Tuesday, October 3, 2017

What's the point of boasting about grad rates when most grads can't afford college?

There's been no hurricane here in IL, but the pandemic poverty in the state is every bit the disaster as any storm. It's dimming the life chances and educational opportunities for millions of young people.

While the mayor boasts about Chicago's alleged meteoric jump in graduation rates, here's another side to the story. The claims themselves, as I have often pointed out here, are misleading because, among other things, they fail to take into account mounting evidence that the recent bump in grad rates is closely connected with the decline in CPS enrollment, especially among the poorest African-American students, statistically the least likely to graduate on time.

But the story's epilogue is that college in IL has now become the domain of the wealthy and increasingly out-of-reach to the children of the poor, working and middle class, no matter which high school they attended. 

This from the Sun-Times:
Illinois’ in-state college tuition and fees ranked fifth highest in the U.S. last year, and a new report says those costs are a major reason that degrees are increasingly out-of-reach for low-income students.
Data from 2014 show low-income families in Illinois must set aside 63 percent of their total income for a student to attend a four-year institution, according to a report from The Partnership for College Completion. Middle-class families must set aside 25 percent, the study found.
About half of our state’s elementary and high school students live in poverty. The poverty rate among Chicago students is much higher -- nearly 80%.  Without massive amounts of state aid, Most students have little hope of going to college and completing their higher education. But under Gov. Rauner's regime, state aid has all but dried up. IL was one of four states that cut higher education funding over the last two years, a year-to-year difference of 68%. Those cuts mostly took place during the state’s budget impasse.

Among those threatened by the cuts are students with disabilities and special needs, also hurt by cuts in Medicare.

About half of students eligible for needs-based tuition help through Illinois’ Monetary Award Program, or MAP, didn’t’ receive it because of insufficient state funding.

Throw in the threatened deportation and loss of college funding of DACA (immigrant) students and you begin to see how bleak the prospects are for so many students.

Many of those who do graduate are fleeing the state for better college prospects.

Getting rid of the disaster that is hurricane Rauner will be a step forward, but only if it is part of a movement for radical change in state funding for education, including for free K-16 public education for all. I've yet to hear a peep about this from Rauner's leading Democratic potential opponents.

Let's keep pushing.

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