quoted as saying. His questions were basic: What people and places in New York have the greatest need? How could the city best deploy its limited public dollars to meet them? And what impact were its current programs having? But the federal poverty stats couldn't provide answers. The mayor found them useless...How can you target limited funds when you can't distinguish who needs them most?
Sorry for the long silence. Too much Afghanistan makes Jack a dull boy. I’m afraid to report, however, that I have been jolted back to typing by the subject of…health-care reform. Nobody said this was TMZ.
Like the Latin title of Hank's post (Res Ipsa Loquitur...), most of his points speak for themselves.
If he wants to object to the idea that "Good policy research uses nationally and statistically representative data so that its conclusions reflect behavior of the actual population," that's his prerogative.
But if he thinks there's no difference between the research produced by such independent institutions and stuff that's made to order for private interests, he should take a look at the work PriceWaterhouse did for the tobacco industry in the early 90s. An independent review of that study found "serious methodological problems and errors of omission." (h/t Media Matters) The same could be said of their latest work. AHIP got what it paid for and InsureBlog should be less credulous of the talking points it's buying.
At Higher Ed Watch, we have made clear our opposition to a provision in the pending student loan reform legislation that would provide a set aside for all existing non-profit student loan agencies to service up to 100,000 borrowers in their home states. But we have also said that if Democratic Congressional leaders insist on keeping the provision in the bill -- because they believe that they can't pass a bill without it -- they should at least bar from participation non-profit lenders that have broken the law or acted in ways that are harmful to students.
Case in point: the Iowa Student Loan Liquidity Corporation (ISL), the state-affiliated non-profit student loan provider. As both federal and state investigations have shown, ISL's aggressive pursuit of market share and financial rewards over the last decade has been damaging to students and taxpayers alike. According to these investigations, the loan agency has done the following:
On October 11, 2009, a bill to uniformly set California’s voter registration age at 17 was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This legislation does not change the voting age; it simply changes the age at which one may register to vote. Prior to the adoption of AB 30, California’s voter registration law was inconsistent and confusing: some 17 year olds could in fact register to vote (those who would turn 18 before the next election) while the rest could not.
"Investing in those who invest in themselves" First-of-its-kind asset building pilot launched in Nigeria
By Jamie Zimmerman & Shweta Banerjee
Notoriously resource-rich, poverty-stricken and conflict-prone, the Niger Delta region has always been viewed among the unlikeliest places for reform, particularly one that "spreads the wealth." But this week we are proud to announce that the Bayelsa State Government (BYSG) located in the delta region of Nigeria will launch of a policy pilot that provides matched savings accounts to children and youth throughout the state's eight districts. This initiative is not only the first government-supported anti-poverty intervention in the Niger Delta region, but the first state-wide CDA policy pilot in the developing world.